Published to accompany the major exhibition, Opera: Passion, Power and Politics 30 September 2017 – 25 February 2018
Opera is traditionally regarded as an elitist art form far removed from reality by its fantastical plots and melodramatic divas. This book shows that beneath the opulent sets and sumptuous costumes, opera is very much a product of its time. Like all the great narrative arts, it draws on essential human experiences to create a form that can be endlessly reinvented to reflect a changing society.
Focusing on seven opera premieres in seven distinct cultural landscapes, with additional essays by contemporary practitioners including Placido Domingo, Antonio Pappano and Simone Young, the book culminates in the international explosion of opera in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The seven operas and premieres are: Venice (Monteverdi's L'Incoranazione di Poppea, 1642);London (Handel's Rinaldo, 1711); Vienna (Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, 1786); Milan (Verdi's Nabucco, 1842); Paris (Wagner's Tannhauser, 1861); Dresden (Strauss' Salome, 1905) and St Petersburg (Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, 1934).