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Outstanding Musical Credentials Create an Enchanting Lohengrin...Sam Smith
Lohengrin of 1850 is the sixth of Richard Wagner’s thirteen operas, and the third he wrote (after Der fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser) to be regularly performed still. 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 leitmotives and being essentially through-composed (although a few distinct arias are to be found within it). It is also the...
Manon in Ellis Island, at the LiceuXavier Pujol
The new Manon Lescaut production presented at Liceu, a co-production by Teatro di San Carlo from Naples and Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia from Valencia, starts at the Ellis Island in New York, a world referent for immigration. It is there that an old Des Grieux recalls his past and the romantic relationship that he had in his youth with Manon Lescaut. The whole opera by Puccini is presented therefore as an immense flashback. The scenography will transform to show us successively the Amiens...
George Benjamin Provides some Lessons in Love and Violence at ...Sam Smith
Lessons in Love and Violence is the third opera on which composer George Benjamin and librettist Martin Crimp have collaborated. They first enjoyed success together in 2006 with Into the Little Hill while Written on Skin, which premiered at the 2012 Aix-en-Provence Festival, has gone on to become the most widely performed opera of any to be written in the twenty-first century. Their latest creation represents a co-production between no less than six major opera houses, and is...
The Demon falls in love at the LiceuXavier Pujol
Demon, the opera by Anton Rubinstein with libretto by Pavel Alexandrovich Viskovatov based on the homonymous poem by Mikhail Lermontov, was premiered in 1875 and was performed often in Russia towards the end of the 19th century, but today is an opera outside the repertoire, almost a rarity. The fact that Liceu decided to participate in a co-production of the title alongside the Helikon Opera from Moscow, the Staatstheater from Nürnberg and the Opéra National de Bordeaux,...
A Truly Overwhelming Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at the Royal Oper...Sam Smith
Although initially enjoying great success, Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk of 1934 has courted controversy almost from day one. Being condemned from various quarters for its lurid descriptive music in the sex scenes, its supposed justification of Stalin’s genocide (the main protagonist kills her kulak in-laws) and its ‘primitive satire’ in its treatment of the priest and police, it was attacked by both Stravinsky (who described it as ‘lamentably...
Debauchery Trumps Emotion in La traviata at the London ColiseumSam Smith
Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata of 1853 is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world today. Based on Alexandre Dumas, fils’s play La Dame aux camélias, it tells of Violetta Valéry who is a famed Parisian courtesan. Beneath her apparently carefree exterior, however, she is suffering from tuberculosis and her world is shaken when she meets Alfredo with whom she falls in love. They run away together and live off the sale of her goods, but one day...