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The Snowmaiden, University College Opera, Bloomsbury Theatre, March 2014

ucyow3c1 April 2014

pencil-icon Written by Professor Mark Ronan, UCL Mathematics

Rimsky-Korsakov’s SnowmaidenA Spring Fairy Tale, like many Russian operas, is a series of tableaux, brilliantly realised here in a production by Christopher Cowell.

UCOpera, photo 2014 © www.johnreading.co.uk

UCOpera, photo 2014 © www.johnreading.co.uk

The simple yet highly effective designs by Bridget Kimak, atmospherically lit by Jake Wiltshire, gave a magical quality to the world of the Berendeyans, who have been in the grip of Father Frost for 16 years.

He has remained with Mother Spring to look after their child Snyegurochka — the Snowmaiden — rather than retreat to the northern tundra, but Snyegurochka, now fifteen wants to join the human world.

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University College Opera performs I Lombardi

news editor21 March 2013

pencil-icon Written by Professor Mark Ronan, UCL Mathematics

After UCOpera’s production of a Rameau work last year, which suffered from over-ambitious direction that didn’t gel, I was unsure what this year’s I Lombardi would be like. I need not have worried — it was terrific.

Giselda, image ©UCOpera

Giselda, image ©UCOpera

Suits of armour and chain mail are expensive, so director Jamie Hayes has updated it to warring gangs from the 1960s, with guns and the occasional knife. I Lombardi meets West Side Story, but it really works, and Charles Peebles produced wonderful playing from the orchestra.

Early Verdi is so full of energy, and UCL have made a perfect choice for his bicentenary year. This is the opera that followed Nabucco, which starts a new run at the Royal Opera House on Easter Saturday, so here is an excellent chance to see the next collaboration between Verdi and his early librettist Temistocle Solera.

As an enthusiast for Italian unification and the Risorgimento, the story of Lombards fighting Islamic warriors formed an attractive background that would have resonated with Verdi’s audience, but the First Crusade no longer inspires us, so I applaud the change of location in time and space.

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