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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...
Anna Pirozzi saves La Gioconda that Irène Theorin didn't singXavier Pujol
The debut of Iréne Theorin, one of the greatest Wagnerian sopranos of our time, on the title role was the main feature of the restaging of La Gioconda at Liceu. The opera by Amilcare Ponchielli – the only one by him remaining in the repertoire – moves very awkwardly, as it doesn’t fit anywhere, in the space in between post Verdi and Verism. This wasn’t possible. A few hours before the opening, the theatre announced that Iréne Theorin, still...
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...