All tagged Verdi

Falstaff – Verdi – The Grange Festival

Michael Chance took a real risk in his appointment as Artistic Director and CEO of the new Grange Festival, but with this wonderful production of Falstaff the risk really seems to have paid off.  He has overseen a very good season at The Grange Festival, but in conjunction with the Director, Christopher Luscombe, this Falstaff is a success in every department, particularly visually and musically.

Un Ballo in Maschera – Verdi – Israeli Opera – Tel Aviv Israel

Most major and minor cities in Germany have an opera house that becomes the focal point of artistic development in the community.  Some cities in Germany are themselves bigger than the whole country of Israel, which has a population of 6.5m of which 2.5m are Arab and 4.5m Jewish.  Israel itself has its own Opera House, with the current Arts Centre being opened in 1994 after the new Israeli Opera was established in 1985.

Falstaff at the Royal Opera House

Giuseppe Verdi had written 27 operas by the time he started a four year project to in 1889 to write only his second comedy opera.  His first comedy work ‘Un giormo di regno’ was staged unsuccessfully in 1840 and Rossini, a great admirer of Verdi, commented that he thought him incapable of writing a comedy. Verdi was concerned that at his advanced age, to start a new substantial project was a real risk.  However, such was his profile that at the world premiere of Falstaff at La Scala Milan in early 1893, the huge success of his work was recognised with an applause lasting almost an hour. 

Un Ballo in Maschera at Grange Park Opera

In one of Verdi’s most frustrating experiences, this opera commissioned by Naples in 1857, was actually premiered in Rome in 1859.  The original score underwent significant transformations as a result of censorship regulations in both Naples and Rome and the disturbing political situation in France in 1858.  The plot concerns the assassination in 1792 of King Gustav III of Sweden, who was killed as the result of a political conspiracy against him.  He was shot while attending a masked ball.

Macbeth at the Royal Opera House

Verdi’s first version of Macbeth was completed in 1847.  It was his first Shakespeare play that he adapted for the operatic stage. This was a golden period of composition by Verdi stretching 16 years, which saw him produce 22 different operas, including, amongst others, Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata. 

Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House

If the French had anything to do with it, Rigoletto would never have been performed.  Based on Victor Hugo’s play ‘Le roi s’amuse’, where Verdi described the subject matter of the play as ‘immense’, it was highly controversial as it depicted the King of France as an immoral and cynical womaniser.  As a result, the opera had to undergo many changes before the censors allowed it to be performed, opening at La Fenice in Venice in 1851.  Even though the King of France was deleted from the opera – he was converted to the Duke of Mantua – the opera was banned in France and not performed there until 1882. 

Verdi's Requiem at the Metropolitan Opera House

In a remarkable career spanning six decades in the theatre, Giuseppe Verdi 1813-1901, composed nearly 30 operas, at least half of which are at the core of today’s repertoire.  His Requiem, premiered in 1874, stands as a unique testimony to his artistic and human vision and is a setting of the text for the Roman Catholic mass for the dead as it existed until its revision in 1970. 

Aida at the English National Opera

Aida was premiered in Cairo’s Opera House at the end of 1871, having been commissioned by the Isma’il Pasha.  Its premier was meant to coincide with the opening of the opera house, but as a result of the Franco-Prussian war the scenery and costumes were stuck in Paris and Verdi’s Rigoletto was performed instead, with Aida premiering later in the year.  The premiere was met with great critical acclaim and the European premiere was held in February 1872 at La Scala Milan.  Over the next 20 years the opera became part of the staple repertoire of opera houses all over Europe and America, where different productions tried to deal with the passionate nature of relationships between three high born individuals, ultimately ending in inevitable betrayal. 

Otello at the Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House pulled out all the stops in giving us a new production of this incredibly forceful Verdi opera, Otello.  Keith Warner was asked to direct this new production and the cast of Jonas Kaufmann as Otello, Maria Agresta as Desdemona and Marco Vratogna as Iago was almost as good as it gets today.  

La Traviata at the Royal Opera House

La Traviata (the fallen woman) is one of Verdi’s most popular operas. It is based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas and its world premiere was at La Fenice in Venice in 1853. As with everything to do with opera there was a dispute with the local authority who insisted that a contemporary setting was inappropriate and the production had to be circa 1700. It was not until 1880 that a more contemporary production was staged.