For more information on our translation for Iphigenia in Tauris and the work of Dr Julia Prest, please follow the link below.
Our first performance of Idomeneo on 8th March as the closing item of the Teignmouth Classical Music Festival was a huge success. We filled the church, and the warmth of the response was wonderful. There are too many highlights to mention them all, and it all came together for a wonderful evening of music.
One of our aims is to provide young musicians with more experience, and we had four students from Torbay and South Devon taking part. Three of them played in the orchestra, and the fourth sang with the chorus, and they rose to the occasion magnificently.
At the other end of the spectrum, we also had members of the chorus and orchestra who are eligible for their bus passes, including three of our chorus soloists. Our audience had a wide age range too, from nine to over eighty. We want to bring affordable opera to everyone who wants to hear it (apparently the sound spread out from the church up and down the hill outside), and to offer approachable works outside the mainstream. We have been booked again for next year, and I am looking forward to it already.
The first performance of Idomeneo in the UK was in 1934 (in Glasgow and in English). I drew a blank on finding an English performance in England, but have now discovered that the two sisters who first translated it were Maisie and Evelyn Radford, and that they produced the first English performance in Falmouth in 1937, taking it to London the following year. Reading up a little on their work, it is a fascinating story of encouraging great music in less obvious places and supporting home grown musicians. They adopted Cornwall as their home county in 1911, and over the next 50 or so years contributed greatly to the musical life of the area.
Red Earth Opera is a Devon company and the chorus and orchestra are mostly drawn from the county, with a few travelling from Somerset and Cornwall to take part. Some of our soloists have come from further afield to add their voices to this exciting project. We are delighted to be offering locally produced opera which is different to the mainstream companies, but is still affordable and approachable – something along the lines of what the Radford sisters were doing, but we have a long way to go to emulate them.
A last word from the Radford sisters: “In spite of the improved facilities in the country for music and the arts there will always, we feel, be a place for the lone enthusiast; retired musician, teacher or student in search of experience, amateur player or singer, who feels the impulse to create something beyond his usual routine and to share his experience.”
A First for the West Country?
Preparations are well under way for Red Earth Opera’s performances of Mozart’s Opera “Idomeneo: King of Crete” at the Teignmouth Classical Music Festival on March 8th, and at Hannah’s Seale Hayne on March 28th. It will be semi-staged and sung in English with orchestral accompaniment.
What is surprising is that although it is one of Mozart’s mature operas, we can find no record of it having been performed anywhere in the West Country, and certainly not in English. The Opera was rarely performed in Mozart’s lifetime, and not in the UK until 1934 (in Glasgow). This is probably because it is based on Greek mythology, and operas of its style fell out of fashion in the 1780s. When it has been performed more recently, audiences have loved the music.
Red Earth Opera is a Devon company and the chorus and orchestra are mostly drawn from the county, with a few travelling from Somerset and Cornwall to take part. Some of our soloists have come from further afield to add their voices to this exciting project. We are delighted to be offering locally produced opera which is different to the mainstream companies, but is still affordable and approachable.
In its original form the opera contains a lot of sung dialogue (recitative) which Red Earth will be replacing and we have decided to simplify and shorten the opera by replacing it with narration. The music is glorious, and those who love Mozart’s music will be able to hear him exploring ideas which reappear in later and better known works.
Another bright, cold and sunny day down here in Paignton and I am preparing for the orchestral rehearsal today up at Hannah's Seale Hayne. This will be the test of all the work done in December transcribing the score into Sibelius and generating parts for everyone. We have players for all sections, but could still use a couple more violinists.