Tom Service explores the little-known world of Vivaldi the opera composer ahead of a performance of Tito Manlio at London's Barbican next week. With a re-assessment of Olivier Messiaen's legacy as teacher, and harpist Osian Ellis on his 80th birthday.
In this programme
Richard Strauss' opera, Salome, is a setting of Oscar Wilde's one-act play - a story of incestuous and necrophiliac passion which is both shockingly sexual and sensuous. Written in 1905, Strauss' Salome incurred the wrath of censors and political correctness and was banned in Vienna and altered in London. However, the power of the music and the passion of the dramatic tale - including the infamous Dance of the Seven Veils - ensured that the opera kept audiences enthralled.
Director David McVicar is putting on his version of Salome at the Royal Opera House, but his idea of the protagonist is unconventional. He explains to Tom why audiences need to have sympathy for this anti-heroine.
Salome is at the Royal Opera House from 21st February - 12th March and will be on Radio 3's Opera on 3 in May.
French composer Olivier Messiaen was one of the most influential teachers of the twentieth century. He not only taught classes at the Paris Conservatoire, but also had private pupils and was a visionary mentor for musicians. In Messiaen's centenary year, Tom talks to his former students, conductor John Carewe and pianist Peter Hill, to find out just how Messiaen taught and what his essential philosophy of music was. With additional archive material from composer Alexander Goehr.
Welsh harpist Osian Ellis turned 80 this month. He created a repertoire of twentieth century harp music from composers like William Mathias and Alun Hoddinott, but perhaps most notably Benjamin Britten. Now based in North Wales, he reflects on his career and tells Tom how a chance meeting with Britten changed the course of his musical life.
Antonio Vivaldi is best-known for the Four Seasons and the Gloria, but his operatic output remains virtually unknown. The Vivaldi Edition is doing much to rectify this situation through recordings of all the complete manuscripts in Turin. But, what is it that marks out these works as the compositions of a great master? Conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini, Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot, singer Mhairi Lawson and coordinator for The Vivaldi Edition, Susan Orlando, explain the appeal of Vivaldi's operas.
Tito Manlio is at The Barbican on 19th February, and The Vivaldi Edition is available on the Naive label.