The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko is the work of composer Anthony Bolton with libretto by Kit Hesketh-Harvey, and comes with the blessing of the widow of the man assassinated by poisoning. Many years in the making, the first production comes hot on the heels of Lucy Prebble's own account of the mystery, A Very Expensive Poison at the Old Vic.
Bolton references the music of the victim's Russian background with quotations in the score from both Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. Both a love story and a tale of political intrigue, the two-act opera features the first meeting of 'Sasha' and his future wife, Marina, a dance teacher, their marriage, the birth of their son Anatoly, and the family's descent into danger.
With seven soloists and a busy chorus that paints in the multilayered backdrop to the couple's newly conjoined lives, the opera will be conducted by Stephen Barlow and directed by Stephen Medcalf. The Orchestra of English National Opera has already run through the score, at the end of which Marina admitted to being moved to tears.
Today Marina, sung by soprano Rebecca Bottone in the opera, continues to campaign for justice for her late husband. Although it is known that he was killed by radioactive polonium-210 in his tea, no one has been tried for his murder. Litvinenko started to fall foul of his former bosses when he became aware of atrocities in Chechnya.
Sasha is sung by Adrian Dwyer, with Andrew Slater as his associate Boris Berezovsky, who was also later found dead, Andrew Watts as the Putin-esque Head of the KGB, and Olivia Ray as the investigative journalists Anna Politkovskaya.
The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko promises to be one of the most talked-about new operas of 2020.
The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko is sung in English. General booking is open now. Grange Park Opera Surrey is 23 miles south of London. Trains from Waterloo to West Horsley are met by a shuttle bus.
|What||The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko, Grange Park Opera|
|Where||Grange Park Opera, West Horsley Place, West Horsley,, Leatherhead, KT24 6AW | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
15 Jul 21 – 17 Jul 21, Two performances with long dinner interval; world premiere on Thurs 15 July
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|