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Blood brothers, separated at birth, become deadly rivals in love and in war. A mother, burnt at the stake for bewitching a child, is avenged by her gypsy daughter. A beautiful aristocrat sacrifices her honour to save the man she loves. The hot Spanish passions of these interwoven stories are distilled by Verdi into a score which for sheer tunefulness and vocal glory has no equal in his entire output. The immortal love songs of the principal characters contrast with the Anvil Chorus, the Soldiers Chorus and the matchless tension of the Miserere to create the essence of Italian opera.
Based on the grisly true story of the murder of the 14th century Spanish mistress of the Crown Prince of Portugal, the opera has already become a landmark in Scotland since its premiere by Scottish Opera at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1996.
Set in Moravia in 1900. Jenufa, loved by Laca, has a son by Steva. Steva denies responsibility and is set to marry the mayor's daughter Karolka. Thinking that she would aid a marriage between Laca and Jenufa the sexton, Kostelnicka drowns the baby in the brook and tells Jenufa that it has died. Jenufa and Laca are about to be married as are Steva and Karolka. As the ceremony begins news comes that the body of a baby has been found under the ice. The Kostelnicka steps forward and confesses her guilt. Comforted by Jenufa's forgiveness, she is led away. Jenufa now turns to Laca and gives him his freedom; but he is faithful, and as the curtain falls they pledge their love.
A classical tragedy of lacerating beauty and a celebration of the power of music to transform lives and even to transcend death itself, Orfeo ed Euridice, given its premiere in Vienna in 1762, was a milestone in operatic history. Gluck's score broke new ground with its insistence that music should reflect the intense emotions of the characters rather than serve as a vehicle for vacuous vocal display. Orfeo, is a mythic musician of antiquite, whose grief on the death of his wife Euridice is so profound that the gods, out of pity, allow him to descend to the Kingdom of Shades in order to restore her to life - on condition that during their journey back to the human world he should not look into Euridice's face.