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Too Clever by Half: The Queen of Spades at the Royal Opera Hou...Sam Smith
Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades of 1890 is based on Pushkin’s eponymous short story of 1834. Set during the reign of Catherine the Great it sees the officer Gherman initially admire from afar, and then become increasingly obsessed with, the granddaughter of the old Countess, Liza. She, however, is engaged to Prince Yeletsky, and Gherman knows that his lack of wealth means he will never stand a chance of winning her. He learns, however, that the now elderly Countess...
The Three Butterfly by Lianna HaroutounianXavier Pujol
Tradition states that Puccini is the operatic composer who better expressed the complexities of the feminine soul. Feminism might have something to say about this and might not agree much. What is true, however, is that the Puccinian female characters have a musical depth and theatrical density far greater than the masculine ones, who often tend to be more schematic and stereotypical. The dramatic weight difference between the feminine and the masculine characters, which starts...
L’italiana in Algeri at the Liceu: The Craziest RossiniXavier Pujol
Liceu has chosen L’italiana in Algeri by Rossini to close the year, an opera premiered in 1813 in Venice, which therefore precedes Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola and Il Turco in Italia. This is and opera that reached Barcelona quickly, in 1815, but of which in two centuries only 13 performances have taken place. The last ones were in 1982 in a memorable production directed by the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. This work, with a libretto by Angelo Anelli, consists essentially...
A New and Delightful Hänsel und Gretel at the Royal Opera Hous...Sam Smith
Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, which premiered in 1893, is based on the eponymous fairytale that was recorded by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812. It follows the Grimm version of the story reasonably closely, although there are a few notable differences including the fact that the mother here is not intent on losing the children in the forest so that she and her husband might survive the hard times. She sends them there to collect berries as a punishment for...
First Revival of Barrie Kosky’s Carmen at the Royal Opera Hous...Sam Smith
Based on Prosper Mérimée’s eponymous novella, Georges Bizet’s Carmen of 1875 is the story of the ultimate temptress. A gypsy and cigarette factory worker in Seville, Carmen has the power to entice any man she chooses. Once, however, they are besotted with her she quickly moves on, leaving them heart broken and unable to accept what has happened. In the opera Don José, an army corporal, has almost everything he could ever desire. He has the sweet, loving...
Triumphant Return for Jonathan Miller’s La bohème at the Londo...Sam Smith
Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 creation La bohème is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world today. Set in 1830s Paris, it focuses on six young adults and the love that four of them find with each other amidst the most impoverished of circumstances. One couple, Marcello and Musetta, have a stormy relationship but their frequent battles prove that their love actually has staying power. Rodolfo and Mimì, on the other hand, enjoy an apparently perfect love,...