I saw Kantor’s extraordinary and original creations at London’s Riverside Studios during the 1980s. His fusion of Catholic and Jewish history, evocations of war, agony, dreams and terror, remain seared in my brain.
When first performed in 1851, Rigoletto was explosive because of its implied criticism of a corrupt king. In pursuit of a comparable political edge, director James Macdonald transfers Verdi’s tragedy from Renaissance Mantua to a fictitious 1960s White House.
In his final decade, the Czech nationalist Janacek, found a new love interest and produced five major operas. The most accessible and refreshing is The Cunning Little Vixen (premiered in 1924), with its comic acceptance – like late Shakespeare – of the redemptive power of love and renewal, and its tragic awareness of the forces of raw nature and of life’s disappointments.
One of the main reasons to stay in London in the summer is the Proms. I admit that I am in love with the Royal Albert Hall. There is something about sitting in this circular, wedding cake structure that has an effect on the psyche.
Don Carlo – or Don Carlos – in history was the mentally unstable son of Philip II of Spain whose brief betrothal to the woman his father later married and contacts with Protestant rebels in the Low Countries provided ammunition for the “black legend” propaganda whipped up by the opponents of his father’s rule.