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Opera forecast

Refashioned opera

By Ivan Hewett   May 2004

“A theatre of thoughts” is how Brian Ferneyhough describes his first opera Shadowtime, which premieres in Munich in late May. It’s a dismaying description for anyone who treasures opera’s power to render human passions in all their raw immediacy. An opera that deals with ideas rather than feelings might seem a contradiction in terms.

But not to Ferneyhough, for whom opera as traditionally conceived is a closed book. He’s hardly ever been to an opera, and admits to knowing nothing about it. Of course, this may turn out to be a liability. So many recent operas have been stillborn because…

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