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TransformationsJun 2018
Change is at the heart of Longborough Festival Opera's 2018 season with Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer, Verdi's La traviata, Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos and Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea

Loosely connecting the four operas in Longborough Opera’s 2018 season is the the bitter-sweet nature of love and its transformative power.  In Der fliegende Holländer, the captain of a ghostly ship doomed to sail the sea forever is redeemed by the love of a faithful woman.  Inspired by the legend of the Flying Dutchman and the composer’s experiences of a frightening sea crossing (he was escaping from creditors), it was Wagner’s first step from opera to music drama.

La traviata, Verdi’s most frequently performed work, is the story of a pair of star-crossed lovers, a famous courtesan and a young man of respectable family.  The hero’s father attempts to separate them using a cynical ploy which assumes the worst of a woman who sells herself for gain.  But love transforms her into a self-sacrificing heroine worthy of his respect.

Richard Strauss makes his Longborough debut with Ariadne auf Naxos.  It intriguingly combines a serious opera in the classical style in which the deserted Ariadne observes how an old love must always give way to the new with Commedia dell'arte.  A prologue explains how the unusual form of the work came about: a rich host’s absurd requirement that two separate entertainments be performed for him simultaneously to save time.  The performers, tragic and comic alike, must tailor their efforts to their employer's requirements and in the process create something completely new.

The domestic situations of the protagonists in Monteverdi’s L'incoronazione di Poppea are certainly transformed as Poppea, mistress of the Emperor, seeks the crown and the banishment of his wife – but whether for the better is anyone’s guess in a society where, as the God of Love (or lust) boasts, he rules.  Monteverdi’s last opera, considered his finest achievement, provides the platform for the Longborough’s Young Artists, the company’s annual programme to provide world-class performance opportunities to singers and players at the beginning of their careers.

The Longborough Festival opens on June 6 with Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer and continues on June 23 with Verdi’s La traviata and on July 13 with Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss.  The season ends with Monteverdi’s L'incoronazione di Poppea which opens on July 28 for four performances.  All performances take place in the Opera House, Longborough