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Top Music Making and Performances in Agrippina at the Royal Op...Sam Smith
Agrippina of 1709 is the second opera that Handel wrote in Italy, and his first notable operatic success. Set in Ancient Rome, it sees the title character, who is the wife of the Emperor Claudio, take steps to ensure that her son from her first marriage, Nerone, is crowned Emperor when news reaches her that Claudio has been killed at sea. After, however, manipulating the freedmen Pallante and Narciso to hail Nerone as Emperor in front of the Senate, the commander Ottone arrives proclaiming...
Committed Performances in Werther at the Royal Opera House, Co...Sam Smith
Jules Massenet’s Werther, with libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann, was written between 1885 and 1887, although it did not premiere until 1892. Set in Wetzlar in Germany in the 1780s, and loosely based on Goethe’s epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, it concerns a melancholic poet who is besotted with Charlotte. Their feelings for each other begin to develop when her betrothed Albert is away, but he returns unexpectedly and Charlotte...
First Rate Character Exploration in Don Giovanni at the Royal ...Sam Smith
Don Giovanni of 1787 is one of three operas that Mozart wrote with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte (the others being Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte). It tells of the eponymous hero, or rather antihero, who effortlessly conquers thousands of women. Although in the process he makes many enemies, the ladies he has cheated have a habit of coming back for more or trying to save him, and in the end he is responsible for his own downfall. When the ghost of the Commendatore who he...
Radvanovsky and Beczala shine in Luisa Miller at LiceuXavier Pujol
Once again, the season at Liceu comes to a close and, very importantly, Christina Scheppelmann’s era as artistic director of the Barcelonan theatre ends as well. She will be the new artistic director at the Seattle Opera from August. Having been leading Liceu for the last five years and having had to face grave economic limitations, she has nevertheless left important landmarks for Liceu’s artistic history such as Benvenuto Cellini, the celebrated Andrea Chénier with...
An Entertaining and Well Sung La fille du régiment at the Roya...Sam Smith
La fille du régiment of 1840 was Gaetano Donizetti’s first opera set to a French language text (by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François-Alfred Bayard). Its premiere at the Opéra Comique in Paris has been described as a ‘barely averted disaster’ with the lead tenor apparently being frequently off-pitch, and composer and critic Hector Berlioz slating the piece as he had his own axe to grind with Donizetti. Nevertheless, Berlioz...
Strong First Revival of Richard Jones’s Boris Godunov at the R...Sam Smith
Boris Godunov is Modest Mussorgsky’s only completed opera, and is considered to be his masterpiece. Its subjects are the eponymous Russian ruler, who reigned as Tsar from 1598 to 1605, and the False Dmitry I, who succeeded him almost immediately but was killed only a year later. The Russian-language libretto was written by the composer, and is based on Pushkin’s blank verse drama Boris Godunov as well as Nikolay Karamzin’s History of the Russian...