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Covent Garden's lyrical tradition goes back to the eighteenth century. It is here, for example, in a theatre constructed in 1732 by John Rich, the successful producer of THE BEGGAR'S OPERA, that the London public discovered several of Handel's operas.
Covent Garden then also staged plays and pantomime, a tradition which continued well into the thirties. The theatre has since hosted the most diverse productions, including cinema, cabaret, ice shows, and the circus. Today only opera and dance (The Royal Ballet) share the season.
As is the case with many an opera house. Covent Garden's life history was interrupted by fire, which twice destroyed the building. The second Royal Opera was inaugurated in 1809. Weber composed OBERON for the theatre, and conducted its premiere in 1826; the next year, Beethoven's F ID EU o was staged. From 1847, Covent Garden most often scheduled the Italian repertoire, with works by Rossini and Verdi. After the fire that demolished the second theatre in 1856, and until 1914, the third opera house built on the Covent Garden site became known as the theatre that hired the world's leading artists (like Nellie Melba, Caruso, and Adelina Patti, who refused all rehearsals by contract), and paid them royally. Several legendary conductors furthered the Royal Opera House's reputation after the First World War, such as Bruno Walter, and, of course, Thomas Beecham, who introduced the opera of Richard Strauss.
During the Second World War, Covent Garden became a "Palais de Dance" (sic). At the end of the war, following an intense period of negogiations. the ambitious decision was made to found a permanent opera company. Karl Rankl was appointed the first Music Director of the Covent Garden Opera Company (it became The Royal Opera in 1968) which gave its first performance in 1947.
Rankl's successors - Rafael Kubelik, Georg Solti, Colin Davis, and Bernard Haitink - have managed to maintain the company spirit and even the most celebrated guest artists are obliged to attend rehearsals.
Work Approximate Running Time : 2 h 29
MACBETH, ONE OF SHAKESPEARE'S MOST ENDURING WORKS IS GIVEN NEW LIFE AS AN OPERA.
Giuseppe Verdi's opera is in four acts and includes a Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Completed in 1847, the opera was the first play Verdi adapted for the stage and remains one of the composers most popular and frequently performed works. The piece is one of Verdi's most prized works and is a testament to his ability to create formally interesting and extraordinary operatic work.
Taking place in 11th century Scotland, the piece centres around Macbeth's attempt to be crowned King of Scotland. Ostensible a tragedy that concerns itself with guilt, fear and power, it is one of Shakespeare's most brilliantly executed and recognisable works.
Three witches gather beside a battlefield to exchange stories of evil. The victorious generals Banco and Macbeth enter and the latters ascendancy to the throne is foretold by the witches.
After hearing the news, his wife resolves to propel her husband to the throne by any means necessary. She urges the killing of the king at the first opportunity and then incriminates his sleeping guards.
The operas eponymous villain is now King but remains troubled by his actions and wracked with guilt. He slaughters his former friend, Banco, the rightful heir to the throne and is soon plagued by further visions of his ghost. The ghost of Banco appears at a banquet terrifying the new king. His former confidant Macduff leaves the country convinced it is a nation ruled by a cursed hand, whilst the other banquet guests make an abrupt exit, scared by their hosts maniacal ravings.
The three witches gather again, this time in a cave and conjure three images for the king. The first tells him to be aware of Macduff, the second that he cannot be harmed by a man born of a women and the third says he cannot be conquered until Birnam Wood marches on him. He informs his wife of the prophecies and they decide to track down and kill both Macduff and Banco's son.
Marching from Birnam Wood and backed by English forces, Macduff and Malcolm, the son of King Duncan vow to avenge the deaths of Banco and the king and overthrow the tyrannical King.
Prior to the battle, his wife and co-conspirator dies, news Macbeth receives with indifference. A battle ensues and in the final conflict the king in Slain by Macduff before Duncan is hailed as the new King of Scotland.
Macbeth - Baritone
His Wife - Soprano
Banco - Bass
Macduff - Tenor
Lady-In-Waiting - Mezzo Soprano
Malcolm - Tenor
Doctor - Bass
Servant - Bass
Herald - Bass
Assassin - Bass
Three Apparitions - 2 Sopranos and 1 Bass
Duncan - Silent
Fleance - Silent
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