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London’s Sixth Ever Performance of Handel’s Berenice at the Ro...Sam Smith
Handel’s Berenice was written at a time when the composer desperately needed a success. By 1737 he had been competing for audiences with the rival Opera of the Nobility for four years, but unfortunately things did not play out as he had hoped. Pressures, including the work involved to complete the piece, led him to have a stroke, and the opera, conducted by John Christopher Smith as the composer’s right hand was temporarily paralysed, lasted a mere four performances. Although...
Iain Bell’s New Opera, Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechap...Sam Smith
Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel is a new opera by composer Iain Bell and librettist Fiona Jenkins, and represents a co-commission between English National Opera and Opera North. Though the figure of the killer has enjoyed much attention as his identity, motive and mindset have been speculated on throughout the ages, the women he dispatched and mutilated have been more or less forgotten. This opera intends to redress the balance by considering the poverty they experienced that put...
Outstanding Cast Delivers in La forza del destino at the Royal...Sam Smith
Set in eighteenth century Spain, Verdi’s La forza del destino sees the Marquis of Calatrava oppose his daughter Leonora’s South American lover Don Alvaro, believing he is not good enough for her. When, however, Don Alvaro surrenders himself to prove that he never violated her, he throws down his pistol and accidentally kills the Marquis when it goes off. Leonora’s brother Don Carlo sets out to avenge his father’s death but he and Don Alvaro end up fighting side by...
Flying High with The Magic Flute at the London ColiseumSam Smith
The Magic Flute is Mozart’s final opera, and takes the form of a Singspiel that combines singing with spoken dialogue. In it, the Queen of the Night persuades Prince Tamino to rescue her daughter Pamina from captivity under the high priest Sarastro, who she claims is evil. As Tamino goes about his quest, however, and falls in love with Pamina, he learns that things are the other way around. The Queen of the Night represents the forces of darkness, while Sarastro’s community...
An operatic wordsmith: Luca Salsi's excellent La Scala recitalJames Imam
Luca Salsi has a special way with words. His Macbeth sends shivers down the spine; his noble Giorgio Germonts fills you with warmth. Such portrayals works so well because Salsi can craft colour, nuance and meaning into a line like few others today. How fitting, then, that Salsi should provide a La Scala recital programme that read like a homage to Italian verse. In doing so, Salsi confirmed himself the foremost wordsmith of the opera world. On the world’s largest opera stages...
Plácido Domingo and Angel Blue brighten up Liliana Cavani's ti...James Imam
Liliana Cavani's tired and uninspired 1990 production of La traviata apparently has enduring appeal. Ten shows into a 12-evening run, the theatre was heaving with audience members, a large proportion of them international. Perhaps tourists come to Milan expecting this sort of dependably traditional operatic fare. But there was, on this occasion, another reason to catch the show. In opting for multiple casts to sustain this long run La Scala had not skimped on quality: the...