All opera, to go further

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All opera, to go further

Opera is obviously first and foremost a matter of emotions and is therefore understood viscerally, with passion. And yet the lyric art can also sometimes be complex, abstruse or difficult to understand. So in order to better grasp the subtleties, to better place them in their time and in their composer’s oeuvre, we return to the most iconic operas… in order to go further.

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Orphée et Eurydice: the advent of a new sensibility

Created during the Age of Enlightenment, first in Vienna and later in Paris in a modified version in 1774, Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice marks the renewal of opera, leaving behind the codes of opera seria in favour of a more streamlined lyric format, with more room for emotion and the expression of a new sensibility. And Orphée et Eurydice is the work chosen by London’s Royal Opera House to open its 2015-2016 season, with a new production...


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Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas: the birth of English opera

It was by no means certain that Dido and Aeneas would have a long career – in fact Purcell composed his opera for a girls’ boarding school, where it was to be performed by amateurs to a modest libretto.Despite that, whether it was because of its dramatic intensity, the themes it deals with (sense of duty and self-denial) or its music, Dido and Aeneas laid the foundations for English opera and is today ranked among the most popular British lyrical works. This year...


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Alcina: the Last Pleasures of an Enchanted World

This year, a new production of Alcina, the « magical » opera written by Handel, is given for the opening of the Aix-en-Provence Festival, with Patricia Petibon singing the role-title alongside Philippe Jaroussky and Anna Prohaska. The occasion to (re)discover the enchanting work by the Germano-British composer, talking about freedom as well as bewitching seduction against true love, being maybe quite representative of its era. As the illusive world of the...


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Iphigénie en Tauride: Birth of the Musical Tragedy

Cecilia Bartoli is reviving Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride for the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. As we eagerly await this new interpretation (which we know will be very erudite and documented) in a new production, we take a look back at the work itself, mid-way between opera and theatre, and its historical context, marked by the advent of Romanticism at the expense of opera seria. *** Iphigénie en Tauride, Gluck’s last Parisian triumph, is...


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Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci: Betting It All on Verismo

Perhaps not as well known as some more regularly staged operas, Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (by Mascagni and Leoncavallo, respectively) are, nonetheless, major operas in the history of the genre (laying the foundations of verismo), with some of the most famous arias in opera and, in particular, having been interpreted by the greatest singers (Caruso foremost among them). And more recently, by Jonas Kaufmann, reprising the role of Turiddu at the Salzburg Easter Festival...


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Aida, an Underrated Masterpiece

On 27 February, the Saint Cecilia Academy of Rome will be used as the setting for a concert version of Aida, the Verdi opera, interpreted in particular by Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann and Ludovic Tezier in the principal roles, under the baton of Antonio Pappano directing the Santa Cecilia Orchestra and Chorus. An “ideal cast” for one of the most popular operas, which we often think we are familiar with but which contains deeper subtleties than we sometimes imagine. We shall...


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Andrea Chénier, a Poet in the Midst of Revolutionary Turmoil

With Andrea Chénier, Umberto Giordano turned an iconic poet of the French Revolution into one of the legendary roles of Italian opera. “Give me a good libretto and I’ll take personal responsibility for the success of the music.” Giordano addressed that enthusiastic request to Luigi Illica, Giacomo Puccini’s usual collaborator. After a promising start that was followed by three successive failures, the young composer staked everything on the work. ...


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Fidelio, a Unique Opera

Fidelio is the only opera composed by Ludwig van Beethoven. No score was so frequently reworked by the composer who, with his customary obstinacy, managed to make his work a success by defying events, censorship and failure. “This opera will earn me a martyr’s crown,” Beethoven said of this hymn to freedom and marital fidelity. Another unique aspect:this unique lyric work celebrates the victory of an exceptional woman who embodies courage and moral strength in the...


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Timeless Arabella

In a letter dated 1927, Richard Strauss begs Hugo von Hofmannsthal to write him a new libretto: “You can even make me a second ‘Rosenkavalier’ if you don’t have anything better in mind.” This was to be the starting point of Arabella, the work with which the two accomplices would try to match the success of Der Rosenkavalier. The composer never imagined that this new work would mark the end of his collaboration with the man he called his “Da Ponte.”...


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The Abduction from the Seraglio, or the Art of Synthesis

At the age of 24, just freed from his tyrannical employer, Archbishop Colloredo, Mozart set off to win over the Viennese public by realizing his dream of writing a grand opera in German that would rival Italian opera. The Abduction from the Seraglio was a triumph from its opening night, becoming Mozart’s most popular work in his lifetime. Nothing seemed able to slow the success of this singspiel, which travelled all over Germany before continuing its triumphal career in Europe. The...


Catherine Duault

On Opera Online, Catherine Duault is in charge of the enrichment of the Encyclopera, notably through the redaction of lyrical works' presentations, from the best known to the rarest. Catherine also sign many in-depth essays, to go further, which analyzes the most iconic operas.