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Articles by John Snelson

Painting with music: How Tchaikovsky used the orchestra to create unrivalled ballet scores

24 November 2016

The great Russian composer was a genius in orchestration, but he outdid himself with The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty.

Telling Tales: Why Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann is among the most edited operas in the repertory

7 November 2016

The composer died before completing the opera, leading to a great amount of second-guessing as to Offenbach’s true final intentions.

Musical Highlight: ‘Donna non vidi mai’ from Manon Lescaut

13 October 2016

Puccini's passionate aria rapturously describes love at first sight.

A three-course meal: Puccini’s Il trittico and the tradition of piecing short operas together

19 February 2016

Like a collection of short stories or the B-movies of the 1940s and 50s, grouping operas together allows us to appreciate their contrasts.

Lights! Coloratura! Action!: The giddy world of opera’s ‘action’ songs

3 February 2016

Drinking songs such as La traviata’s famous Brindisi are just the start of opera's songs describing action.

Tosca Musical Highlight: The Te Deum

11 January 2016

A stunning musical depiction of Heaven and Hell closes Act I of Puccini's iconic Roman opera.

Cavalleria rusticana Musical Highlight: The Easter Hymn

30 November 2015

Mascagni’s draws on church music in this masterful and intense evocation of a small community and one guilt-ridden woman’s position outside of it.

Pagliacci Musical Highlight: ‘Vesti la giubba’

27 November 2015

In this short aria – famously the first million-selling record in history – Leoncavallo tracks his central character’s descent into despair.

The Shipping Cues: Why ships on stage make great drama

17 February 2015

Building a ship on stage might be a stage designer’s nightmare, but life on or by the sea has made ideal material for some of opera’s greatest stories.

Stormy Weather #2: Smart techniques for bringing a storm to the stage from history's great composers

23 January 2015

Beethoven inspired a host of operatic composers including Rossini, Verdi and Weill in musical methods for creating an operatic storm.

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