Friday 19 March 2021

Rare comic Rossini and immersive Humperdinck: British Youth Opera's Summer season in the park

British Youth Opera 2021

This Summer Britsh Youth Opera will be performing at Opera Holland Park (OHP) for the first time, taking advantage of OHP's specially reconfigured theatre and giving ten performances during August. Two operas are being performed Rossini's L'occasione fa il ladro and Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel.

Rossini's L’occasione fa il ladro, ossia Il cambio della valigia (Opportunity Makes a Thief, or The Exchanged Suitcase) is a one-act farsa written in 1812, one of five such comic pieces that the young composer (he was all of 20!) wrote for the Teatro San Moisè, Venice. Victoria Newlyn will direct BYO's production which will be sung in English. Sets and costumes are by Madeleine Boyd, and Peter Robinson conducts. Rossini's early one-act farse were very popular in his lifetime but effectively disappeared after his death though they are now more frequently revived. BYO has performed some of Rossini's other farse, whilst L'occasione fa il ladro has popped up at the Buxton Festival (in 1987), at Opera North (in 2004 as Love's Luggage Lost) and in 2017 returned to Venice at the Teatro la Fenice [see Anthony's review]

Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel will be rather different. It is a co-production with Daisy Evans' Silent Opera and will be an immersive experience. Evans directs and has written a new English libretto and Stevie Higgins is musical director and arranger with sets and costumes by Loren Elstein. The audience will wear headphones and will listen to pre-recorded orchestral backing which is live-mixed with the live singers, as the production moves around the audience members will be able to choose which strand of the action to follow in their headphones. [read my 2017 interview with Daisy Evans and my review of Silent Opera's Vixen]

Both productions will have two separate alternating casts and of course the productions provide valuable experience not just for the young singers but for stage managers, directors, designers, conductors, musical directors and repetiteurs as well as costume and wigs, hair and makeup teams. Participants will take on real-world responsibilities in productions, under the guidance of a team of expert department heads, and stand to gain rare practical experience alongside valuable mentoring and coaching.   

Find out more from the BYO website.

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