Click on each opera title to see casts and dates of performances.
Full of tunes you can whistle and humour; of both the witty and slapstick kind, you might be forgiven for thinking of Magic Flute as a pantomime by Mozart and there is no harm in enjoying it as just that.
But Mozart and some serious friends spent long months distilling his deeply held beliefs on world order, individual freedom, equality, love, relations between the sexes, guilt and forgiveness so as to encapsulate them in his opera. The rich symbolism and plea for enlightenment will be there in our production but unobtrusively so, together with the songs and the fun.
Enrico Caruso once said that all it takes for a successful performance of Il trovatore is the four greatest singers in the world.
We have certainly been privileged to assemble a group of world-class singers but that is not all it takes. Caruso’s recipe would ensure a memorable concert performance but, for a drama, more is needed. It requires acting of skill and conviction to draw an audience into the wild, war-torn world of fifteenth century Spain and thrill them with the high stakes of civil war, unresolved guilt, and love; maternal, filial, erotic and self-destructive. Realism means being present in the situation and fidelity to the text and to the composer’s setting is necessary for this. Parallels with the twenty-first century may be drawn by the audience for themselves but our production will not thrust them in that direction.
In a life of thirty-one years Franz Schubert turned out more superb music than most composers can aspire to in a biblical lifetime. So, when I learned that he had also composed nineteen operas that no-one ever staged, I felt his pain but, also, curiosity.
Beginning with Alfonso und Estrella, because it is through-composed and Schubert said it contained his best music, I was astounded by its beauty and, the more I study it, the more it delights me.
I have directed forty-six different operas and, even if sympathy for Schubert might have clouded my judgement, I think I know a dud when I see one. This is definitely not one.
There have been two (incomplete) productions in recent years but neither was sympathetic to the genre and spirit of the piece. It is in the world but not the manner of Wagner; the music is very accessible, all the characters human, if heroic, and it has a happy ending. I am awed to have the privilege of submitting this work to you for re-evaluation.