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The essence of Grand Opera first performed in Cairo in 1871. Set in Egypt at the time of the pharoes. A captain of guard (Radames) is in love with Aida, an Ethiopian slave girl - who happens also to be the daughter of the king of Ethiopia. Her mistress, Amneris, is also in love with Radames. When the Ethiopians invade Radames is chosen to lead the army. When they return victorious Radames asks for all the Ethiopian slaves to be released - except Aida and her father who persuades her to trick Radames into revealing the plans of the Egyptian army - but he suggests that they all run away to Ethiopia together. When Radames is accused of treason he gives himself up to let Aida and her father escape but is condemned to be improisoned alive. As the last stones are put in place Aida appears and joins him in the tomb so that they might die together.
Britten's operas often focus on the way particular worlds deal with an outsider. The outsider in Billy Budd is a young man, press-ganged into naval service on the HMS Idomitable around 1797. His story is told in an opera-length flashback by the ship's captain, Edward Fairfax Vere, who is racked by guilt over Billy's fate. Billy's optimism, good-heartedness and trusting nature wins over all but the most venal of the downtrodden crew. He's keen for promotion, but his charisma and beauty cause the evil master-at-arms, John Claggart (who resembles Iago in Shakespeare's Othello), to plot his destruction. Billy's fatal flaw is that, under pressure, he suffers from a crippling stutter. When Claggart falsely accuses him of fomenting mutiny, in front of a sceptical Vere, Billy cannot find the words to defend himself and strikes Claggart dead. At the subsequent court-martial, Vere must follow the letter of the Articles of War and Billy is condemned to death. Typically, just before his execution, Billy cries out in praise of Vere. Now a very old man, Vere concludes that Billy's blessing has, in fact, saved him.
Two officers wager that their lovers would be faithful while they're away, and decide to test them. Faking a sudden departure to battle they return disguised to try and seduce each other's partners. The results quickly get out of hand.
A brand new production of Mozart and da Ponte's provocative comic opera, direct from this year's Aix-en-Provence Festival.
Edinburgh International Festival
Giorgetta, the young wife of Michele, a river-barge master, has tired of her husband and of the vagabond life she leads with him. She has fallen in love with a young stevedore. They plan to meet on the barge later, but Michele, alone on the deck that night, unwittingly gives the pre-arranged signal When Giorgetta comes out from the cabin her husband's cloak has already been wrapped around her lovers dead body.
Revival Production. Sung in Italian with English titles.
Double bill with Suor Angelica
Puccini's most enduring opera. The story of the love of the poor poet Rodolfo for the consumptive seamstress Mimi. Set in the Latin Quarter of Paris the course of their love is constantly threatened by Rodolfo's jealousy and Mimi's illness. The painter Marcello and the provocative Musetta are the other main characters. This is where 'your tiny hand is frozen' comes from and the last few bars, as Rodolfo realises Mimi is dead, are some of opera's most moving moments.
A comic operetta with a Japanese theme. Songs such as 'Three Little Maids from School', 'A Wandering Minstrel', 'A Most Humane Mikado' etc. One of Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular works. In the town of Titipu, local government has fallen into the hands of two dubious characters: Ko-Ko, in charge of public executions; and Pooh-Bah, who has a finger in every pie. A young man arrives who, unknown to most, is Nanki-Poo, son of the Mikado. Fleeing an arranged marriage to the elderly Katisha, he falls for the beautiful Yum-Yum, Ko-Ko's fiancée. When the Mikado arrives, thirsty for executions, Ko-Ko thinks he has the perfect plan...until Katisha turns up, bent on revenge.
Set in the 6th Century BC in Jerusalem and Babylon. Zacharias the high priest, enforces his people to stand up for their rights against Nabucco. His son Ishmael and Fenena, the daughter of Nabuco, have a secret love affair. Abigail who is an illegitimate daughter of the ruler hears of the liaison and swears she will take revenge. Will she accomplish her goal or will love reign.
A rollercoaster of passion, war and destiny. Norma leads her people in a desperate struggle to protect their Pagan beliefs and traditional way of life from the unstoppable rise of the industrial revolution. But she has a terrible secret - Pollione, the father of her children, is the man leading the destruction of the very fabric of her society. Norma is torn, but it is only when he betrays her love that she urges her people to rise up and fight for their freedom. Battle looms, and Norma and Pollione's destinies seem inextricably entwined to the last.
'Suor Angelica'....A Tuscan convent, late 17th Century, Sister Angelica was forced by her noble family to take the veil after giving birth to a son out of wedlock. The opera ends when Angelica drinks a poison she has made herself, realises she has committed a deadly sin and prays to the Virgin for forgiveness. As she dies, she has a vision in which the Virgin brings her son to her.
Sung in Italian with English titles.
Double bill with Il Tabarro