An outing for the US opera that won a Pulitzer but was then forgottenby Neil Norman / July 18, 2018 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
Glyndebourne Festival, 5th to 26th August
At its premiere in January 1958, Samuel Barber’s Vanessa was hailed as the first Great American Opera and won a Pulitzer Prize. To celebrate its 60th anniversary Glyndebourne is producing its own version directed by Keith Warner. The piece flew in the face of fashionable dissonance by returning to the Romantic era of Puccini and Verdi with identifiable melodies, musical structure and a tragic tale at its heart. Containing some of Barber’s most exquisite music and carrying an erotic charge, this post-Romantic work is overdue for reassessment. An absolute must for serious opera lovers.
L’incoronazione di Poppea
Longborough Festival Opera, 28th July to 2nd August
L’incoronazione di Poppea was Monteverdi’s final masterpiece. The story of Nero and his mistress Poppea, the opera is controversial for its characters’ lack of moral compass. But if the libretto is contentious, the music is magnificent and as this year’s Young Artist production for Longborough Festival Opera, it will allow singers at the start of their career to strut their baroque stuff.
St Petersburg Ballet Theatre, London Coliseum, 22nd August to 2nd September
While they may not be in the same exalted league as the Bolshoi, St Petersburg Ballet Theatre (below) delivers the classics in typical Russian style. Their production of Swan Lake is led from the front by prima ballerina assoluta Irina Kolesnikova, whose impeccable technique makes up for some infelicities in the corps de ballet.