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Opera North’s Parsifal Brings a Touch of the Divine to London’...Sam Smith
Premiering in 1882 at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, Parsifal is Richard Wagner’s final opera and widely regarded as one of his greatest achievements. It is loosely based on Wolfram von Eschenbach’s epic poem Parzival, written in the first quarter of the thirteenth century, which recounts the story of the Arthurian knight Parzival and his quest for the Holy Grail. Set in Monsalvat, it sees the title character attempt to retrieve the Holy Spear that pierced Christ’s side...
McVicar’s Old Zauberflöte continues to be MagicalXavier Pujol
David McVicar’s production of Die Zauberflöte commissioned by London’s Covent Garden was premiered almost 20 years ago and it has now reached Liceu after touring the world and becoming a reference amongst the many stagings of Mozart’s Singspiel in the last decades. This wasn’t Liceu’s first choice, however, as when the season – now almost over – was first announced it featured a production form the Dutch National Opera signed by Simon...
First Rate Cast in Excellent Revival of Madama Butterfly at th...Sam Smith
Set in Nagasaki, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly of 1904-07, with a libretto by Giuseppe Giacoso and Luigi Illica, explores the relationship between the American naval officer Pinkerton and Cio-Cio-San from the city’s Omara district. Cio-Cio-San, whom Pinkerton both affectionately and patronisingly addresses as Madam Butterfly, takes their love so seriously that she converts to Christianity, and is consequently ostracised by her family. He, on the other hand, sees their...
Samson et Dalila is a Production of Two Halves at the Royal Op...Sam Smith
Camille Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, which premiered in Weimar in 1877, is the only one of the composer’s operas to be regularly performed today. In describing how the Israelite Samson is duped by the Philistine Dalila into divulging the secret of his strength, thus enabling him to be weakened and blinded, the story comes from Chapter 16 of the Book of Judges. However, it concentrates on certain elements and downplays others, ignoring the heroic deeds that earned...
Wozzeck at the Liceu: The Dark Beauty of HorrorXavier Pujol
In the 18th century there was pain and misery, but art generally displayed the beauty of the world. In the 19th century there was also pain and misery and art showed a part of it. In the 20th century there was a lot of pain and a lot of misery and very often art became unpleasant because the artist felt the need to show the world all the unnecessary pain, the avoidable misery, the great alienation and violence that govern human relationships. For many artists, failing to do this would have...
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...