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Strong Revival of Jonathan Kent’s Tosca at the Royal Opera Hou...Sam Smith
Based on Victorien Sardou’s 1887 French-language play, Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca of 1900 not only occurs in a specific time and place, but on a precise date that can be linked to an historical event. All of the action takes place during the afternoon, evening and early morning of 17 and 18 June 1800, following the Battle of Marengo between Napoleon’s army and Austrian forces. The Austrians were initially triumphant and sent news of victory back to Rome, but the...
Magnificent Central Trio in Andrea Chénier at the Royal Opera...Sam Smith
Andrea Chénier of 1896 is by far the best known opera by Umberto Giordano (1867-1948), an Italian composer whose profile might have been higher today had not his considerable talents been somewhat eclipsed by those of his contemporary Puccini. It is loosely based on the life of the eponymous poet (1762-1794), who was executed during the French Revolution, while the character Carlo Gérard was inspired by Jean-Lambert Tallien, a leading figure in the Revolution. Sondra...
Henze’s Final Opera Phaedra at the Royal Opera House, Covent G...Sam Smith
Hans Werner Henze’s Phaedra, with libretto by Christian Lehnert, was written in 2007, five years before the composer’s death and four years after he actually announced he was never going to write another opera. The first half relates the story of how Phaedra’s love for her stepson Hippolyt triggers catastrophe, as told by many writers across the ages including Euripides, Jean Racine and Sarah Kane. The second half, in contrast, follows a mythological tradition alluded to...
Les Pêcheurs de Perles at Liceu: A Risky Winner BetXavier Pujol
Christina Scheppelmann, artistic director at Liceu, commented on the text in the programme of Les pêcheurs de perles, that the opera’s plot is ‘naive and old fashioned’, and considered that ‘it is hard for this story to be emotionally touching’. Later, in regards to the work of stage director Lotte de Beer, who situates her version of this opera in a reality show, Scheppelmann wrote that Beer’s work manages to ‘make the story work from...
Inspired Staging Complements Poignant Opera in Billy Budd at t...Sam Smith
Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd, which premiered at the Royal Opera House in 1951 before undergoing revisions in 1960, is based on the eponymous novella by Herman Melville, and has a libretto by E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier. With the main action set aboard the HMS Indomitable in 1797 during the French Revolutionary Wars, the story centres on Billy Budd who at the start is pressed into serving in the Royal Navy from a merchant ship. He has a lot of positive attributes including...
Excellent Revival of David McVicar’s Faust at the Royal Opera ...Sam Smith
Charles-François Gounod’s Faust premiered at the Théâtre Lyrique on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris on 19 March 1859. It underwent several revisions over the following decade, including the insertion of a ballet into Act V to meet the expectations of grand opera, and was extremely popular in the nineteenth century. It was the work with which New York’s Metropolitan Opera opened for the first time on 22 October 1883, while Covent Garden included it in its...