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Opera Prelude: Standing at the Crossroads

Opera in the 20th century

Venue: Caversham Room at Cadogan Hall

“The most expensive solution would be to blow the opera houses up” (Pierre Boulez).

Conductor Mark Austin offers an accessible exploration of opera in the 20th century, uncovering its roots in the 19th century as the starting point for a survey of the pathways composers took in response to the urgent search for post-Romantic musical languages. Beginning with Strauss, whose musical experimentation at the start of the 20th century would indicate the ground ahead, and concluding with Mark-Anthony Turnage (for whose latest opera, Coraline, Mark Austin was assistant conductor at the Royal Opera House) this lecture aims to provide a wide-ranging overview of this fascinating and controversial period.

With a field including Puccini, Debussy, Janáček, Gershwin, Berg, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Britten, Adams, Glass and more, this promises to be an exhilarating opportunity to experience the trajectory of opera over an extended period. Mark will particularly attempt to distill and demonstrate the musical language of each of these important figures to illustrate the evolution of opera over the century. Accompanied by Opera Prelude’s young artists.

Mark Austin is a conductor and pianist of integrity. His sensitive and mature performances have earned a reputation for their “eloquent intensity” (Guardian). In Spring 2018 Mark worked for Royal Opera as Assistant Conductor for the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera Coraline. In the summer he returns to the Grange Festival for Il Barbiere di Siviglia (assistant conductor to David Parry), and will be leading the advanced opera course at Dartington International Festival (Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro). Recent opera conducting credits include: Goyescas (Grange Festival), Hansel and Gretel (Mercury Theatre), La traviata, Le comte Ory (Opera South), Il barbieri di Siviglia, and Tosca (Musique Cordiale International Festival). He is artistic director of Faust Chamber Orchestra, performing in Kings Place, LSO St Luke’s and West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge.
Also an accomplished pianist, Mark has accompanied singers at venues including Kings Place, Wigmore Hall, St John’s Smith Square, Leighton House (Dame Felicity Lott), Holywell Music Room, Colston Hall, Champs Hill, Opera Bastille, Paris and the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre.

Part of Opera Prelude Lecture Series 2018-19

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Opera Prelude: “Glitter and be Gay”

With Rosie Clifford (mezzo) and Opera Prelude’s young artists, accompanied by Natalie Burch. "Glitter and be gay, that's the part I play" – so sings Cunegonde in Leonard Bernstein's masterpiece...

Concert Duration:
2 hours

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