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Music: Semele

Arts | By Richard Osborne | August Issue


it’s difficult to believe that a mere forty years separate the two operas, Handel’s Semele and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro  – both masterpieces, both touching on the nowadays touchy subject of the philandering male

We think we live in fast-changing times. But it’s difficult to believe that a mere forty years separate the two operas, Handel’s Semele and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro – both masterpieces, both touching on the nowadays touchy subject of the philandering male – with which Garsington Opera opened its 2017 season. What’s also difficult to believe is the gulf which lay between the two productions. With the revival of John Cox’s classic 2005 staging of Figaro, thrillingly realised by a gifted young cast and superbly conducted by Douglas Boyd, we had as yeasty an account of Mozart’s comic masterpiece as any of us is likely to encounter this side of the Great Divide. But the Semele: lordy, lordy, what was all that about? When director Annilese Miskimmon staged Mozart’s court pastoral Il re pastore at the old Garsington in 2007, it was an object lesson in how to do...

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