Gluck’s operas are part of a continuum, a tradition of French vocal
declamation (as opposed to the Italian school of flights of elegant,
open-throated vocal fantasy) that can be traced to him from Lully and Rameau,
and then from Gluck through certain works of Mozart and Gluck’s pupil,
Salieri to the operas of Spontini, Berlioz and Wagner.
Gyˆrgy Kurt·g’s Kafka Fragments, op 24, is a masterpiece, one of the seminal works of the late 20th century.
In the mid-nineteenth century, every nationality that did not possess a
national state felt a need to prove itself, to square its shoulders and claim
nationhood with all the identifying marks of a nation: a language with a
literature, a tricolor flag, a national anthem extolling the people’s
stalwart character and the country’s landscape (inevitably the loveliest
in the world), a national theater and a national opera to be performed there.
Der zerbrochene Krug is a very short opera by Viktor Ullmann, based on a comedy by Kleist, concerning the fall of man.
The first performance of Thomas Arne’s masque Alfred took
place at Clivedon House on the Thames near Maidenhead, in August 1740.
For geography buffs the Rappahannock is a river that flows from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains to Chesapeake Bay.
This production retains a special place in my heart: its first outing in
1999 was my first Parsifal in the theatre. Saving up my student
pennies, I made the journey not once but twice from Cambridge to London, was
mightily impressed the first time and a little irritated the second.