Petroc Trelawny talks to Chinese-born director Chen Shi-Zheng about his new production of Monteverdi's Orfeo at English National Opera, and to John Mark Ainsley who sings the title role.
Plus, ahead of Radio 3's Samuel Beckett Evening, a look at some of the composers who have been inspired by the writer.
In this programme
75 years of the Royal Ballet
In the early years of the 20 th Century, the music hall was widely considered to be the principal home of British dance. The high art form we know today could be found in Paris and Moscow, but had no home in Britain. Not until, that is, an Anglo-Irish Army officer's daughter came along and changed the face of British dance forever. Edris Stannus, or Dame Ninette de Valois (as she later re-named herself) was enrolled in a stage school in London and went on to create a company which brought British ballet to the attention of the world. As the Royal Ballet celebrates its 75 th year in a new book by Zoë Anderson, Petroc talks with the author about the remarkable history of the company. He also visits the Royal Ballet school to talk with the young dancers there about the legacy of 'Madam' as Dame Ninette was universally known in the dance world. Featuring archive recordings of the voice of Dame Ninette herself, and her successors, Sir Frederick Ashton and Sir Kenneth MacMillan.
Zoë Anderson: The Royal Ballet: 75 Years . Pub. Faber and Faber. Hardback, £20.
The Chinese director Chen Shi-Zheng started his career as a singer working alongside some of the masters of Chinese Opera. He emigrated to the US in the late 1980s and began to explore western classical music, directing productions of Cosi fan tutte, Dido and Aeneas and The Flying Dutchman. In the meantime, he did not lose sight of his eastern roots and continued to direct Chinese drama as well as the classics of the western repertoire. He makes his UK debut directing the English National Opera's new production of Monteverdi's Orfeo. Shi-Zheng explains how this new production fuses his knowledge of East and West in a piece which reflects the universality of human experience.
Monterverdi: Orfeo . English National Opera at the Coliseum, London. 15th -28th April 2006.
Samuel Beckett and music
Thursday 13 th April marks the centenary of the birth of Samuel Beckett. His writing is widely celebrated, but the distinct style, rhythm and tone of his prose and poetry also has a strong affinity to the music which played a vital role in his life. He was a passionate amateur pianist and enjoyed the music of Schubert, Haydn, Berg and Webern. However, he hated Bach, Mozart and Opera. His work continues to be an inspiration for composers - he has been associated with Berio, Morton Feldman and Kurtag. Music also dominates his drama, whether in terms of influence, characters singing, or in the almost notated silences. The connections are manifold, and revealed in more detail by Mary Bryden, editor of the book: Samuel Beckett and Music .
Radio 3 celebrates the centenary in a Beckett season , 1st - 16th April.
19th March - 6th May. Barbican Beckett centenary.