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Prima le Parole

by on 23 June 2021

Icing on the Opera Cake

Prima le Parole: Preview

Opera Live At Home On-Line from 29th June

Preview with Thomas Forsythe and Helen Astrid

Opera critic Thomas Forsythe discusses the forthcoming production of Prima le Parole with Helen Astrid, founder of Opera Live At Home

 TF:    Firstly can I congratulate you on the triumph that your on-line series Opera Live At Home  has achieved during lockdown, establishing an international following as an opera recital and discussion programme.  

Tama Matheson

HA:     Thank you.  This month though the evening will be slightly different, as it will feature an actor and opera director, Tama Matheson, who is following on from the incredible success of His Quest for Peace – Panufnik at the Barnes Music Festival last month.

TF:     Yes, that was remarkably well received, and of course Sir Andrzej Panufnik lived in Twickenham for almost thirty years and much of his best work as a composer was done here.  His widow, Lady Camilla is a well-known figure locally.

HA:     Tama’s lyric drama brought out the victory of the human spirit over adversity that is the epitome of Panufnik’s music.  Now, for Opera Live At Home , Tama Matheson takes centre stage again with Prima le Parole.  He will delve into the history of opera and will excavate a handful of the better- and lesser-known theatre works that underpin the operatic canon.

TF:     What will Tama’s excavations reveal?

HA:     They will answer questions such as, so who are the great playwrights of the operatic world?  What are the plays that inspired the great operas?  And what was it about them that captivated the imaginations of the composers who wrote them?

TF:     I understand that Opera Live at Home has specially commissioned Prima le Parole as  a performance, rather than a talk.

HA:     Very much so.  It will offer treasures rarely seen in their theatrical form. You will hear excerpts from Shakespeare to Schiller, Goethe to Garrick and many more as writers and poets strive to make their mark in the operatic dominion.

TF:     I’ve often wondered, in the creation of an opera, what comes first, the words or the music or vice versa?

HA:     Well, maybe this will be your chance to find out.  Well-known operas such as Verdi’s Don Carlo, Rossini’s Guillaume Tell or Gounod’s Faust will be highlighted alongside lesser known works such as the dark and disturbing Wozzeck by Berg or the early and rarely performed Das Liebersverbot by Wagner.

TF:     Das Liebersverbot would be something special.  Most people assume that Wagner only wrote one comedy, Die Meistersinger, but this was a fun piece that he wrote in his twenties, was it not?

Helen Astrid

HA:     It was indeed.  But the whole of the Opera Live at Home offering this month promises to be an unforgettable performance.  I am really thrilled to be able to feature Tama Matheson.

TF:     This should be quite something.  Tama Matheson has won lots of awards as writer, a director, and an actor.  He is Artistic Director of the Brisbane Shakespeare Festival, but is better known worldwide for his Lyric Dramas.  And of course he is a prolific opera director, working at the Sydney Opera House and Covent Garden, as well as across Europe at The Mariinsky Theatre, Teatro Real, Madrid, and Baden Baden Opera to name but a few.

HA:     Yes, and the icing on the cake, is that you’ll get to meet him afterwards!   Part of the unique experience of any Opera Live At Home performance is the chance to chat informally with the artists after the show in an informal Q&A session.

TF:     This approach has been so successful that Middlesex University highlighted it in their report on Classical Live-Streaming back in in May, I recall.

HA:     We were delighted to be included.  But everyone should see for themselves.  Come along on 29th June.  You don’t need to leave home.   Just sit back in your favourite armchair, relax and pour yourself a drink.  You’re in for a real treat!

TF:     Helen Astrid, thank you.  And may we wish Opera Live at Home much continuing success. 

Thomas Forsythe

June 2021

Photography courtesy of Opera Live at Home

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