English Touring Opera (ETO) will return to Buxton Opera House this month to present new productions of a rare Kurt Weill opera, The Silver Lake – A Winter’s Tale and the under-performed Mozart comedy, The Seraglio.
Both operas are singspiels (‘plays with music’), an accessible and popular operatic form that mixes spoken dialogue with music.
The ETO will also take opera into the local community, providing a free Gilbert and Sullivan workshop for young people at St John’s Baptist Church and will collaborate with Nottingham-based homelessness charity Streetwise Opera (Nottingham Hub).
Weill’s poetic and uplifting singspiel The Silver Lake (1933) is considered by many to be his masterpiece.
It was written in early 1930s Germany, during a time of economic collapse and the rise of the far-right. Its radical messages and sharp satire of Germany’s political situation meant it was closed down and banned by the Nazis, and the composer and librettist were forced to flee Germany.
It is a piece about those who are left behind – the poor man driven to steal a pineapple, the poor relation who is passed from house to house, the policeman with principles, the starving people who at the very beginning of the show are busy burying Hunger itself. It is a “winter’s tale” that could not be more appropriate to modern Britain.
Conducted by Weill specialist James Holmes, and directed by ETO Artistic Director James Conway, this is the first professional UK performance of the The Silver Lake in 20 years.
In 1781, Mozart arrived in Vienna and desperately needed to land a hit in the theatres, to both support himself and make his name in a new city. For this, he turned to the genre of the ‘singspiel’ which had great popular appeal.
The Seraglio (1782) provided this much-needed success. Set in a splendid Turkish harem, it reflects the eighteenth-century Viennese audience’s fascination with all things eastern.
It contains some of Mozart’s wittiest music, some of his most vocally challenging music, and some of his most lyrical.
Though written during a time when attitudes to the East and to Islam were strongly ambivalent, Mozart’s instinctive understanding of human nature elevates the story onto a higher plane; in his hands it becomes an exposition of the need for tolerance and understanding between different cultures.
You can see this opera on October 11 and The Silver Lake on October 12, both are at 7.30pm.
For tickets go to http://www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk