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The Mighty Handful’s “Phantom” Opera

Thursday, November 2, 2017 10:38:00 AM America/Chicago

By Albrecht Gaub

Mlada (1872)

Within the annals of Russian opera, the collaborative opera-ballet Mlada (1872), with music by four members of the group of composers known as the Mighty Handful, is a case sui generis. The four-act spectacle was originally devised by Stepan Gedeonov, the director of the imperial theaters, who combined a scenario borrowed from an 1839 ballet with his own historical theories concerning the Western Slavs and their role in founding the first Russian empire. The music was divided act by act among the members of the Handful, with Cui taking the first act, Borodin the fourth, and Musorgskii and Rimskii-Korsakov sharing the two middle acts scene by scene. The surviving music for Mlada is now available in its entirety for the first time, and with this edition all surviving operas by major Russian composers of the nineteenth century have been published.

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A fiesta cantada for the Spanish Court . . . and Beyond

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 1:03:25 PM America/Chicago


By Louise K. Stein

Celos aun del aire matan (Jealousy, even of the air, kills), by the composer Juan Hidalgo (1614–85) and the dramatist Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600–1681), is the first extant opera in Spanish and the most significant musical-theatrical work to survive from the vibrant culture of the Spanish siglo de oro. Written to commemorate the marriage of the Infanta María Teresa to Louis XIV of France, Celos transformed the ancient myth of Cephalus and Procris so that chastity is dethroned by the power of womanly desire, while tragic consequences unfold when marital harmony is disturbed by neglect and jealousy.

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