This opera buffa (comic opera) is a continuation on the plot of the Barber of Seville revisiting the characters several years down the line. It is an account of a single "day of madness" (la folle giornata) in the palace of the Count Almaviva near Seville, Spain. Rosina is now the Countess and Dr. Bartolo is looking for revenge against Figaro after thwarting his personal plans to marry Rosina. Count Almaviva has degenerated from his former romantic youth into a bullying, skirt-chasing baritone. Having gratefully given Figaro a job as head of his servant-staff, the Count now continually trys to obtain the favors of Figaro's bride-to-be, Susanna. He keeps creating excuses to delay the civil part of the wedding of his two servants, which is arranged for this very day. Figaro, Susanna, and the Countess conspire to embarrass the Count and expose his scheming. The Count’s response is an attempt to legally compel Figaro to marry a woman old enough to be his mother, who turns out at the last minute to actually be his mother. By the end, as a result of Figaro and Susanna's clever manipulations, the Count's love for Rosina is finally restored.
La Traviata's popularity has grown so quickly since its first performance in 1853, that even to someone who considers themselves to have only the minimal or no opera knowledge, will have no problem recognising the music from this world famous opera.
Starting out with two highly successful operas, Rigoletto and Il Trovatore, Giuseppe Verdi's third opera, La Traviata, was only expected to be as great a success as the previous two. Written after the novel and play, La Dame aux camélias, by Alexandre Dumas Jr., the three act opera takes place in mid 19th century Paris, and focuses on the tumultuous romance between a courtesan named Violetta Valéry and a young man named, Alfredo Germont.
The already troubled romance unfortunately ends in tragedy, but the plot of the opera, which is one of the first to deal with contemporary social issues, offers an interesting story line with eccentric characters, and beautifully decorated stage settings that combine with the music to make it Giuseppe Verdi's most celebrated opera.
Carmen is an opera in four acts by the French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. The opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, on 3 March 1875, and at first was not particularly successful. Its initial run extended to 36 performances, before the conclusion of which Bizet died suddenly, and thus knew nothing of the opera's later celebrity.
The opera, written in the genre of opéra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue, tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery Gypsy, Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen's love to the glamorous toreador Escamillo, after which José kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of proletarian life, immorality and lawlessness, and the tragic outcome in which the main character dies on stage, broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial. After the premiere, most reviews were critical, and the French public was generally indifferent. Carmen initially gained its reputation through a series of productions outside France, and was not revived in Paris until 1883; thereafter it rapidly acquired celebrity at home and abroad, and continues to be one of the most frequently performed operas; the "Toreador song" from act 2 is among the best known of all operatic arias. Later commentators have asserted that Carmen forms the bridge between the tradition of opéra comique and the realism or verismo that characterised late 19th-century Italian opera.
The dramatic charge of the story of the Egyptian Princess Aida and the warrior Radames grows out of the inner torment of a woman who has to decide between being loyal to her country or dedicating herself to a man who is one of the oppressors of her nation. The dilemma of choosing between love and duty is also faced by Radames, who ultimately betrays his homeland because of Aida.
Verdi's passion-fuelled Egyptian opera was commissioned by Isma'il Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, and first performed in Cairo at the Khedivial Opera House in 1871. But, as no member of the general public attended, Verdi always thought of the first performance in Milan as the real premiere. Aida is an Ethiopian princess, captured by the Egyptians and enslaved to the Pharoah. The young commander Radamès falls in love with her, rejecting the advances of even the Pharoah's daughter, Amneris. But Radamès is sent to fight in the war with the Ethiopians, tearing Aida's heart between love for her father and her country, and her love for Radamès. When Aida and Radamès are caught trying to flee together to the desert, Radamès is condemned to death. He accepts his horrendous fate - to be buried alive - only hoping that Aida has escaped to her own country. But, sealed in the tomb from which he will never emerge, he finds Aida, who has sworn to share his fate so they may walk together into the afterlife.
Simplicity, truth and naturalness: these, according to Gluck, are the eternal attributes of beauty. In Act 1, Admetus (Admète), king of Thebes, is dying. Apollo's oracle announces that Admetus can live if someone takes his place. Alcestis (Alceste), the king's wife, offers herself to the underworld.
In Act II, Alcestis asks the gods if she can see her husband one more time. The city celebrates as the king returns to health, but no one can understand why Alcestis weeps. The truth slowly emerges and she bids farewell to life.
Act III sees Admetus imploring his wife to renounce her pact, but she remains true to her word and dies. After yet more mourning Apollo is forced to revoke his oracle's pact and restores Alcestis to life, reuniting her with her husband.
Rossini’s youthful farce sees a combination of events of French origins that is easier to see than it is to explain. The subject is similar to that of Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto, and stars a certain Giulia who unrolls a staircase from her balcony, with the help of the shadows, to allow the young Dorvil who she has secretly married to come up to her room. Why silk though? Perhaps it was in the wait for speleological nylon ladders. The “girl’s” old tutor chooses another boyfriend for her, but she passes him on to her cousin. There is even a spying servant that confuses everyone. Jealousy, misunderstandings, narcissism, obstinacy, frisson, much climbing up and down the ladder, and the final blessing of the two couples.
Michieletto’s staging, which has already been seen at the "Rossini Opera Festival", creates a high visual impact because it shows the acting from above as well, thanks to a mirror placed at an angle. This forces the actors to act in the midst of nothing at some points so they can attain the visual effect required.
The apex of Verdi’s musical inspiration, the sombre Don Carlo describes the devastated world of the victims of power in the days of the Spanish Inquisition. Riots, the burning of heretics at the stake and liberal rebellions provide the backdrop to painful love stories frustrated by the state. Spain’s Infante is in love with his step-mother, but is desired by his father’s lover. The power of the throne of Philip II falls victim to the altar: in fact the Great Inquisitor obtains the sacrifice of the son and his most loyal friend, Posa.
The Italian version from 1884 will be staged (it being the most concise of the five that are known) which Verdi oversaw for La Scala. It is the version in which, in the finale, the ghost of Carlo V calls his nephew to him in the tomb, to keep him out of the reach of the Friars of the Holy Office.
Stéphane Braunschweig’s performance will be staged. Its inaugural evening was in 2008 and it was warmly applauded in Japan. The staging is essential, clean-cut, geometric and harsh, often cutting, and basically indifferent to the commonly-held conception of dark yet sun-soaked Spain. Filippo II will be played by René Pape and his wife Elisabeth by Martina Serafin.
I puritani (The Puritans) is an opera in three acts by Vincenzo Bellini. It was his last opera. Its libretto is by Count Carlo Pepoli, based on Têtes rondes et Cavaliers by Jacques-François Ancelot and Joseph Xavier Saintine, which is in turn based on Walter Scott's novel Old Mortality. It was first produced at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris, 24 January 1835. At the same time, Bellini composed an alternative version intended for the famous Maria Malibran, who was to sing it in Naples; she died exactly a year to the day after the composer, and so this version was not performed on stage until 10 April 1986 at the Teatro Petruzzelli, Bari, with Katia Ricciarelli.
Inspired by Sir Walter Scott's novel, madness is the dominant theme in this opera, set in a ruined castle on the misty moors. With sublime mastery, Donizetti combines drama with consummate vocal writing, giving the role of Lucia a heartbreakingly delicate quality.
The Makropulos Affair (also known as The Makropoulos Case, or The Makropulos Secret) is a three-act opera by Czech composer Leoš Janáček. The libretto, based on a play of the same name by Karel Čapek, was written by the composer between 1923 and 1925. The world premiere of the opera was given at the National Theatre in Brno on December 18, 1926, conducted by František Neumann.
The Makropulos Affair was his penultimate opera and, like much of his later work, it was inspired by his infatuation with Kamila Stösslová, a married woman much younger than himself. The lead character, Emillia Marty, is a 300 year old opera singer, daughter of an alchemist who created a formula for inmortality and tested it on his daughter. Emilia, however, is beginning to feel the effects of her age, and needs to get hold of the formula that will continue to elongate her life.
La fanciulla del West (The Girl of the West) is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Guelfo Civinini (it) and Carlo Zangarini, based on the play The Girl of the Golden West by the American author David Belasco. Fanciulla followed Madama Butterfly, which was also based on a Belasco play. The opera has fewer of the show-stopping highlights that are characteristic of other Puccini works, but is admired for its impressive orchestration and for a score that is more melodically integrated than is typical of his previous work. Fanciulla displays influences from composers Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky and Richard Strauss, without being in any way imitative. Similarities between the libretto and the work of Richard Wagner have also been found, though some attribute this more to the original plot of the play, and have asserted that the opera remains quintessentially Italian.
The opera had a successful and highly-publicised première at the Met in 1910.Nevertheless, while Puccini deemed it one of his greatest works, La fanciulla del West has become a less popular opera within the composer's repertoire, drawing a mixed public reception overall. Despite the plot being a source of significant criticism, the majority of academics and musicians agree in calling it a magnum opus, particularly lauding its craftmanship. Conductor Arturo Toscanini called the opera a "great symphonic poem".
Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly) is an opera in three acts (originally two acts) by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. The libretto of the opera is based in part on the short story "Madame Butterfly" (1898) by John Luther Long, which was dramatized by David Belasco. Elements also appear to derive from the novel Madame Chrysanthème (1887) by Pierre Loti. According to one scholar, the story of the opera was based on events that actually occurred in Nagasaki in the early 1890s.
The original version of the opera, in two acts, had its premiere on 17 February 1904 at La Scala in Milan. It was very poorly received despite the presence of such notable singers as soprano Rosina Storchio, tenor Giovanni Zenatello and baritone Giuseppe De Luca in the lead roles. This was due in large part to the late completion and inadequate time for rehearsals. Puccini revised the opera, splitting the second act into two acts and making other changes. On May 28, 1904, this version was performed in Brescia and was a huge success.
Between 1915 and 1920, Japan's best-known opera singer Tamaki Miura won international fame for her performances as Cio-Cio San. Her statue, along with that of Puccini, can be found in the Glover Garden in Nagasaki, the city where the opera is set.
Madama Butterfly is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire for companies around the world, ranking 7th in the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide.
L'italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers) is an operatic dramma giocoso in two acts by Gioachino Rossini to an Italian libretto by Angelo Anelli, based on his earlier text set by Luigi Mosca. It premiered at the Teatro San Benedetto in Venice on 22 May 1813. The music is characteristic of Rossini's style, remarkable for its fusion of sustained, manic energy with elegant, pristine melodies.
Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde, or Tristan and Isolda, or Tristran and Ysolt) is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it "eine Handlung" (literally a drama. a plot or an action), which was the equivalent of the term used by the Spanish playwright Calderón for his dramas.
Wagner's composition of Tristan und Isolde was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, Tristan was notable for Wagner's advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.
The opera was profoundly influential among Western classical composers and provided inspiration to composers such as Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Karol Szymanowski, Alban Berg and Arnold Schoenberg. Many see Tristan as the beginning of the move away from conventional harmony and tonality and consider that it lays the groundwork for the direction of classical music in the 20th century.
I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues) is an Italian opera (Tragedia lirica) in two acts by Vincenzo Bellini.
The libretto by Felice Romani was a reworking of the story of Romeo and Juliet for an opera by Nicola Vaccai called Giulietta e Romeo. This was based on Italian sources rather than taken directly from William Shakespeare. (The tomb scene from Vaccai's opera has sometimes been performed with Bellini's opera.)
Bellini was persuaded to write the opera for the 1830 Carnival season at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, with only a month and a half available for composition. He succeeded by appropriating a large amount of music previously written for his unsuccessful opera Zaira. The first performance of I Capuleti e i Montecchi was on 11 March 1830.
L'incoronazione di Poppea is an Italian opera by Claudio Monteverdi in a prologue and three acts, with a libretto by Giovanni Francesco Busenello, which was first performed at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice during the 1643 carnival season. One of the first operas to use historical events and people, it describes how Poppaea, mistress of the Roman emperor Nero, is able to achieve her ambition and be crowned empress. The opera was revived in Naples in 1651, but was then neglected until the rediscovery of the score in 1888, after which it became the subject of scholarly attention in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the 1960s, the opera has been performed and recorded many times.
Premiered on 9 February 1893 at La Scala, Milan to great success, Falstaff was Verdi's last opera, written in the composer's ninth decade, and only the second of his 28 operas to be a comedy. It was also the third of Verdi's operas to be based on a Shakespearean play, following his earlier Macbeth and Otello. (Verdi had toyed, too, with writing an opera based on King Lear and Arrigo Boito later tried to interest him in Antony and Cleopatra, but neither project was ever brought to fruition.)
While it has not proved to be as immensely popular as the Verdi works that immediately preceded it, namely Aida and Otello, Falstaff has long been an admired favorite with critics and musicians because of its brilliant orchestration, scintillating libretto and refined melodic invention. It is in the standard repertoire of many opera companies.
Adriana Lecouvreur by Francesco Cilea, an opera of four acts, was first performed on 6th November 1902 in Milan. The veristic style of the composer, and the complex story of love and jealousy make this a masterful, yet very convoluted work. Adriana Lecouvreur loves the Count of Saxony, who returns her love – but dies as a result of a bouquet of poisoned flowers sent her by her rival. Cilea and his librettist Arturo Colautti skilfully interweave a story set in the world of the theatre with the historical reality. The title character and her lover lived in the 18th century, and she was a leading actress of her time. Fiction and history thus form a densely knit whole elaborately enriched by the music of Cilea.
The Telephone (or L’Amour à trois) is a comic opera written and composed by Giancarlo Menotti. It was first staged at the Heckscher Theatre in New York in 1947.
The story, narrated in a single act, begins when Ben arrives at Lucy’s apartment to ask her for her hand in marriage. However, Lucy is constantly on the phone and Ben can’t seem to find enough time between calls to pop the question. Ben, who’s going away and doesn’t want to miss the train, leaves without proposing, but decides to makes one final attempt: he calls Lucy from a telephone booth and asks her to marry him. She accepts and, before saying goodbye, makes sure that her fiancé remembers her phone number.
This opera seria by Handel, written between 1709 and 1710, is a politically incorrect comedy about how to seize or hang on to power, the tale of a battle between female patricians. McVicar views this virtually wicked text in the light of the aesthetic of the most sophisticated soap operas of the 1980s. Agrippina and Poppea – the two great rivals – behave with the tyrannical confidence of the leading ladies of Dynasty or Falcon Crest, waging all-out war on stiletto heels, oblivious to ethical constraints or obstacles. Seduction and sex are mere tools for getting what they want, by fair means or foul. Yet paradoxically, the characters of this amoral farce are not caricatures. Three hundred years after its premiere, Agrippina still interests the audience because the protagonists are three-dimensional, almost Mozartian, in their human contradictions and complexity.
The German composer Helmut Oehring uses the music of Henry Purcell to create a narratively fragmented opera, with libretto and concept by Stefanie Wördemann based on texts by William Shakespeare, Heinrich Heine, Adalbert Stifter and Oehring himself.
Described by its creators as an 'ode to transience', this work has no specific argument but rather revolves around the cyclical nature of all earthly things, exploring timeless existential issues such as life and death or love and loss. Aschemond or the Fairy Queen is strongly reminiscent of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but is also has a second storyline that follows the son of the late poet Sylvia Plath, who returns to his mother's house to try to come to terms with her suicide.
Aschemond or the Fairy Queen premiered at the Berlin Staatsoper (Schiller Theatre) in 2013.
Dido and Aeneas is an opera in a prologue and three acts, written by the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell with a libretto by Nahum Tate. The first known performance was at Josias Priest's girls' school in London somewhere around 1688. The story is based on Book IV of Virgil'sAeneid. It recounts the love of Dido, Queen of Carthage, for the Trojan hero Aeneas, and her despair when he abandons her. A monumental work in Baroque opera, Dido and Aeneas is remembered as one of Purcell's foremost theatrical works.It was also Purcell's first opera, as well as his only all-sung dramatic work. One of the earliest English operas, it owes much to John Blow's Venus and Adonis, both in structure and in overall effect.
The Trojans are preparing for their departure. The witches rejoice when they see the disconsolate Queen. Dido feels that the Gods have punished her with Aeneas´faithlessness because she broke her vow; she refuses Aeneas´ offer to stay. The lovers accept the fate that has failed to respect their innermost desires and sacrifice their love. Belinda is unable to comfort. Aeneas sets sail with his comrades. Dido dies.
In the first performance of this fairy-tale opera, Mozart himself conducted, his sister-in-law played the Queen of the Night, and the librettist Emmanuel Schikaneder played Papageno. The form includes both song and spoken dialogue, and was originally written for a very specific cast. Pitch clues are written in for the comic actors who would sing some parts, while the part of the Queen of the Night is of infamous difficulty.
Prince Tamino, fleeing a serpent in a foreign land, faints from fatigue. Three attendants of the Queen of the Night kill the serpent and vanish, until Papageno the bird catcher tries to take credit for their rescue. Poor feathery Papageno longs for a wife, but Tamino falls in love with a portrait of Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night. The Queen sends Tamino to the house of her enemy, Sarastro, to rescue Pamina. But Tamino becomes more and more convinced of Sarasto's benevolence, as he promises him Pamina's hand on the completion of a series of tasks.
The judges, priests of Isis and Osiris, are proud and happy at Tamino's noble progress, but poor Papageno struggles along, wishing he could just have the wife Sarastro has promised him, without being tasked with silence in the face of temptation. The Queen of the Night plots to regain Tamino's favour, and her daughter's, who has fallen in love with Tamino and awaits Sarastro's blessing. But Sarastro is forgiving of their uncertainty, and Tamino and Pamina are married to general rejoicing. Papageno has met Papagena, a wrinkly old lady, but on promising reluctantly to love her faithfully, she is transformed into a pretty and youthful girl, who will finally be won by her feathery lover.
Tamino's journey is an allegory for enlightenment, for the progress of mankind from superstition to rationality.
Nabucco (short for Nabucodonosor, English Nebuchadnezzar) is an Italian-language opera in four acts composed in 1841 by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera. The libretto is based on the Biblical story and the 1836 play by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornue, although Antonio Cortese's ballet adaptation of the play (with its necessary simplifications), given at La Scala in 1836, was a more important source for Solera than the play itself.Under its original name of Nabucodonosor, the opera was first performed at La Scala in Milan on 9 March 1842.
Nabucco is the opera which is considered to have permanently established Verdi's reputation as a composer. He commented that "this is the opera with which my artistic career really begins. And though I had many difficulties to fight against, it is certain that Nabucco was born under a lucky star."
It follows the plight of the Jews as they are assaulted, conquered, and subsequently exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nabucco (in English, Nebuchadnezzar). The historical events are used as background for a romantic and political plot. The best-known number from the opera is the "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves," Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate / "Fly, thought, on golden wings," a chorus which is regularly given an encore in many operas houses when performed today.
The original source for Die Fledermaus is a farce by German playwright Julius Roderich Benedix (1811–1873), Das Gefängnis (The Prison). Another source is a French vaudeville play, Le réveillon, by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. This was first translated by Karl Haffner into a non-musical play to be produced in Vienna. However, the peculiarly French custom of the réveillon (a New Year's Eve supper party) caused problems, which were solved by the decision to adapt the play as a libretto for Johann Strauss, with the réveillon replaced by a Viennese ball. At this point Haffner's translation was handed over for adaptation to Richard Genée, who subsequently claimed not only that he had made a fresh translation from scratch but that he had never even met Haffner.
The Taming of The Shrew is a comedy opera composed by Hermann Goetz. The libretto, written by Joseph Victor Widmann, is based on Shakespeare’s famous play by the same name. The opera premiered in Germany in October 1874.
The Taming of The Shrew is the story of two sisters, Bianca and Katherina, who are in age to find a husband. Katherina has more difficulty in that task than her sister Bianca who has three suitors awaiting her hand in marriage, Hortensio, Lucentio and Gremio. However, the father of the two girls, Baptista Minola, has decided that Bianca may wed one of her suitor only when her sister has found a husband for herself. Katherina's temper is the reason why no man has yet to woo her but the three suitors of her sister Bianca are determined to find a man for Katherina in order to have a chance of becoming the husband of Bianca. Petruchio, a friend of Hortensio from Verona, ends up being the perfect candidate to solve the problem that the three suitors have; he wants to marry a rich woman and the temper of Katherina is not an issue for him. After a visit to the Baptista's house, he manages to obtain the hand of Katherina without her full consent from her father. The marriage occurs and even though we might think that the two newlyweds are going to end up resenting one another, Petruchio ends up showing his brightness by using the proper psychology in order to "tame" his wife, the "shrew."
In 1912, Puccini saw the one-act play 'La Houppelande' (The Cloak) in Paris. For some time he had been thinking about composing three short operas to be given on the same evening, and which he later named Il Trittico, comprising Il Tabarro (The Cloak), Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica) and Gianni Schicchi. Puccini liked the stark, atmospheric flavour of the play and first Ferdinando Martini, who proved too slow however, then Giuseppe Adami set to work on the libretto. Puccini was also busy with 'La Rondine' at this time, and casting about for subjects for the other two short operas, so it was not until the end of 1916 that the opera was finished though he included changes again in 1921, when he replaced (Michele's original aria Scorri, fiume with Nulla! Silenzio!).
Blood Wedding was written and composed by Wolfgang Fortner, based on Lorca’s play by the same name. A true story in a local newspaper inspired Lorca to write Blood Wedding in 1933. The plot is based on the true story of a young bride in Andalusia who abandoned her husband-to-be on the morning of their wedding day to escape with her childhood sweetheart and deals with universal themes of tradition, sexual oppression, and honor. Lorca is considered one of Spain's greatest poets and playwrights despite the fact that Franco's government prohibited his books and forbade anyone to speak his name for more than twenty years. It is a powerful work, reminiscent of Puccini’s muscular verismo, full of richly coloured orchestration.
Blood Wedding premiered at the Cologne Opera on the 8th June 1957.
On the basis of the one-act opera C'est la guerre alone, Emil Petrovics (born in 1930 in Belgrade, and a pupil of Hungarian composer Ferenc Farkas) deserves to be a household name. Every bar of this carefully compacted, fiercely dramatic work takes it straight to the top of 20th century Hungarian opera, holding its own alongside Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle and that other neglected gem, Szokolay's Blood Wedding.
Written byMiklós Hubay, C'est la guerre was first broadcasted on Hungarian radio in 1961, just as repression started easing five years after the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956. It was staged in Budapest a year later. It's aptly named, for its immediate, unflinching launch in medias res feel has the distinct melodramatic feel of Zimmermann's Die Soldaten or Berg's Wozzeck; Petrovics himself uses dodecaphony, but with all the ease and nervy approachability of Berg or Ernst Krenek.
All women are unfaithful. Philosopher Don Alfonso has no doubt about that. But will the opera Cosi Fan Tutte convince its audiences that he is right?
All philosophy aside, here’s an opera that will keep surprising and amusing you, no matter what you think of women. Offended by the misogynist remarks of their old friend, the philosopher Don Alfonso, Ferrando and Guglielmo agree to lay wagers on the outcome of a game he has designed to test the fidelity of their respective sweethearts, Dorabella and Fiordiligi. The two young men agree to obey the instructions of Alfonso (who has enlisted the help of Despina, the women’s assistant): they feign a heartbroken departure to the front, only to return a few hours later disguised as dashing Albanians, eager to win the favours of the abandoned sisters. The young women put up an outraged defence of their virtue but before long they are yielding to the exotic advances of the strangers. The conspirators gradually become enmeshed by their own plot and are dismayed to find they are as susceptible as their victims. Events culminate in a double wedding and all four lovers discover that no-one is exempt from the secret inconsistencies of love.
In one of Mozart's most popular operas, Don Giovanni is a Spanish nobleman renowned throughout Europe as a seducer of women; Leporello, his servant, reluctantly aids him by keeping watch. In Seville Giovanni attempts to rape Donna Anna, who chases out the intruder. Her father, the Commendatore, challenges Giovanni to a fight and is killed. Anna and her lover, Don Ottavio, vow revenge on the unknown murderer. Leporello's attempts to persuade his master to reform are interrupted by Donna Elvira, a former mistress of Giovanni's, who has pursued him to Seville. Giovanni makes his excuses and escapes her, leaving Leporello to explain the extent of his master's womanizing.
Masetto and his bride Zerlina are to be married at a peasant wedding near Giovanni's villa, but Giovanni sets himself to seduce Zerlina. Elvira interrupts and foils Giovanni's attempt. Ottavio and Anna appeal to Giovanni for help in their pursuit of the murderer of Anna's father. Elvira again interrupts and warns Ottavio and Anna about Giovanni's true nature; Anna recognizes Giovanni as the murderer. Leporello discusses with Giovanni the plans for the masked ball his master is hosting that evening. Zerlina, reunited with Masetto, assures him that Giovanni has not touched her. Elvira joins forces with Ottavio and Anna; they have been invited to the ball and intend to exact vengeance on Giovanni. While everyone is dancing at the ball Giovanni attempts to ensnare Zerlina, but is stopped by her. She rallies all behind her to try to entrap Giovanni. All accuse him, but he and Leporello elude them.
Bartók's spine-chilling one-act opera, Duke Bluebeard's Castle has become a 20th century masterpiece and has satisfied Bartók's dream of establishing a true Hungarian-language opera.
In 1911, Bela Bartók submitted an opera to a Hungarian National Competition. A one-act work, this hour-long adaptation of a Charles Perrault fairy tale didn't win the contest, but nonetheless, Duke Bluebeard's Castle has gone on to become a genuine 20th-century masterpiece, and Bartók's dream of establishing a true Hungarian-language opera has been realised.
Librettist Béla Balázs, influenced by his peer Endre Ady, embraced the French symbolists as a model for his work. Balázs' source of the Bluebeard story was the symbolist poet Maeterlinck's Ariane et Barbe-bleue, an adaptation of Perrault's fairy tale. Maeterlinck's version was originally considered, and then rejected, by Grieg. It was written for the poet's companion, Georgette Leblanc, an actress and singer. Maeterlinck even enigmatically claimed that the story was based on actual experiences of Leblanc. Balázs' play, Duke Bluebeard's Castle, was first published in the journal, Színjáték (The Drama), in June 1910. The author dedicated the play to both Bartók and Kodály, fully expecting Kodály to set it to music, but it was Bartók who was drawn to the story.
Bartók's spine-chilling one-act opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle teels the story of Judith, the young new wife of the menacing Duke Bluebeard who unlocks the seven forbidden doors in her husband’s castle and is eventually confronted by the women he has already loved and murdered. Bartók’s powerful, gripping and accessible music brilliantly conveys the growing tension and impending doom that pervades the opera.
Leos Janacek, the Czech composer of Jenufa, spent part of his childhood in a convent, where the musician monk Pavel Krizkovsky introduced him to musical education. From these early years, he retained a strong musical formation as well as a love for Slavonic culture. Later, as he became a teacher, Leos Janacek's activities revolved around music and he left a lasting legacy to Slavonic culture. Composition became, in his last ten years, an essential part of his life.
Jenufa, based on the play Její Pastorkyna (“Her Stepdaughter”), narrates the story of an impossible love between two humble villagers, who have made the terrible mistake of conceiving a child before marriage. Written between 1901 and 1903, and reviewed in 1907, this opera echoes Janacek’s wish to denounce the religious hypocrisy, which he experienced himself.
'The Elixir of Love', or 'L'elisir d'amore', has been a rampant success since its premier in 1832, despite being composed in only 13 days! It contains the popular aria "Una furtiva lagrima", a romanza for the tenor that is one of the most famous arias in all of opera.
Donizetti's music for this comic opera set in two acts perfectly captures the light-heartedness of the story, which takes place in rural Italy, in the early 19th-century. Nemorino, a peasant, asks the quack Dulcamara for a magic potion which he hopes will allow him to win the beautiful Adina's love. However, his efforts are jeopardised by the self-important Seargeant Belcore, who also has his eyes set on Adina. Unbeknown to both these suitors, Adina actually has feelings for Nemorino - but in light of the peasant's aloofness, due to his confidence that the potion (which is actually just wine) will work, she accepts Belcore's proposal. Laughter and close calls follow as the story is translated into Donizetti's operatic genius.
It was on December 10th 1895 that Giacomo Puccini laid down his pen after finishing La Bohème. He was so moved by the death of Mimì that he wept. He later wrote, "alone in the silence of the night, I began to weep like a child. It was as though I had seen my own child die". La Boheme is a story of two youths, Rudolph and Marcel, who are poetic and artistic and spend Christmas Eve without food nor heat, but are merry despite their impoverished state. Rudolph meets beautiful yet sickly Mimi at his door while Marcel goes out to celebrate with friends, and the two immediately fall in love. Marcel, while about town that night, meets the coquettish Musette and they also declare their undying love.
The two couples live together for a few months and both relationships begin to decay in jealousy, greed and treachery. Both women leave and Rudolph and Marcel are unable to return to their carefree friendship because of their misery. Some time later, Mimi is able to convince Musette to return to Marcel and she to Rudolph. Once reunited, they lovers sing out in joy and happiness until it is discovered that Mimi is again ill with consumption and would not survive the song. The song that begins in joy, ends in tragedy.
A late Puccini masterpiece, the opera’s underlying themes of power, politics, love and jealousy remain highly relevant today.
A late Mozart masterpiece, the opera’s underlying themes of power, politics, love and jealousy remain highly relevant today.
Emperor Tito’s celebrated clemency is central to the story, which sees the driven Vitellia plotting Tito’s assassination after being passed over in his search for a bride. She persuades the emperor’s friend Sesto to commit the deed, but Tito survives and goes on to forgive the plotting pair following Vitellia’s moving admission of guilt.
An opera so vividly sensual it was banned from Shostakovich’s homeland for 30 years, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk follows the downward spiral of the young bride, Katerina, and her tale of unfulfilled love. Caught between a loveless marriage and Sergei, her manipulative lover, Katerina is driven to kill—first her father-in-law, then her husband. She confesses to the crimes in a fit of passion, and she and Sergei are banished to Siberia where Katerina realises that she has been flagrantly exploited by her lover. Katerina is betrayed by the man for whom she has sacrificed everything, and her remarkable fate comes full circle.
An opera by Vincenzo Bellini with Libretto by Felice Romani, after the tragedy of the name by Louis Alexandre Soumet.
Set in ancient Gaul, 'Norma' tells of the clash between the Druids and the occupying Romans. While the Druids plan a revolt against their oppressors, the priestess Norma is wrestling with her own inner demons, as she attempts to win back the love of the Roman proconsul Pollione, whose children she has secretly borne. She must face the tragic destiny that this conflict between love and public duty sets in motion, and which culminates in the immolation of Norma and Pollione.
This was written in 1905, based on the poem by Oscar Wilde. But how could the erotic and passionate tale of the Princess Salome fail to seize an audience? This dramatic Opera inspires a mood of restless lust and decadence, and the tension between the central characters is exhilarating. The opera was seen as shocking as the beautiful young princess seduces her step father and demands the head of John the Baptist on a platter and yet the controversy it caused has simply made it more popular and guaranteed its status as a classic.
An operatic fairy tale in 2 acts by György Ránki based on the well known story of the 'Emperors New Clothes' which imparts an important lesson – that appearances, no matter how extravagant or pleasing, do not replace the character of a person and that in the end, it's the inside which matters.
Love, jealousy, hatred, death. These are the attributes of almost every opera, Tosca is no exception. This most famous of Puccinis operas was premiered in Rome a hundred years ago, but its passionate music still manages to move audiences.
The action takes place in Rome on 17-18 June 1800. Cavaradossi, a painter known for his republican sympathies, helps Angelotti, former Consul of the Roman Republic and a fugitive, to hide. Floria Tosca, a celebrated singer who is Cavaradossi’s lover, suspects that Cavaradossi has been meeting the Marchesa Attavanti, whom he has used as a model for his painting of Mary Magdalen. The dreaded Chief of Police, Scarpia, lusts after Tosca and inflames her jealousy in the hope that she will lead him to Angelottiï’s hiding-place. He sends Spoletta to follow Tosca. Spoletta, unable to find Angelotti, arrests Cavaradossi. As the price for Cavaradossi’s life, she agrees to give herself to Scarpia. A mock execution is arranged and Scarpia writes a safe conduct pass for Tosca and Cavaradossi. As Scarpia approaches her, Tosca kills him.
In the prison Tosca tells Cavaradossi that the firing squad will fake the execution. Shots ring out and Cavaradossi falls. But Scarpia has tricked her: Cavaradossi is dead. Shouts reveal that Scarpiaïs murder has been discovered; Tosca jumps from the battlements.
The opera takes place in legendary ancient China, in Peking. Altoum, the emperor, is old and frail; before dying, he would like to see his daughter, the Princess Turandot, married and prepared to rule with her husband. The cold-hearted Turandot has sworn a terrible oath. An ancestress of hers, Princess Lo-u-Ling, was ravished and killed by a foreign conqueror. Recalling this terrible event, Turandot has sworn that no man shall ever possess her. Still, her many suitors are offered a chance: if one of them is capable of answering the riddles she asks, then she will marry him. If he fails, he must die.
Calaf, prince of the defeated kingdom of Tartary, incognito and exiled, falls in love with Turandot at the first glimpse of her. He is determined to face the challenge of the riddles. His old father Timur tries to dissuade him, and so does the slave-girl Liù, secretly and hopelessly in love with him. Turandot’s cynical ministers, Ping, Pang and Pong, add their entreaties, and yet Calaf remains steadfast.
The ordeal is tense. Inspired, Calaf solves Turandot’s riddles and wins her hand. But he wants also to win her heart. He now gives her a chance to defeat him. She does not know his name: if she can discover his identity before dawn, he will die.
Peking passes a sleepless night as Turandot uses every possible stratagem to discover the name of the Unknown Prince (whom the ministers try to bribe with riches and beautiful women). When Turandot learns that Liù knows the secret, the slave-girl is tortured; but she kills herself rather than betray her love. This love impresses even the icy Turandot. And when Calaf kisses her, she responds with unexpected human warmth. So Calaf puts himself in her power, telling her who he is.
The next morning, as Emperor, court and populace assemble to learn the fate of the bold suitor, Turandot proudly announces that she knows the foreigner’s name: it is Love. The ice-princess has become an impassioned woman.
This opera of coincidences that create a magical world of melodious irony has been described by Zdenek Merta as a "a kind of surrealistic detective story.
One of Profkiev’s most visually and musically accessible ballets, Cinderella is one of his best along with Romeo and Juliet. This new version is excellent for spectators of all ages, fairytale lovers as well as those who purely enjoy the art of dancing.
Dimitri, a musical historical drama with strong choral pieces, was a major innovation in the history of Czech music when it debuted at the New Czech Theater in Prague in October 1882. Dimitrij is a compelling tale of plotting, love and murder in which the legitimacy of an apparent heir to the Russian throne is in dispute.
Composed in just 44 days, La Pique Dame was Tchaikovsky's last opera. It is the passionate and tragic story of the web of fate, life, and death in late 18th century St. Petersburg.
The composition of L’Atlàntida spanned half a century, from approximately 1926, when the first idea surfaced in Falla's mind, to 1976, when Ernesto Halffter signed the definitive ≪Lucerne version≫. Jacint Verdaguer's epic poem, which won the special prize at the Barcelona Floral Games in 1877, was a key work of the Catalan cultural rebirth or Renaixença. In the hands of the composer from Cadiz, it acquired the patina of a legend, not merely because of his obsessive dedication to the task – which he failed to complete – but because of the sheer magnitude of the artistic enterprise. Falla wanted to create a great religious, mythical and historical cantata by transcending Verdaguer's lyricism. His vast oratorio has special meaning for the Liceu for it was here, on 24 November 1961, that the world premiere of the first complete version of L’Atlàntida was held, with the memorable participation of Victoria de los Angeles (Queen Isabella) and Eduard Toldrà (conductor).
Captain Edward Fairfax Vere is tormented by guilt over the case of Billy Budd, a sailor who was on board his ship many years earlier. The opera flashes back to the past to remember this time. Billy Budd is a loyal sailor, devoted to Captain Vere, but Clagart, the Master-at-Arms, takes an immediate dislike to him. Clagart encourages the ship's corporal, Squeak, to make life difficult for Billy, and he orders the Novice to bribe Billy into joining a mutiny. Billy refuses the bribe, but nevertheless Claggart tells Vere that Billy poses a threat of mutiny. Vere does not believe him. Later, Claggart and Billy are face to face and Claggart repeats the false charge. In a moment of fury, Billy strikes him, and Claggart dies. Billy is sentenced to death for his crime, and turns to Vere to save him, but Vere ignores his pleas. Shortly before the execution, Dansker, an old sailor, comes and tells him the crew is prepared to mutiny in his name, but Billy is now resigned to die. About to be hanged, his final words affirm his unfaltering loyalty: "Starry Vere, God Bless you!" The opera ends having switched back to the present. Vere, an old man, accepts that while he failed to save Billy, with Billy's blessing he has discovered true goodness, and he can now finally be at peace with himself.
Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni , a one-act opera set in a Sicilian village, is considered to be the key works of Italian verismo, introducing contemporary characters, people with poor backgrounds and from lower social strata onto the stage. At the world premiere in Teatro Costanzi in Rome on May 17, 1890 Mascagni received endless standing ovations and Cavalleria rusticana triumphantly flew around the world. This inspired the then almost unknown Ruggiero Leoncavallo to compose an opera in the same style – and for him too the world premiere of I Pagliacci (The Clowns) in Teatro dal Verme in Milan on May 21, 1892 met an immediate success. Common to both the titles is the topic of passionate love and deadly jealousy leading to a murder.
The inspiration for ‘The Flying Dutchman’ came after Wagner made a stormy sea crossing in the summer of 1839. The dark romantic opera, which premiered in 1843, contains many of the musical features that characterise Wagner’s later works, for example, leitmotifs (leading motifs), the continuity of the orchestra, and the libretto, a romantic poem about nature, mystery, and idealised love. Redemption through love is a familiar, almost over-used theme. But in this opera, it is re-worked through sinister motifs of Satan, the undead, and everlasting life. Captain Daland finds himself and his crew caught in a terrible storm, out of which emerges a phantom ship, whose captain, the Flying Dutchman, is cursed to sail the seas for all eternity. He is permitted to dock once every seven years in search of a woman who will love him faithfully forever in order to break the curse. He offers Daland many riches in return for his unmarried daughter, Senta, who herself is obsessed with the legend of the Flying Dutchman and longs to be the one to set him free. She agrees immediately to marry the cursed captain. But, overhearing her other suitor, Erik, declaring his love, the Flying Dutchman fears Senta is unfaithful and calls off the union. What follows is a destructive declaration of true love, accumulating in an emotional climax that won’t soon be forgotten.
1814: the abdication of Napoleon, the reinstitution of the monarchy. The times of The Restoration saw the theatres once again full of an avid public from Vienna to Rome, from Milan to Paris. The aristocracy hoped for a complete return to the old regime, and the 'new class' of bourgeoisie dreamt at last of a profitable business climate. Rossinni was the composer of this period, with works which combine at once an ideological reaction to politics, a total joy of living and, perhaps most importantly, a sophisticated mode of artistic communication.
When it debuted in 1816, it was hard to imagine that Rossini's The Barber of Seville would become one of the world's most famous comic operas. With its vibrant cast of characters and dynamic musical overture, The Barber of Seville took on a different approach to the opera genre. Its setting and characters introduces its audience on a delightful romp through the streets of Seville, Spain. After falling in love at first sight with the beautiful Rosina, Count Almaviva finds himself on a whimsical journey to capture her heart.
ll Trovatore (The Troubadour) was one of Verdi’s best-loved operas even during the composer’s lifetime. The opera received a rapturous reception when it was performed for the first time on 19 January 1853 at the Teatro Apollo in Rome and Guiseppe Verdi himself called it his most popular work. Together with La Traviata and Rigoletto the opera is still one of Verdi’s most-performed and popular operas worldwide. The libretto by Salvadore Cammarano was completed by Leone Emmanuele Bardare following Cammarono’s sudden death and is based on the play El trovador by the Spanish Romantic dramatist Antonio García Gutiérrez (1836). The drama offered Verdi bizarre and original material which gave him an opportunity for changing settings and scenes which are rich in contrast for which he developed a wonderful diversity of melodies and expressions. The wealth of his melodies is almost profligate, the Anvil chorus sung by the gypsies in Act 2, Vedi le fosche notturne, has been interpreted many times, once even by Glenn Miller for his jazz band. The plot is set in the gloomy atmosphere of 15th century Spain and tells the romantic love story of Leonora and her troubadour Manrico. An opera full of love and hate, heroism and revenge.
Katia Kabanova is an opera in three acts composed by Leoš Janáček with a libretto by Vincenc Červinka, and is widely believed to be the first mature work of the composer, despite the fact that it premiered when Janáček was alreardy 67 years old. The opera is based on a play by Aleksandr Ostrovsky called 'The Storm' and is inspired by the love the composer felt for his 'muse', Kamila Stösslová. This is one of three operas in which she served as inspiration for the main character, works which reveal the realisation that the composers love for her is unrequired.
Born in a noble family of the Russian countryside who cultivated a developed taste for musical culture, Rimski-Korsakov never ceased to study music, even during his military career. Later he created with a few others, the famous group of the Five. His music reveals an incredible inventiveness and an astonishing diversity of inspirational sources. The Tsar’s Bride, which he created in 1899 at the private opera of Mamontov in Moscow, stars Ivan the Terrible, one of his favourite characters. A young lady is the target of the evil tsar’s lust as well as the object of one of his lieutenant’s love. When to this already heartrending intrigue is added rejected love, a love potion and a jealous woman, everything is set for an outrageously tragic ending.
Walkure is one of nine daughters born to Wotan, God of Gods, by Erda, the goddess of the Earth. Unlike their Greek counterparts, the nine Muses, these girls have absolutely no interest in art. They are Wotan's "honor guard". Nine warrior, virgin goddesses who take the fallen heroes from the battlefield to Walhalla, there to sit at Wotan's table with the gods and prepare an immortal host which will redeem the world from all evil. The warrior that sees the beautiful Valkyr in the field knows he is doomed to die, albeit in glory. They are thus, also, the harbingers of Death.
The performance of Tannhäuser is a tribute to a man who experienced many difficulties as a composer in 19th century Paris. One of the most controversial figures in musical history, Wagner accordingly moulded his operas with a compelling artistic and revolutionary zeal. Taken from an old germanic poem, the performance of Tannhäuser features Wagner’s customary bold composition and flamboyant choral lyrics. Wagner's work is all the more interesting in the context of its composer's life, as it was with this opera that Wagner moved towards a more continuous musical texture, abandoning his more structured compositions of the past and stunning his audiences of the 19th century with its originality and daring.
Un ballo in maschera tells the story of how King Gustav III of Sweden was stabbed during a masked ball in 1792. Based on a libretto written by Eugène Scribe, the opera was countless times refused by the Napolitan censorship. At a "sensitive" time for European monarchs which witnessed murder attempts against Fernand II and Napoleon III, censors didn't want Verdi's opera to spread ideas of regicide.
Forced to move Scribe's story to another location, Verdi chose Boston with its Governor Riccardo, a simple count whose murder would imply less serious political consequences. Subtly playing with contrasts, Verdi's opera transports us in a world where political conspiracies take place furtively, in the middle of a party, where seductive characters become manipulated by hostile forces and where deep feelings of impossible love mix with light comical interludes.
In 1892, French composer Jules Massenet transformed a literary landmark of German romanticism, Goethe's 'The Sorrows of Young Werther', into what would become one of the most famous operas of all time.
The scene opens in a small city near Frankfurt in the 1780s. Though it is July, the widowed Bailiff is busy teaching his children a Christmas carol in the garden. Their progress is watched with amusement by two neighbours, Schmidt and Johann. They ask for Charlotte, the eldest daughter, who is engaged to Albert. In his absence, the Bailiff tells them, she will be escorted to the local ball that night by a young visiting poet, Werther, whom they find uncongenial. As the friends go off to supper and the Bailiff goes into the house, Werther arrives. He rhapsodizes on the beauty of the evening and watches unseen as Charlotte cuts bread and butter for the children's supper. When the party has left for the ball and the Bailiff has gone to join his friends at the tavern, Albert returns unexpectedly.
Disappointed at not finding Charlotte, he promises her sister Sophie he will return in the morning. As the moon rises, Werther and Charlotte return. He has fallen in love with her, but his declaration is cut short when the Bailiff passes by, observing that Albert has returned. Despite his despair, Werther urges Charlotte not to break her promise to marry Albert. Three months later, Charlotte and Albert, now married, walk contentedly across the town square on their way to church, followed by Werther. Albert tries to comfort the youth, and Sophie also attempts to cheer him up, but when Charlotte comes out of the church, he speaks of their first meeting; disturbed, she tells him he must leave Wetzlar until Christmas. Werther contemplates suicide, and when Sophie interrupts him, he rushes away.
As Charlotte consoles the tearful girl, Albert realizes that Werther must be in love with his wife. Then, home alone on Christmas Eve, Charlotte rereads the dejected letters written to her by Werther. While she prays for strength, he suddenly appears. Charlotte tries to remain calm and asks him to read to her from his translation of Ossian. Werther chooses a passage where the poet foresees his own death, and when Charlotte begs him to stop, he realizes she returns his love. But she runs from his embrace with a final farewell, and Werther leaves, resolved to die.
Albert enters, surprised to find Charlotte distraught, and when a message arrives from Werther asking to borrow Albert's pistols, her reaction convinces him of her love for Werther. He makes her give the pistols to the servant herself, but when Albert has gone she hurries off, praying she may reach Werther in time. In the final act, Charlotte arrives at Werther's quarters to find him mortally wounded. She declares her love, and he begs forgiveness. As he dies, the voices of the children outside are heard singing their Christmas carol.
Wozzeck is the story of a soldier of low rank and intelligence who discovers that Marie, his common-law wife and the mother of his illegitimate child, has succumbed to the charms of the Drum Major. Following this discovery, Wozzeck brutally kills Marie in a fit of rage and runs off to get drunk and forget his terrible deed. Wozzeck slides further and further into a psychopathic state until he finally commits suicide by drowning himself, unable to face the humiliation that life has subjected him to.
Opera composed by Georg Friedrich Haendel in 1735, Alcina tells the story of a young knight who becomes entrapped on an island by a sorceress called Alcina. Hailed as Haendel's finest opera, 'Alcina' tells the tale of Ruggiero, a heroic knight, and his betrothed, Bradamante, whose love is brought to the test when Ruggiero falls under the spell of the sorceress Alcina. Haendel's 'Alcina' was inspired by Riccardo Broschi's 'L'isola di Alcina' (The island of Alcina) which in turn was inspired by Ariosto's poem 'Orlando Furioso'. All three, however, are variations of an episode of Homer's 'Odyssey' in which Odysseus and his crew are trapped on an island by the enchantments of the sorceress Circe.
'Alcina' falls into the category of 'magic opera': a genre which became popular during the Baroque era, primarily due to the elaborate special effects which were required to stage the opera's magical motif. Haendel's composition is praised for its marriage of music and emotion - the one drawing on the force of the other. Although Haendel cannot claim all the credit for writing this opera, Alcina's librettist remains unknown.
Richard Wagner's creation is a mystical, lavish opera focusing around Parsifal, a young orphan who arrives at the Grail castle and (unbeknown to him) becomes the chosen one to redeem Amfortas of his sins and make him the king of the Grail. After several tests of virtue and temptation Parsifal is victorious, and he himself becomes King of the Grail.
From the clanking of castanets to the swish of scarlet bull-fighting capes, the Paris Opera Ballet’s production of Don Quixoté by Marius Petipa first premiered in 1981. Based on Miguel Cervante’s famous novel, Don Quixoté the ballet focuses on a brief excerpt of the Spanish knight searching for his perfect lover known as his “Dulcinea”. While travelling through Seville, Don Quixote believes his Dulcinea is the beautiful innkeeper’s daughter, Kitri. Set in the colourful town squares of Seville, the young couple Kitri and Basilio lead the town in vibrant dances with Spanish panache. With music by Ludwig Minkus, and colourful costumes and scenery, Don Quixote transports the audience to exciting Spain, constantly opening a new chapter of exciting music and dancing like the flash of a Spanish fan.
When he wrote Rigoletto, Verdi was on the top of his creative powers, and it remains one of the world’s most famous operas. The plot of Rigoletto, which follows a real life story of a 16th century jester, doesn’t lack the fatality of Greek tragedies.
An opera by Richard Strauss with a German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Bringing together slapstick comedy and consummately beautiful music, the opera's theme is the competition between high and low art for the public's attention. Music critic and author Matt Dobkin wrote that, while Ariadne auf Naxos is "not as well loved as Der Rosenkavalier or as important as Salome, it is nevertheless staged all the time, thanks in large part to sopranos' attraction to the vocal and dramatic grandeur of the title role and to the compelling spitfire Zerbinetta character.
An old bachelor, Don Pasquale, tries to protect his fortune from his nephew, Ernesto, who refuses to take one of the choices of his uncle for bride. Indeed, Ernesto is madly in love with the widow Norina. Hence, to keep his money away from the blinded eyes of his nephew, the old man decides to marry a young and beautiful woman in order to get an heir who would inherit his money leaving his only current descendent, Ernesto, penniless. However, the pretended help of Dr. Malatesta to find him a respectable woman allows a wonderful conspiracy between Dr. Malatesta, Norina and Ernesto. Will they succeed in accomplishing their Machiavellian plan or will Don Pasquale see the evil in those three characters?
Fromental Halévy’s La Juive was one of the most popular operas of the 19th century. The libretto was written by Eugène Scribe, a prolific author who wrote for the Opéra de Paris, where La Juive was first performed.
The five acts of the opera present spectacular situations (such as the Council of Constance of 1414), which allowed for a flamboyant staging in a setting that brought out a dramatic situation underlined by a powerful historical subject, complete with choral interludes, ballet and scenic effects which showcased the resources available at the Paris Opera.
La Juive, which follows the story of the impossible love between a Christian man and a Jewish woman, has been seen as a plea for religious tolerance (a common underlying theme in other works by Scribe and Halévy, both Jewish), in much the same spirit as Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots, which premiered one year after La Juive, and the 1819 novel Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.
Rossini's Cenerentola is a more complex tale than many versions of Cinderella, but all the better for it. Angelina, La Cenerentola, is third daughter of the haughty Don Magnifico, but treated as a slave to her stepsisters Clorinda and Tisby. As she cleans, a beggar comes hungry to the door. The stepsisters shoo him away, but Angelina gives him food and drink. Courtiers from the palace meantime announce an approaching visit from the prince, Ramiro, who is searching for the most beautiful girl to be his bride. The party arrives, the Prince disguised as a valet, and the valet, Dandini, as the Prince. They are struck by the family’s ill treatment of Angelina, but also by her beauty. The beggar returns, asking for Don Magnifico's third daughter - but he insists he has none. Finding Angelina, the beggar reveals himself to be Alidoro, tutor to the Prince, and invites her to the ball from which her father has forbidden her attendance. At the ball, Dandini gives the family a tour of the cellar, getting Don Magnifico drunk, and reporting to the Prince the stupidity of the daughters. They are interrupted by the arrival of a veiled guest, Angelina, whom not one of them recognises, but feel uneasily that they have seen her before. Dandini, as the prince, asks Angelina to marry him, but she refuses as she is in love with his valet, at which point the real prince emerges from his hiding place. Angelina gives him one of her bracelets, and assures him that if he loves her, he will find her. Back in their home, Angelina is interrupted in her chores by the Prince and his entourage, whose carriage has been overturned in a storm. The lovers recognise each other, and embrace, to Don Magnifico's horror. Angelina's heart however is softer, and she begs the Prince not to punish her family.
Idomeneo is an Italian language opera seria by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto was adapted by Giambattista Varesco from a French text by Antoine Danchet, which had been set to music by André Campra as Idoménée in 1712. Mozart and Varesco were commissioned in 1780 by Karl Theodor, Elector of Bavaria for a court carnival. He probably chose the subject, but it might have been Mozart
Idomeneo, the King of Crete, is returning to Greece after years away at the Trojan War. On his way home, his ship sinks and he survives only due to the grace of the god, Neptune. In return, Idomeneo agrees to sacrifice the first mortal he finds. It so happens that the first mortal that rushes to see him is his own son, Idamente. Previously, to the dismay of Elettra, Idamente has fallen in love with Ilia, a Trojan princess. As Idomeneo is about to allow his own son to be sacrificed, Neptune intervenes and allows Idamente to survive as long as he is allowed to take over the thrown in place of his father.
Feuersnot (The Need for Fire or Fire Famine), is a Singgedicht (sung poem). The German libretto was written by Ernst von Wolzogen, based on J. Ketel's report "Das erloschene Feuer zu Audenaerde" in the Oudenaarde Gazette, Leipzig, 1843. It was Strauss' second opera. Thematically, the opera has been interpreted as a parody of Richard Wagner's idea of "redemption through love".
I Vespri Siciliani (The Sicilian Vespers) is a five-act Italian opera originally written in French for the Paris Opéra by Giuseppe Verdi which was translated into Italian shortly after its premiere in June 1855. Under its original title, Les vêpres siciliennes, the libretto was prepared by Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier from their work Le duc d'Albe, which was written in 1838 and offered to Halevy and Donizetti before Verdi agreed to set it to music in 1854. The story is loosely based on a historical event, the Sicilian Vespers of 1282, using material drawn from the medieval Sicilian tract Lu rebellamentu di Sichilia.
Offenbach's Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) is between a prologue and epilogue. Three separate tales relate to Hoffmann's overarching choice between love for a woman, and love for the Muse. Hoffmann's Muse waits alone in a tavern, knowing that this night he will choose between love for her, and love for the opera singer, Stella. When he finally arrives, Hoffmann is morose, confused by the taunts of his rival, Councilor Lindorf. When the students in the tavern tease Hoffmann about his romantic affliction, he begins to relate the stories of his past loves... The inventor, Spalanzani, is holding a party, at which he will show off his beautiful creation, Olympia the mechanical doll. Hoffman is the first guest to arrive, and falls directly in love with the stiff Olympia. Coppélius, a mad scientist, sells him glasses through which he perceives Olympia to be human, and they dance and spin through the evening, Hoffmann oblivious to the clicks and whirs of her mechanism.
Spalanzani has purchased Olympia's eyes from Coppélius, but the scientist returns in a fury, having discovered that Spalanzani's payment is worthless. Coming upon the whirling couple, he pushes Hoffmann aside, smashing his magic glasses, and tears Olympia to pieces. Antonia, Hoffmann's second love, is less metallic, but equally unattainable, and is whisked away from him by her father. She is not to be allowed to sing, for all the beauty of her voice, as her heart is too weak. She sings secretly to Hoffmann, making herself feeble. But the evil Dr. Miracle sneaks into the house, tempting Antonia with his music, so that she sings to his playing, wilder and wilder, until she falls down at Hoffmann's feet, dead.
In the final tale, a confident Hoffmann finds himself in a wrangle with the devilish Dappertutto. He has fallen in love with the courtesan Giulietta, who has stolen his reflection from him, bribed with a diamond by Dappertutto. Trapped in his unwonted infatuation for Giulietta, Hoffmann tries to track her down, killing his friend in desperation. Grasping the key to her room that he has taken from his friend, he opens the door - only to find it empty, and Giuletta leaving with yet another of her admirers. Hoffmann ends his storytelling, wanting to forget such misery. But Stella when she arrives is little comfort, responding to his bitterness by leaving with Lindorf. Hoffmann has no more resistance left, and belongs to the Muse at last.
Lohengrin, a romantic opera written in three acts and first performed in 1850 in three acts, is acclaimed as the masterpiece of Richard Wagner. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and its sequel, Lohengrin, written by a different author, itself inspired by the epic of Garin le Loherain. It is part of the Knight of the Swan tradition When King Heinrich of Saxony arrives at Brabant castle, Telramund and his wife, the pagan princess Ortrud, tell the king a lie. They state that Elsa has murdered her brother, Gottfried, in order to inherit his money. Luckily, a knight in shining armor comes to save Elsa. However, she does this only on the condition that she never asks his identity. The Knight and Elsa soon fall in love. However, on their wedding night, she makes the mistake of asking his identity. This question breaks a spell that allowed him to remain at Brabant with her. Lohengrin must now return to the Grail but promises that Gottfried will return.
The Indian Queen was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London in 1695. The libretto is a revised version of the play "The Indian Queen" (1664) by John Dryden and his brother-in-law Sir Robert Howard. It was Purcell's last semi-opera. The performance history of the piece is uncertain. The exact date of premiere is unknown but Peter Holman surmises it may have been performed in June, without the Masque in Act 5, which had to be completed after Purcell's death in November by his brother Daniel.
Another Italian farce opera typical of Rossini's comic genius, Le Comte Ory is the tale of a young Count during the Middle Ages who is bent on the pursuit of pleasure, and prepared to go to any lengths to find it! When the townsmen are called away to fight in a crusade, they leave the women of the community safely locked away in the castle of the Countess Formoutiers. Keen to take full advantage of the men's absence, the Count and his friends concoct a plan to breach the fortress- they will enter the castle in disguise as nuns. All goes well, until they are surprised by the arrival home of the crusaders, and chaos ensues. Featuring Yijie Shi as the Count and directed by Paolo Carignani, Le Comte Ory promises a night of hilarious escapades from start to finish!
Inspired by a series of 18th-century satirical cartoons of the same name, 'The Rake's Progress' is an opera which boasts an impressive, if not somewhat unusual, talent at its core. While the plot itself is borrowed by the prints of the painter and satirist, William Hogarth, the opera results from a collaboration between Igor Stravinsky, the most influential 20th-century composer according to the 'Time's 100 list', and the English poet, W.H. Auden, and his one-time lover, Chester Kallman.
As Hogarth's sketches recount, the story of 'The Rake's Progress' centres on Tom Rakewell: an idle-minded Englishman who refuses to settle down in the hope of leading a more adventurous lifestyle. The opera begins with Rakewell rejecting the stable job offered to him by Mr. Trulove, the father of the lady he has been courting, for a path of independent dandyism. Answering Rakewell's desire for quick-and-easy money, the mysterious Nick Shadow enters the picture and lures Rakewell to London on the premise that he is to collect an inheritance left to him by an uncle. What follows is a series of amusing and dramatic affairs with such bawdy characters as the Madame, Mother Goose, and Baba the Turk, a bearded lady from the fair. All of which culminates with the moral: 'For idle hearts and hands and minds the Devil finds a work to do.'
L'Enfant et Les Sortilèges, a collaboration between Ravel and Colette, is a lyrical fantasy. A young boy of seven lazes before his unfinished schoolwork, and his mother comes in to chastise him. The punishment sends him into a fury - he tears his books, knocks over the tea, pulls the cat's tail and kills a squirrel in its cage. He throws himself into an armchair, but the chair tips over, into a new and strange game. One by one, objects and animals come to life, tormenting him in revenge for what he has done. In the garden too the animals approach, and the whole crowd leaps onto him to punish him. But before the boy faints, he protects and comforts a little squirrel who has been injured in the melée. Remorsefully, the creatures pardon him, and retreat
La Forza del Destino (The Force of Destiny) is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on a Spanish drama, Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino (1835), by Ángel de Saavedra, Duke of Rivas, with a scene adapted from Friedrich Schiller's Wallensteins Lager. It was first performed in the Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre of St. Petersburg, Russia, on 22 November [O.S. 10 November] 1862. La Forza del Destino is still frequently performed, and there have been a number of complete recordings. In addition, the overture (to the revised version of the opera) is part of the standard repertoire for symphony orchestras, often played as the opening piece at concerts.
Rusalka is an opera ('lyric fairy tale') by Antonín Dvořák. The Czechlibretto was written by the poet Jaroslav Kvapil (1868–1950) based on the fairy tales of Karel Jaromír Erben and Božena Němcová. Rusalka is one of the most successful Czech operas, and represents a cornerstone of the repertoire of Czech opera houses. A Rusalka is a water sprite from Slavic mythology, usually inhabiting a lake or river.
For many years unfamiliarity with Dvořák’s operas outside Czechoslovakia helped reinforce a perception that composition of operas was a marginal activity, and that despite the beauty of its melodies and orchestral timbres Rusalka was not a central part of his output or of international lyric theatre. In recent years it has been performed more regularly by major opera companies.
The most popular excerpt from Rusalka is the "Song to the Moon" ("Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém") from Act 1 which is often performed in concert and recorded separately. It has also been arranged for violin and used on film sound tracks.
The opera's premiere took place on 28 May 1922 at the Stadttheater in Cologne, Germany under the baton of Otto Klemperer. Its last performance in Zemlinsky's lifetime was in 1926 in Berlin-Charlottenburg.The work runs for approximately 90 minutes and is usually paired with another work when performed.
In 1981, the Hamburg State Opera presented the first double-bill of Zemlinsky's two one-act operas Der Zwerg and Eine florentinische Tragödie. Der Zwerg, however, was presented in an abridged version with a substantially altered libretto under the title The Birthday of the Infanta. The first modern performances of the opera as Zemlinsky intended it were given in Cologne in February 1996 under the direction of James Conlon.
Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow) is an opera in three acts by Richard Strauss with a libretto by his long-time collaborator, the poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It was written between 1911 and either 1915 or 1917. When it premiered in Vienna on 10 October 1919, critics and audiences were unenthusiastic (many cited problems with Hofmannsthal's complicated and heavily symbolic libretto however, it is now a standard part of the operatic repertoire
Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose), is a comic opera to an original Germanlibretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Harry von Kessler (cultural impresario/diplomat of the Belle Epoque and Weimar Republic and diarist (1880-1937), who had the original idea and co-authored the scenario).It is loosely adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Molière’s comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac.It was first performed at the Königliches Opernhaus in Dresden on 26 January 1911 under the direction of Max Reinhardt. Until the premiere, the working title was Ochs von Lerchenau.(The choice of the name Ochs is not accidental, for in German Ochs is translated as ox, which depicts the character of the Baron throughout the opera.)
The opera has four main characters: the aristocratic Marschallin, her very young lover Count Octavian Rofrano, her coarse cousin Baron Ochs, and Ochs' prospective fiancée Sophie von Faninal, daughter of a rich bourgeois. At the Marschallin's suggestion, Ochs has Octavian act as his Rosenkavalier, and present the ceremonial silver rose to Sophie. But when Octavian meets Sophie, they fall in love on sight. By a comic intrigue, they get rid of Ochs with the help of the Marschallin, who then yields Octavian to the younger woman But while a comic opera, Der Rosenkavalier also operates at a deeper level. Conscious of the difference in age between herself and Octavian, the Marschallin muses in bittersweet fashion over the passing of time, growing old, and men's inconstancy.
There are many recordings of the opera, and it is regularly performed.
Libuše is a '"festival opera" in three acts, with music by Bedřich Smetana. The libretto was originally written in German by Josef Wenzig, and was then translated into Czech by Ervin Špindler. In Czech historical myth, Libuše, the title character, prophesied the founding of Prague. The opera was composed in 1871-1872 for the coronation of Franz Josef as Czech king. This didn't happen and Smetana saved Libuše for the opening of the National Theatre inPrague, which took place nine years later on 11 June 1881. After the destruction of the National Theatre in a fire, the same opera opened the reconstructed theatre in 1883. The first US performance was reported to have occurred March 1986, in a concert version at Carnegie Hall with Eve Queler and the Opera Orchestra of New York.
Il campiello (The Little Square) is an opera in three acts by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari. The Italian-language libretto was by Mario Ghisalberti, after the famous comedy of the same name written for the 1756 Venetian Carnival by the great Venetian playwright, Carlo Goldoni. Referred to as a commedia lirica, it is an ensemble opera influenced by Mozart, as well as Giuseppe Verdi's last opera Falstaff. It is concerned with the public lives of the volatile inhabitants of Venice and is sung in the local dialect (except for two Neapolitan roles).
L'africaine (The African Woman) is a grand opera, the last work of the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer. The French libretto was written by Eugène Scribe. The opera is about fictitious events in the life of the real historical person Vasco da Gama. (Meyerbeer's working title for the opera was Vasco da Gama.)
The opera was premiered by the Paris Opéra at the Salle Le Peletier on 28 April 1865 in a performing edition undertaken by François-Joseph Fétis, as the composer had not prepared a final version by the time of his death the previous year. It is Fétis who gave the work its present title; Meyerbeer had referred to it as Vasco da Gama. In fact it is clear from the text, with its references to Hinduism, that the heroine Sélika hails not from Africa, but from a region of, or island nearby, India. Madagascar has been suggested as a compromise reconciliation. Gabriela Cruz has published a detailed analysis of the historical context of the events of the opera and the opera setting itself.
Meyerbeer was working on the score from 1854 to 1855, and had intended the role of Sélika for the soprano Sophie Cruvelli, but Cruvelli's abrupt retirement from the public stage in January 1856 interrupted his plans. The work was first performed at Covent Garden Theatre, London, on 22 July 1865, and in New York on 1 December 1865. It also received its Italian premiere in 1865 in Bologna, conducted by Angelo Mariani. The opera was enormously successful in the 19th century, but today it is rarely revived. Most modern performances and recordings are severely cut to give prominence to the parts of da Gama and Sélika, and therefore cannot give a full idea of the composer's conception, which in any case has been to some extent obscured by the version prepared by Fétis. The only part of the opera known to most opera lovers is the Act 4 tenor aria "O, paradis!", which has been recorded many times.
L'inganno felice (The Fortunate Deception) is an opera in one act by Gioachino Rossini with a libretto by Giuseppe Maria Foppa. Foppa reworked the libretto which Giuseppe Palomba had written for an opera of the same name by Paisiello (1798). Rossini called his opera a farsa, although as Richard Osborne explains: "Its designation as a farsa is misleading in the light of its semiseria status as a romantic melodrama with buffo elements." The work has much in common with French Revolutionary operas such as Cherubini's Les deux journées.
It was first performed at the Teatro San Moisè, Venice on 8 January 1812 and was an instant success. By the end of the decade it had been heard in theatres throughout Italy as well as in Paris and London. Following this the villainous Ormondo was in love with Isabella, who was happily married to Duke Bertrando. When she rejected his advances, Ormondo spread vicious rumours about her reputation and bribed Batone into casting her adrift in a boat on the sea. But she was rescued by a local miner, Tarabotto, who then disguised her as his niece, Nisa.
The opera begins ten years later: Duke Bertrando is due to visit the mines. Isabella, who is still in love with her husband, finally reveals her true identity to Tarabotto who promises to help her. The duke arrives with Ormondo and Batone. The duke is still in love with his wife even though he believes the rumours that she was unfaithful to him. Batone catches sight of "Nisa" and realises she is Isabella in disguise. He plots with Ormondo to abduct her that night but Tarabotto overhears their plan. The two villains are unmasked before they can kidnap Isabella, whose true story is revealed when she shows everyone her duchess' clothes and a portrait of the duke she has kept with her. Bertrando and Isabella are reunited.
In Goethe's reworking of the story, the aging and dissatisfied intellectual Faust yearns for "more than earthly meat and drink" in his life. Bored and dissappointed, he decides to call on the Devil for further knowledge and magic powers with which to indulge all the pleasure and knowledge of the world. In response, the Devil's representative, Mephistopheles, appears. He makes a bargain with Faust: Mephistopheles will serve Faust with his magic powers for a set number of years, but at the end of the term, the Devil will claim Faust's soul and Faust will be eternally damned. The term usually stipulated in the early tales is 24 years—one year for each of the hours in a day.
During the term of the bargain, Faust makes use of Mephistopheles in various ways. In many versions of the story, particularly Goethe's drama, Mephistopheles helps him to seduce a beautiful and innocent girl, usually named Gretchen, whose life is ultimately destroyed. However, Gretchen's innocence saves her in the end, and she enters Heaven. In Goethe's rendition, Faust is saved by God's grace via his constant striving—in combination with Gretchen's pleadings with God in the form of the Eternal Feminine. However, in the early tales, Faust is irrevocably corrupted and believes his sins cannot be forgiven; when the term ends, the Devil carries him off to Hell.
Fidelio is a German opera with spoken dialogue in two acts by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is Beethoven's only opera. The German libretto is byJoseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly which had been used for the 1798 opera Léonore, ou L’amour conjugal by Pierre Gaveaux, and for the 1804 opera Leonora by Ferdinando Paer (a score of which was owned by Beethoven). The opera tells how Leonore, disguised as a prison guard named "Fidelio", rescues her husband Florestan from death in a political prison.
Two years prior to the opening scene, the nobleman Florestan has exposed or attempted to expose certain crimes of the nobleman Pizarro. In revenge, Pizarro has secretly imprisoned Florestan in the prison over which Pizarro is governor. The jailer of the prison, Rocco, has a daughter, Marzelline, and a servant (or assistant), Jaquino. Florestan's wife, Leonore, came to Rocco's door dressed as a boy seeking employment, and Rocco hired her. On orders, Rocco has been giving Florestan diminishing rations until he is nearly starved to death.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg occupies a unique place in Wagner's oeuvre. It is the only comedy among his mature operas (he having come to reject his early Das Liebesverbot), and is his only opera centered on a historically well-defined time and place rather than a mythical or legendary setting. It is the only mature Wagner opera to be based on an entirely original story, devised by Wagner himself. It is also the only one of Wagner's mature operas in which there are no supernatural or magical powers or events. It incorporates many of the operatic conventions that Wagner had railed against in his essays on the theory of opera: rhymed verse, arias, choruses, a quintet, and even a ballet. Die Meistersinger is, like Orfeo, Capriccio, and Wagner's own earlierTannhäuser, a musical composition in which the composition of music is a pivotal part of the story.
l Matrimonio Segreto (The Secret Marriage) is an opera in two acts, music by Domenico Cimarosa, on a libretto by Giovanni Bertati, based on the play The Clandestine Marriage by George Colman the Elder and David Garrick. It was first performed on 7 February 1792 at the Imperial Hofburg Theatre in Vienna in the presence of Emperor Leopold II.
The action takes place in 18th century Bologna. Paolino has secretly married Geronimo's daughter Carolina. Their situation is complicated by Carolina's aunt Fidalma, who loves Paolino, and by the arrival of the Englishman Count Robinson who, although betrothed to Geronimo's other daughter Elisetta, falls in love with Carolina. After much scheming and amorous intrigue, the truth about the marriage is revealed and all ends happily.
Roberto Devereux (the Earl of Essex) is a tragedia lirica, or tragic opera, by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian libretto after François Ancelot's tragedy Elisabeth d'Angleterre, although Devereux was the subject of at least two other French plays: Le Comte d'Essex by Thomas Corneille and Le Comte d'Essex by La Calprenede.
The opera is loosely based on the life of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, an influential member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England. The plot of Roberto Devereux was hardly original, mainly derived from Felice Romani's libretto Il Conte d'Essex of 1833, originally set by Saverio Mercadante. Romani's widow charged Cammarano with plagiarism, although the practice of stealing plots was very common between rival Italian opera houses.
It is one of a number of operas by Donizetti which deal with the Tudor period in English history and include Anna Bolena (named for Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn), Maria Stuarda (named for Mary, Queen of Scots) and Il castello di Kenilworth. The lead female characters of the operas Anna Bolena,Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux are often referred to as the "Three Donizetti Queens." They earned some degree of fame in the 1970s, when the American soprano Beverly Sills promoted them as a series at New York City Opera.
It has been noted that, "although the plot plays fast and loose with history, the opera carries it own brand of dramatic conviction. Although not frequently performed today, it contains some of Donizetti's best vocal writing, some of it "first rate" (the end of Act 1's duet between Roberto and Sara beginning with Dacchè tornasti, ahi misera ("Since you returned, ah miserable me!"), while the brief second act is "superb". The opera is raw and emotional; it is a powerful vehicle for the soprano. Some of the highlights include the Act 1 duet between Elizabeth and Robert, Nascondi, frena i palpiti ("Hide and check your wild beating / oh my unhappy heart"). The final scene is one of the most dramatic and difficult in bel canto opera. As Elizabeth is going mad with the death of her lover, Quel sangue versato ("That spilled blood / rises to heaven") pushes romantic opera to the limits of melodic expression and has been described as "making a powerful end to one of Donizetti's finest and most affecting operas.
Die Soldaten (The Soldiers) is a four act opera in German by German composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann, based on the 1776 play by Jakob Michael Reinholdenz. Written and revised in phases between 1957 and 1964, it premiered in 1965 and was dedicated to Hans Rosbaud. Zimmermann himself faithfully adapted the play into the libretto, the only changes to the text being repeats and small cuts. It is the composer's only completed opera and is considered an important work of the second half of the 20th century.
Even today a stage performance of Die Soldaten places is extremely challenging.In addition to the 16 singing and 10 speaking roles, it requires an 100 piece orchestra involving many unusual instruments and pieces of percussion. With its open action, a large amount of scenes which at times overlap one another or run simultaneously (the second scene of act 2, for example, or all of act 4), its multimedia structure incorporating film screens, projectors, tape recordings and loudspeakers, in addition to the sound effects of marching engines and screams, Die Soldaten an opera composed using the strict rules of twelve-tone music and presenting a high degree of complexity despite its careful design for the stage, is a uniquely complicated opera, both to stage and to watch.
The Triumph of Time and Truth (Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno)is an oratorio by George Frideric Handel produced in three different versions across 50 years of Handel's career. The work, comprising two sections, was composed in spring 1707 and premiered that summer in Rome. Its most famous aria is "Lascia la spina" (Leave the thorn), later recast as "Lascia ch'io pianga" (Leave me to weep) in his brilliant 1711 opera Rinaldo.
Composed by Verdi in his prime this opera unusally has a baritone as the central character and doesn't follow a traditional romantic opera with baritone and soprano lovers. The message of the piece is directed at the Italian politicians of the day and their need for tolerance and understanding. The plot and characters fit the values and models for this message, and, although creative, the familiar operatic themes of betrayal, conspiracy and death are all there for an exciting performance.
Experience the timeless story of war, love, desertion and despair in Paris through one of the finest works of Hector Berlioz; Les Troyens. Berlioz's operatic masterpiece, an epic recounting the defeat of the Trojans in the Trojan war.
'Il Prigioniero', composed by the Italian maestro Luigi Dallapiccola and first performed in 1949, reflects the experience of its composer, a native of the Austro-Hungarian Empire who experienced Austrian oppression in Istria and then the arrival of Fascism. This opera addresses one of the most painful issues facing humanity, psychological torture, by telling the story of a cruel jailor who plays with his prisoner's hope for freedom.
Puccini, who composed this opera in 1918, sets his work 'Sour Angelica' in Italy at the end of the 17th century. Suor Angélica's family has sent her to a convent to live, in punishment for having a child out of wedlock.
The "Ring of the Nibelung" consists of four music-dramas-"Das Rheingold" (The Rhinegold), "Die Walküre" (The Valkyr), "Siegfried," and "Götterdämmerung" (Dusk of the Gods). These books were written in inverse order. Wagner made a dramatic sketch of the Nibelung myth as early as the autumn of 1848, and between then and the autumn of 1850 he wrote the "Death of Siegfried." This subsequently became the "Dusk of the Gods." Meanwhile Wagner’s ideas as to the proper treatment of the myth seem to have undergone a change. "Siegfried’s Death" ended with Brünnhilde leading Siegfried to Valhalla, -- dramatic, but without the deeper ethical significance of the later version, when Wagner evidently conceived the purpose of connecting the final catastrophe of his trilogy with the "Dusk of the Gods," or end of all things, in Northern mythology,
Engelebert Humperdinck’s (the German composer, unsurprisingly, not the British-Indian pop-singer-turned Eurovision entrant) take on the classic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. Having lost their mother at an early age, young Hansel and Gretel now live a less than carefree existence at the mercy of their father’s bullying new wife. When their homeland is hit with a devastating famine, their abusive step-mother leads the pair into the woods to starve – but things take a supernatural twist when the plucky siblings stumble upon a house made of delicious gingerbread. Naturally, the starving children can’t believe their luck, and begin eating the miraculous dwelling. Unfortunately for them, it happens to be the home of a witch with a taste for human flesh, and before long poor Hansel and Gretel have been captured, fattened up, and made ready for a long roasting in the sorceress’s oven. But quick-thinking Gretel outsmarts the witch, feigning curiosity to lure her dangerously close to the oven’s open door before shoving inside. Just then, the pair’s distraught father bursts in, having learned of their plight, and the reunited family sit down to a dinner of roasted witch.
The Merry Widow (German: Die lustige Witwe) is an operetta by the Austro–Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. The librettists, Viktor Léon and Leo Stein, based the story – concerning a rich widow, and her countrymen's attempt to keep her money in the principality by finding her the right husband – on an 1861 comedy play, L'attaché d'ambassade (The Embassy Attaché) by Henri Meilhac.
The operetta has enjoyed extraordinary international success since its 1905 premiere in Vienna and continues to be frequently revived and recorded. Film and other adaptations have also been made. Well-known music from the score includes the "Vilja Song", "Da geh' ich zu Maxim" ("You'll Find Me at Maxim's"), and the "Merry Widow Waltz".
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) intended 'La Damnation de Faust to be a 'dramatic legend' rather than an opera. This is one of many musical works in 19th century that was based on Goethe's Faust. This popular poem was used by many composers to set to music, including Wagner, Schumann, and Liszt. Berlioz wrote most of the work while touring Europe in the mid-1840's. However, the first performance was attended by few audiences. Only two performances were done during Berlioz's lifetime, both considered failures.
Mozart wrote the lovely Italian opera La Finta Giardiniera, or The Pretend Garden-Girl, when he was only 18. He converted it to German in 1780, and the original Italian score was only rediscovered in the 1970s. Violante Onesti and Count Belfiore were once lovers, until the Count stabbed Violante in a jealous rage. Violante and her servant Roberto now work in the gardens of Don Anchise, the Podestà, disguised as Sandrina and Nardo. Don Anchise is in love with Sandrina, and his niece Arminda is engaged to Count Belfiore. Ramiro is bitter, as is himself in love with Arminda, and Serpetta is jealous of Sandrina as wants the Podestà for herself, but rejects Nardo who is in turn in love with her. When Arminda tells Sandrina of her engagement to the Count, Sandrina faints, sowing suspicion in the mind of Don Anchise, and she awakes with Count Belfiore looking into her eyes. He has recognised her, but she does not reveal her identity. Arminda overhears Count Belfiore struggling with his reignited feelings for Violante, but still Sandrina does not drop her disguise. Not, at least, until the Count is to be tried for the murder of the Marchioness Violante Onesti, when Sandrina reveals herself to save him. Arminda arrives later with the news that Sandrina has run away, but she has in fact been kidnapped in jealousy by Arminda and Serpetta. After some confusion of misdirected advances in the dark, Belfiore and Sandrina lose their minds, believing themselves to be Medusa and Alcides and chasing the others away. When they come around, Violante professes she no longer loves the Count, but her resolution fails, and the two fall into each other's arms.
Ponchielli revised La Gioconda several times, and the version performed today is that of 1880. It is a remarkable example of Italian Grande opera, full of love, sacrifice and betrayal. The four-act opera is based on Victor Hugo's prose play, 'Angelo, Tyran de Padoue', with a libretto by Arrigo Boito, and includes many famous arias. The story begins in Venice in the 17th century. La Gioconda takes care of her blind mother, La Cieca, always under the watchful eye of the lustful spy, Barnaba. Rejected, he takes revenge by inciting the rage of the crowd against La Cieca for witchcraft, and she is only saved by the intervention of a young sea captain. Laura, wife of Alvise Badoero, personally ensures protection for La Cieca, who gives her a rosary in gratitude. Barnaba notices secretive behaviour between Laura and the sea captain, and realizes he is the banished Enzo in disguise, returned to claim Laura. But La Gioconda too is in love with Enzo. Barnaba sees an opportunity to get rid of his rival, and schemes for the secret couple's elopement and capture. Furious at Enzo's love for another woman, La Gioconda plans to kill Laura as she escapes with Enzo. But the sight of her mother's rosary around Laura's neck causes a change of heart. When Laura is captured and condemned to death, La Gioconda switches the poison by which she is to die for a sleeping draught, but when Enzo learns of Laura's 'death' he reveals himself and is captured. La Gioconda agrees to give herself to Barnaba in exchange for Enzo's release, and the lovers learn of her part in their reunion. But La Gioconda cannot bear to uphold her part of the bargain, and as Barnaba approaches, she stabs herself. Maddened with rage, Barnaba cries out to her corpse, 'Last night your mother offended me - I drowned her!'
Maria Stuarda (Mary Stuart) is a tragic opera, (tragedia lirica), in two acts, by Gaetano Donizetti, to a libretto by Giuseppe Bardari, based on Andrea Maffei's translation of Friedrich Schiller's 1800 play Maria Stuart
The opera is one of a number of operas by Donizetti which deal with the Tudor period in English history, including Anna Bolena (named for Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn), Roberto Devereux (named for a putative lover of Queen Elizabeth I of England) and Il castello di Kenilworth. The lead female characters of the operas Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux are often referred to as the "Three Donizetti Queens". The story is loosely based on the lives of Mary, Queen of Scots (as Mary Stuart is known in England) and her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. Schiller had invented the confrontation of the two Queens, who in fact never met.
After a series of problems surrounding its presentation in Naples after the final dress rehearsal - including having to be re-written for a totally different location, a different time period, and with Buondelmonte as its new title - Maria Stuarda as we know it today premiered on 30 December 1835 at La Scala in Milan.
Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld) is an opéra bouffon (a form of operetta), or opéra féerie in its revised version, by Jacques Offenbach. The French text was written by Ludovic Halévy and later revised by Hector-Jonathan Crémieux.
The work, first performed in 1858, is said to be the first classical full-length operetta. Offenbach's earlier operettas were small-scale one-act works, since the law in France did not allow certain genres of full-length works. Orpheus was not only longer, but more musically adventurous than Offenbach's earlier pieces.
This also marked the first time that Offenbach used Greek mythology as a backdrop for one of his buffooneries. The operetta is an irreverent parody and scathing satire on Gluck and his Orfeo ed Euridice and culminates in the risqué Galop infernal ("Infernal Galop") that shocked some in the audience at the premiere. Other targets of satire, as would become typical in Offenbach's burlesques, are the stilted performances of classical drama at the Comédie Française and the scandals in society and politics of the Second French Empire.
The "Infernal Galop" from Act II, Scene 2, is famous outside classical circles as the music for the "Can-can" (to the extent that the tune is widely, but erroneously, called "Can-can") . Saint-Saëns borrowed the Galop, slowed it to a crawl, and arranged it for the strings to represent the tortoise in The Carnival of the Animals.
L'enlevement au Serail (in English: "The Abduction from the Seraglio") is a Mozart opera in three acts based on the work of Gottlieb Stephanie, itself based on one of Christoph Friederich Bretzner's works. First performed at the Burgtheater, Vienna in July 1782, the opera describes the attempts of a nobleman, Belmonte, to kidnap his fiancé, Constance, held prisoner in the Selim, The Turk's Palace du Pacha.
Claude Debussy explores the dark side of love in in Pelleas et Melisande by following the tragic events that ensue in the opera's love triangle. A fateful day in the forest results in Prince Golaud finding his future wife, Mélisande and building a life together in the enchanted kingdom of Allemonde. However, changes in feelings result in the formation of a love triangle involving Prince Golaud's half-brother. Caught between his new bride Mélisande and his half-brother Pelléas, Prince Golaud is consumed with jealousy that dooms the lives of the characters.
Based on Maeterlinck's play of the same title, Claude Debussy's Pelleas et Mélisande captures the growing suspicion and jealousy that enraptures Prince Golaud as he finds himself caught in a love triangle. This moving, classic story of a love triangle amongst a land of enchantment is a must for those who fully appreciate the tragic undertones in Debussy's opera works.
'The Elixir of Love', or 'L'elisir d'amore', has been a rampant success since its premier in 1832, despite being composed in only 13 days! It contains the popular aria "Una furtiva lagrima", a romanza for the tenor that is one of the most famous arias in all of opera.
Donizetti's music for this comic opera set in two acts perfectly captures the light-heartedness of the story, which takes place in rural Italy, in the early 19th-century. Nemorino, a peasant, asks the quack Dulcamara for a magic potion which he hopes will allow him to win the beautiful Adina's love. However, his efforts are jeopardised by the self-important Seargeant Belcore, who also has his eyes set on Adina. Unbeknown to both these suitors, Adina actually has feelings for Nemorino - but in light of the peasant's aloofness, due to his confidence that the potion (which is actually just wine) will work, she accepts Belcore's proposal. Laughter and close calls follow as the story is translated into Donizetti's operatic genius.
Passion, treason and forgiveness characterise this reinterpretation of the Arthurian myth. Written and composed by Ernest Chausson, Le roi Arthus premiered in Brussels in 1903. Chausson’s three act opera, strongly influenced by Wagner as well as his master César Franck, narrates the struggle between King Arthur and Lancelot for the love of Guinevere, wife to the King and mistress of the famous knight. This passionate -albeit tragic- love triangle continues to move and delight audiences around the world.
Le Cid is an opera in four acts and ten tableaux composed by Jules Massenet and written by Adolphe-Philippe D'Ennery, Édouard Blau and Louis Gallet, based on the homologous play by Pierre Corneille. The story is inspired by the Spanish epic The Song of the Cid, which narrates the feats of Rodrigo Diaz in the 11th century. The opera premiered in Paris in 1885 and is well known for a ballet characterised by a series of colourful Spanish dances.
Rodrigue, who has been knighted by the king, is a beloved gentleman, son of Don Diègue and engaged to Chimène, the daughter of the Count of Gormas. However, tragedy soon hits the brave Rodrigue when he is torn between his love for his fiancée and his need to avenge his father, who has been dishonored by his future father-in-law. Rodrigue kills the Count, and Chimène, blinded by grief, goes to the King to demand retribution. The King responds by sending Rodrigue to war against the Moors. Against all odds, the young knight returns victorious and the lovers finally reconcile after Chimène, given the choice to decide the young man’s fate, decides to forgive him.
This fascinating ballet is a marriage of the brilliant martial art inspired ballet, Troy Game, and the moving classical-romantic ballet, La Sylphide.
Troy Game, choreographed by Robert North, was created in 1974 for the London Contemporary Dance Theatre. Influenced by the Ancient Greek war games, and martial arts such as the Japanese aikido and Brazilian capoeira, North created a piece that was admired internationally. The music consists of a street version of samba and avant-garde jazz, with an original piece by Bob Downes.
La Sylphide, one of the most-celebrated ballets of August Bournonville, composed by Herman Severin Lovenskiold, first premiered in 1836 and has been in the Royal Danish Ballet's repertoire ever since. It is a story of a man in Scotland, struggling with his emotions, being torn between two women: the real life woman, his fiancee, and his vision of an ideal woman, Sylphide. But his decision doesn't come without its price. La Sylphide choreographed by August Bournonville, is one of the oldest surviving ballets.
Franz Lehár's enchanting operetta The Merry Widow from 1905, inspired John Lanchbery and Alan Abbott to make this fascinating piece into a ballet with the mastery of the famous choreographer Ronald Hynd. The ballet staged by Sir Robert Helpmann had its world premiere in 1975, in Melbourne. Created for, and performed by The Australian Ballet under the Musical Direction of John Lanchbery, with its spectacular scenery and glamour, it soon became one of the most adored of all ballets, with companies around the world adapting the popular ballet into their repertoires. Set in romantic Paris, the ballet tells a comic, but wonderful love story of a beautiful widow, Hanna Glawari, and the charming Count Danilo, whose romance was forbidden in their youth, but now their marriage is arranged for monetary reasons. The brilliant ballet features waltzes, can-can girls, glamour and champagne, and is promised to be a joyous experience.
Coppélia, the comic ballet originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon to the music of Léo Delibes, premiered in 1870 at the Théâtre Impérial de l'Opéra. It is one of the greatest ballets of the 19th century, marrying the French Romantic with the Russian Classical style. The romantic tale was created upon Charles Nuitter’s libretto, based on two stories: The Sandman and The Doll by E.T.A. Hoffmann. This delightful ballet tells the story of Frantz and Swanilda, two villagers, whose romance is challenged by a mad inventor’s game. Frantz being mesmerized by Coppelia, a beautiful woman that turns out to be a life-size dancing doll, causes mayhem in the couple’s romance and their upcoming wedding.
Today’s productions of the comic ballet are traditionally based on Marius Petipa’s restaged version from 1884, which has been adapted to ballet repertoires around the world.
Tchaikovsky's fairy tale The Nutcracker, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, was created upon E.T.A. Hoffmann's story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. This enchanting ballet tells the story about a little girl, Marie, and her dream of a magic world, where toys become alive, and her Nutcracker turns into a Prince to fight the Mouse King and save her life. The enchanting ballet double-premiered in 1892 with Iolanta, Tchaikovsky's last opera at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Russia. Surprisingly, the original version was not a success, and it was heavily criticized. Later, in 1934, Vasili Vainonen's choreography addressed most of these criticisms and influenced many later productions. The ballet was produced in the United States as well, staged by Willam Christensen and performed by the San Francisco Ballet on 24 December 1944. It was a sweeping success and was immediately adapted to the repertoire to be presented every Christmas. Since then, The Nutcracker slowly became a worldwide holiday tradition to bring magic to everyone's life.
Tchaikovsky's glorious ballet, the Swan Lake, choreographed by Julius Resinger and performed by the Bolshoi Ballet, premiered in 1877 in Moscow. Influenced by folk tales, the ballet tells the story of the tragic romance between Princess Odette, who is cursed to be a swan, and Prince Siegfried. Their love is constantly challenged by the evil sorcerer Rothbart and his daughter Odile, the black swan, who appears as Odette to trick the Prince into a marriage with her. Although the truth comes out, and their passion shows fearless love, the beautiful princess Odette and Prince Siegfried, can only be united after death.
Today's productions mostly base their choreographies on Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov's version of the ballet, which was performed in 1895 by the Imperial Ballet in St Petersburg, Russia.
Based on Alexander Pushkin's well-known novel Eugene Onegin, John Cranko created a powerful and dramatic ballet with unexpected twists. While the story is about love, passion and drama, it is not the usual romantic tale. Onegin, the celebrated aristocrat, refuses to consider marrying the beautiful Tatiana, who is deeply in love with the charming man. But the broken-hearted naive girl is stronger than expected, and not only does she marry a prince, but she becomes a sophisticated aristocrat woman, a well-respected and beloved member of the St Petersburg society. This turn of change is highly attractive to Onegin, who now has a renewed interest towards Tatiana. But to his surprise, he is too late confessing his love.
Cranko's tale was created for the Stuttgart Ballet using several of Tchaikovsky's compositions such as The Seasons, orchestrated by Kurt-Heinz Stolze, and has been in their repertoire since its premiere in 1965. As one of the most admired ballets of the century, it is now performed around the world.
MacMillan's signature ballet the famous Manon, presented by the Royal Ballet, had its first premiere in 1974 in London. Based on a novel by the Abbé Prévost, L'Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut from 1731, the ballet tells the story of a young girl Manon, who is trying to escape poverty by using her beauty to find a wealthy man to marry. But life with its unexpected turns presents a new challenge when she meets a handsome young student Des Grieux. Being torn between love and wealth, Manon decides to have both. Mayhem ensues, and the price has to be paid.
Although it shares the story with the opera Manon, the music was comprised of several different operas of Jules Massenet, orchestrated by Leighton Lucas.
Based on classic mythology, the classical ballet Sylvia, set in the forests, tells the story of a beautiful, seductive huntress Sylvia, and her complicated romance with Aminta. Being pressured by his mistress Diana, she eventually rejects the charming shepherd to continue the huntresses' self-indulgent life. Although their love and passion survive to be reunited, their romance ends with a tragic turn.
First presented in 1876 at the Palais Garnier, Leo Delibes romantic score earned such a significant admiration from Tchaikovsky, that he admitted that he wouldn't have composed his masterpiece, the Swan Lake, if he had known about the music composed by Delibes.
Based on Dostoyevsky's philosophical novel "The Brothers Karamazov'', the ballet was premiered in 1995 with great success. Set in 19th century modernizing Russia, Boris Eifman's ballet tells the story of three brothers with varying personalities, who live in a cursed family with their decadent father, who has no interest in his sons. The sensualist Dmitri, the intellectual Ivan, and the spiritual Aleksei, having moral struggles, constantly debate over the existence of God, freedom and morality. Hostility between father and his sons deepens, when Fyodor refuses to share his wealth with his family and employs his illegitimate son Pavel as his servant. Tension worsens with the bitter rivalry between father and son for the beautiful and unpredictable gypsy girl Grushenka's affection, and following a competition, it ends tragically.
Although Dostoyevsky was mostly influenced by religion and philosophy, "The Brothers Karamazov" was altered by personal tragedy.
Based on William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", the ballet tells the story of an aching romance between two young lovers, whose tragic death ultimately reconciles their warring families. Usually set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky or Sergei Prokofiev, the scores have been an inspiration for several leading choreographers worldwide, including John Cranko (for the Stuttgart Ballet), Kenneth Macmillan (for the Royal Ballet), and Rudolf Nureyev (for the English National Ballet).
Tchaikovsky's score was presented in 1870, but the composer rewrote his piece several times, as the original score was heavily criticized. The final version, the "Overture-Fantasia" was premiered in 1886 in Tbilisi, Georgia (then the Russian Empire). The masterpiece does not end on a down note. The lovers remain a symbol of true and innocent love.
Prokofiev's score was composed in 1935, and originally had a happy ending. It provoked controversy among Soviet cultural officials, and he was strongly advised to follow the traditional tale. One of the first significant versions of the ballet was choreographed by Leonid Lavrovsky with a premiere in 1940 by the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad.
Although many ballet companies present traditional choreographies, several of the latest productions have been dramatically modernized, connecting to today's lives, challenges, and emotions.
Stars of the 21st Century is a prestigious annual International Ballet Gala, one of the most important cultural events, featuring leading ballet companies from around the world with exquisite artistry and technical excellence in both classical and contemporary dance. Since its establishment by Producer Solomon Tencer and Artistic Director Nadia Veselova Tencer in 1993, the event has been taken to the greatest stages of the world, including the Theatre des Champs-Elysee in Paris, the New York State Theatre Lincoln Center in New York, the Sony Centre for Performing Arts in Toronto, and the Kremlin Palace Theatre in Moscow. The Ballet Gala, with its overwhelming success, has gained worldwide recognition.
The ballet "An American in Paris" choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon tells the story of Jerry Mulligan, a World War II Army veteran who moves to Paris to start a new life as a painter. Although he is offered a generous help by Milo Davenport, a wealthy American woman, he is only interested in Lise, a Parisian sales woman who turns out to be seeing his friends as well. Love, enjoyment, and disappointment are all expressed through dance to the greatest music.
Wheeldon's choreography was first presented in 2005 at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center to the beloved symphonic poem composed by George Gershwin in 1928.
The ballet "Nelken" (Carnations) choreographed by Pina Bausch in 1982 is mostly known for its overwhelming image of a field of pink flowers throughout the stage. The carnations represent a fun-filled paradise, an innocent world with simple pleasures and endless play where everyone can dress and spend their time as they wish. Unfortunately, the idyllic time is interrupted by officials who humiliate and abuse the inhabitants of the island, and it is soon discovered that the island is far from being a paradise.
In Pina Bausch choreographies, the audience is often engaged. During the ballet Nelken, the cast invites them to replicate their movements that define the four seasons on their carnation-land.
"Limb's Theorem" is a three-act ballet choreographed by William Forsythe, first presented by the Frankfurt Ballet in 1990. The ballet was created in a period of exploration, when the focus was on generating new movements, new ways of expressions through dance. The first part of the ballet, "Limb's 1" starts with dancers appearing in the dark at night threatened, facing the world with its obstacles. Lightening, explosive sounds, and an ever-changing landscape of dancers represent the chaos and the order, which is amplified in the second part of the ballet "Enemy in the Figure". The piece created in 1989, has been presented alone as well, and it is one of the greatest works of William Forsythe. The ballet ends with the third piece, in which the focus is on the male chorus line with slower jazzy moves and solos.
The theatrical piece was presented by the Lyon Opera Ballet in 2005, as part of their repertoire.
L.A. Dance Project was founded in 2012 by a group of artists, including choreographer and former New York City Ballet principal dancer Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed and starred in Darren Aronofsky's famous Black Swan in 2010. Mr. Millepied, along with founding producers Charles Fabius and Nicholas Britell, composer Nico Muhly, and art consultant Matthieu Humery founded the company to explore new ways of presenting contemporary dance. They work in collaboration with emerging and established directors, visual artists, composers, and musicians to create a new perception of dance. One of their latest works is L.A. Dance Project 3 consisting of three new pieces: Gems 2, Creation, and World creation, which present the choreographer's innovative, unique style.
Mr. Millepied's ballets are in the repertory of several major dance companies around the world, including New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Ballet de Geneve, Royal New Zealand Ballet, and the Dutch National Ballet.
The Future Memories, An evening with Jiří Kylián, celebrates the renowned choreographer Jiří Kylián's works, who has been creating master pieces since the early seventies, starting at the Stuttgart Ballet and the Noverre Company. Working with John Cranko and Glen Tetley made a tremendous impression on Kylián, which influenced his work later at the Nederlands Dans Theater, creating 74 ballets for the company. Performing his choreographies on the most prominent stages, his works were celebrated worldwide.
The Future Memories consists of three ballets, Kylián's most famous works. Set to baroque music and open flames, the first piece is Bella Figura with elegant movements, in which the focus is on beauty, passion and physical attraction. The second piece Gods and Dogs from 2008 is set to Beethoven's score, which is interrupted by shocking sounds, representing normality and madness, followed by the final piece Symphony of Psalms performed to Stravinsky's powerful score.
Sara Baras, the award-winner Spanish artist, is one of today's most famous flamenco dancers, with over 2500 performances around the world. The flamenco star, famous for her astonishing footwork, has worked in film and television as well, including "Mission: Impossible II" and "Algo Más Que Flamenco" on TVE in 1998. Her fascinating work "Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras" brings a night of passion and drama to the stages, presenting rich traditional flamenco with her unique contemporary twists.
Sara Baras was named the Best Female Spanish Dance Performer in 1999 and 2001, and she has earned several prestigious awards for her works, including the Gold Medal of Andalucia, the Madrono Flamenco of Montellano, the Spanish National Dance Award, the Médaille of Vermeil of the Ville from Paris, and the Kennedy Center Gold Medal in the Arts.
"Up and Down" is the newest creation of Boris Eifman, the world-renowned choreographer and founder of Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg. The mesmerizing piece is another extraordinary work of the choreographer, with performances worldwide. Eifman creates 'psychological ballets' to tell something meaningful to the audience: the meaning of life and human existence from spiritual and physical aspects. 'Throughout all my creative life I've been expanding the boundaries of the ballet theatre's abilities and in the first place – searching for the body language that can express the life of spirit. Dance isn't the physical process for me, but the spiritual one. Body language is more ancient, more profound communicative means. Reflexes of sensual life of many generations are fixed in it. To decode these signs, to transform them into the emotionally rich ballet piece – that's our goal" - says Boris Eifman.
The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg was founded in 1977 with an innovative approach to ballet, exploring new genres in addition to the classical pieces. After presenting over forty exceptional choreographies of Eifman with a great success, in 2009 the Government of St. Petersburg decided to build the "Dance Academy of Boris Eifman."
Opera in Three acts composed by Gioachino Rossini. The italian libretto, written by Francesco Maria Berio di Salsi, is based on the Shakespearean tragedy of the same name, which narrates the doomed love story between Othello, a Moor general in the service of the Venetian army, and his wife Desdemona, the object of the affection of Iago, whose jealousy will lead him to destroy their marriage and, ultimately, Othello's life.
La Bayadère, first presented in 1877 by the Imperial Ballet, was created by the renowned choreographer of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres, Marius Petipa, to the music of Ludwig Minkus. The ballet tells the story of a tragic romance between the beautiful temple dancer Nikiya and the noble warrior Solor, who was selected to be the fiancé of Rajah Dugmanta of Golconda's daughter, Gamzatti. Nikiya is forced to dance during their betrothal and receives a basket of flowers after her performance, which she mistakenly believes is from her beloved warrior. While enjoying her gift, a snake jumps out to kill the bayadere. Rajah and Gamzatti, feeling a relief, happily proceed with the wedding. But the gods are infuriated, and while celebrating, the temple collapses. Finally, the spirits of Nikiya and Solor are reunited over the Himalaya.
Today, the ballet is presented based on two different versions, the Vakhtang Chabukiani and Vladimir Ponomaryov's revival for the Kirov Ballet from 1941, and the Natalia Makarova's version for American ballet Theatre from 1980. Its famous act of Solor dreaming of reuniting with Nikiya, The Kingdom of the Shades, is one of the most beloved scenes of classical ballets.
The Rain, one of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s most spectacular ballets, set to Steve Reich’s minimalist score from 1976 “Music for 18 Musicians” premiered in 2001 at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, in Brussels. Inspired by Kirsty Gunn’s haunting novel “Rain” the choreographer created an intense emotional ballet without retelling the original tale. The dancers walk, run, fall, creating a sensation of waterfall and dramatic scenes intensified by Jan Versweyveld’s mesmerizing set design. The live music performed by the Ensemble Ictus and the Synergy Vocals, just as exceptionally choreographed as the dance performance itself, was composed for four female voices and several instruments, including violin, cello, clarinet, piano and keyboard percussion instruments (marimbas, xylophones and vibraphone) to create a perfect harmony between music and dance.
La Source (The Spring) choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon and composed by Léo Delibes and Ludwig Minkus, was originally created for the Paris Opera in 1866 based on Charles Nuitter's libretto. The tale, which takes place in Persia, tells the story of the beautiful Circassian princess Nouredda, Khan of Ghendjib's fiancée and her admirer, the charming hunter Djemil. While Nouredda is on her way to her wedding, Djemil impresses the princess by bringing her a special flower. But after her face is revealed, the hunter is left to his faith tied up until Naila, the water nymph rescues him and promises selflessly to help him win the love of the princess. At the palace, Naila seduces Khan, Nouredda's fiancé, who instantly falls in love with the nymph and asks her to marry him, rejecting the princess. Djemil confesses his love to Nouredda, who is still not interested in him, so the hunter desperately asks Naila's help again. Using her power of love, the water nymph gives up her life for Djemil and Nouredda.
The famous score was one of the most celebrated works of the renowned composer, Léo Delibes.
Juliet and Romeo is a contemporary ballet, Mats Ek's revival of Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet, the story of an aching romance between two young lovers whose tragic death ultimately reconciles their warring families. Inspired by Tchaikovsky's music, the renowned choreographer created the piece for the 240th anniversary of the Royal Swedish Ballet, one of the oldest dance companies in Europe, founded in 1773 by King Gustav III.
The romantic ballet Paquita composed by Ludwig Minkus was originally choreographed by Joseph Mazilier to the music of Edouard Deldevez. Based on Joseph Mazilier and Paul Foucher's libretto, the ballet tells the story of a beautiful Spanish girl Paquita, who, as an infant, was saved from a pirate massacre by a gypsy family. Due to her social standing, her romance with a French nobleman Lucien cannot flourish. But traveling the country, the gypsies help Paquita find her real family, and when it is discovered that she is the daughter of a nobleman, Paquita and Lucien finally reunites.
The ballet was first presented by the Paris Opera Ballet in 1846, and the next year Marius Petipa staged it for the Imperial Ballet of St Petersburg, as his very first work. In 1881, the choreographer produced a revival of Paquita set to new scores by Ludwig Minkus, which was a part of the Mariinsky Theatre's repertory for several decades. The latest revival was created by Pierre Lacotte for the Paris Opera Ballet in 2001 with original elements from Joseph Mazilier and Marius Petipa's choreographies.
Kenneth MacMillan's famous ballet the Song of the Earth was set to Mahler's score "Das Lied von der Erde" with lyrics translated from Chinese poems from the eighth century. The ballet, presented in 1965 by the Stuttgart Ballet, reveals man's struggle over hope, faith and renewal after death. The focus is on a group of young people who ignore their mortality while enjoying their lives. The leading man is followed everywhere by the Messenger of Death as a shadow, while the leading woman appears lonely, as an outsider who doesn't belong to anyone, having constant fear of death. When she finally finds love, death tears them apart. Realizing the importance of accepting mortality, her loss and loneliness, the Messenger returns with her love and holding hands, they take steps together into eternity.
Following a debate on theatre, the Ridicules win and present 'The Love for Three Oranges'. Doctors inform the King that his son the Prince is sick with hypochondria, which can only be cured with laughter. Meanwhile, the magician Tchelio, who supports the King, and the evil witch Fata Morgana, who supports lovers Leandro and Clarice (niece of the King), play cards. Tchelio loses, and Leandro and Clarice plot to kill the Prince so that Clarice can succeed to the throne. The jester Truffaldino’s efforts to make the Prince laugh fail until he accidentally knocks Fata Morgana over. Furious, Fata Morgana curses the Prince to be obsessed by ‘love for three oranges’. At once, the Prince and Truffaldino march off to search them. Using a magic ribbon given to them by Tchelio, they distract the giant cook who guards the oranges and take them off into the surrounding desert. While the Prince sleeps, Truffaldino opens two of the oranges. Fairy princesses emerge but quickly die of thirst. The Ridicules give the Prince water to save the third princess, Ninette, and the two fall in love. He leaves to seek clothing for Ninette so he can marry her, but, while he is gone, Fata Morgana transforms her into a giant rat and substitutes the servant Smeraldina in disguise. Tchelio and Fata Morgana meet, each accusing the other of cheating at cards, but the Ridicules intervene and capture the witch. Tchelio restores Ninette to her natural form and Fata Morgana flees with her accomplices. The opera ends with the celebration of good triumphing over evil.
Inspired by Jacques Prevert's work for Marcel Carne's famous film from 1945, Children of Paradise takes place in the magical theatrical world of 19th century Paris, set to Marc-Olivier Dupin's music. Choreographed by Jose Martinez, the ballet reveals a mysterious world, the story of a beautiful courtesan Garance, and her complicated relationships with four men who are in love with her: the mime artist Baptiste, Frederick the pretentious actor and womaniser, Lacenaire the thief, and the aristocrat Count Edouard of Montray, who offers Garance a lot to be his mistress. While only having feelings for the married Baptiste, the seductive courtesan flirts freely, leaving everyone heartbroken.
The delightful comic ballet, La Fille Mal Gardée, also known as The Wayward Daughter choreographed by Jean Dauberval, premiered in 1789 at the Grand Theatre de Bordeaux in France. Inspired by Pierre-Antoine Baudouin's 1789 painting, La réprimande/Une jeune fille querellée par sa mere, the tale is about a lovely romance between Lise and Colas and their battle against Lise's arranged marriage. The piece, with its innocence and great humour, became one of the greatest ballets that have been kept in repertoires through the history by revivals. One of the most presented versions is Alexander Gorsky's work based on Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov's 1885 staging to Peter Ludwig Hertel's music, with a premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in 1903. Today, Frederick Ashton's modern version for the Royal Ballet from 1960 to Ferdinand Herold's score is one of the most beloved revivals of all, celebrating the enchanting simplicity of the tale.
L'Anatomie de la Sensation choreographed by Wayne McGregor was created to Mark Anthony Turnage's music: Blood on the Floor. Inspired by Francis Bacon's work, dancers and jazz soloists evoke the artist's paintings through unique movements and romantic elements. Since its premiere in 2011, the original piece is one of the highlights of Paris Opera Ballet.
Paul/Rigal/Lock is an evening celebrating the exceptional works created for the Paris Opera Ballet by three talented contemporary choreographers. The evening starts with Paul Andrew's work Repliques from 2009 set to music by György Ligeti. The piece is an exploration of reflections through contemporary dance, where mirror-effect is imitated by synchronized movements. While the second piece, Edouard Lock 's work AndréAuria to David Lang's minimalist music was inspired by pointe-work. Incorporating contemporary elements into classical movements, the focus in his work is on speed and balance. The evening ends with Pierre Rigal's first choreography for Paris Opera Ballet. Set to Joan Cambon's score, the piece is the artist's perception of the cycle of life and renewal.
Once a hidden Russian jewel, Natalia Makarova's sumptuous production of La Bayadere after Marius Petipa introduced the West to this sumptuous ballet. Set in the exotic temples and palaces of India, with a haunting score by Ludwig Minkus, La Bayadere is a feast for the eyes. With opulent costumes, lush backdrops, and divine dancing, don't miss your chance to see one of the most arguably important productions of this ballet classic. This dramatic ballet tells the story of a forbidden love between a beautiful temple dancer Nikiya and Solor, a prince who is already betrothed. Nikiya is poisoned by her rival Gamzatti and rejects the High Brahmin's anecdote, refusing life without her beloved Solor. Their love, destined for destruction can only be reunited in the spirit world. La Bayadere combines dramatic storytelling with virtuosity, and fragile lyricism. The third and final act known as the Kingdom of the Shades is one of the hallmarks of classical dance, and displays ballet in its purest form. The simplicity of thirty-two dancers all in white, repeating the same movements while winding down a ramp will take your breath away.
As the epitome of 19th century romanticism, Giselle tells a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness. Choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot with heart wrenching music by Adolph Adam, Giselle has remained the quintessential staple for major ballet companies' repertoire. As the story begins, Giselle is a carefree but fragile peasant girl with a passion for dance. Giselle falls in love with Albrecht, a prince disguised as a peasant, who is already engaged. When Giselle finds out about the horrible betrayal she becomes mad and dies from a broken heart. In the second act, one of ballet's most glorious hallmarks, Giselle becomes a Wilis -doomed to dance forever while leading men to their deaths by forcing them to dance. Filled with remorse, Albrecht visits Giselle's grave. Visited by Giselle's spirit, she protects him from the Wilis and saves him from death.
Capriccio, set outside Paris in 1775, is a rare opera in that it is inconclusive. No tragic death or infinitely-durable marriage completes the story, but instead a debate on an unanswerable question: which is the greater art, words or music? The Countess herself tries to decide which of her two suitors, the poet or the composer, she should accept, and asks her brother the Count, who is in love with an actress, for advice. He and his love, Clairon, rehearse Olivier's play, which ends in a love sonnet. Olivier reveals that this is written for the Countess, but Flamand sets it to music and sings it, to Olivier's horror. Flamand also declares his love, and both will meet her the next day to hear her decision. At her birthday celebrations that evening, the Countess commissions an opera that will combine Flamand's music with Olivier's words, telling the events of that very afternoon. She dwells on the synchronicity of words and music, still unable to make a decision. Dinner is served, and the opera, equally undecided, comes to an end.
German composer Aribert Reimann began devising Lear in 1936 at the request of baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. However, the project was not consolidated until 10 years later when Reimann received a commission from the Munich Staatsoper. The libretto by Claus H. Henneberg is based on Shakespeare's King Lear, which also inspired composers like Berlioz, Verdi and Debussy. Lear premiered in Munich in 1978 with Fischer-Dieskau, Julia Varady and Helga Dernesch leading the cast.
This opera in two acts take place in Scotland during the Middle Ages and recounts the descent into madness of King Lear after abdicating and dividing his kingdom among his three daughters, Cornelia, Goneril and Regan.
A comic opera consisting of a prologue and two acts, composed by Jean-Philippe Rameau and libretto by Adrien-Joseph Le Valois d' Orville, inspired by the myth of the Greek writer Pausanias. Platée tells the story of a very unattractive water nymph who is wrongly convinced that the god Jupiter is madly in love with her, only to discover that she has been used by the Gods to appease the jealousy of Jupiter’s true love, Juno. Rameau composed Platée to celebrate the marriage of Louis, Dauphin of France, the eldest son of Louis XV.
German composer Arnold Schönberg’s masterpiece Moses and Aaron is a philosophical opera inspired by the biblical characters of the book of Exodus. The plot revolves around the contrasting characters of the two brothers: Moses is an idealist, while Aaron is best described as a man of action. Moses and Aaron is characterised by being a fully dodecaphonic work; Schönberg, author of the music and the libretto, is considered the father of dodecaphonism (or twelve-tone music), a type of atonal music.
This children's opera, created by the young and talented British composer Joanna Lee, is the story of a boy who finds a toy plane in a closet and decides to explore the universe. When his aircraft runs out of fuel, the boy is forced to land on the moon, where he meets a martian who befriends him. The martian and the little human must help each other to find the way to go back home. The libretto by Rory Mullarkey is based on the picture book The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers. The opera premiered at Young Vic in 2014.
This opera comes as a prologue and three acts by the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi and libretto by Temistocle Solera. Giovanna d'Arco premiered at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1845.
The story, probably based on the play Die Jungfrau von Orleans by Schiller, takes place in France in 1429 and follows the life of the historical figure Joan of Arc, a French heroine who is convinced that she is responsible for leading the French troops to victory in the war against the English. Religion, love and forgiveness are some of the underlying elements in Verdi’s seventh opera, one of the least represented in the current operatic repertoire.
With music by Giuseppe Verdi and libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, I due Foscari narrates the misadventures of Jacopo Foscari, son of the Doge of Venice, tried for murder and sentenced to exile. The story takes place in Venice in 1497 and explores issues like power, political intrigue and a father being torn between his position in the government and his love for his son. The opera is based on the novel The Two Foscari written by Lord Byron.
I due Foscari premiered in Rome in 1844 after being rejected by the Teatro La Fenice, which deemed it inappropriate due to the opera’s criticism of the Venetian Republic, fearing that some influential families in the city might take offense, including the Foscari descendants.
Umberto Giordano’s The Jester’s Supper tells a tragic love story that ultimately leads to death.
The beautiful Ginevra is the object of the affection of two men, Giannetto Malespini and Neri Chiaramantesi, whose rivalry for the woman’s love leads them to their doom. Neri and his brother Gabriello play a cruel joke on Giannetto, whose thirst for revenge ends in Ginevra’s demise at the hands of Neri, who finally descends into madness.
The libretto, written by Italian playwright and poet Sam Benelli, is an adaptation of the writer’s play of the same name from 1909. La cena delle beffe was first staged in 1953 at the Scala opera house in Milan.
The Turn of the Screw is a chamber opera composed by Benjamin Britten. The libretto, based on the homonymous novel by Henry James, is signed by Myfanwy Piper, who had previously collaborated with the composer.
It takes place in England in the mid 19th century in the mysterious house of Bly after the arrival of an unnamed governess. As the story unfolds, the mysterious relationships between the children and the other inhabitants of the house are unveiled.
Mefistofele is an opera in a prologue, four acts and an epilogue, the only completed opera by the Italian composer-librettist Arrigo Boito. The opera was given its premiere on 5 March 1868 at La Scala, Milan, under the baton of the composer, despite his lack of experience and skill as a conductor.
Mefistofele is all about the forces of good and evil, the battle between the sacred and the profane set in motion when the opera’s eponymous anti-hero draws Faust into his fateful bargain. In Boito’s libretto, based on Goethe’s Faust drama, the action sprawls from heaven to hell, a garden for gamboling lovers to a sublimely becalmed ancient Greece. Some of what takes place is wooly, silly or stiffly ideological.
Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), is the final opera in Richard Wagner's cycle of four operas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung, or The Ring for short). It premiered at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 17 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of the Ring.
The Twilight of the Gods is dominated by an ambiance of gloom. Wotan and the rest of the cycle's characters face the consequences of their actions in the first three operas of the Ring. As predicted by the three Norns in the "Prelude" to this opera, the curse of Alberich (the dwarf or "nibelung") on the ring is prophetic: anyone who becomes its owner is ultimately destroyed. Although Wotan's disempowerment was foreshadowed in Siegfried by the breaking of his spear by Siegfried, the doomed fate of the gods and their All-Father Wotan is sealed when Alberich's evil son, Hagen tricks and murders the brave hero Siegfried. Thus, The Twilight of the Gods, which is "a panorama of love and betrayal, good and evil, subconscious and overt events, grand, pictorial and private, intimate scenes" is "the climax of the whole Ring cycle" and "shows Wagner at zenith of his powers" (Alan Blyth).
The Fiery Angel is an opera in five acts with music and libretto in Russian by Sergey Prokofiev, based on the novel The Fiery Angel (1908) by Valery Bryusov. It was first staged at La Fenice in Venice on September 14th 1955. Passion, obsession and demonic possessions are some of the elements that permeate this opera, one of Prokofiev’s most controversial works.
The plot revolves around Renata’s obsessive quest to find a strange fiery angel, a vision that first appeared in her childhood and later led her to explore her darkest desires. Ruprecht, a traveller, finds Renata possessed by spirits and decides to help her; during their search, he falls madly in love with her. Renata decides to withdraw into a convent, but the demons that plague her resurface and end up possessing the other inhabitants of the place in a grand operatic finale.
A village is haunted by a phantom when darkness falls, but Rodolfo, the long-lost son of the count has just returned to the village, and he realises that rather than a phantom, this mystery figure is in fact a young woman, Amina, walking in her sleep. She enters Rodolfo's room and falls asleep on his sofa. That day had been Amina's betrothal procession to Elvino, yet when he finds her sleeping in Rodolfo's room, he is certain that she has been unfaithful. Only Teresa, Amina's foster-mother, believes in her innocence. They ask Rodolfo to attest to this and he sends a message confirming her innocence, but Elviro does not trust this, and takes back the ring. He decides to marry Lisa instead, who he was betrothed to in the past. Just before they go to the church, Rodolfo tries to stop them, explaining that Amina is a somnanbulist, a sleepwalker, but Elvino refuses to listen. Amina falls back into a deep sleep, and plagued by grief at Elvino's rejection she begins walking a high, unstable bridge. Now convinced that she has been telling the truth, and was in fact just sleepwalking, when she reaches the other side of the bridge Elvino calls to her, and she wakes up in his arms.
This opera seria by Handel is a politically incorrect comedy about how to seize or hang on to power, the tale of a battle between female patricians. McVicar views this virtually wicked text in the light of the aesthetic of the most sophisticated soap operas of the 1980s. Agrippina and Poppea – the two great rivals – behave with the tyrannical confidence of the leading ladies of Dynasty or Falcon Crest, waging all-out war on stiletto heels, oblivious to ethical constraints or obstacles. Seduction and sex are mere tools for getting what they want, by fair means or foul. Yet paradoxically, the characters of this amoral farce are not caricatures. Three hundred years after its premiere, Agrippina still interests the audience because the protagonists are three-dimensional, almost Mozartian, in their human contradictions and complexity.
South Pole is an opera by the Czech composer Miroslav Srnka and libretto written by the Australian Tom Holloway. The plot centers on the sinister race between the Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen and the British expedition of Robert Falcon Scott to be the first humans to reach Antarctica in 1910. The opera explores the emotions and thoughts of men in this world of ice and loneliness, and delves into the dichotomy between conflict and comic situations.
South Pole will premiere on January 31st 2016 at the Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich). The cast will be headed by baritone Thomas Hampson and tenor Rolando Villazón.
Les Indes Galantes is an opera-ballet composed by Jean- Philippe Rameau, with a French libretto by Louis Fuzelier. It includes a prologue and four acts. It premiered at the Académie Royale de Musique et Danse in Paris on 23rd August 1735. That first version had a prologue followed by the first two acts, which was later modified.
The opera recounts the period of party and pleasure during the reign of Louis XV and his court. Music and dance illustrate the plot which is about romantic relationships in exotic places: Turkey, Peru, North America and Persia (“Les Indes”). The opera illustrates the links established between these different cultures.
There's uproar in the land of the fairies: Queen Titania refuses to hand over King Oberon’s favourite plaything. He is determined to take revenge, but unfortunately he entrusts the task to his mischievous court jester Puck, who administers the magic potion to the wrong person, and as a result the two pairs of lovers strolling through the forest become embroiled in passion for the wrong partner. Absolute chaos results, and now Puck is instructed to put things right. Although Titania is not going to escape unscathed…
Orfeo ed Euridice, Orphée et Eurydice in French, or Orpheus and Eurydice in English is an opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck based on the myth of Orpheus, set to a libretto by Ranieri de' Calzabigi. It belongs to the genre of the azione teatrale, meaning an opera on a mythological subject with choruses and dancing. The piece was first performed at Vienna on 5 October 1762. Orfeo ed Euridice is the first of Gluck's "reform" operas, in which he attempted to replace the abstruse plots and overly complex music of opera seria with a "noble simplicity" in both the music and the drama.
The opera is the most popular of Gluck's works, and one of the most influential on subsequent German opera. Variations on its plot – the underground rescue-mission in which the hero must control, or conceal, his emotions – include Mozart's The Magic Flute, Beethoven's Fidelio and Wagner's Das Rheingold.
Though originally set to an Italian libretto, Orfeo ed Euridice owes much to the genre of French opera, particularly in its use of accompanied recitative and a general absence of vocal virtuosity. Indeed, 12 years after the 1762 premiere, Gluck re-adapted the opera for a Parisian audience at theAcadémie Royale de Musique with a libretto by Pierre-Louis Moline. This reworking was given the title Orphée et Eurydice, and several alterations were made in vocal casting and orchestration to suit French taste.
Boris Godunov is an opera by Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881). The work was composed between 1868 and 1873 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is Mussorgsky's only completed opera and is considered his masterpiece. Its subjects are the Russian ruler Boris Godunov, who reigned as Tsar (1598 to 1605) during the Time of Troubles, and his nemesis, the False Dmitriy (reigned 1605 to 1606). The Russian-language libretto was written by the composer, and is based on the "dramatic chronicle" Boris Godunov by Aleksandr Pushkin, and, in the Revised Version of 1872, on Nikolay Karamzin's History of the Russian State.
Boris Godunov has seldom been performed in either of the two forms left by the composer, frequently being subjected to cuts or recompositions, of the original version.
Several composers, such as Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Dmitri Shostakovich, have created new editions of the opera to "correct" perceived technical weaknesses in the composer's original scores. Although these versions held the stage for decades, Mussorgsky's individual harmonic style and orchestration are now valued for their originality, and revisions by other hands have fallen out of fashion.
Boris Godunov is the most recorded Russian opera.
The talented Àlex Ollé directs this coproduction of ll Trovatore, one of Verdi’s best-loved operas even during the composer’s lifetime. Cast highlights include Roberto Alagna, Marcelo Alvarez and Sondra Radvanovsky. Book your tickets before the public!
International opera stars Marcelo Alvarez, Anja Harteros, Sondra Radvanovsky and Piero Pretti will take the Opera Bastille stage in 2018 to interpret the leading roles of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. Get your tickets now on Divento.com!