Lucio Silla moda grunge

Claus Guth has a way with Mozart.  At his best; with his Salzburg productions of the da Ponte operas for example, he’s superb while I was unconvinced by his Glyndebourne Clemenza, despite its ambition.  I was really keen to see what he would do with an opera like Lucio Silla which, despite some lovely music, is formulaic and potentially very boring.

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A feast of a Belshazzar

Handel’s Belshazzar, written as an oratorio, was staged at the Aix-en-Provence festival in 2008.  It works really well as a stage work.  The plot is straightforward but dramatic.  Impious Babylonian king Belshazzar is being besieged by the virtuous Cyrus of Persia.  Babylon is impregnable but a combination of Babylonian impiety and divine intervention on behalf of Cyrus(*) leads to Cyrus’ capture of the city, the death of Belshazzar and, almost incidentally, the liberation of the Jews.

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Il Viaggio a Eurovision

Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims is a curious work.  It was written as part of the celebrations for the coronation of Charles X of France, a leading contender in a relatively large field for the title of “most utterly useless king of France”.  It doesn’t really have a plot and, in a sense, is a three hour riff on “An Englishman, a Frenchman and a German go into a bar”.  It also has a huge cast; twenty solo roles of which ten or twelve are quite substantial and require no little virtuosity.  It’s small wonder that it’s not seen all that often.

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