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Nothing to Frighten the Horses in My Fair Lady at the London C...Sam Smith
Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s 1956 Broadway musical My Fair Lady is based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion of 1913. Set in Edwardian London, it sees phonetician Professor Henry Higgins make a bet with one Colonel Pickering that he cannot pass off Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, as a lady. He intends to do so by giving her intensive speech lessons with the test being whether she can fool everyone at an Embassy Ball. She succeeds when a rival phonetician...
Mavra and Pierrot lunaire Make an Effective Double Bill at the...Sam Smith
On the surface, there may not seem to be much in common between Igor Stravinsky’s one-act comic opera Mavra of 1922 and Arnold Schönberg’s groundbreaking Pierrot lunaire written a decade earlier. However, in this double bill from the Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, which represents its first full production in the intimate Linbury Theatre since Susanna in March 2020, synergies are implied between the two works without any suggested parallels...
First Revival of Damiano Michieletto’s Don Pasquale at the Roy...Sam Smith
Gaetano Donizetti’s 64th opera, Don Pasquale of 1843, represents both the zenith and the end of opera buffa since it stands as one of the finest examples of the genre, and yet there are practically none written after that date that are still in the standard repertoire. Set in Rome, it sees the ageing Don Pasquale disinherit his nephew Ernesto, who loves the young but poor widow Norina, for refusing the woman he had found for him. Even Don Pasquale’s own doctor...
Trilogia Mozart - Da Ponte: A great idea with many problemsXavier Pujol
The idea of creating a ‘trilogy’ with the three operas that Mozart composed with libretti by Lorenzo Da Ponte is fantastic. Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte were composed one after the other, a few years apart. There are numerous musical connections between them and more than one underlying dramatic connection as well. Bringing together a kind of ‘Mozart Marathon’ – nine hours’ worth of opera – by presenting the three...
Triumphant First Revival of David Alden’s Lohengrin at the Roy...Sam Smith
Lohengrin, which premiered in 1850 in Weimar, is the sixth of Richard Wagner’s thirteen operas, and the third he wrote (after Der fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser) that is still regularly performed today. It stands very much at a crossroads in that it harks back to classical opera in some respects, but in others looks forward to the composer’s later music dramas by including leitmotifs and being essentially through-composed (although some distinct...
A Stark and Effective Production of The Handmaid’s Tale at t...Sam Smith
Written in 1998 to a libretto by Paul Bentley, Poul Ruders’s The Handmaid’s Tale is based on Margaret Atwood’s eponymous novel of 1985. This means that when he wrote it no one had even heard of Bruce Miller’s television series that aired in 2017. With some qualifications, the opera follows the same plot as the novel in painting a nightmarish vision of the early twenty-first century, which then still lay in the future. It is a world in which a supposedly...