The must-see operasby Neil Norman / June 22, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Royal Opera, Covent Garden 26th June to 7th July
Commissioned in Milan to write an opera for the carnival, Mozart spent five months creating Mitridate, Re di Ponto in 1770. Any doubts about allowing a 14-year-old boy loose on an opera seria were dispelled at its successful premiere. This extraordinary work, based on a libretto by Racine, consists of a series of arias with only two ensembles. It went into hiding for almost three centuries, eclipsed by Mozart’s prodigious output. Graham Vick’s 1991 production for the Royal Opera draws parallels between the stylised form of Baroque opera and Japanese and Indian stagecraft—influences echoed in Paul Brown’s stunningly opulent designs. This is a rare opportunity to witness the birth of a genius.
Welsh National Opera at the Royal Opera House, 19th and 20th July
Andre Tchaikowsky (no relation) wrote The Merchant of Venice in 1981 though it wasn’t performed until 2013 at Bregenz, where it was hailed as a masterpiece. The Merchant of Venice is a potent attack on prejudice and a response to the composer’s experiences as a child in the Warsaw Ghetto and his homosexuality. David Poutney’s production is a revelation, drawing on Freudian psychoanalysis while remaining faithful to Shakespeare.