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Opera: March 2008 Archives

Opera In English

Benjamin Britten

Inglese, Per Favore?

Mencken called opera in English "about as sensible as baseball in Italian." But it does have its charms.

By Justin Davidson
New York Magazine

Despite all the words that are sung in English every day, on every quadrant of the Earth, our language skulks around the edges of opera. Eighteenth-century Londoners believed it self-evident that the finest sung dramas should be unintelligible by design, which is how Handel, a German, came to pen operas in Italian for monoglot British society. Even now, arias in English seem to be a cultural error, like Finnish hip-hop or salsa from Dubai. The current Met season incorporates one opera by an American in Sanskrit (Philip Glass's Satyagraha), another that mixes English with Chinese (Tan Dun's The First Emperor), and Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, sung in English translation for the benefit of the kids. Only Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes, the work that brought British opera back to life after World War II, makes an irrefutable case for the language's singable power and lyrical efficiency. You can pack a lot of sense into a very few English words; set those words to music, and pellets of plain speech bloom. Britten made the title character a taciturn Suffolk fisherman, and also a figure of overpowering eloquence.

Read more about this at the New York Magazine website:

Performing All of Mozart's Operas

Warsaw Chamber Opera

Classical music: Focusing on genius

The only Mozart Festival in the world which presents all the composer's operas has launched ticket sales

by Anna Kalembasiak
Warsaw Business Journal

While summer remains a long way off, some entertainments require seriously advanced booking, and the 18th Mozart Festival in Warsaw is one of them. Tickets for the event, which will take place between June 15-July 26 at the Warsaw Chamber Opera, have just gone on sale.

During the festival, concerts and operas will be performed by the best musicians from Poland and abroad. Concerts will take place on the premises of the Warsaw Chamber Opera as well as at the Palace on the Water in the Royal Lazienki Park, in the Royal Castle and in Warsaw's churches.

"Our Mozart Festival is the only one in the world which presents all 20-plus operatic works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Even the festival in Austria, the homeland of Mozart, does not present all his works [at one time]," said Jan Bokszczanin, the spokesperson for the Warsaw Chamber Opera. "There has never been another festival which fully covers the stage operas of this genius composer," said musicologist Janusz Ekiert.

Read more about this at the Warsaw Business Journal website:

Business Intelligence - Middle East

Arabic Don Giovanni Earns Standing Ovation

by Maria Karam

The region's first Arabic performance of Mozart's celebrated opera Don Giovanni closed with a standing ovation in the Garden City of the United Arab Emirates Thursday to raise the curtain on the eighth, and largest, annual Al Ain Classical Music Festival.

Having played to a near capacity audience in the Al Ain Municipality Theatre, the cast – of eight soloists from Egypt and Lebanon with a chorus from Lebanon Chorale de l'universite Antonine and superbly accompanied by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor and musical director Zbigniew Graca – drew tremendous applause as they emerged on stage to take their bows with the production's Polish director Ryszard Peryt.

It was an evening when Al Ain wrote itself into the classical music record books – the first Arabic performance in the region of the Mozart masterpiece with the libretto ably translated through 14 months of dedication by Egyptian opera lover, Dr. Aly Sadek.

It was also a night never to be forgotten for young Lebanese soprano Nadine Nassar who made her operatic debut in the production in the role of Zerlina.

Holding back tears at the end of the performance, Nadine said the evening had been "highly emotional" for her.

"I would like to thank the Al Ain Classical Music Festival Committee for this opportunity. The chance to perform with fellow professionals and under professional direction and accompaniment from such a great orchestra is something I will never forget. Al Ain will be a place I will always now remember."

With a simple, yet dramatic, stage set designed by Ryszard Peryt and rich, period costumes designed by Poland's Katarzyna Stolarczyk, the production was a triumph in combining the libretto, music and theatre talents of both Europe and the Middle East.

Read more about this at the Business Intelligence - Middle East website: