30 October 2013 at 3.39pm | 7 Comments
Stefan Herheim's new Royal Opera production of Verdi's Les Vêpres siciliennes will be relayed live in cinemas across the globe on Monday 4 November.
Les Vêpres siciliennes was Verdi’s first grand opera. Originally written for the Paris Opéra, it follows in the tradition of French grand opera laid out by Meyerbeer. Though a huge success on its premiere (it was performed some 62 times in Paris in its first year alone), it failed to gain a place in the Paris Opéra’s repertory and as a result is one of Verdi’s lesser known works. This is the first time the opera has been performed at the Royal Opera House and promises to be a unique opportunity to see an operatic rarity.
Set amidst the turmoil of the French occupation of Sicily, Les Vêpres siciliennes is a tale of revenge, family relations and patriotism. Hélène longs to avenge her brother’s death at the hands of the powerful Guy de Montfort and in her bid for vengeance, she turns to the partisan Jean Procida and the rebellious patriot Henri. However, Henri’s discovery that his life and Montfort’s are closely entwined throws him, Montfort and Hélène into confusion and turmoil.
Stefan Herheim’s production is set in a stylized version of the very opera house in which the opera had its premiere. In this way, the production not only depicts the emotional and political struggle between the French and Sicilians, but also the tension between artists and art, and those who use and abuse it.
Set-piece ballet was a crucial part of grand opera, and themes of dance and the seedy voyeurism associated with it in the nineteenth century are woven into the production with performances throughout by eight tutu-clad dancers. Find out more about the production.
For the production, Herheim worked closely with dramaturg Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach. Watch an interview with Alexander about the production.
Les Vêpres siciliennes has a richly varied and dramatic score, packed with dances, fiery choruses for the opposing French and Sicilian forces, large-scale duets and several atmospheric arias. Read about the duet between Henri and Montfort in Act III, just one of the musical highlights in the opera.
Stefan Herheim’s production had its premiere at the Royal Opera House on 17 October, and was described in The Telegraph as a ‘gorgeous, visual and musical treat’. Read audience reactions to the opening night.
Following the cinema screening, we will publish a round-up of tweets so let us know your thoughts with the hashtag #ROHVepres
Each cinema relay during the 2013/14 Season will see ROH productions screened live to over 1,000 cinemas in 38 countries. The live screening following Les Vêpres siciliennes will see The Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker screened live around the world on 12 December. Find out more about this Season’s programme and find a screening near you.