The Scottish Opera's live concert performance of Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore was given at the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival, and the one-night-only show was well received by both the audience and critics. Featuring a charismatic cast including John Mark Ainsley as Sir Joseph Porter, Elizabeth Watts as Josephine, Andrew Foster-Williams as Captain Corcoran, Toby Spence as Ralph Rackstraw, Hilary Summers as Buttercup, and comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor as the Narrator, the production was especially noteworthy for conductor Richard Egarr's historically informed approach to the music.
The 'Eight Songs' are essentially a song cycle presented in two groups of 4: the first group preceded by 4 instrumental movements and the second by 6. The texts were written by World War 1 poets all of whom, apart from the English painter-poet David Bomberg, lost their lives during the war. The songs take their starting point from the title of a series of poems by the French poet Gaston de Ruyter (who was shot down in his planes as late as 7 October 1918): ‘Chansons vieilles sur d’autres airs’ (‘Old songs to other tunes’). The ‘chansons vieilles’ are the poems by English, French, German and Hungarian poets (all sung in their original languages apart from ‘Csak Egy Eiszkara…..’ and the ‘autres airs’ are by English, French, German, Austro-Hungarian, Polish and Italian composers of the 17th and 19th centuries.
Pierre Boulez has been an exclusive artist with Deutsche Grammophon for over 20 years; his recording legacy with the label is immense. DG celebrate his 90th birthday with a 44-CD box set of his complete DG 20th century music recordings – an aspect of his work that lies at the heart of his achievement. ”The aim of music is not to express feelings but to express music. It is not a vessel into which the composer distills his soul drop by drop, but a labyrinth with no beginning and no end, full of new paths to discover, where mystery remains eternal.” – Pierre Boulez
Although I Puritani was performed during the Metropolitan Opera's first season in 1883, it had not been seen there for decades until this production by Sandro Sequi was unveiled in 1976. It was one of the greatest triumphs for the partnership of Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti, and it is to the credit of all concerned in this recent revival that one soon forgets names from the past and enjoys what is a spirited attempt to evoke mid-19th-century style.
What begins like a fairy-tale turns into a whimsical fantasy halfway between magic farce and Masonic mysticism: The Magic Flute links a love story with the great questions of the Enlightenment, juxtaposes bird-catcher charm with queenly vengeance, and bewitches the listener with music that mixes cheerful melodies, lovers’ arias, show-stopping coloraturas and mysterious chorales.
Handel’s opera Serse is characterised by its ironic libretto, humorous situations, and high number of short arias.
The main character is the unpredictably obsessive and volatile King Xerxes, a historical character who ruled the Achemenid Empire from 486 BC to 465 BC. The plot concerning the rivalry between Xerxes and his brother, Arsamene, for Romilda, however, is entirely fictional, as is the King’s betrayal of his fiancé, Amastre.