Columns linked to Malin Byström

First Rate Character Exploration in Don Giovanni at the Royal ...

Sam Smith

Don Giovanni of 1787 is one of three operas that Mozart wrote with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte (the others being Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte). It tells of the eponymous hero, or rather antihero, who effortlessly conquers thousands of women. Although in the process he makes many enemies, the ladies he has cheated have a habit of coming back for more or trying to save him, and in the end he is responsible for his own downfall. When the ghost of the Commendatore who he...


A Gory but Psychologically Intense Salome at the Royal Opera H...

Sam Smith

Despite only being mentioned briefly in the New Testament, the character of Salome has certainly caught the imagination as she has pervaded art, literature and music over the centuries. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark she is described as a girl who pleased King Herod so much at his birthday feast with her dancing that he promised her anything she desired. After consulting Herodias, the husband of Herod and her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a plate, with Herodias...


Les Vêpres siciliennes at the Royal Opera House, London

Sam Smith

Giuseppe Verdi’s Les Vêpres siciliennes of 1855 tells of the French occupation of Sicily in the thirteenth century. Prior to the opera’s opening the Sicilian patriot Jean Procida was exiled and the French conqueror Guy de Montfort, who became the island’s governor, violated a Sicilian woman who subsequently had a son called Henri. At times the Sicilians are a little too ready to accept their subservient position, but three individuals are determined to set the...