Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Commentary

Plácido Domingo awarded Honorary Fellowship of the International Opera Awards

A patron of the International Opera Awards since their inception, legendary tenor Plácido Domingo will receive the first ever Honorary Fellowship of the Opera Awards Foundation at a fundraising evening on Monday 28 January at the Royal Society of Arts, London.

Wexford Festival Opera Announces New Artistic Director

The Board of Wexford Festival Opera has announced Rosetta Cucchi as the new Artistic Director of the Festival. She will take up the six-year position when the current Artistic Director David Agler finishes his tenure after the 2019 Festival.

Unknown, Remembered: in conversation with Shiva Feshareki

It sounds like a question from a BBC Radio 4 quiz show: what links Handel’s cantata for solo contralto, La Lucrezia, Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, and the post-punk band Joy Division?

Bampton Classical Opera to perform Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors

Gian Carlo Menotti’s much-loved Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors was commissioned in America by the National Broadcasting Company and was broadcast in 1951 - the first-ever opera composed specifically for television. Menotti said that it “is an opera for children because it tries to recapture my own childhood”.

Kings College, Cambridge launches as curator on Apple Music

November 5, 2018, Los Angeles, CA: Today, King’s College Cambridge announces the launch of the College as a curator on Apple Music.

Royal Opera House’s Music Director Sir Antonio Pappano extends tenure to 2023

Sir Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera House, has confirmed that he will remain in position until at least the end of the 2022/23 Season.

Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Opera to Present Caccini’s Alcina

The GRAMMY-Winning Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Opera Series presents Francesca Caccini’s Alcina on Thanksgiving weekend – November 24 & 25 in Boston and November 26 & 27 in New York City

The Royal Opera House lets everyone in on the act

The Royal Opera House today opens the doors to its transformed new home, following an extensive three-year construction project.

Two of Garsington Opera's 2018 productions to reach a wider audience

Garsington Opera is delighted to announce that on Saturday 6 October, BBC Radio 3’s ‘Opera on 3’, will broadcast the production of its first festival world premiere - The Skating Rink by David Sawer set to a libretto by Rory Mullarkey based on a novel by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño.

Remembering and Representing Dido, Queen of Carthage: an interview with Thomas Guthrie

The first two instalments of the Academy of Ancient Music’s ‘Purcell trilogy’ at the Barbican Hall have posed plentiful questions - creative, cultural and political.

Bampton Classical Opera Goes to the Ball

I wonder if Cinderella realised that when she found her Prince she would also find international fame, becoming not just a Princess but also a global celebrity and icon. The glass slipper, placed loving on her shapely foot, has graced theatres, variety halls, cinema screens and opera houses - even postage stamps - and the perennial popularity of this rags-to-riches fairy-tale, in which innocence and goodness triumph over injustice and oppression, shows no signs of waning.

Glyndebourne announces new Artistic Director

Stephen Langridge has been appointed Artistic Director of Glyndebourne. Stephen is currently Director for Opera and Drama at Gothenburg Opera, Sweden, a role he has occupied for five years. He will take up his new role at Glyndebourne in spring 2019.

Beyond Gilbert and Sullivan: Edward Loder’s Raymond and Agnes and the Apotheosis of English Romantic Opera

Mention ‘nineteenth-century English opera’ to most people, and they will immediately think ‘Gilbert and Sullivan’. If they really know their Gilbert and Sullivan, they’ll probably remember that Sullivan always wanted to compose more serious operas, but that Gilbert resisted this, believing they should ‘stick to their last’: light, comic, tuneful satire.

Mascagni's Isabeau at Opera Holland Park: in conversation with David Butt Philip

Opera directors are used to thinking their way out of theatrical, dramaturgical and musico-dramatic conundrums, but one of the more unusual challenges must be how to stage the spectacle of a young princess’s naked horseback-ride through the streets of a city.

The Moderate Soprano : Q&A with Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam

Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam play Audrey Mildmay and John Christie in David Hare’s play The Moderate Soprano which is currently at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London.

Soprano Nadine Sierra Wins the 2018 Beverly Sills Artist Award

Soprano Nadine Sierra has been named the winner of the 13 th annual Beverly Sills Artist Award for young singers at the Metropolitan Opera.

The Grand Tour: A European Journey in Song

The seventeenth Oxford Lieder Festival (12-27 October 2018) will celebrate a rich tapestry of music, words and performance in European song and will showcase the pinnacles of the repertoire while exploring wider cultural influences.

An Interview with Soprano Lisette Oropesa

Lisette Oropesa sings Eurydice in Los Angeles Opera’s French version of Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice that can currently be seen at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Opera in Amsterdam in 2018-2019

The operatic tradition is not as old in the Netherlands as in other European countries, yet opera is a vital part of the Dutch classical landscape. Both Dutch National Opera & Ballet and the Concertgebouw are in Amsterdam, so the capital gets the lion’s share of the opera on offer.

Lyric Opera of Chicago to Premiere Fellow Travelers—A Preview

On 17 March 2018 Lyric Opera of Chicago will premiere the 2016 opera Fellow Travelers by Gregory Spears (with a libretto by Greg Pierce, based on the novel by Thomas Mallon. Mallon’s 2007 novel offered fresh perspectives on the paranoiac investigations of McCarthy-era Washington, DC, through the lens of a gay relationship.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

El Juicio de Paris by Enrique Simonet, 1904 [Source: Wikipedia]
04 May 2016

Bampton Classical Opera 2016

A Double-Bill of Divine Comedies

Bampton Classical Opera 2016

A preview by Claire Seymour

Above: El Juicio de Paris by Enrique Simonet, 1904 [Source: Wikipedia]

 

Bampton Classical Opera’s summer 2016 production will be a double-bill of one-act works: the UK première and first staging in modern times of Gluck’s Philemon and Baucis, and Thomas Arne’s The Judgment of Paris, which the company performed in 2010-11. The operas will be staged by the same creative team as the highly-successful 2015 production of Salieri’s Trofonio’s Cave ( review): director Jeremy Gray, translator Gilly French, and conductor Paul Wingfield, who was a Jette Parker Young Artist from 2012-14 and is currently a member of the music staff at the Royal Opera House.

The cast for both operas features Canadian soprano Barbara Cole Walton, making her company début, mezzo-soprano Catherine Backhouse, who sang in the London performance of Salieri’s Trofonio’s Cave in 2015, and two other cast members from the same production: soprano Aoife O’Sullivan and tenor Christopher Turner. They are joined by tenor Robert Anthony Gardiner and baritone Robert Gildon.

Bampton Classical Opera has made a unique commitment to performing some of Gluck’s barely-known shorter operas, including UK premières of La danza and Il Parnaso confuso (review). Gluck is all too easily assigned to a single musico-historical category – that of operatic reformer. However, his works extend far beyond the ‘reform’ opera style with which he is most commonly associated, encompassing youthful Metastasian opera seria, numerous ballet scores and several delightful one-act festal serenatas.

As a long-time employee of the Hapsburg estate, Gluck was required to devise suitable entertainments for festive occasions. In 1769, when Ferdinand, Duke of Parma and grandson of Louis XV, was to marry Maria Amalia, Archduchess of Austria and sister of Marie Antoinette a series of events was planned, comprising a tournament, elaborate feasts, a Chinese fair, and a festival illustrating contemporary advances in art and science. The festivities stretched over several months, and included an opera-ballet commissioned from Gluck entitled Le feste d’Apollo, which consisted of a prologue and three essentially unrelated acts: Aristeo, Philémon e Baucis and an abridgement of the composer’s Orfeo.

Characteristically, the subject of Philemon and Baucis was taken from Classical mythology. It tells of the story of two young lovers, the eponymous shepherd and shepherdess, who show great respect and care for Jupiter when he appears before them disguised as a pilgrim. In return, the rustic couple are blessed by Jupiter with everlasting life and elevated to the status of demigods. At the same time, he curses their fellow Phrygians who had refused to help him.

The score blends the charmingly simple with the intricately sophisticated. One commenter has observed of the work that ‘Shorter numbers have an epigrammatic compression of charm and style that is very French, but the longer arias possess a majestic breadth of treatment that both looks back to Italian Baroque models and forward to Mozart’.

Gluck borrowed from several earlier works – inevitably commissions for festive occasion-pieces needed to be dashed off in haste – but there is some striking original music too, not least Jupiter’s aria di furia against the uncharitable Phyrigians, Bauci’s joyful, florid, stratospheric ‘Il mio pastor tu sei’, and a thunderous storm sequence.

This new première will be given in an English translation by Gilly French, with a performing edition based on a manuscript in the Royal College of Music.

The Judgment of Paris is one of three masques composed by Thomas Arne between 1738 and 1742. It represents, along with The Masque of Comus and The Masque of Alfred some of the composer’s finest work. It was first performed in London on 12 March 1742, and it has been suggested that it may have been intended to upstage Sammartini, the protégé of Frederick the Prince of Wales, for the Italian’s own The Judgment of Paris had been performed at Cliveden in 1740 alongside Arne’s masque, Alfred.

William Congreve’s text had been set before, in 1700, when it served as the vehicle for a composing competition whose 200 guinea prize was shared between Daniel Purcell, John Weldon, John Eccles and Gottfried Finger. The winning compositions were subsequently performed at a special concert. Perhaps in choosing the same libretto forty years later, Arne hoped to make a point about his own superior standing, although by then the original competition pieces had long been forgotten.

Arne’s inventive music perfectly matches Congreve’s droll wit. The action relates the episode in which Paris, a shepherd, is obliged to choose the fairest among the three goddesses Juno, Pallas and, inevitably, Venus. During the competition, Paris finds himself the subject of various enticements as the goddesses attempt to persuade him in turn to award them the symbol of victory, a golden apple. Far from displaying bucolic gaucheness, Paris demonstrates unanticipated wile in delaying his judgement for long enough to incite the impatient goddess into singing several arias and engaging in a degree of disrobing. Just how is a director to treat Paris’s line, ‘When each is undress’d, I’ll judge of the best’?

The overture is well-known but there is also much lovely writing for solo voice, which in the words of one modern commentator shows Arne to be ‘at the height of his powers […] unequalled by his English contemporaries for the matchless flow of his melodic invention’. In addition to the beautiful, Paris and Mercury (two tenors) share a splendid duet and the three goddesses have a lively dance-like trio. As with Gluck, the music ranges the simple – strophic airs – to the intricate, as in ‘Gentle swain’ with its elaborate cello obliggato.

Bampton Classical Opera performed The Judgment of Paris in concert performances marking Arne’s 300th birthday in Oxford’s Holywell Music Room and in Wigmore Hall in 2010-11.

Claire Seymour


Production details:

Philemon and Baucis/The Judgment of Paris , with free pre-performance talks:

The Deanery Garden, Bampton, Oxfordshire OX18 2LL

7.00 pm Friday 22 July, Saturday 23 July

The Orangery Terrace, Westonbirt School, near Tetbury, Glos GL8 8QG

5.00 pm Monday 29 August

St John’s Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA

7.00 pm Tuesday 13 September

Philemon and Baucis

Baucis – Barbara Cole Walton, Philemon – Catherine Backhouse, Jupiter – Christopher Turner, Chorus soprano (shepherdess) – Aoife O’Sullivan, Chorus tenor – Robert Anthony Gardiner, Chorus baritone – Robert Gildon

The Judgment of Paris

Juno – Barbara Cole Walton, Pallas – Catherine Backhouse, Paris – Christopher Turner, Venus – Aoife O’Sullivan, Mercury – Robert Anthony Gardiner, Chorus baritone – Robert Gildon

Conductor: Paul Wingfield

Director/designer: Jeremy Gray

Movement director: Triona Adams

Costume designer: Vikki Medhurst

The Deanery Garden and Westonbirt:

Tickets: £35 (under 18: half-price)

By Telephone: 01993 851142

Online: www.bamptonopera.org

By post: Bampton Classical Opera, 1 Deanery Court, Broad Street, Bampton, OX18 2LY

St John’s Smith Square:

Tickets: £15, £22, £30. Booking for Friends of St John’s opens 4 July, for General Public 11 July

By Telephone: 020 7222 1061

Online: www.sjss.org.uk

By post: St John’s Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):