Opera North Salford Quays
A SHORT drive to the Lowry, Salford Quays, is recommended next week as Opera North presents three new productions.
Most intriguing is Janacek’s The Makropulos Case, where Emilia Marty is able to reveal the whereabouts of a will lost for 100 years. The reason she can do it is because she is 300 years old but the effects of the life giving potion are wearing off and death looms. That is the plot of this short and fascinating mystery thriller and brings Opera North’s Janacek project to a superb completion. It is sung in English and can be seen on Tuesday.
Mozart’s Don Giovanni has William Dazeley and Alastair Miles in the lead of a piece always capable of a new interpretation (Wednesday and Saturday) while Gounod’s Faust can be seen on Tuesday and Friday. This has received good reviews for the musical side but the conservative opera lover should be warned that scenery is eschewed in favour of screens and projections. Both operas are subtitled.
Britten War Requiem – DVD (Art Haus Musik)
THIS summer, on the 50th anniversary of its final performance, Britten’s War Requiem was performed in Coventry Cathedral by the city of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under Andris Nelsons. In 1962, an inadequate chorus and chaotic rehearsal conditions reduced Britten to despair, but this time all was well and a superb performance was the result.
Mark Padmore led a fine trio of soloists, and while the Youth Chorus was positioned in front of the altar and the main stage was in front of the west window with a view of the old cathedral ruin. The concert was broadcast widely except in this country and this beautifully filmed DVD reveals it was financed by German and Japanese TV and the entire production crew came from abroad.
Was Britain not interested? Surely not still a land without music?
Essential Britten by John Bridcut (Faber)
WITH the Britten centenary next year, Faber has enlarged and updated Bridcut’s fine pocket guide, which now includes the text of the composer’s speech on receiving the prestigious Aspen Award.
This invaluable book includes 180 pages of programme notes about his music, many pages on his life, his pets, cars and illnesses, lists of his music and record library, his views on other people’s music and their views on him, plus assessments of him as a pianist, conductor and instrumentalist.
There are also six round Britten quizzes to keep you on your toes too. Bridcut has made fine television films about Britten and this paperback (£9.99) is essential for anybody interested in the composer, and deserves a place in many a Christmas stocking.