Songs for a mad emperor: Sarah Toth’s Nero Monologues

Sarah Toth’s Nero Monologues is a pastiche opera, or pasticcio: this is a recognised form of opera making, used by Handel among others, where rather than writing an entirely fresh score, a composer collates (some might smirkingly say today ‘curates’) a selection of other people’s music, organising the chosen arias or passages to illustrate a…

Lust, silk and strangulation: Zemlinsky’s A Florentine Tragedy

Oscar Wilde never finished his play A Florentine Tragedy, an unsettling little story of the attempted seduction of a merchant’s wife by the local prince, and that prince’s death at the hands of her jealous husband, who comes home early in the piece to find them together. Alexander Zemlinsky’s challenging score makes this intense short opera…

Yet another Icarus: Lanza

The world shows us so many Icaruses: gifted people who fly too high too fast, and are soon burned by the extent of their own success, spiralling irrevocably into addiction, debt, ill health or other self-destructive behaviours. Mario Lanza’s immense promise as a talented young tenor in the Forties drew him into an increasingly ill-starred…

Preview: Opera in the City Festival

The Arts are steadily moving east in London. Nicholas Hytner is launching his new 900-seat theatre at Tower Bridge this autumn: it’s been 80 years since London theatre received such a large new forum for performance. Dalston and Hackney are brimming as ever with pop-up arts opportunities, but closer than trendy East London, the City…