Longborough Festival Opera’s summer festival comprises a continuation of the company’s ambitious staging of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, a little-performed gem, one of the most popular operas of all time and a special double-bill highlighting female composers.
The festival opens with a new production of Siegfried (1876), the third instalment in Wagner’s epic four-opera Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), better known as the Ring Cycle. The eponymous hero reforges his father’s shattered sword, embarking on a quest for the greatest prize of all – the love of the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, who is trapped in a ring of fire.
All productions in the new cycle have been created especially for Longborough. Amy Lane is set to direct the entire cycle. “The Ring Cycle is the most epic of tales, with a score that is searing, desperate, sublime and so perfectly unfathomable,” she commented. “What an honour it is to set foot upon this glorious pathway and to commence this journey with Longborough.”
Australian tenor Bradley Daley sings the title role, with Scottish soprano Lee Bisset as Brünnhilde. Longborough Music Director and eminent Wagnerian Anthony Negus will conduct. Performances take place from 30 May to 7 June. The full Ring Cycle is set to be performed at the 2024 festival.
“With Siegfried we return to fully staged Wagner and take another step on our journey towards the Ring Cycle with this remarkably funny and exuberant third instalment of Wagner’s cycle,” said Longborough Artistic Director Polly Graham.
Director Carmen Jakobi brings a new semi-staged production of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt (The Dead City) to the 2022 festival. The Austrian composer and conductor was only 23 when the work premiered in 1920. He also co-wrote the libretto with his father, under the pseudonym Paul Schott.
A dangerous obsession with the past threatens to become deadly in this thrilling opera noir, as Paul struggles with unsettling dreams.
Tenor Peter Auty sings the lead part. Italian/Israeli soprano Noa Danon performs the roles of his dead wife Marie and her doppelgänger Marietta. This rarely performed work is conducted by Justin Brown and will feature the Longborough Youth Chorus. It takes place from 21-27 June.
Brown said: “It’s incredible how the 23-year-old Korngold was able to assimilate the latest trends, particularly Puccini and Strauss, almost outdoing them with his sense of colour and gift for beautiful melody, while already demonstrating an unmistakable personal voice and idiom.
“The music is at once seductive, charming and subtly complex, providing exciting challenges for orchestra and singers alike. The only challenge for the audience is to resist falling under its spell!”
One of the most popular operas of all time, Bizet’s Carmen (1875) is a tale of passion, jealousy and freedom. Mathilde Lopez directs a radical version of this much-loved classic, with the Longborough Festival Orchestra under the baton of Jeremy Silver.
Vienna State Opera Award-winning mezzo-soprano Margaret Plummer makes her Longborough Festival debut in the title role, with Dutch tenor Peter Gijsbertsen as Don José, British baritone Matthew Durkan as his rival Escamillo and British soprano Jennifer Witton as Micaëla. Performances take place from 9-19 July.
The final production in the programme is a double-bill of works by female composers, exploring love, freedom and magic.
Freya Waley-Cohen’s contemporary dramatic song-cycle Spell Book was inspired by the British-American composer’s encounter with Rebecca Tamás’s collection of poems, WITCH. It receives its first complete staging at Longborough.
Graham said: “The women of Freya’s songs create spells that celebrate hard-won freedoms, as well as spells that lay out the divisions and injustices yet to be overcome. A perfect project for a new generation of performers.”
First performed in 1625, Francesca Caccini’s La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina (The liberation of Ruggiero from the island of Alcina) is the earliest surviving opera by a female composer. The libretto by Ferdinando Saracinelli is based on Ludovico Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso. It tells the story of Ruggiero’s betrayal and escape from the sorceress Alcina. This new arrangement for Longborough is by conductor Yshani Perinpanayagam.
The two pieces will be performed by members of Longborough Festival Opera’s Emerging Artists ensemble. This programme gives important opportunities to singers at the beginning of their careers. The production is directed by Jenny Ogilvie. It takes place from 28 July-2 August.
Public booking for the general public opens on 14 March. See Longborough Festival Opera’s website for details.
Mathilde Lopez directs a radical version of Bizet’s Carmen, a tale of freedom, passion and high drama, in Longborough Festival Opera’s summer programme.