Michael Spyres

Giddy Gilliam in Barmy Berlioz

benvenuto cellini firenze

Benvenuto Cellini bust on the Ponte Vecchio, Florence.

Terry Gilliam’s second foray into opera direction, again Berlioz, is if anything more successful than the first. I hadn’t known any of Berlioz’s 1838 opera Benvenuto Cellini, which tells the story of Cellini’s brush with both papal and paternal wrath in his simultaneous failure to cast a monumental statue of Perseus and his attempts to woo the daughter of a papal exchequer. The work seems sprawling, to put it mildly, and rambles along with rousing ensembles punctuated by less distinctive recitatives and short arias. Gilliam’s madcap treatment of the work would appear to meet its flaws head on in a spirit of riotous abandon. (more…)

Modified Rapture

Two events in the past week or so, each presenting something to chew on… (more…)

Scott-land comes to the Royal Opera House

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Sir Walter Scott, 1827 (Wikimedia)

John Fulljames’ new production of La Donna del Lago by Rossini opened last night at Covent Garden. The piece itself is based on a narrative poem of 1810 by Walter Scott, which took only 9 years to make it into operatic form, with La Donna premiering in Naples in 1819. This gives some sense of the popularity, not only of Scott himself, but the general themes of Scott’s work that chimed so well with the Romantic appetites of the contemporary audiences: real characters, perhaps a bit of supernatural intervention, brooding landscapes, the odd Gothic ruin.  The production’s muse, if I’ve read it correctly, is the early 19th Century creation of the ‘myth of Scotland’, which was entirely entwined with these themes of the Romantic movement, and amongst whose proponents Scott sits pre-eminent. The first act was a little opaque, but it came together nicely at the end. (more…)