Margot La Rouge will be a revelation to seasoned opera-goers and newcomers alike. Its creator, the English composer Frederic Delius, is best know for ethereal and atmospheric orchestral works such as On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring. But his one-act opera, submitted as a competition entry in 1902 and his fifth opera, has all the elements of the Italian tradition known as verismo – literally, 'realism'.
Verismo operas are a speciality at Opera Holland Park, and the 2020 double bill closes with one by the master of the genre, Giacomo Puccini – Le Villi.
Delius's and Puccini's operas share the principle that far away from the grand scenes of many dramas, passion enters into even the most ordinary lives, and leads to often violent acts.
In Margot La Rouge a young solider discovers that the woman everyone is gossiping about at the bar is none other than his former lover, Marguerite. When a fight ensues between Thibault and Margot's current lover she intervenes, but peace does not ensue...
Puccini's Le Villi was also written for a competition, some 20 years before. Again the love of two ordinary young people, Anna and Roberto, is the starting point. But when one dies, the spirit world becomes involved.
OHP favourite Anne Sophie Duprels takes the leading role in both operas. Among singers joining her in Margot... are Samuel Sakkar and Nadine Benjamin.
In Le Villi, her Roberto is sung by tenor Peter Auty. Her father Guglielmo is sung by baritone Stephen Gadd – who also sings the title role in Rigoletto in the same season.
Francesco Cilluffo conducts the City of London Sinfonia and the Opera Holland Park Chorus in both operas, with direction by Martin Lloyd-Evans and designs by takis.
Neither opera won its competition, by the way. Just goes to show judges don't always get it right.
Margot La Rouge is sung in French with English surtitles. Le Villi is sung in Italian with English surtitles. Performances are on 21, 23, 25, 29 and 31 July. General booking opens 10AM, Wed 26 Feb
|What||Margot La Rouge & Le Villi, Opera Holland Park|
|Where||Opera Holland Park, Stable Yard, Holland Park, London , W8 6LU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||High Street Kensington (underground)|
21 Jul 20 – 31 Jul 20, five performances
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|