The best opera in October, from Wales to the West Endby / September 12, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in October 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Trouble in Tahiti/Osud or Trial by Jury
Opera North, from 11th October
The enterprising Opera North continues its season of Little Greats with a trio of short operas in sparkling new productions. Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, a skewering of a suburban marriage, was written while he was on his honeymoon and punches well above its weight. This is accompanied by either Janácek’s semi-autobiographical Osud (Destiny), a model of compression which tells of a composer and his lover across 15 years. Completing the trio is Gilbert & Sullivan’s first operetta, Trial by Jury, an absurd tale of a woman who takes her fiancé to court for jilting her, only to find that every member of the jury and the bench fall for her.
From the House of the Dead
Welsh National Opera, 8th October to 29th November
Janácek took Dostoyevsky’s 1862 novel as his source material for his final opera From the House of the Dead. Premiered posthumously in 1930 it is the composer’s bleakest work. David Poutney’s 1982 production for WNO has rarely been bettered. Now the company resurrects this stunning and rarely performed opera as a dark celebration.
Les Vêpres Siciliennes
Royal Opera House, 12th October to 4th November
Les Vêpres Siciliennes is the grandest of Verdi’s grand operas. Completed shortly after La Traviata, it features a massive cast, sumptuous settings and an awesome musical palette. Set in mediaeval Sicily, it’s chaotic narrative proved a challenge to many directors until Stefan Herheim radically remodelled it in 2013 (above) and set it inside the Paris Opera of the 19th Century. Its audacious opulence deserves a revival of the highest order.