The Classical Source Recommends
by: Nick Breckenfield
I thought I’d look at rare and new opera this month. October heralded such intriguing fare as Rossi’s Orpheus in a witty and delectable candlelit production at Shakespeare’s Globe’s exquisite Sam Wanamaker Theatre (to November 15), while Chelsea Opera Group turned (as if via a prism) to Shakespeare for Wagner’s second operatic attempt: Das Liebesverbot loosely based on Measure for Measure. Out of the capital, Welsh National Opera dusted down two rather off-the-beaten track examples from their respective composers: Bellini’s I Puritani and Handel’s Orlando (touring during November). Let alone Wexford’s annual trio of rarities…
November starts with that other powerhouse of operatic byways, the Guildhall School of Music, with four performances of Wolf-Ferrari’s Le donne curiose (Silk Street Theatre until November 9) while the Royal Opera House brings a brand new work, Georg Friedrich Haas’s cradle-to-grave commission Morgen und Abend, with a libretto by Norwegian Jon Fosse (November 13- 28 November; five performances). Down in the ROH’s Linbury Studio (on the eve of its closure for two-years of rebuilding improvements) there are two operatic ventures of note: Will Todd’s Alice in Wonderland – Opera Holland Park’s summer success over the last couple of years finding an indoor home (November 5-7) before junk opera exponents the Tiger Lillies (you remember Shockheaded Peter?) bring its take on Wedekind’s Lulu – A Murder Ballad (Nov 23-28).
And it’s not just staged opera where you can find rarities. At the Barbican Hall there are two goodies in store: for Handelians amongst, Il Pomo d’Oro brings Tamerlano on the 10th) before Opera Rara teams up again with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for Leoncavallo’s Zazà on the 27th. For those that thought Cav and Pag’s respective composers were just one-horse wonders, then Wexford’s Mascagni offering, Guglielmo Ratcliff, and this Zazà should widen perspectives. And for Cav and Pag, Tony Pappano and the Royal Opera will soon oblige (in updated settings, to the 1980s, by Damiano Michieletto). Given that it’s nearly eight years since Richard Jones’s ENO productions, and many more years since being on Covent Garden’s stage, you might even argue that these two verismo classics are now something of a rarity (December-January).
And the rare or brand new opera doesn’t stop in 2016. Don’t miss Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest at the Barbican (March 29-April 3) then New York, while English Touring Opera revives Donizetti’s Pia de’Tolomei between March and June. Earlier, Music Theatre Wales and Scottish Opera combine for the world première of Stuart MacRae’s new opera with Louise Welsh, The Devil Inside (based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story The Bottle Imp). Catch it north-of-the-border on Jan 23 & 29 January (Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively) and then touring from February to April. One welcome innovation is the publishing of the libretto online in advance. Then, the ever-enterprising Music Theatre Wales will stage Peter Eötvös’s The Golden Dragon, opening at the 2016 Buxton Festival.