This summer, the Bridewell Theatre in the heart of the City of London will become the home of new and innovative operas, musical dramas and multi-art productions. Here are full details – including show trailers – for the inaugural Opera in the City Festival.
The first-ever, two-week Opera in the City Festival, set to become a summer opera fixture, will run from 1 to 12 August 2017 at London’s Bridewell Theatre, curated by Time Zone Theatre Ltd and their artistic director Pamela Schermann.
It presents new stagings of rarely performed masterpieces, such as Alexander Zemlinsky’s/Oscar Wilde’s A Florentine Tragedy, as well as new, experimental works which combine classical music with poetry, dance, installation and performance art.
Commenting on the festival, Schermann told MyTheatreMates: “The Opera in the City Festival is designed to appeal to opera virgins as well as regular opera-goers. The productions are all performed in English, with strong stories and characters and an average running time of one hour.”
Making opera accessible and exploring new paths for classical music
The festival wants to create a new hub for exciting productions which push the boundaries of classical music and make opera accessible for everyone. Not only does it provide a platform for emerging artists with big and daring ideas, it also proves that opera is not elitist. By showing theatrical productions performed in English and to affordable ticket prices of only £15, the festival aims to reach out to those new to opera.
Fin de Siècle – a series of rarely performed masterworks
One of the highlights of the festival is the project “Fin de Siècle“ which presents works composed around 1900. This series is spearheaded by Time Zone Theatre’s acclaimed production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Mozart & Salieri (1, 3 & 4 August), which premiered in 2016 (Off West End – Finalist: Best Opera Production) and will finish its England and Denmark Tour at the festival.
The team behind Mozart & Salieri will present new productions of A Florentine Tragedy (7, 9 & 10 August) by Alexander Zemlinsky and Zanetto (1, 3 & 4 August) by Pietro Mascagni. Austrian composer Alexander Zemlinsky (1871-1942) used Oscar Wilde’s unfinished play fragment as libretto for his opera, which shows an erotic triangle of a women, her husband and her lover. In this psychological thriller, their explosive encounter soon becomes a cat-and-mouse game, and when the tension erupts into violence, there can only be one winner.
Pietro Mascagni’s Zanetto tells of the encounter between wandering singer Zanetto and beautiful Silvia, who lives on her own and has forsworn love entirely. Set in contemporary London, the production explores their unlikely friendship. Although the lives of Silvia and Zanetto could not be more different, they develop a deep sympathy for each other. But what they have in common is what threatens to tear them apart – their inability to drop their guard and give in to love.
These three operas will be directed by Pamela Schermann with musical direction by Andrew Charity, set and costume design by Yole Lambrecht and lighting design by Petr Vocka. Starring Nick Dwyer as Salieri/Simone, Becca Marriott as Silvia/Bianca and Sophie Goldrick, Lawrence Thackeray and Roger Paterson.
Two new, experimental works to premiere at the festival
The festival will also show a double-bill of experimental works which combine art forms and push the boundaries of classical music: Even you, lights, cannot hear me (8, 11 & 12 August) is a new operatic spectacle based on a monologue from Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. Composed by award-winning artist Simone Spagnolo, this work merges elements of operatic singing, chamber music and performance art, whilst challenging the contemporary notion of opera.
Sarah Toth’s multi-art form pastiche chamber opera, Nero Monologues (8, 11 & 12 August), journeys the inner workings of the first-century emperor of Rome during his final hour. Music by Monteverdi, Handel, Kurtág, Copland, and Peter James Learn is layered with poetry by celebrated Australian poet Geoffrey Lehmann to structure this theatrical operatic piece for singer and dancer, accompanied by piano and string quartet.
A musical drama about the life of Mario Lanza returns to stage
Lastly, Andrew Bain will bring his acclaimed musical-opera Lanza (2 & 5 August) to Opera in the City Festival. The one-man show about the life of 1950 opera singer Mario Lanza punctuates the compelling drama of his life with the music which made him famous.