Petroc Trelawny travels to Cumbria to find out more about the Dowdales Community Opera Project, part of an ongoing partnership between the Royal Opera House and Dowdales Performing Arts College. He also talks to Alexandra Wilson, author of a new book about Puccini.
In this programme
One of America's most prolific opera composers, Philip Glass is in London next month for the London stage premiere of his 1980 work, Satyagraha. It was the second of three 'portrait' operas, the other two being Einstein on the Beach and Akhnaten, and is a meditation on the life of the spiritual and political leader of the Indian Independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi. Petroc Trelawny talks with Glass not only about his inspiration for this opera, but also his work in film music, including his recently oscar-nominated score to Notes on a Scandal.
English National Opera's Satyagraha runs from 5th April to 1st May at the Coliseum in London and Philip Glass will be on stage in conversation with Andrew Clements on 4th April at 7.30pm.
ROH Community project
Alongside their main stage productions in London, the Royal Opera House reaches out to people outside the capital through a variety of community and education projects. Petroc went to the Cumbrian town of Barrow-in-Furness to eavesdrop on the latest of these projects, the result of an ongoing partnership between the ROH education department and Dowdales Performing Arts College creating their own version of Verdi's Il Trovatore. Head of Education at the ROH, Paul Reeve, director Martin Lloyd Evans, mezzo-soprano Carole Wilson and local adults and children explain this powerful collaboration.
After Verdi's death in 1901, the opera-loving public in Italy was desperate to find a replacement for this national figure. They turned to Giacomo Puccini, yet the critics of the period were not so appreciative of his work, labelling his music 'insincere' and 'infantile' and considering him to be overly influenced by foreign trends. The mixed reception of Puccini's operas is the basis for a new book on the composer by Alexandra Wilson who joins Petroc to explain the status quo in Puccini's day. Theatre and opera historian Sarah Lenton and opera academic Martin Deasy review the book.
Alexandra Wilson: The Puccini Problem. Opera, Nationalism and Modernity. Pub. Cambridge University Press. H.B. £50
The Metropolitan Opera's production of Puccini's Il Trittico will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Opera on 3 on 28th April and the Royal Opera House's production of Gianni Schicchi on the same programme on 26th May.