Wednesday 29 February 2012

Bel Canto

Ann Patchett's novel, Bel Canto, was given to me by my partner's mother, probably because of the musical interest. It concerns the incident in Lima, Peru in 1996/7 when a group of young revolutionaries held people hostage for 3 months in the Japanese ambassador's house. The novel uses a young operatic soprano as one of its focuses and music is a key element, partly because the soprano is defined in her relationships by people's reaction to her singing, also as some of the hostages are Japanese there is a language barrier and music become a key element in communication.

Not surprisingly, the book is being turned into an opera. The Lyric Opera of Chicago will be premiering the work in their 2015/16 season, with Danielle de Niese in the lead role of Roxanne Coss. The book seems to have been the starting point, with Renee Fleming, who is creative consultant at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, selecting it as a good subject for an opera. The composer will be the Peruvian composer Jimmy Lopez; Lopez studied in his native Peru as well as in Finland and in California and seems to be based in Finland.  It looks like it will be his first opera, there is an interesting post on his blog here.

Of course, with any new opera an important part of the process is the libretto, this is being written by the Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz. Cruz seems to have strong musical credentials having written the book to at least one musical and collaborated with Gabriela Lena Frank on several operas and a set of orchestral songs.

So the auguries look promising.

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