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Tuesday - Rob Cowan with Kasper Holten

With Rob Cowan. Including Musical challenge; Music in Time: Rachmaninov: The Isle of the Dead; Artist of the Week: tenor Franco Corelli, featured in Mascagni and Leoncavallo.

Rob sets the tone and mood of the day's programme with a range of music to intrigue, surprise and entertain.  

Take part in today's musical challenge: which location is being depicted in this piece of music? 

Rob's guest this week is Kasper Holten, the departing Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Kasper's passion for opera began aged nine after hearing Bizet's Carmen and he went on to train with directors such as Harry Kupfer, John Cox and David Pountney. Aged 27 he was appointed Artistic Director of Royal Danish Opera, where he directed productions of Weber's Der Freischütz, Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre and Wagner's Ring Cycle; he held the position for 11 years. In 2011 he became the youngest ever Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he has since directed Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and Szymanowski's Król Roger as well as overseeing successes such as George Benjamin's Written on Skin. As well as discussing his work as a director and his life, Kasper shares some of his favourite classical music.

Music in Time: Modern
Today Rob's in the early 20th century exploring music inspired by visual art. Rachmaninov's The Isle of the Dead was inspired by a black and white reproduction of Arnold Böcklin's painting of the same name.

Double Take 
Rob explores the nature of performance by highlighting the differences in style between two interpretations of the Tritsch-Tratsch Polka by J. Strauss II - one conducted by George Szell and one by Willi Boskovsky.

Artist of the Week: Franco Corelli
Rob's Artist of the Week is the tenor Franco Corelli, one of the most famous and feted tenors of the 20th century. Growing up in Italy, Corelli was set to be a naval engineer like his father, but when a musical friend heard him sing, he was encouraged to attend a conservatoire. It wasn't completely plain sailing for Corelli, but he was determined, and even taught himself by listening to recordings of Enrico Caruso and Beniamino Gigli. He made his La Scala debut alongside Maria Callas and enjoyed a successful international career thereafter; he made over 250 appearances at New York's Metropolitan Opera alone. Corelli's repertoire included most of the major tenor roles in operas by composers such as Verdi, Puccini, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Giordano, and Bizet - we'll hear Corelli in well-loved arias from Aida, Tosca, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Andrea Chénier and Carmen during the week, as well as popular arias such as Granada, and excerpts from Verdi's Requiem and Rossini's Petite messe solennelle.

Cavalleria Rusticana: "Mamma, quel vino è generoso"
Franco Corelli (tenor)
Orchestra del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma
Gabriele Santini (conductor)

Pagliacci: "Recitar...Vesti la giubba"
Franco Corelli (tenor)
Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Lovro van Matacic (conductor).

3 hours

Music Played

  • Claude Debussy

    Fetes (Nocturnes)

    Orchestra: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Conductor: Bernard Haitink.
    • Philips.
  • Arcangelo Corelli

    Concerto Grosso in D major, Op 6 No 4

    Performer: Jordi Savall. Ensemble: Le Concert des Nations. Director: Jordi Savall.
    • Le Concert Spirituel: Le Concert des Nations / Jordi Savall.
    • Alia Vox.
    • 1.
  • Tatiana Nikolayeva

    Three Concert Etudes

    Performer: Tatiana Nikolayeva.
  • Jean Sibelius


    Performer: Mats Lidström. Performer: Bengt Forsberg.
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Octet-Partita in E flat major

    Ensemble: Wind Soloists of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
    • ASV.
  • Carlos Rafael Rivera


    Ensemble: Aquarelle Guitar Quartet.
    • CHANDOS.
  • Aaron Copland

    At the River

    Singer: Marilyn Horne. Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Carl Davis.
    • Aaron Copland: The World of Aaron Copland.
    • Decca.
    • 16.
  • Kasper Holten's First Choice

    • Giuseppe Verdi

      La Traviata: Addio del passato

      Singer: Ileana Cotrubaș. Choir: Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper. Orchestra: Bavarian State Orchestra.
      • DG.
  • Kasper Holten's Second Choice

    • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

      Don Giovanni: Finale of Act 1

      Singer: Rod Gilfry. Singer: Ľuba Orgonášová. Singer: Charlotte Margiono. Singer: Christoph Prégardien. Singer: Ildebrando d’Arcangelo. Singer: Eirian James. Singer: Julian Clarkson. Ensemble: English Baroque Soloists. Choir: Monteverdi Choir. Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
      • Archiv.
  • Johannes Brahms

    Ballade in D major, Op.10 No.2

    Performer: Emil Grigoryevich Gilels.
    • DG.
  • Music in Time: Modern

    • Sergey Rachmaninov

      The Isle of the Dead

      Orchestra: Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Michael Gielen.
      • SWR.
  • Double Take

    • Johann Strauss II

      Tritsch-Tratsch Polka

      Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: Willi Boskovsky.
      • DG.
    • Johann Strauss II

      Tritsch-Tratsch Polka

      Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: George Szell.
      • DG.
  • Artist of the Week: Franco Corelli

    • Pietro Mascagni

      Cavalleria Rusticana: "Mamma, quel vino è generoso"

      Singer: Franco Corelli. Singer: Corinna Vozza. Orchestra: Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Conductor: Gabriele Santini.
      • WARNER.
    • Ruggero Leoncavallo

      Vesti la giubba (I Pagliacci)

      Singer: Franco Corelli. Orchestra: La Scala Orchestra, Milan. Conductor: Lovro von Matačić.
      • WARNER.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    String Trio in G major, Op.9 No.1

    Performer: Leonid Kogan. Performer: Rudolf Barshai. Performer: Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich.
    • Supraphon.
  • Jules Massenet

    Scenes pittoresques: Suite No.4

    Orchestra: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Louis Frémaux.
  • Franz Lehár

    The Land of Smiles, Act II: You are my heart's delight

    Singer: David Hughes. Orchestra: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Louis Frémaux.

Musical Challenge: Mapping the Music

The piece of music played was Copland's 'Danzon Cubano' - the location in question was, therefore, Cuba.


Time Travellers: the podcast

Time Travellers: the podcast

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough presents quirky tales gathered from the corners of history.