Lust, silk and strangulation: Zemlinsky’s A Florentine Tragedy

Oscar Wilde never finished his play A Florentine Tragedy, an unsettling little story of the attempted seduction of a merchant’s wife by the local prince, and that prince’s death at the hands of her jealous husband, who comes home early in the piece to find them together. Alexander Zemlinsky’s challenging score makes this intense short opera…

DIARY OF ONE WHO DISAPPEARED, Janáček, Grimeborn

The poems which inspired the mysterious song cycle Diary of One Who Disappeared first appeared anonymously published in a newspaper in May 1916. They immediately caught the eye of composer Leos Janáček, who completed this song cycle by 1920. The poems, eventually attributed to Ozef Kalda, tell the story of a young man who falls in love…

Yet another Icarus: Lanza

The world shows us so many Icaruses: gifted people who fly too high too fast, and are soon burned by the extent of their own success, spiralling irrevocably into addiction, debt, ill health or other self-destructive behaviours. Mario Lanza’s immense promise as a talented young tenor in the Forties drew him into an increasingly ill-starred…

Preview: Opera in the City Festival

The Arts are steadily moving east in London. Nicholas Hytner is launching his new 900-seat theatre at Tower Bridge this autumn: it’s been 80 years since London theatre received such a large new forum for performance. Dalston and Hackney are brimming as ever with pop-up arts opportunities, but closer than trendy East London, the City…

Unexpected Opera’s The Rinse Cycle

“A Ring Cycle set in a launderette? Well, I’ve seen weirder productions…”  Unexpected Opera’s approachable and slick reduction of Wagner’s epic starts on a characteristically unstuffy note, and proceeds to soften us up with disarmingly cheesy jokes, some ribald stage antics, and bags of energy. The Rinse Cycle cheerfully pokes fun at itself, as well…

Tempest-tossed on the storm of life: Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer at Fulham Opera

Wagner declared in his 1851 pamphlet Communication to my Friends that “the Flying Dutchman… gives emotionally compelling expression to… the longing for peace from the storms of life.” And Daisy Evans takes this sense of exhausted, eternal displacement as her directoral cue: it is our sudden, imposed rootlessness which puts us all at sea with the Dutchman, lost in…