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Gustav Holst The Wandering Scholar

Chamber opera in one act. Libretto by Clifford Bax based on a story told in Helen Waddell’s book The Wandering Scholars (1928). First performed in the David Lewis Theatre in Liverpool on 31 January 1934 The action takes place in thirteenth century France and is set in a farmhouse.  As the opera starts, a farmer, […]

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Umberto Giordano – Fedora

Opera in three acts. Libretto by Arturo Colautti based on the play Fedora (1882) by Victorien Sardou, written for the actress Sarah Bernhardt. First performed in the Teatro Lirico in Milan on 17 November 1898. Act 1 St Petersburg in the winter of 1881: the palace of Count Vladimir Andreievich, Captain of the City Guard […]

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Gaetano Donizetti Anna Bolena

Opera seria in two acts. Libretto by Felice Romani, based on Ippolito Pindemonte’s Enrico VIII (a translation of a play of the same name by Marie-Joseph de Chénier) and Alessandro Pepoli’s Anna Bolena. First performed in the Teatro Carcano, Milan, on 26 December 1830 Act 1 In a hall in Windsor Castle, courtiers gossip about […]

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Bizet Pearl Fishers

Opera in three acts. Libretto by Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré. First performed at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris on 30 September 1863. Act 1 On a wild and arid beach on the island of Ceylon, a group of pearl-divers are setting up their camp.  Some are pitching the tents while others are drinking and […]

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Mascagni Isabeau

Ubaldo and Ethelbert  –  traditional Scottish names? Isabeau, composed in 1911 and first performed in the Coliseo in Buenos Aires, was the tenth of Pietro Mascagni’s sixteen operas, and it is the most peculiar.  It tells the story of the daughter of a king, Raimondo, who has deliberately chosen to live a chaste life.  But […]

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The Opera Kitchen

Opera-goers have a problem with food: the great dilemma is whether to eat before the performance (and risk falling asleep immediately after the overture), or to wait until after the opera is over (and risk a rumbling stomach during the whole of the final act).  A compromise of sorts is achieved in those operatic evenings […]

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The Opera Tourist

Some people arrange their holidays deliberately in order to attend opera festivals, see productions of the favourite operas, visit opera houses or perhaps seek out the birthplace of a composer.  There are many tour operators who offer packaged speciality holidays around opera, so dedicated opera enthusiasts are well catered for. But there are opera-related places […]

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Scotch Corner

For many years, I was involved with Scottish Opera, a company based in Glasgow, but touring its productions around Scotland both at full scale, although the number of suitable theatres for this is limited, and on the small scale, sometimes with just a handful of singers and a piano, in which case, any village hall […]

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The Opera Garden

Welcome to the Opera Garden.  Opera lovers need something to do in the day-time, and gardening is an ideal companion activity.  But the two need not be regarded as mutually exclusive activities, since there are many mentions of plants and trees in operas, and these could easily be planted or positioned in a space of […]

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jules massenet

Werther Libretto by Edouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann Based on Goethe’s novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’) of 1774 First performed at the Vienna Opera, 16 February 1892 [First of all, so that there can be no doubt about it, a note about pronunciation.  Goethe’s story was written […]

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