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An Eighteen Month Delay but Worth the Wait for Jenůfa at the R...

Sam Smith

Jenůfa, which premiered in Brno in 1904, is an opera in three acts by Leoš Janáček to a Czech libretto by the composer. It is based on the play Její pastorkyňa by Gabriela Preissová, and is one of the very first operas to be written in prose. Set in a Moravian village in the nineteenth century, the plot concerns a series of tangled relationships that derive from the fact that two fathers both married twice, and had a child by three of their four...


Ariadne auf Naxos at Liceu: Josep Pons’ Good Strauss

Xavier Pujol

Liceu opened its 175th season with Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, an opera that has rarely been seen at the theatre and which had not been brought on stage for almost 20 years. Written for a moderately sized orchestra and with a transparent yet dense orchestration of refined sonorities, Ariadne is a difficult opera to resolve instrumentally. Maestro Josep Pons, the theatre’s principal director chose to face the challenge of conducting this Ariadne and the obtained results were...


Tenth Revival of David McVicar’s The Magic Flute at the Royal ...

Sam Smith

Sir David McVicar’s 2001 production of Rigoletto for the Royal Opera may just have been displaced by a new version by Oliver Mears, but his The Magic Flute of 2003 is still going strong. Mozart’s final opera, which premiered on 30 September 1791 just a few months before the composer’s death, takes the form of a Singspiel that combines singing with spoken dialogue. In it, the Queen of the Night persuades Prince Tamino to rescue her daughter Pamina from captivity...


First New Production of Rigoletto in Twenty Years at the Royal...

Sam Smith

Based on Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse, Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto was a triumph when it premiered at La Fenice in Venice in 1851, and has remained one of the composer’s most frequently performed operas ever since. Its popularity is thoroughly deserved but might still be deemed interesting, given that it is a contender for the cruellest opera in the mainstream repertoire. While many works see the innocent suffer and die, there is usually a sense in...


Castell Peralada: Orlando Brings Together Woolf and Handel

Xavier Pujol

Peralada’s Festival, one of the most important summer festivals in the Costa Brava (Catalonia), has premiered a new production for Handel’s Orlando, a risky bet for a title outside the mainstream operatic repertoire. This was a winning bet both for the musical quality of the interpretation as well as for the theatrical interest of the new production. The young Sevillian stage director Rafael R. Villalobos was charged with this project. He brought together on stage the...


The Great Lucia from Nadine Sierra and Javier Camarena

Xavier Pujol

Liceu continues with safe bets for guaranteed box office sold outs. Last month we had La Bohème and now for the closing of the season arrives Lucia di Lammermoor. The great title by Donizetti was presented with a premium cast: Mexican tenor Javier Camarena as Edgardo and North American soprano Nadine Sierra as Lucia for her debut at the theatre. The production, from 2015, came from the Bayerische Staatsoper, signed by Polish actress and theatre director Barbara Wysocka. The...


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