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Double Bryn Terfel

Rage and Revelry

SUMMER 2024

Sir Bryn Terfel takes centre–stage in a tragedy / comedy pairing of bloodshed and bounty.

Aleko RACHMANINOFF

Aleko is Rachmaninoff at his most effusive, in an exquisite score brimming with his trademark soaring melodies.

Sir Bryn Terfel is Pushkin’s Romantic hero, a tormented victim of passion with a knife at the ready for any wrong-doing.

He has turned his back on the ordinary world to be with Zemfira who breaks him. The blood-drenched show-down presents a side of Bryn that is rarely – if ever – seen.

Bizet’s Carmen, written two decades before, was drawn from this same Pushkin verse story.

CAST   SYNOPSIS

Aleko

An opera in one act

Sung in Russian with English surtitles

Music Sergei Rachmaninoff

Adapted from The Gypsies by Alexander Pushkin

First performance 9 May 1893, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow

Gianni Schicchi PUCCINI

In marked contrast, Bryn is Puccini’s comic trickster Gianni Schicchi
(pronounced Junny Skikki), called in by the wealthy Donatis to solve a family problem.

He refuses – until his daughter sings Puccini’s most famous aria O mio babbino caro.

This comic masterpiece (Puccini’s only comedy and written towards the end of his life) is built on every family’s nightmare: the reading of a will that goes disastrously wrong.

If you’ve never laughed out loud at an opera, try this!

Did you know the word “zany” comes from Gianni (the diminutive of Giovanni)?

CAST   SYNOPSIS

Gianni Schicchi 

An opera in one act

Sung in Italian with English surtitles

Music Giacomo Puccini

Libretto Giovacchino Forzano

First performance 14 December 1918, Metropolitan Opera House, New York

Back to What’s On

Aleko Cast & Creatives

ALEKO, an outsider SIR BRYN TERFEL     Sponsor Theaux
ZEMFIRA, his wife, a committed anarchist ∙ AILISH TYNAN     Sponsor Judith Lawless & Kevin Egan
HER YOUNG ANARCHIST LOVER LUIS GOMES
ZEMFIRA’S FATHER ROBERT WINSLADE ANDERSON     Sponsor David & Lynneth Salisbury
AN OLDER ANARCHIST SARA FULGONI

 

CONDUCTOR  GIANLUCA MARCIANO     Sponsor Peak Scientific
DIRECTOR  STEPHEN MEDCALF
DESIGNER  JAMIE VARTAN
LIGHTING DESIGNER ∙ TIM MITCHELL
MOVEMENTLYNNE HOCKNEY

A colourful community has chosen an unconventional life that espouses a freedom beyond social norms.  Amongst them is an outsider, the brooding  Aleko, who has abandoned his own people to his passion for  Zemfira.  There is an ominous foreboding that such a love will be his downfall.

Zemfira’s father tells the story of his own life. He had a wife, whom he loved deeply.  She deserted him for another man, leaving behind their small daughter.  The story shocks and scares Aleko, he is outraged that the old man didn’t seek the pleasure of revenge.

Zemfira disagrees.  For her, as for her mother, love is free.

The old man warns Aleko not to expect Zemfira to be faithful.

Zemfira has, indeed, tired of Aleko’s possessiveness and has a young lover.  They have an evening tryst and she returns to put her child to sleep with a lullaby.  The words of the song are designed to taunt Aleko.

Alone,  Aleko contemplates the catastrophe of his existence and the failure of his attempt to flee the ordinary world.

Zemfira spends the night with her young lover and the dawn heralds disaster.  Aleko catches them and kills them both.

The Old Man tells him to leave.  Though they live beyond the law, they do not judge, do not torture, do not kill.  They spare  Aleko his life but cast him out.

“Grief, anguish, once again alone” sings Aleko.

Gianni Schicchi Cast & Creatives

BUOSO DONATI, deceased head of a wealthy familyTIM BAGLEY
GIANNI SCHICCHI, a trickster outsider SIR BRYN TERFEL      Sponsor David & Clare Kershaw
LAURETTA, his daughter PASQUALE ORCHARD     Sponsor Anthony & Carolyn Townsend
RINUCCIO, her boyfriend ∙ LUIS GOMES     Sponsored by the Christopher Reeves Memorial Trust
ZITA, his aunt, Buoso’s cousin ∙ SARA FULGONI      Sponsor Julian Hardwick

GHERARDO, Buoso’s nephew JEFF LLOYD ROBERTS     Sponsor Anthony & Carolyn Townsend
NELLA, his wife AILISH TYNAN     Sponsor Harry Hyman  
GHERARDINO, his son ∙ EDWARD MOLONY (June 6, 20, 26, July 7), THOMAS PRICE-HARRIES (June 15, 23, 29)

SIMONE, Buoso’s cousin and now head of the family MATTHEW BROOK
MARCO, his son MICHEL DE SOUZA   Sponsor Francis & Amanda Norton
LA CIESCA, his wife OLIVIA RAY     Sponsor Marie Veeder

BETTO DI SIGNA, Buoso’s brother-in-law ROBERT WINSLADE ANDERSON
PINELINO, a cobblerJACOB BETTINELLI     Sponsor Ken & Fiona Costa
GUCCIO, a dyer CHRISTIAN ANDREAS
SPINELLOCCIO, a doctor ∙ HENRY KERSWELL GRANT   Sponsor Prof Martin Brown & Dr Sue Brown
AMANTIO DI NICOLAO, a notary  JOSHUA McCULLOGH

 

CONDUCTOR  GIANLUCA MARCIANO
DIRECTOR  STEPHEN MEDCALF
DESIGNER  JAMIE VARTAN
LIGHTING DESIGNER ∙ TIM MITCHELL
MOVEMENTLYNNE HOCKNEY

Before the opera 

The Donatis are old money. Buoso Donati, the family head, is in the process of dying.

Meet the Donatis

Buoso dies. 

Relatives have gathered around – seemingly in respect – but crucially to see how much they have inherited. It is Buoso’s down–at–heel brother-in-law, Betto, who mentions a local rumour: Buoso has left everything to a local community of fat monks

Simone, the eldest, is consulted. If the notary has the will, all is lost. If it is in the house, there is hope. They search high and low but can’t find it.

It is young Rinuccio who finds the will.

But he won’t let anyone see it unless his Aunt Zita allows him to marry Lauretta, the daughter of Gianni Schicchi, a canny newcomer. The Donati family look down on him.

(Rinuccio quietly asks a young Donati, Gherardino, to fetch Gianni Schicchi.)

They read the will. It is true: the monks get everything. The Donatis are dumbfounded – the will must be changed. But how?

They need someone with cunning. Rinuccio knows just the man: Gianni Schicchi. He is always brimming with ideas; he is definitely the man to sort this out.

The Donatis are firmly in the saddles of their high horses. Gianni Schicchi is a peasant who has arrived in the city recently. 

Rinuccio protests: Florence is the greater for having men like Schicchi.

Schicchi and his daughter, Lauretta, arrive and sense the hostility. Schicchi is halfway out the door when Lauretta intercedes. If she can’t marry Rinuccio, she will throw herself in the river Arno.

Schicchi scrutinises the will. Does anyone else know that Buoso has died? At the wrong – or right – moment, Buoso’s doctor arrives. The family deny him entry. Buoso is improving, they say, and mustn’t be disturbed. 

Schicchi fakes Buoso’s voice, telling the doctor to leave. The doctor is delighted that his patient has responded so well to his treatments and he departs.

Schicchi outlines the plan. 

Next they must call the notary and have their version of the will ratified. Each family member sidles up to Schicchi to map their ‘wishes’. 

There are the lesser assets:

– the farms at Fucecchio, Figline and Prato
– the lands at Empoli and Quintole.

And the most valuable assets:

– the mule
– the house
– the mills at Signa. 

A tolling bell sends them into a panic. Does the town know of Buoso’s death? False alarm. Somebody else has died. Time is running out . . . rather than argue, they will leave it up to Schicchi to distribute Buoso’s goods and chattels. 

They disguise Schicchi as Buoso and he gets into the bed. He warns them that there is a law which forbids the fabrication of a will. Anyone guilty of such a crime would have their hand amputated and they would be exiled. 

The notary and witnesses are ushered in. 

The family waits with baited breath . . .

Performance dates

Thursday 6 June 5:45pm
Saturday 15 June 5:15pm
Thursday 20 June 5:45pm
Sunday 23 June 5:15pm
Wednesday 26 June 5:45pm
Saturday 29 June 5:15pm
Sunday 7 July 5:15pm

With thanks

Aleko is sponsored by a syndicate led by Natasha Tsukanova including one anonymous donor.

O mio babbino caro sponsored by Noreen Doyle

Tickets

Thursday 6 June 2024

5:45pm

Saturday 15 June 2024

5:15pm

Thursday 20 June 2024

5:45pm

Sunday 23 June 2024

5:15pm

Wednesday 26 June 2024

5:45pm

Saturday 29 June 2024

5:15pm

Sunday 7 July 2024

5:15pm