A revival of your work in New York and collaborating with Placido Domingo at Covent Garden are career pinnacles in any opera director’s career – but for Elijah Moshinsky, Buxton is now the really exciting place to be.
The award-winning Verdi specialist, who has won acclaim around the world for his productions of the composer’s greatest works, is about to tackle his least well-known – Alzira – for this year’s Buxton International Festival.
It will be its first major UK staged production, and the last in the Festival’s trilogy of early Verdi operas, which started with Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc) in 2016 and continued with Macbeth last year.
“If audiences liked Giovanna and Macbeth, they’ll like this,” said Elijah, pictured above.
Alzira is based on a play set in 16th Century Peru by Voltaire, but the opera skips over the French iconoclast’s high-brow discussion of the contrasts between the Catholic Spanish conquerors and their Native American subjects.
“The play is very brainy,” said Elijah, but the opera is visceral rather than intellectual.
“Alzira is a Mafia drama, very Neapolitan, with people who have temperaments which switch from good to bad instantly.
“Something special is going on here. This is the only place in the world that Alzira will be presented, so Buxton is at the centre of things,” said Elijah, who has seen his work featured in a revival at the New York Metropolitan Opera House and has worked with the biggest names in opera in Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House.
“Buxton is no less than these (opera) houses by any means,” he said. “To me it’s much more interesting to do something original in Buxton.”
And he says “the fantastically eccentric” Buxton Opera House is the perfect setting for Verdi: “It approximates much more the theatrical conditions under which these operas were first presented. They were performed in small, intimate opera houses all over Italy.”
Alzira will be brought up-to-date in a quite literally revolutionary way: “We have stolen everything from Che Guevara to El Salvador to set it in a modern South American revolution. That gives it the conflict and political structure required.”
Details of all events can be found at http://www.buxtonfestival.co.uk