Random Opera Company has announced details of the two world premieres, a Bel Canto masterpiece and a German Romantic classic that comprise its 2022 season.
The Warwickshire-based company’s programme opens with Der Freischütz (The Marksman, 1821) on 9 April at Rugby’s Temple Speech Room. Composed by Carl Maria von Weber, the German libretto was written by dramatist Friedrich Kind, based on a folk legend about a marksman who, having done a deal with the devil, has a number of bullets that will unfailingly hit whatever target he wishes.
The opera tells the story of a young marksman who finds himself in league with the devil as he tries to win his lover’s hand in marriage. It explores the struggle between good and evil, the supernatural and romance. While rarely performed in the UK, the opera established German composer, conductor and virtuoso musician Weber as one of the most significant composers of German Romantic opera.
Algorithms is a new opera by composer Evan Henry and librettist John Klaess. It won Random Opera’s inaugural New Works Competition, a new contest that aims to discover upcoming composers and encourage new works. The jury – comprised of conductor Martyn Brabbins, opera director and librettist Sir David Pountney and soprano Claire Rutter – described the work as “a pertinent story that was told with humour and yet with a deep sadness”. The opera will receive its world premiere in June.
The writers said of the piece: “We put an astonishing amount of faith in algorithms. Everything from our music suggestions to whether or not we qualify for a mortgage is subject to automated procedures. Outcomes are determined by inscrutable and proprietary lines of code, and there are few areas of life that aren’t in some way impacted by algorithm-driven software. This opera asks a simple question: what if our mortal fate was determined by the vagaries of a sorting algorithm?”
Another rarely performed gem is Bellini’s La sonnambula (The Sleepwalker, 1831), with music in the bel canto – Italian for ‘beautiful singing’ – tradition. The Italian libretto by by poet Felice Romani is based on a scenario for a ballet-pantomime written by Eugène Scribe and choreographed by Jean-Pierre Aumer called La somnambule, ou L’arrivée d’un nouveau seigneur.
It tells the story of Amina – the sleepwalker of the title – who is to be married to wealthy farmer Elvino. However, she is accused by love rival Lisa of having a secret assignation with the feudal lord Rodolfo. Elvino breaks off the engagement, but when Amina’s sleepwalking comes to light the truth is revealed.
The production is directed by Random Opera’s General Director Richard Tegid Jones; it marks the opera’s first UK performance in a decade. It will be staged at the Temple Speech Room in July.
The final opera on Random Opera’s 2022 roster is another world premiere. Written 200 years ago, Marianna Bottini’s Elena e Gerardo has never been performed. Bottini was a contemporary of Rossini and was admitted to the Academy of Music in Bologna as an honorary master composer at the very young age of 18. Elena e Gerardo is her only opera, written at the age of 20, shortly before she stopped composing aged 21 when she got married.
Richard Jones discovered the score in the archives at the Institute of Musical Studies Luigi Boccherini in Lucca, Italy, and set about making plans to stage the work for the first time. This historic inaugural performance will take place at the Temple Speech Room on 20 November.
Tickets for Der Freischütz and La sonnambula are on sale now, costing £20 and £25, respectively. Tickets for Elena e Gerardo go on sale on 10 April and will cost £35. Ticketing information for Algorithms is yet to be announced. See Random Opera’s website for more details.
Written in 1822, Marianna Bottini’s Elena e Gerardo will finally receive its world premiere as part of Random Opera’s 2022 season.