Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Haydn L'isola disabitata revisited

Haydn's L'Isola disabitata at  the Linbury Studio of the Royal Opera House was superb. Reading about the 2009 Gotham City Opera production  I suspect that the Jette Parker Young Artists production in London was significantly better. "Young" the Young Artists may be, but they are most certainly talented. This proves why schemes like the YA programme are vital for the health of opera. The same old revived blockbusters bring in an income, but the Young Artists are an investment in the future.

The London L'isola disabitata worked well because it kept generating ideas even after it was over. It wasn't recorded for posterity, so please read this analysis in Opera Today of how and why it was such a success.  This is Haydn for modern audiences. Alienation, moral dilemmas, and the idea of faith in adversity. Even the suggestion of social revolution. No wonder it's become a cult. Being compact and chamber, it's easy to stage. We'll hear more Hadyn L'isola disabitata in coming years but the London Young Artists production is a masterclass in how it can be done.

"Although L’isola disabitata is set on an island, the island is in fact no more than a structural concept indicating a situation cut off from the reality of normal society. Haydn uses a contemporary text, by Pietro Metastasio, which refers to barren rocks and smoke — metaphors of oppression, and of Constanza’s moral confusion"  The designs "reflect Constanza’s emotional landscape. She’s desolate, ruined, shattered. She’s lost faith because she invested in the trappings of marriage, rather than love."

Photo of  Elisabeth Meister as Constanza, Steven Ebel as Gernando, courtesy Royal Opera House

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