3 February 2014 at 1.51pm | Comment on this article
Love, rivalry, cunning(ish) disguises, evil plans, poison and (a faked) death – you could be forgiven for immediately associating these plot devices with Shakespearean drama. They are also, however, some of the ingredients of L’Ormindo, a comic opera by early baroque composer Francesco Cavalli. As well as a distinctly Shakespearean plot, the opera now boasts another connection to the Bard; it is one of the diverse productions scheduled to christen the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in early 2014, in the first major collaboration between Shakespeare's Globe and the Royal Opera House.
The new indoor theatre - which was partially erected alongside the reconstructed Globe 15 years ago and has stood as a shell until now - has been built in the Jacobean style, using original plans attributed to a mid-17th century protégé of Covent Garden architect Inigo Jones authentic crafting methods. In a pleasingly baroque twist the plans of the theatre were allegedly discovered inside a library book during the 1960s at Worcester College, Oxford.
With its wooden, candlelit interior, the theatre will closely recreate a Jacobean indoor theatre, lending a whole different dimension to performances. Globe Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole discussed the benefits audiences could expect. ‘It’ll be extraordinarily intense to be in there’, he predicts. ‘We hope that this indoor theatre will revolutionize people’s perception of what theatre can be’. Theatre is just the start of it - with its small ensembles and intimate roots, the playhouse will also see performances of baroque music.
L'Ormindo itself results from Cavalli’s fruitful, lengthy collaboration with librettist Giovanni Faustini, whose strong stock characters made for entertaining plots. Unperformed in the UK for 50 years and rarely staged internationally, the opera is nonetheless a gem, written by a composer who in his lifetime enjoyed success throughout Europe. Raymond Leppard, who arranged the work for its first revival in 1967, laments in his book Raymond Leppard on Music that ‘of his [Cavalli's] many operas…virtually nothing is ever seen or heard’. All the better, then, that L’Ormindo will return in such style.
L'Ormindo runs from 25 March-12 April 2014 at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare's Globe. Tickets are still available.
The production is staged with generous philanthropic support from Sir Simon and Lady Robertson.