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Episode 1

Historian Lucy Worsley explores how history and opera go hand in hand. Lucy visits Venice, where Claudio Monteverdi invented modern opera with The Coronation of Poppea.

For centuries in western culture, opera has been the greatest show on earth. Historian Lucy Worsley explores how history and opera go hand in hand. She visits the great European cities where some of the most famous operas were written, tells the stories of the colourful characters who composed them and shows how they reflected the turbulent times they were composed in and the lives, hopes and fears of the people who lived in them.

Whilst Lucy visits the cities and European opera houses, Antonio Pappano, music director of London's Royal Opera, helps us understand some of those operas' greatest musical moments.

In the first episode, Lucy investigates four cities and four operas embedded in the cauldron of European politics between the 17th and 19th centuries. She visits Venice, where Claudio Monteverdi invented modern opera with The Coronation of Poppea, the first work which featured real historical characters that the audience could identify with. It is also one of the steamiest and sexiest operas ever written.

Then to Vienna, where Mozart's subversive masterpiece The Marriage of Figaro held a mirror up to a society where the Enlightenment was beginning to break down the old feudal order, and Beethoven wrote Fidelio, an opera that embraced the French Revolutionary radical ideals of liberty, equality and brotherhood. Finally, Lucy travels to Milan, where Verdi's Slaves' Chorus in his opera Nabucco captured the hopes and dreams of the Italian people as they moved towards independence and a united nation.

59 minutes

Last on

Wed 27 Mar 2019 23:15

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Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:03

    Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin

    Le Nozze Di Figaro, K. 492, Act III: "Che Soave Zeffiretto"

  • 00:04

    Giacomo Puccini

    Turandot: Nessun Dorma!

  • 00:06

    Giacomo Puccini

    Turandot: Nessun Dorma! (Live)

    Singer: Luciano Pavarotti. Orchestra: Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Choir: Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Conductor: Zubin Mehta.
  • 00:31

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Canzonetta Sull'aria... Che Soave Zeffiretto (Duettino)

  • 00:34

    Colin Davis, Júlia Várady & Helen Donath

    Canzonetta Sull'aria... Che Soave Zeffiretto (Duettino)

    Orchestra: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
  • 00:37

    Joseph Haydn

    Symphony In B-Flat Major, Hob. I: 85, La Reine: I. Adagio - Vivace

  • 00:50

    Giuseppe Verdi

    Nabucco – Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves

  • 00:51

    Nana Mouskouri

    Song For Liberty

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Lucy Worsley
Presenter Antonio Pappano
Director Guy Evans
Producer Guy Evans
Executive Producer Ben Weston
Executive Producer Elizabeth Hartford
Production Company Reef Television

Broadcasts

  • Sat 14 Oct 2017 21:00
  • Sat 14 Oct 2017 22:30
  • Tue 24 Oct 2017 00:15
  • Wed 27 Mar 2019 23:15

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BBC Opera Season

BBC Opera Season

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