I due Foscari

Verdi’s sixth opera, I due Foscari, is probably not well known to many readers so a brief description may be in order.  It’s a rather grim tale of injustice and revenge.  Francesco Foscari is the aged Doge of Venice.  His son, Jacopo, has been stitched up by the family rival Jacopo Loredano and exiled to Crete.  He returns to try and clear his name but is fitted up again.  This time for the murder of one Donato.  Despite torture he refuses to confess and is sentenced to return to exile in Crete.  The first three quarters of the opera is mostly either father or son bemoaning their fate (Francesco has already lost three sons.  Lady Bracknell would be unimpressed) or Lucrezia, Jacopo’s wife, pleading for mercy to anyone who will listen.  Then there’s a final scene where Francesco receives proof of his son’s innocence, closely followed by news of his death, closely followed by news that the Council and Senate are sacking him.  Loredano gloats.  Foscari dies.  Structurally it’s very much a “numbers” opera with a succession of short scenes mostly featuring various combinations of the three Foscaris and the chorus.  There are a lot of quite sophisticated ensemble pieces as well as a couple of solo arias for each of the principals.  It’s musically rather distinguished in fact.  The three Foscari roles are big sings.  Nobody else has much to do.

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Spectacular Die Liebe der Danae

Richard Strauss’ Die Liebe der Danae is one of his least performed operas so it’s not very familiar to most opera goers.  I wrote about its performance history and provided a plot summary in my review of a 2011 recording at the Deutsche Oper, which is the only video recording besides the 2016 Salzburg one which forms the subject of this post.

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Die Soldaten

Berndt Alois Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten was something of a sleeper hit at the 2012 Salzburg festival and is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.  It’s a peculiar work.  It’s very episodic and requires massive forces.  There are 16 singing and 10 non-singing roles, a 100 piece orchestra, a jazz band and more.  At Salzburg the scale was magnified by staging it in the Felsenreitschule, using the full 40m width and enormous height of the stage.  I’ve included some full stage shots in the screen caps to give an idea of how huge this all is.  They can be expanded to full size Blu-ray caps (roughly three times the size of the image in the review).

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