Programme 2018

Key to venues:

New Year’s Day Concert, Vienna

Sunday 18th February – C.K.

This has been a regular feature of our programme since the start of Bijou in January 2010.

Il Trovatore by Verdi

Sunday 8th April – R.A.U.
Sunday 22nd April – C.K.

This is probably one of Verdi’s most tuneful operas but one that suffers particularly from producer “concepts”. It has been set in a factory, a prison camp, a hospital and all updated to something approaching the present day rather than 15C. Spain. It was with extreme difficulty that this copy of a (2000) production from La Scala, Milan was obtained. It is properly traditional and with an outstanding cast of Leo Nucci who brings all his long experience to the role of the evil Count di Luna, while Salvatore Licitra is the passionate troubadour Manrico, both in love with the unfortunate Leonora, Barbara Frittoli.

La Gazza Ladra (The Thieving Magpie) by Rossini

Sunday 24th June – C.K.
Sunday 1st July – R.A.U.

The German company Arthaus Musik has started re-issuing great productions from the past on DVD under the heading Legendary Performances. This is an opera in the series, dating from 1987 and presented by Cologne Opera. The production captures all that Rossinian humour and some dramatic moments that provide a suitable contrast. Ilena Contrubas stars as the servant girl wrongly accused of theft, which provides the plot with all manner of thespian twists. The supporting cast are excellent with properly authentic sets and costumes.

Opera Rara: Martha by Flotow

Sunday 29th July – C.K.

Today this opera is unjustly overlooked and seldom if ever performed, yet it contains two well known arias. There is the concert staple that every tenor includes, M’appari and the Victorian parlour song The Last Rose of Summer. In fact, the entire opera is full of delightful melodic material and this screening will be a unique opportunity to get acquainted with this forgotten gem. Performed in the original German edition, this is a professional studio production from ZDF with excellent performances, realistic settings and correct period costumes.

Like Il Trovatore, this DVD version was only located after a considerable search!

Summer Opera Festival

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th August – C.K.

Full details will be available by the Spring but the operas to be shown, one each day are listed below:
  • I Vespri Siciliani, Verdi, Bologna 1986
  • Anna Bolena, Donizetti, Vienna 2011
  • Andrea Chenier, Giordano, La Scala 1985

Mary Stuart by Donizetti

Sunday 16th September – R.A.U.
Sunday 23rd September – C.K.

Staged in 1982 by the ENO, London Coliseum and sung in English. Dame Janet Baker chose the title role for her farewell to the operatic stage. She is pitched against Rosalind Plowright in the role of Queen Elizabeth I. Here is a rare opportunity to see two of the UK’s greatest opera stars at the height of their powers, in a historical and dramatic setting. The costumes are magnificent, the music is most attractive if less well known and the performance is conducted by Charles Mackerras.

Ballet: La Bayadère

Sunday 28th October – R.A.U.

Last year, the Paris Opera Ballet version of The Sleeping Beauty, was screened to great acclaim. This is another ballet from the same company, produced by Rudolf Nureyev. The result is enchanting, with sublime choreography, gorgeous costumes and elaborate sets. The composer was a 19C Austrian, Ludwig Minkus. His name may be unknown today but his music is enchanting and tuneful, ideally suited to this medium.

Der Zigeuner-baron (The Gipsy Baron) by Johann Strauss

Sunday 25th November – R.A.U.
Sunday 2nd December – C.K.

The natural home of operetta is Austria and perhaps the highest standards of performance can be found at the annual Mörbisch Summer Festival. This production dates from 2,000. It stars the incomparable Martina Serafin in the lead role of the gipsy Saffi, with a strong cast who understand and convey this medium to perfection. They are supported by the orchestra that entirely captures that Straussian sound with its subtle ebb and flow. (Note: Martina Serafin subsequently made the transition from operetta to grand opera and has now appeared worldwide in some of the most demanding roles, Lady Macbeth, Tosca, Turandot and the Marschallin).