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A Feast of Summer Opera




<< Continued from Wednesday


Roxanna PanufnikFinally - and some might say, most importantly - contemporary music. Roxanna Panufnik's new opera The Music Programme, premiered recently in Warsaw, is brought to the BOC Covent Garden Festival for two perfomances (Thu 25/Fri 26 May). It's based on the novel by Paul Micou, takes place deep in the African jungle at an imaginary UN music camp, and subsumes an intriguing polyglot range of influences into its style. Roxanna Panufnik is the daughter of the Polish composer and conductor, the late Sir Andrzej Panufnik, a leading figure in the Polish post-war avant-garde, who left Eastern Europe for England in the mid-1950s.

The flourishing Almeida Opera Festival in Islington, London (22 June to l6 July) includes Param Vir's new opera Ion, based on Euripides' Greek Tragedy (24, 26, 28 Jun and l July). Steven Pimlott directs and David Parry conducts. Before that it can be seen at Aldeburgh on 9 Jun. Also at the Almeida (12, 13, 15 Jul) is the British premiere of Nuit des Hommes, based on poems of Guillaume Apollinaire, by the doyen of Danish composers, Per Norgard; and also the UK premiere of Earth and the Great Weather, by John Luther Adams.

Britain's most northerly classical and contemporary music feast, the splendid St. Magnus Festival in Orkney (Fri l6-Wed 21 Jun), is to stage the world premiere of Mr.Emmet Takes a Walk, David Pountney's first collaboration with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies's since their joint effort The Doctor of Myddfai caused a modest sensation at its premiere by Welsh National Opera : that opera was striking in the way it incorporated, but also assimilated, elements of the Expressionism evident in Maxwell Davies's earlier works : the new music theatre piece, in which Mr.Emmet is apparently a kind of modern-day Everyman, promises to have some of the same characteristics.

The Music Theatre Wales production of Punch and Judy

Music Theatre Wales extend their widening modern British repertoire (Maxwell Davies, Birtwistle, Michael Nyman, John Hardy, and Britten) by giving the world premiere at the Cheltenham Festival (Fri Jun 30, matinee Sun Jul 2) of Michael Berkeley's Jane Eyre (his second collaboration, following Opera North's staging of Baa Baa Black Sheep, with the Australian playwright and novelist David Malouf). From there it goes to Buxton (Jul l8 and 21). Further performances of the new Jane Eyre are planned for the autumn, including at the Royal Opera House's new Linbury Studio.

Maxwell Davies' earlier chamber opera, The Martyrdom of St.Magnus, is also doing the rounds, in a compact production by The Opera Group (formerly the enterprising Cambridge Opera Group). Stagings can be caught at the Warwick and Leamington Festival on Thu 13 July, and at the Buxton Festival the following night.

Potentially the most interesting - to judge by the stunning success there of his earlier opera, Golem - Huddersfield, whose pioneering Contemporary Music Festival runs from 15-26 Nov, features the U.K.premiere (provisionally l8 and 20 Nov) of God's Liar, by John Casken, previously staged at the Theatre Royale de la Monnaie, in Brussels. Keith Warner directs.


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Copyright © 15 April 2000 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK



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