Adefinite feature of musical life over the past decade has been the meteoric rise of performances of early repertoire. Key players in the operation can be found everywhere, but the Scottish Early Music Consort, under the musical directorship of the ever-enterprising Warwick Edwards, are still in the vanguard. Edwards and his ensemble now play host to Glasgow's prestigious International Early Music Festival; and, as part of those proceedings, themselves provide a centrepiece production of Cavalli's 1641 opera La Didone.
Although a major exponent of 17th-century opera, Cavalli can hardly be described as a household name. Yet he almost single-handedly instigated public, as opposed to "court", performances with a yearly Venetian operatic season. Cavalli further consolidated his reputation after the death of Monteverdi in 1643, writing 32 operas in all, of which no fewer than 28 miraculously still survive in manuscript scores in Venice's Biblioteca Marciana.
La Didone takes the form of a ripping adventure yarn, telling of Aeneas's flight from Troy and his subsequent arrival in Carthage. A kaleidoscopic evening of early opera promises to lie in store, replete with arias, choruses, and dances by sea spirits and madmen, highly charged emotional laments and turbulent battle scenes. A large and impressive international cast has been assembled, headed by Catrin Wyn Davies as Dido and Mark Tucker as Aeneas. Six dancers from Paris and Scotland contribute the strong masque element, choreographed by Marc Leclercq. Kate Brown directs whilst the ensemble of 14 on-stage musicians (strings, lutes, harpsichords, harp, trumpets and timpani) is conducted by Warwick Edwards. Edwards himself has meticulously compiled and edited a new version of the score and will no doubt ensure that period performance practice is maintained as authentically now as is humanly possible some 350 years after La Didone's first outing.
EYE ON THE NEW
Mahler first wrote his 1st Symphony in five movements before condensing it down to four. In Monday night's Prom, the missing movement and the symphony itself frame the world premiere of Roger Reynolds's The Red Act Arias, a 40-minute composition featuring computer-processed sound. Royal Albert Hall, London SW7 (0171-589 8212) 4 Aug, 7.30pmReuse content