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Les Talens Lyriques present rare Dauvergne opera in Versailles

25 November 2011, Versailles, France

'Hercule Mourant' in concert at the Opéra Royal de Versailles
'Hercule Mourant' in concert at the Opéra Royal de Versailles

Review by Alexandra Coghlan

The latest addition to Christophe Rousset’s cabinet of baroque curiosities, Antoine Dauvergne’s Hercule Mourant demonstrates the considerable influence (if not quite the genius) of Dauvergne’s teacher, Rameau.

A concert performance at the Opéra Royal in Versailles – the first since the work’s 18th century debut – was led by Veronique Gens, delivering a characteristically assured performance as Hercules’ neglected wife Dejanire. Andrew Foster-Williams rose to the challenge of singing his own death, though his dramatic conviction never quite caught up to his technical skill, and he had a considerable rival in Edwin Crossley-Mercer’s assertive Philoctete.

Unusual orchestral colourings and textural effects – an extended passage of string tremolos for Hercules’ ascension, muted bassoons paired with horns and strings for the sombre cloud that settles of the drama of Act V – give the work an interest it lacks elsewhere. One for the record collection perhaps, but not the opera stage.

 

London's Royal Opera House launches first digital game

23 November 2011, London, UK

Screenshot: 'The Show Must Go On'
Screenshot: 'The Show Must Go On'

The Royal Opera House has launched a new digital game that allows opera fans to try their hand at being a stage manager.

Created for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users, The Show Must Go On is a collaboration with game developer, Hide&Seek. Available as an app, the game includes five different scenarios that challenge the player to retrieve sheet music, assemble props, build the set, light the show and dress the cast – all in a short time before the curtain goes up.

EMI has supplied recordings for the game’s soundtrack, which features artists such as Simon Rattle and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as well as sound effects recorded at the Royal Opera House.

ROH chief executive, Tony Hall, described the move as ‘a very logical step for us as we increasingly develop our content available across multiple digital platforms.’

 

ROH to premiere BBC 'Question Time' opera on 22 November

19 November 2011, London, UK

British politician Nick Griffin
British politician Nick Griffin

By James Waygood

As part of the Royal Opera House’s Opera ‘Exposure’ series, Errollyn Wallen’s new opera Yes receives its world premiere in London next week.

The work is a ‘docu-opera’ focusing on reactions and responses sparked by the infamous occasion in October 2009 when the BBC invited controversial British Nationalist Party leader, Nick Griffin, to appear as a panelist on its televised political forum, Question Time.

The libretto, written by the playwright and critic Bonnie Greer, consists of her personal opinions together with public reaction, exploring the storm of strong views leading up to and following the broadcast. Greer, who was a co-panelist on the programme, described appearing next to Griffin as ‘probably the weirdest and most creepy experience of my life’. She will take part in the opera as herself alongside a cast of nine singers and an instrumental ensemble of seven.

At Tête-á-Tête Opera Festival held at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith last summer, composer Errollyn Wallen held a seminar discussing her writing process, which included excerpts from Yes. Combining her more lyrical style with contemporary writing, the music is a fusion that is original but accessible and catchy. From what I heard at the preview, Yes is set to be a bold and intriguing approach to issues of multiculturalism, racism and freedom of speech in today’s society.

Performances in the Linbury Studio Theatre from 22 to 26 October

 

US soprano sings live after being shot

10 November 2011, Memphis, US

Stafford Hartman
Stafford Hartman

A 24-year-old artist in residence with Memphis Opera surprised audiences last month by going ahead with two performances of Tosca – after being mugged and shot in the knee.

Stafford Hartman was attacked two days before the opera’s opening night, but said that she was determined ‘not to be a victim’, so went ahead with her offstage role of the Shepherdess from a wheelchair. She is expected to make a full recovery.

Wikileaks inspires new commission by Opera Australia

28 October 2011, Melbourne, Australia

Julian Assange
Julian Assange(Photo: Espen Moe)

Opera Australia has announced plans for a new opera based on the life and work of Julian Assange, the controversial founder and figurehead of the whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks.

Assange, who was born in Australia, is said to have endorsed the project. He is currently in London fighting extradition to Sweden for alleged rape.

Opera Australia (OA) unveiled their plans after a workshop described by the company’s artistic director, Lyndon Terracini, as ‘really terrific’. He said that he hoped the new work would ‘speak to a younger audience than we normally play to’.

The Australian composer Jonathan Dreyfus has already been approached to write the score, though the project as a whole is still pending approval by OA’s board.

 


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