28 September 2010 at 11.11am | Comment on this article
Have a look at some pictures of our much anticipated new production of Niobe, regina di Tebe – the rarely performed baroque opera, now on stage (until 3 October). Niobe by the Italian Agostino Steffani (1654–1728) had its premiere in Munich in 1688, and had not been performed for centuries until recently rediscovered by baroque specialist Thomas Hengelbrock - the conductor of the work for the Royal Opera. The ROH production is based on Hengelbrock's 2008 production of Niobe for the Schwetzingen Festival in Germany. It uses similar staging and costumes redesigned for the larger stage at Covent Garden. There are some ingenious theatrical effects: fire, smoke, magical illusions, and giant floating helium balloons, which conjure the fantastical world of the baroque stage.
French soprano Vèronique Gens stars in the title role of the haughty Queen of Thebes whose terrible pride is her downfall. The Polish male soprano Jacek Laszczkowski is Anfione, her husband. They are joined by three male counter tenors in the roles of Clearte, Anfione’s advisor; Tiberino, a young prince; and Creonte, an invading prince who conquers Thebes with the aid of a wicked magician Polifernes. The opera ends in high tragedy as Niobe’s children are all slain by the Gods for Niobe’s hubris, and her husband Anfione commits suicide. Niobe is so grief stricken that she turns to stone. Her final aria as she slowly turns to a statue is one of the most moving and astonishing points in this forgotten masterpiece.
If you're interested to read more on Niobe, regina di tebe - head over to our Discover page.
You can also book tickets for the remaining performances here.