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A Staged Version of Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs at t...Sam Smith
Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, Op. 36, more commonly known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, premiered at the Royan International Festival on 4 April 1977. With the symphony being indicative of the transition from the composer’s earlier dissonant style to his later more tonal style, it sees a soprano sing a different Polish text during each of its three movements. The first is a fifteenth century Polish lament of Mary, mother of Jesus, while the second comes from a...
Blue Enjoys its UK Premiere from English National Opera at the...Sam Smith
Blue, written by Tony Award winning composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson, sees a tragedy occur against the backdrop of a clash between a father and son and the way in which black people are treated in society at large. Set in Harlem in 2007 it sees a black Mother and Father have a Son, all of whom are only ever referred to by those names. As soon as The Mother even tells her friends she is pregnant, they tell her there is no future for black boys because of the...
Handel’s Arminio Returns to the Site of its Premiere at the Ro...Sam Smith
Georg Friedrich Handel’s Arminio, with a libretto by Antonio Salvi that had previously been set to music by Alessandro Scarlatti, was not a great hit when it premiered on 12 January 1737 at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. Despite the composer’s output being as prolific as ever, this was not an easy time for him as he was competing for audiences with the rival Opera of the Nobility when there was really not enough potential audience in London to support two houses. Although...
Sierra, Fabiano and Minkowski make Manon a Triumph at the LiceuXavier Pujol
Nadine Sierra was the big winner on the opening night of Manon. Her voice is at its best, splendid. The high notes are easy, well timbred, and brilliant. The dynamic control is of great quality and the projection of the singing, without being magnificent, is fully satisfactory. The exhaustive technical control of breathing and emission allows her to sing naturally and with and ease, without apparent physical effort and without dropping in performance over the course of a show lasting...
Kaija Saariaho’s Innocence is Compelling and Intense at the Ro...Sam Smith
Kaija Saariaho’s Innocence, which is currently enjoying its UK premiere at the Royal Opera House, is one opera where it does not pay to read the synopsis in advance. In most instances, the advantage of having some prior knowledge of what to look out for outweighs the disadvantage of any surprises being spoilt, but that is not the case here. This is because it is an opera in which we are constantly learning new things as the drama unfolds, with some of the revelations being so...
English National Opera’s First Ever Production of Korngold’s T...Sam Smith
Erich Korngold, who is more usually if somewhat unfairly associated with film scores, wrote Die tote Stadt at the age of 23. It is based on Georges Rodebach’s 1892 novel Bruges-la-Morte, which had already been turned into a play by the author. Korngold’s father Julius knew Siegfried Trebitsch, who had translated the latter into German, and Julius and Erich adapted the play into an opera, writing the libretto between them under the joint pseudonym of Paul Schott. Set in...