NEW! 2018/19 BBC NOW in Cardiff and Swansea

09/05/2018

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BBC National Orchestra of Wales announces its 2018/19 Season in Cardiff and Swansea Read more

NEW! Abandoned Liszt Opera Sardanapalo Premieres in Weimar in August

08/05/2018

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World Premiere of an Abandoned Liszt Opera in Weimar – 170 Years Later 

Under its Principal Conductor Kirill Karabits, the Staatskapelle Weimar will give the world premiere of a rediscovered Italian opera Sardanapalo by Franz Liszt – which was left incomplete and has lain largely forgotten in a German archive for almost 100 years. ‘The name of the composer Franz Liszt has never been associated with Italian opera’, Karabits explains. ‘I’m delighted to be conducting the premiere of Sardanapalo in Weimar. This discovery should open a new page not only in Liszt’s musical heritage but also in the music history of the 19th century.’ Act I of the opera survives complete. This will be presented in a concert version.

The music has been resurrected by David Trippett, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge. He discovered the opera manuscript was legible more than ten years ago, a century after it had been catalogued and largely forgotten in the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv in Weimar. ‘The music that survives is breath-taking – a unique blend of Italianate lyricism and adventurous harmonic turns and side-steps’, Trippett explains. ‘There is nothing else quite like it in the operatic world. It is suffused with Liszt’s characteristic style, but contains elements from Bellini and Meyerbeer, alongside glimmers of Wagner.’

On 19 and 20 August 2018, soprano Joyce El-Khoury and tenor Charles Castronovo will lead the cast in the world premiere of this notable work in Weimar, where Liszt composed it and where he served as Kapellmeister of the Hofkapelle, today’s Staatskapelle Weimar.

The libretto, based on Lord Byron’s tragedy Sardanapalus, is topical. It tells the story of Sardanapalo, King of ancient Assyria (modern-day Syria and Northern Iraq). He is a peace-loving monarch, more interested in revelry and women than politics and war. He deplores violence and brutality, and, perhaps naively, he believes in the innate goodness of humankind, but is overthrown by rebels and burns himself alive with his lover, amid scents and spices, in a great inferno. Liszt’s opera focusses on the love between king Sardanapalo and his favourite concubine, Mirra, who seeks to persuade the king to go to war to defend his realm, against his better judgment.

Known only to a handful of Liszt scholars, the manuscript – with much of its music written in shorthand and only one act completed – was assumed to be fragmentary, often illegible and consequently indecipherable. However, after Trippett spent the last three years working critically on the manuscript, including using Liszt’s own instructions for orchestrating the score, the music can be heard for the first time. As the Cambridge academic explained: ‘Fortunately, Liszt left just enough information to retrieve what was evidently the continuous musical conception he had at the time. We will never know why exactly he abandoned his work on the opera. It seems Liszt was not satisfied with the libretto for Acts II and III.’ Trippett adds: ‘I suspect he would have been surprised to learn that Act I is resurfacing in the 21st century. But I like to think he would have smiled on it.’

The world premiere concert performance will be broadcast on Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and a recording will be released with audite.

A trailer with extracts of ‘Sardanapalo’ can be seen here, a research documentary chronicling the resurrection is here, and a short aria is available here.

A critical edition of the music will be published by Editio Musica Budapest (Universal Music Publishing) in 2019, and the underlying research will appear in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association later this year.

NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL

07/05/2018

Russell Thomas interviewed by Margarida Mota-Bull

Russell Thomas

The first time I came across Russell Thomas was a couple of years ago and by pure chance while searching for tenor performances in Don Carlo on YouTube. In the long list that appeared, a video caught my attention, showing Mr Thomas in a duet with Anja Harteros. She was a household name in the operatic world but I didn’t know him. So, I watched it and listened carefully to Thomas’s voice. Its power, beauty and warmth impressed me immensely. Read more

NEW! RAFAL BLECHACZ IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN

05/05/2018

Rafal Blechacz talks to Geoffrey Newman

Rafal Blechacz © Marco Borggreve

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NEW! The Twelfth English Music Festival Coming Soon in May 2018

05/05/2018

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The Twelfth English Music Festival – 25-28 May 2018

This is the twelfth year in which Founder-Director, Em Marshall-Luck’s English Music Festival has flourished in Oxfordshire – principally at Dorchester-on-Thames (25-28 May 2018). Read more

NEW! The London Orchestra Project’s Metamorphosen on 27 May at LSO St Luke’s

03/05/2018

A New Player Development Initiative: The London Orchestra Project

The brainchild of Stephen Bryant, leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and conductor James Ham, London Orchestra Project has a unique take on player development.

The London Orchestra Project

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UPDATED! Kenneth MacMillan’s The Sleeping Beauty at the London Coliseum in June

01/05/2018

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For the review of the second night click here

English National Ballet 
The Sleeping Beauty 
London Coliseum 
Wednesday 06 June – Saturday 16 June 2018 
Box Office: 020 7845 9300 or www.ballet.org.uk/sleeping-beauty
Tickets: from £14 (Booking fees may apply.)

  • Maria Alexandrova to guest with English National Ballet for the first time
  • Lead Principal Alina Cojocaru debuts in the role of Princess Aurora with English National Ballet
  • Further debuts include Lead Principals Jurgita Dronina, Joseph Caley, Isaac Hernández, and Aaron Robison

Read more

NEW! English National Opera in 2018/19

01/05/2018

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English National Opera announces 2018/19 Season Read more

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