CLASSICAL MUSIC / Upbeat: Verdi fan tutti

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The Independent Culture
NOT every step staged, but every opera heard: so the Royal Opera intends with its seven summer Verdi Festivals starting in 1995. This week saw the unveiling of plans that started with an idea from the house's associate music director Sir Edward Downes and former opera director Paul Findlay, developed with the help of national and international specialists, and will reach fruition with a sequence of mostly new productions, many shared with other houses. The first festival opens with a revival, Stiffelio, but both Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo are down for appearances during the run. For 1996 the big draw is a new staging of Don Carlos, part of a series of collaborations with the Chatelet in Paris.

As well as the Covent Garden performances there is back-up at the South Bank Centre in the form of concert versions with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. A rich field for musicological correctness, this: the first season offers alternatives for two of the staged shows, Simon Boccanegra (the early version) and Aroldo, which is a revision of the originally unsuccessful Stiffelio. The gradual build-up leaves Aida for 2001, the centenary year of Verdi's death. By then, 28 operas on, the London public might even be ready to face Mozart again: it will be only five years to his 250th birthday.

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