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based on the tale Minotaurus by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. The libretto, by René de Ceccatty and Giorgio Ferrara, recounts the myth of the Minotaur trapped in the labyrinth in psychoanalytical terms. Colasanti’s opera has a meticulously constructed dramatic scheme where anguished passages alternate with explosions of sound, moments of traditional music, micro-thematic fragments and oases of lyricism featuring solos for violin. At the end of the opera, a chorus of sparrowhawks sing the moral of the story on the words, ‘The cruelty of a heartless monster/is more gentle than feigned love/more gentle than love that shuns you’.

Giorgio Ferrara’s production (seen on July 1) was very efficient, if a little static, set in a claustrophobic box, cleverly lit by Fiammetta Baldiserri, and featuring movement for actors also choreographed by Ferrara. There was excellent playing from the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana, superbly conducted by Jonathan Webb. The elegant, exotic costumes were designed by Vincent Darré. All the singers were very fine: Gianluca Margheri as the monstrous yet fragile, appealing Minotaur, Benedetta Torre as the icy Ariadne, uncaring and determined, and Matteo Falcier as the treacherous Theseus.

Spoleto also hosted a large group of actors and singers, together with 11 musicians from les arts florissants playing both modern and 18th-century instruments, in Robert Carsen’s version of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, first given at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris last April. The dialogue has been entirely rewritten by the dramaturg Ian Burton, and some characters, such as the Beggar and Player, have been excised.

The two-hour-long show (seen on July 8) revolves around a band of young crooks, most of them pushing cocaine, involved in such low-level crimes as stealing computers, Rolex watches and mobiles, and a group of escorts who ply their trade with great nonchalance. They shout out catchphrases and crack jokes on the iniquities of the banks, Brexit and the stock exchange, on the downfall of David Cameron, Prime Minister Theresa May’s leopard-skin shoes, and so on. Carsen stated that scholarly accuracy is a ‘nonsense’, an empty word. He explained that the starting point for the new dialogue was the idea that John Gay was thinking about the English audience of his day.

The result was an absolutely electrifying show with one stunning effect after another, a triumph unknown in Spoleto since the days of Menotti and Visconti, with endless applause for Carsen, who received the Premio Carispo from Giorgio Ferrara at the end of the performance, when Carsen spoke of having first appeared on that very stage 40 years ago as an assistant, with Menotti. There was equally thunderous applause for the principals, including Robert Burt (Mr Peachum), Beverley Klein (Mrs Peachum and Diana Trapes), Kate Batter (Polly) and Benjamin Purkiss (Macheath). Marie van Rhijn directed from the harpsichord in place of William Christie. The production (designed by James Brandily and Petra Reinhardt, with choreography by Rebecca Howell and lighting by Peter van Praet), continues to tour. luigi bellingardi

Vicenza The marmoreal, Classical set by Vincenzo Scamozzi for the astonishing teatro olimpico, one of the last masterpieces of Palladio, made an apt setting for the first modern revival of Antonio Lotti’s Polidoro (September 6). Known today almost solely for his sacred music, Lotti was also a prolific opera composer. His five-act tragedia per musica Polidoro comes from the later stages of his career, having received its first performance at Venice’s

Opera, December 2018

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