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Licht  

Richard Toop

Licht ( ‘Light’ ) The collective title of a projected cycle of seven operas by Karlheinz Stockhausen , each of which is named after a day of the week. The cycle was conceived in 1977 and completed in 2003 . Up to 2007 , only the first five operas have been staged, though semi-staged performances have been given of all individual parts of the two final operas: Mittwoch aus Licht (‘Wednesday’), 1995–7 , and Sonntag aus Licht (‘Sunday’), 1999–2003 . Performances of the complete cycle are planned (but unconfirmed) for Essen in 2010 . Licht ,

Article

Peter Franklin

Säckingen’ ) Opera in a prologue and three acts by Viktor E(rnst) Nessler to a libretto by Rudolf Bunge after J. V. von Scheffel’s poetic epic; Leipzig, 4 May 1884 . When the Baron von Schönau (bass) learns that his trumpeter Werner Kirchhofer (tenor) seeks the hand of his daughter Maria (soprano), he banishes Werner and consigns Maria to marriage with the cowardly but noble-born Damian (tenor). Werner then returns with troops to save the Baron from a peasant uprising. A mark on Werner’s arm reveals that he is of noble birth after all, and his union with

Article

Bayan Northcott

comforts, Max escapes from the Wild Things, travelling home to his room to find his supper waiting after all. In elaborating words, designs and musical forms from what is essentially a picture book, Sendak and Knussen were consciously attempting to revive the genre of fantasy opera as represented by Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges . Scored for an orchestra of 48 (without trumpets) and running just under 40 minutes, the opera transcends the ‘magic’ scores in its background – Musorgsky, early Stravinsky, Debussy’s La boîte à joujoux

Article

Marita P. McClymonds, Elisabeth Cook and Julian Budden

take the same forms as were prevalent for arias. 2. French opera upto c 1775. The duet is very much the most popular type of concerted number in the tragédie lyrique , accounting for nearly 90 per cent of all ensembles in the period from Lully to Rameau. There are usually three or four duets in each work, sited at various points within the action. Short duets are particularly common before the end of the 17th century (see Alceste , Lully, 1764 ). Vocal pairings are more diverse than in opera seria ; as well as lovers’ duets there are vengeance duets (usually

Article

Richard Taruskin

them pliable vocal formulae or ‘melodic moulds’ to which prose dialogue could be accommodated, rather than symphonically developed instrumental motifs of the Wagnerian type), Prokofiev hoped to achieve a ‘scenic flexibility’ that would rescue opera from its putative impasse and show it to be ‘the most vivid and powerful of all the scenic arts’. Owing to difficulties in casting, the unwillingness of the orchestra, the ineptitude of the director (Nikolay Bogolyubov) and, finally, the political turmoil following the February revolution of 1917 , the Mariinsky production

Article

Ernest Warburton

Opera seria in three acts by Johann Christian Bach to a libretto by pietro Pietro Metastasio ( see Temistocle above) with alterations and additions by Verazi, Mattia ; Mannheim, Hoftheater, 5 November 1772 . In the first of his two operas for the court of the Elector Palatine Carl Theodor, Bach, responsive as ever to local fashions, broadened his musical style to accommodate the Mannheim taste. He also took advantage of the exceptional orchestral and vocal resources at his disposal to produce a score which demanded great virtuosity from all concerned

Article

Hugh Macdonald

Timbre d’argent, Le ( ‘The Silver Bell’ ) Opéra fantastique in four acts by Camille Saint-Saëns to a libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré ; Paris, Théâtre Lyrique, 23 February 1877 . Saint-Saëns’ first opera was a significant link between Gounod’s Faust and Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann , in all three of which the same librettists, Barbier and Carré, explored the hero’s dependence on a sinister older man enforced by a diabolic pact. In Le timbre d’argent Conrad (tenor), an artist, has a fatal appetite for gold, and is also entranced

Article

Laurel Fay

1914–17 Dzerzhinsky based his first opera on books 1 and 2 of Mikhail Sholokhov’s as yet incomplete novel Tikhiy Don . As it turned out, composer and novelist resolved the plot in different ways. Dzerzhinsky entered his opera in a contest sponsored by the Bol′shoy Theatre and the newspaper Komsomol′skaya pravda . When the results were made known in 1934 , there was no inkling that Quiet Flows the Don would soon become a pivotal opera of the early Soviet period, the prototype Socialist Realist ‘song opera’: it received no award, and was censured by the

Article

vein of burlesque that he mined in The Dragon of Wantley ( 1737 ), his first popular success; it ridicules Italian-style opera and opera singers rather than Shakespeare’s plays and players. The onstage audience, originally Duke Theseus and his entourage, consists of Mr Semibrief (the impresario) and two gentlemen, one of whom has experienced Italian opera at first hand on the grand tour; they interject facetious spoken comments as the all-sung opera proceeds. The story follows Shakespeare closely: the Wall (tenor) sports a chink through which Pyramus (tenor) and Thisbe

Article

Marita P. McClymonds

Florence since a revival of Traetta’s opera ten years earlier. The plot centres on twin magnanimous deeds: Pollux (soprano castrato) replaces his dead half-brother Castor (soprano castrato) in the underworld so that Castor can be reunited with Telaira (soprano), a union Febe [Phoebe] (soprano) plans to disrupt; after a tender meeting, Castor asks to return so that Pollux may be freed, and Jupiter (tenor) rewards all three by reuniting them in heaven. Castore contains all the elements that had been purged from Italian serious opera before the turn of the century: gods

Article

Richard Toop

Mittwoch aus Licht ( ‘Wednesday from Light’ ) Opera in four scenes, a greeting and a farewell by Karlheinz Stockhausen to his own libretto. As yet ( 2007 ) unstaged as a whole, but all individual parts have been given semi-staged performances: Scene 1 ‘World Parliament’, Stuttgart, Liederhalle, 3 Feb 1996 Scene 2 ‘Orchestral Finalists’, Amsterdam, Carré Theatre, 14 June 1996 Scene 3 ‘Helicopter String Quartet’, Amsterdam, Westergasfabriek, 26 June 1995 Scene 4 ‘Michaelion’

Article

Izaht  

Simon Wright

two earlier, unperformed operas, Aglaia ( 1909 ) and Elisa ( 1910 ), both written while he was a cellist in the orchestra of a small opera company. The composer constructed Izaht ’s libretto around a fantastic story of underworld life, telling of gypsies, espionage, intrigue and banditry, and opening unpromisingly ‘in the Tavern of Death, badly built in the vaults of an abandoned castle, in an outer suburb of Paris’. The long, tortuous and extremely complicated plot and the need for 11 soloists, a chorus, a ballet and large orchestra all militated against early

Article

Louise K. Stein

Italian operas. Celos aun del aire matan complemented Hidalgo’s one-act La púrpura de la rosa produced some months earlier. In keeping with Spanish theatrical conventions, all the roles except for one (the comic Rústico) were sung by women, the principal roles being those for the goddess Diana, the nymph Aura, Céfalo, Pocris and Eróstrato. The roles of Rústico, Clarín and Floreta are comic in the tradition of the gracioso . Hidalgo’s extant music demonstrates his adaptation of Spanish conventions from semi-operas and zarzuelas to the genre of fully sung opera. The

Article

Laurel Fay

drama. A sophisticated command of polyphonic textures and orchestral colour does not detract from the strong melodic focus of the opera. The lyrical warmth of the score, its memorable melodies and infectious rhythms, the satisfying balance between the good-natured comic elements and the human emotion and sympathetic characterization of the strong-willed lovers as their romance unfolds, all contributed greatly to the work’s success. The opera has received numerous productions and revivals both in Soviet cities and abroad.

Article

George Truett Hollis

by Ferdinando Bertoni to a libretto by Carlo Goldoni ; Venice, Teatro S Samuele, 26 December 1751 . Bertoni’s most successful comic opera was the first of three Goldoni librettos set by the 26-year-old composer. The seven roles mix parti buffe (fisherwomen and fishermen) and parti serie (a prince and a noblewoman believed to be the daughter of a fisherman). The music includes a mixture of aria types, all without passaggi , including four bipartite arias ( AA ′ or AB ) which could be called cavatinas, although Bertoni did not use that term for similar

Article

Hugh Macdonald

Saint-Saëns at that time, and his opera received only five performances. It was occasionally revived in his later years. The subject was selected to satisfy a craze for Japan, although the opera is actually set in the Netherlands. Léna (soprano) is in love with her cousin, the studious Kornélis (tenor), who is entranced by everything Japanese, particularly his portrait of a Japanese girl he calls Ming. In a fantasy induced by a potion he is transported to Japan, but there realizes that he really loves the Dutch girl Léna after all. The music is brisk and light, with

Article

Thomas Bauman

Tor, 7 May 1776 . Grossmann originally translated Beaumarchais’ play more or less faithfully for the Seyler company. Seyler persuaded him to adapt it as a comic opera and it was in this form, with Benda’s music, that the play was generally performed in Germany during the 18th century. Unlike the simple tunes Beaumarchais had gathered and published with the original text, Benda’s vocal numbers – 13 in all – have nothing Spanish about them. Italianate showpieces for the company’s best voices predominate; the part of Rosina (soprano) is particularly ornate and virtuoso

Article

Dale E. Monson

Artaserse (iii) ( ‘Artaxerxes’ ) Opera seria in three acts by baldassare Baldassare Galuppi to a libretto by Pietro Metastasio ( see Artaserse above); Vienna, Burgtheater, 27 January 1749 . This was Galuppi’s first setting of Metastasio’s most popular text; it was revised for Padua in 1751 . The text is heavily cut throughout, with many lines of new recitative added to bridge awkward transitions. The most extensive variation is the insertion of a quartet for the principals, Arbace [Arbaces] (soprano), Artaxerxes (soprano)

Article

John A. Rice

the more serious qualities of Axur when he praised it as ‘the most excellent of all serious Italian operas – even including Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito ’. First performed in celebration of the marriage of Archduke Franz, Joseph’s nephew, Axur was an immediate and lasting success. It was said to have been Joseph’s favourite opera, and it found favour with the Viennese public as well. With 100 performances between 1788 and 1805 , Axur was one of the most often performed operas in the Viennese court theatres during this period. Many performances in Germany

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(above all those for the lead soprano) and its ensembles. In time, however, the failings of the plot – the same as that of Donizetti’ s Caterina Cornaro – began to obtrude, as did the general lack of drama and characterization and an inclination to unvaried musical treatment; as one critic maintained, the bandits sang in the same lively march tempo as the knights with no noticeable difference in musical style. Lachner did improve the finale, which originally faded away quietly – an unforgivable lapse of instinct in relation to the requirements of grand opera. But