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Stanley Sadie

English town on the Thames, near Oxford. It was an important centre for Handel revivals in the 1960s and 70s. Performances, modest in scale but noted for their spirit and enthusiasm, were given in the Unicorn Theatre (built in the granary of the 14th-century abbey) and twice in a civic hall, were directed and translated by Alan Kitching and were conducted and costumed (until her death in 1968) by Frances Kitching. Given by amateurs and advanced students until 1970, when they became professional, they began with Orlando in 1959; then followed, from 1961 to 1964, Partenope, Floridante, Agrippina and Admeto, and from 1966 to 1974 Poro, Giustino, Flavio, Sosarme, Il pastor fido, Arminio, Tolomeo and Arianna in Creta (Lotario was also given by the company, at Henley, in 1975). Most were modern premières. Several performances were repeated elsewhere, notably three at the City of London Festival.

A. Kitching...

Article

Paolo Gallarati

Italian city in Piedmont. It acquired its first theatre in 1729 when the hall of the palace of Marchese Filippo Guasco Gallarati di Solerio was inaugurated. The Teatro Civico opened in 1775 and in 1779 Cherubini’s first opera, Il Quinto Fabio, was performed there during the Alessandria fair. Restored in 1853–4, the theatre was particularly active in the second half of the 19th century, and became an essential platform for singers and dancers who aspired to perform in the major theatres. The auditorium was restructured several times before its destruction by bombing in 1944. The Teatro Comunale, built in 1978, houses opera, concerts, plays and entertainments staged by the ‘Laboratorio Lirico’ (formed in 1980 by the Azienda Teatrale Alessandrina). This arrangement continues the venture organized by the ‘Teatro Lirico di avviamento artistico’ which took place in Alessandria from 1937 to 1943. Every summer, young singers, instrumentalists, assistant conductors and directors are selected by competition, and after a month working together they present a lyric opera as final test. The Teatro Lirico has staged two world premières: Lorenzo Ferrero’s ...

Article

Gregory Salmon

Capital of Kazakhstan, to 1921 known as Vernïy. A provincial outpost of the Russian empire, it occasionally received touring groups and produced some original works of lyric theatre, but regular operatic activity did not begin until 1933, when the musical troupe of the Kazakh National Dramatic Theatre became independent. Yevgeny Brusilovsky’s Kïz-Zhibek, the first Kazakh national opera, was given its première at the theatre on 7 November 1934, beginning a long association with the composer. The Gosudarstvennïy Ob’yedinyonnïy Teatr Kazakhskoy i Russkoy Operï (State United Theatre of Kazakh and Russian Opera), formed by a merger of this troupe with a Russian troupe from Kuybyshev, in 1937 became the Kazakhskiy Gosudarstvennïy Teatr Operï i Baleta, moving to a new 1243-seat theatre in Kalinin Street in 1941 (designed by N. Prostakov, incorporating elements of native art). The theatre was closely associated with the local composer Mukhtan Tulebayev, whose Birzhan i Sara (‘Birzhan and Sara’) was first performed in ...

Article

A. Dean Palmer

American city in northwest Texas. It is an important cultural centre of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and eastern New Mexico. It has one professional opera company, the Amarillo Opera (founded in 1988 by Mila Gibson), which gives four to five operas annually at the Amarillo Civic Center (2400 seats) and the Amarillo Little Theater (450 seats) during two two-week seasons in September and March. As well as professional musicians from the area the company includes personnel from opera workshops and choral organizations at Amarillo College and nearby West Texas State University (Canyon), and sponsors guest artists from major operatic centres for leading roles; Giorgio Tozzi and Richard Cassilly are among recent guests. Although it performs works from all segments of the repertory, its speciality is opera on American folk topics. The company gave Leonardo Balada’s Hangman, Hangman in 1989 and Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah in 1991, and has staged premières of two one-act comic operas by Gene Erwin Murray: ...

Article

Susan Wingrove

City in Alaska, USA. Anchorage Opera, a nationally recognized regional non-profit-making company founded by Elvera Voth, its artistic director, presented Pagliacci as its first production in 1975, followed by The Ballad of Baby Doe to celebrate America’s 1976 bicentenary, then La bohème in 1977. In 1979 Lucia di Lammermoor became the first fully produced non-English opera to be presented in its original language in Alaska. Since ...

Article

Gregory Salmon

Capital of Turkmenistan. Although the Turkmen Dramatic Theatre, founded in 1929, presented some opera, regular productions came only with the establishment of an opera studio in 1937. The opera-ballet studio of the Turkmenskiy Muzïkal’nïy Teatr (founded 1940) formed the basis of the Turkmenskiy Teatr Operï i Baleta, which opened on 10 February 1941 with the first Turkmen national opera, Sud’ba bakhshi (‘The Fate of Bakhshi’) by G. Kakhiani, director of the opera theatre in Baku. Early premières included a number of national operas: A. G. Shaposhnikov’s Gyul’ i bil’bil’ (‘Rose and Nightingale’, 1943), Yu. S. Meytus and D. Ovezov’s Leyli i Medzhun (‘Leyli and Medzhun’, 1946) and Shaposhnikov and V. Mukhatov’s Kemine i kazï (‘Poet and Judge’, 1947). The repertory mixes Russian and European classics with new national operas, performed in Turkmen and in Russian. In 1948 Ashkhabad was struck by an earthquake which destroyed the theatre. In ...

Article

Athens  

George Leotsakos

(Gk. Athinai)

Capital of Greece. From the beginning of its existence the state subsidized the importing of Italian opera companies for the entertainment of diplomats and financial potentates, a policy still pursued. The earliest opera performances, of Il barbiere di Siviglia, were given in 1837 at the Melis Theatre. Early in 1840 the Boukouras Theatre, named after an impresario who undertook to provide performances by an Italian company for eight months each year, was inaugurated with Lucia di Lammermoor; for 40 years it was the only theatre in Athens. It had three tiers of boxes and 113 stalls seats; it ceased to be used in 1897. From the beginning opera drew hostile press comment for alleged immorality and because governments spent heavily on it.

In 1871 operetta was introduced by a French company, gaining a foothold that was reinforced by state subsidy and increasing popularity. Meanwhile outdoor theatres had been opened, one in the resort of Phaleron, where in ...

Article

Harald Goertz

Spa town in Upper Austria. A theatre was established as early as 1827, when the first spa treatments were devised. Franz Josef I chose the town for his summer residence, where he spent every summer from 1849 to 1914, and his presence attracted royalty, artists and moneyed aristocracy. Johann Strauss (the younger) and Brahms were frequent guests there. Bad Ischl developed into such a centre for operetta that it became known as ‘the operetta stock exchange’ because of the immense number of contracts signed. Franz Lehár, who wrote many of his works in the town (‘I always have the best ideas in Bad Ischl’), became an honorary citizen. His villa, filled with art treasures, is now a museum. Emmerich Kálmán, Robert Stolz, Richard Tauber (Lehár’s favourite tenor) and many others stayed and took part in Bad Ischl’s activities.

After a period of stagnation in the interwar years, in 1961 the International Operetta Society was founded. Since then, there has been a regular summer operetta season, the Operettenwochen, consisting of two operettas (one always a Lehár work) in 24 performances altogether. The spa hotel in the Herrengasse, where the performances now take place, has a capacity of 800. In ...

Article

Harald Goertz

Spa town in Austria, 28 km south of Vienna. It is Austria’s most famous sulphur spa, with a climate and landscape that have always drawn the citizens of the capital. In the early 19th century it was the summer residence of Franz II. Beethoven loved the surrounding woodlands and Constanze Mozart often stayed there to enjoy the healing waters. The Sommerarena (657 seats) was built in 1906 by the architect Krausz, and the attractive Stadttheater (702 seats), designed by the architects Hellmer and Fellner, was opened in 1909 (as the Jubiläums-Stadttheater). Performances usually take place twice daily, except Mondays, from March until June, with additional local touring. In July and August (during the festival) they are given in the summer amphitheatre, equipped with a movable glass roof for bad weather. Three or four operettas are performed in the season, each for a run of three weeks. Besides the operettas and plays mounted in the main season (June–March), there is one comic opera on the programme each year. The company of about 75 members is largely supported by the Federal and Lower Austrian government....

Article

Baku  

Gregory Salmon

Capital of Azerbaijan. After the annexation of Azerbaijan by Russia in 1806 a theatrical tradition developed only gradually, under the influence of Russian residents. The first local theatre, the Teatr G. Z. A. Tagiyeva (built in 1880), featured some music in its productions, including musical-dramatic performances by singers and instrumentalists during intervals. Concert life developed only at the end of the 19th century, although touring Russian and Italian opera troupes appeared earlier. Efforts by the Nijat society, which directed the Tagiyev Theatre, led to the production of the first Azerbaijani opera, Leyli i Mejnun by Uzeir Hajibeyov, on 12/25 January 1908 and later to other operas by Hajibeyov, including Sheykh Sanan in 1909 and Rustam i Zokhrab in 1910. A 1281-seat opera theatre, built in 1910–11 and reconstructed in 1938, opened in 1911 with a performance of Boris Godunov and has since devoted itself to the performance of Russian and Azerbaijani classics. In ...

Article

Banff  

Gaynor G. Jones

Town in south-western Alberta, Canada, in Banff National Park. The Banff Festival of the Arts was established in 1971 with productions of operas and musicals such as Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah (1971), Healey Willan’s Deirdre (1972), Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate (1976), and Così fan tutte...

Article

Roger Alier

Spanish city, the capital of Catalonia. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–13) Barcelona regained its status as a court. In 1705, with military help from England, the Catalans proclaimed Archduke Charles of Austria King of Catalonia and all Spain, but Barcelona fell to Castile again in 1714. Celebrations on the occasion of Charles’s marriage to Elisabet Kristina in 1708 included opera, now seen in Barcelona for the first time; Italian composers, singers and the stage designer F. Galli-Bibiena gave a lavish opera season (1708–09) with Caldara’s Il più bel nome and works by Porsile, Emanuele d’Astorga and others.

The Barcelona theatre, the Teatre de la Santa Creu (Teatro de la Santa Cruz), which belonged to the local hospital, was never used for such performances: it was an undistinguished playhouse and lacked sufficient prestige to be attended by royalty. Performances there always included some music, but the usual fare was straight theatre and most of those who attended were from the middle classes of the city whose interest was in popular plays and magic pieces....

Article

Barga  

Arrigo Quattrocchi

Town in central Italy, in the province of Lucca. In July and August each year the festival Opera Barga takes place there. It was founded in 1967 by Peter and Gillian Hunt with the collaboration of Peter Gellhorn. The aim is educational, and the performances are staged by pupils following specialized courses; the pupils, coming from all over the world, are selected by audition. The repertory consists of rarely performed works of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Donizetti’s ...

Article

Bari  

Pierfranco Moliterni

City in Apulia, southern Italy. Despite the many musical associations of the region, Bari had no real theatre until the mid- 19th century. From 1815 to 1835 the Teatro del Sedile, the only building capable of holding even 250 people, presented recitals, concerts, drama and opera. Between 1840 and the opening of the multi-purpose Teatro Comunale Piccinni (on corso Ferdinando, later corso Vittorio Emanuele) the temporary site of the Circo Olimpico was used.

The series of theatres opened over a 60-year period – the Piccinni in 1854, the Petruzzelli in 1903 and the Margherita in 1914 – reflected the social and economic development of the city. (Apulia, and Bari as its chief town, were always important components of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies.) The architect chosen was Antonio Niccolini from Naples, considered with Alessandro Sanquirico to be the father of Italian scene-painting and renowned internationally for his restoration of the S Carlo opera house and his studies on theatre acoustics. The Piccinni (named after the composer, a native of Bari) was the only ‘teatro di pianta’ he designed; its horseshoe plan had 312 stalls seats and 64 boxes (the capacity eventually reached ...

Article

Village in Italy near Grosseto, Tuscany, the site of an opera festival since 1974. The festival, which takes place during July and August, was founded by the designer Adam Pollock on the site of a ruined monastery, Santa Croce; the theatre is an open-air cloister in which performances are given in the late evening by the company Musica nel Chiostro (‘Music in the Cloister’). It was inaugurated by a performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, sung by a mixture of Italian and British artists, in which scene changes were accomplished by moving the audience from one part of the building to another. The operas are always given in Italian. Works from the Baroque period (by Handel, Cavalli and Cesti, among others) have predominated; the company has also given J. C. Bach’s Temistocle (1988), Mozart’s La finta semplice, and Zaide with additional text by Italo Calvino (both 1981), Beethoven’s ...

Article

Sabine Sonntag

City in western Germany, in North Rhine-Westphalia. The first theatrical productions were given in 1811 in the exercise hall of the riding school; the season ran from 16 November until 28 July, an unusually long period for a town then of only 6000. Operas were regularly performed until the 1850s, but with amateur orchestras or a piano. When the railway replaced post-horses the stables of the Spiegelscher Hof were converted into a theatre. Here the Eintracht company played from 1867 onwards, performing opera in collaboration with Detmold. In 1887 the first plans for an independent theatre were formed. The project had more support from citizens, even at this early stage, than comparable local buildings, and thirteen years later the town council finally decided to build the Stadttheater; it opened on 3 April 1904.

At first Bielefeld had no opera company of its own, but it did maintain an orchestra all year round. In ...

Article

Robert V. Palmer

American town in New York State. The principal operatic activity is provided by the Tri-Cities Opera Company (also covering the nearby communities of Endicott and Johnson City). Founded in 1949 by Carmen Savoca and Peyton Hibbitt, the company became one of the first American companies outside New York City to receive government support for a world première – that of Myron Fink’s Jeremiah, in 1962. It has produced two to four operas annually, giving a total of 15 to 20 performances between September and June, since production of its first fully staged undertaking, Cavalleria rusticana, on 24 May 1951. Tri-Cities Opera purchased its first permanent home and current administrative centre, a former Lithuanian meeting hall, in 1965.

By 1977 the company had developed a subscription season, and begun a touring education programme, whose object was to bring opera to schoolchildren. The programme, which features the singers of its Resident Artists Training Program, reached about 32000 children in ...

Article

Bishkek  

Gregory Salmon

[Pishkek]

Capital of Kïrgïstan. Between 1926 and 1991 it was known as Frunze. A national theatre studio opened in 1926, concentrating at first on preserving the folk tradition; an important role was played by the conductor-composer P. F. Shubin, who arrived in 1928, and the composer Abdïlas Maldïbayev, who helped form a theatre studio in 1930), the Kirgizskiy Gosudarstvennïy Teatr (Kirghiz State Theatre). With the formation of the Kirghiz SSR in 1936, cultural activities were centrally directed, and the city theatre was reorganized as the Muzïkal’nïy-dramaticheskiy Teatr. For several years it concentrated on such new works as Altïn kïz (‘Golden Girl’) by Vlasov and V. G. Fere (1937), culminating in the first fully fledged Kirghiz national opera, Aychurek (‘Lunar Beauty’, 1939) by Vlasov, Maldïbayev and Fere. In 1942 the theatre was re-formed as the Kirgizskiy Teatr Operï i Baleta (Kirghiz Theatre of Opera and Ballet); performances are in Russian and Kirghiz. The company has presented premières of several works by Vlasov, Fere and Maldïbayev along with operas by M. Abdrayev, S. N. Ryauzov, Knipper and Kholminov. A new, 941-seat hall, completed in ...

Article

Magdalena Manolova

Town in Bulgaria. The centre of a region rich in folklore, in recent decades it has become a cultural focal point in the south-western part of the country. Opera performances have been given since 1972 under the successive company names Mladezhka Opera (Youth Opera), Kamerna Mladezhka Opera (Chamber Youth Opera) and Mladezhka Opera za Vsichki (Youth Opera for All), with the local première of Haydn’s Lo speziale in 1977 on the stage of the Blagoevgrad Dramatichen Teatar (Drama Theatre) marking the first maturity of opera in the town. Initially the soloists were amateurs and graduates of the state conservatory in Sofia; later they were more experienced singers. The staff’s professionalism has been greatly aided by cooperation with the conductors Mihail Angelov, Emil Tabakov, Kamen Goleminov and Nevena Tomanova and the directors Mihail Hadjimishev, Nikolai Nikolov and others. The repertory consists almost exclusively of operas performed for the first time in Bulgaria, from works by Gluck, Haydn, Monteverdi Purcell, Donizetti and Galuppi to some by Stravinsky, Alexander Holminov and Menotti....

Article

City in the Republic of South Africa. The Miranda-Harper Company was the first to perform opera there, at the Raadzaal in 1869. Several other companies followed from England, America, Australia and later, Johannesburg, presenting a predominantly English repertory. Until the first town hall was built in 1883, their usual venues were the old Wesleyan chapel and the Raadzaal. Local companies such as the Bloemfontein Dramatic and Operatic Company and the Ramblers’; Musical and Dramatic Society performed operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan during the 1880s and 1890s. The D’;Oyly Carte Opera Company inaugurated the Grand Theatre in 1906 and grand opera was first performed in the city by the Quinlan Opera Company in 1912 with great success. Light opera and musicals continued to be regularly performed by local companies. The headquarters of the Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State (PACOFS) were established there in 1963; the Council is responsible for opera and ballet performances in the province. Opera is performed in the 964-seat Sand du Plessis Theatre, which was opened in ...