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English National Opera at its Very Best in Akhnaten at the Lon...Sam Smith
Philip Glass, who is recognised as one of the leading proponents of minimalism in the world today, has written over twenty-five operas, a total achieved by hardly any composer since the days of Rossini, Donizetti and Verdi. Three of these form the ‘portrait trilogy’, which focuses on pivotal figures in the fields of science, politics and religion respectively. Einstein on the Beach premiered in 1976, Satyagraha (about Mahatma Gandhi) followed in 1980, and then the triptych was...
A New Opera: l'Enigma di LeaXavier Pujol
Finally, after many years, Liceu has hosted the world premiere of an opera, L’enigma di Lea by Benet Casablancas with text by Rafael Argullol. Casablancas, born in 1956, is one of the main current Catalan composers. Although his catalogue is long and varied this is his first opera. Rafael Argullol, born in 1949, is a poet, novelist, philosopher, essay writer and university professor in aesthetics and art theory. The piece, described by the librettist as a ‘mythical...
Amanda Majeski is an Outstanding Katya Kabanova at the Royal O...Sam Smith
Katya Kabanova is often regarded as Leoš Janáček’s first ‘mature’ opera, despite the fact that he was 67 when it premiered in 1921. The libretto is by Vincenc Červinka, while the work is based on Alexander Ostrovsky’s play The Storm, but there can still be little doubt that the opera, and particularly its lead character, were inspired by the composer’s feelings for the far younger Kamila Stösslová. Set in the Russian town of...
Fine Stagecraft Meets Superb Musicianship in Die Walküre at th...Sam Smith
The London Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski, is currently in the midst of presenting Richard Wagner’s tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen over a three-year period. The first opera Das Rheingold was performed in January 2018, with the second Die Walküre appearing now. While in the initial instalment, the chief god Wotan manages to retain his status and magnificent castle Valhalla, albeit at a terrible price, in this one things unravel at an alarming rate...
Outstanding Revival of La traviata at the Royal Opera House, C...Sam 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...
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...