Friday 4 December 2020


Like many people, this year left director Carson Gilmore with time on his hands. Gilmore is a stage and film director specialising in opera (his most recent project was Gluck's La Corona as part of a Gluck double bill with Pacific Opera Project). Gilmore's lockdown project has been to combine his interests in opera and film to create a series adaptations of opera arias on video which combine opera, experimental film, and music video, while creating an excellent musical record of the singers' efforts. The first film has just been released, filmed in a COVID-safe way, and it doesn't pull any punches.

Gilmore uses Cleopatra's aria 'Morte col fiero aspetto' from Johann Adolf Hasse's 1725 serenata, Marc'Antonio e Cleopatra on of the works that effectively made Hasse's name in Italy. When it was premiered in Naples the work featured two of the greatest singers of the day, both cross-dressing, castrato Farinelli (as Cleopatra) and soprano Victoria Tesi as Marc'Antonio.

Here, the aria is sung with terrific gusto by mezzo-soprano Rachel Labovitch with the music arranged by James Griffiths. Entitled Morte, the whole is vividly directed by Carson Gilmore, this certainly isn't a bleeding chunk of stage opera and manages to surprise and intrigue. We are promised more, Gilmore has another film in the editing suite.

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