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Believe in Love Released
Doubt that the dancing stars shine
doubt even that the sun is bright,
and that on the damp earth flowers grow;
doubt tears, doubt smiling,
and doubt that there are angels in paradise,
but believe in love.
Franco Faccio (Amleto, 1865)
What is this? No Verdi, no Puccini or Wagner? In this recital Elizabeth Whitehouse and Richard Bonynge explore the soprano repertory from 1850 to 1920, including some favourites it is true, but also some great rarities.
It was during this period that opera moved from the end of the bel-canto era and, with the widespread influence of the three composers mentioned above, underwent so many changes that it is hard to overestimate the revolution in musical styles that occurred. Within one person’s lifetime it would just have been possible to hear the final works of Rossini in Paris in the 1860s and the premiere of Schoenberg’s Erwartung in 1920. Orchestras got bigger and louder; theatres were re-designed with orchestra-pits and modern lighting meant that it was possible to darken the auditorium and concentrate the audience's attention on stage. The demands on singers grew ever more arduous as composers and librettists began to favour modern and frequently melodramatic plots. Among the heroines that Elizabeth Whitehouse portrays, Adriana dies from poison, Madeleine in Andrea Chénier goes to the guillotine, Sappho and Ophelia both drown themselves, Stefana in Giordano’s Siberia is shot while trying to escape from the prison camp, poor Isabeau (Lady Godiva) is assassinated along with her beloved Folco, while newly-wed Gloria commits suicide at the altar, after her bridegroom is stabbed.