Garsington Opera's 2018 Season features a trio of last operas - Verdi's Falstaff, Richard Strauss's Capriccio, and Mozart's Die Zauberflöte plus the world premiere of The Skating Rink by David Sawer and Rory Mullarkey
There are always questions about a composer’s last work: does it sum up their life’s work? Does it reveal their convictions about the meaning of life? Mozart died at the tragically early age of 35 whilst trying to finish the Requiem which he knew would be his last work, but he may have been less pessimistic when he conducted the very successful premiere of Die Zauberflöte, some two months earlier. Through the fairy tale world of enchanted quests and ordeals the opera celebrates the triumph of love and reason over chaos and evil – an expression of his profound beliefs.
Richard Strausss died in his late seventies and Capriccio, which he firmly declared to be his last opera, is a conversation piece about the nature of opera and an issue that concerned him for all of his composing life. Through the dilemma of the heroine who has to make her choice of a lover between a composer and a playwright he asks which has primacy, the words or the music?
Verdi was also in his late seventies when he started work on Falstaff and was concerned that his age might prevent him from completing it. It’s a mellow comedy which involves repentance for the protagonist and an acceptance by everyone of the absurdity of the human condition – which seems like a reasonable final message. The opera is based on the Shakespeare play in which Falstaff, now an old man, and still pursuing an unhealthy lifestyle and easy routes to cash, attempts to woo various wives of Windsor and has to graciously accept defeat. Verdi outlived his creation by a further seven years but never composed another opera.
The season closes with Garsington Opera’s first festival world premiere, an opera by composer David Sawer with a libretto by playwright Rory Mullarkey. Based on the award-winning novel The Skating Rink by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño, it draws on Spanish and Latin American musical influences. Nuria, a beautiful young skating champion, has a powerful admirer, Enric, whose obsession drives him to pilfer funds to build her an ice rink in a deserted Spanish mansion. A murder on the ice becomes the centre of a tale of jealousy, political corruption and the lengths people will go to for those they love.
Garsington Opera’s 2018 season opens on May 31 with Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and continues with Richard Strauss’s Capriccio on June 1, and Verdi’s Falstaff on June 16. The Skating Rink by composer David Sawer and librettist Rory Mullarkey (world premiere on July 5) completes the season.