The Longborough Festival Opera season features a seminal work by Gluck and operas by Beethoven, Mozart and Wagner – all influenced by his musical reforms
The company's season closes with their annual Young Artists' production, this year Orfeo ed Euridice – Gluck’s first opera to attempt to replace the complex musical conventions and plots of Baroque opera with a greater dramatic drive. Based on a Greek myth, it is the straightforward story of Orpheus’s attempts to rescue his wife Euridice from death and confinement in Hades. The influence of Gluck’s operatic objectives and the plot device of a rescue mission is evident in the work of all the composers featured this summer.
In Beethoven’s only opera, Leonore, disguised as Fidelio, a male prison guard, embarks on a valiant attempt to rescue her husband from unjust imprisonment and certain death at the hands of the corrupt prison governor Pizarro. A deeply moving story of love and faith, Beethoven’s resounding celebration of the enduring quest for justice has resonated with audiences across the centuries, and remains entirely relevant.
In Mozart’s The Magic Flute, it is the high priest Sarastro from whom Prince Tamino has to rescue the Queen of the Night’s daughter Pamina. His quest turns out to be far more complex than at first apparent and the balance of good and evil not as he imagines. This fairy-tale style story full of magic and flawed characters portrays the education of mankind from chaos to enlightenment.
A Longborough Festival Opera season would not of course be complete without a Wagner production and it opens with what the composer described as ‘the most audacious and original work of my life’. A revival of the company's successful 2015 production, it is another groundbreaking and influential work based on legend. However in the Celtic legend of Tristan und Iseult Tristan is conducting Isolde overseas to a hated marriage rather than rescuing her. When the bride and her travelling companion fall in love tragedy is inevitable.
The Longborough Festival Opera season opens on June 8 with Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and continues with Beethoven's Fidelio, (June 24), Mozart's The Magic Flute (July 13) and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice (July 29).