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Posts by John Snelson

Why film directors love Italian opera

28 November 2017
Why film directors love Italian opera

It’s often said that a good film score is one you don’t directly notice, but in Raging Bull and The Godfather, the music is front and centre.

More than pitch: operatic voices

12 October 2017
More than pitch: operatic voices

Do you know your mezzo-soprano from your countertenor? Discover the subtleties of opera's voice types

‘Heads will roll’: Oriental theatre and the staging of Puccini’s Turandot

6 July 2017
‘Heads will roll’: Oriental theatre and the staging of Puccini’s <em>Turandot</em>

References to China, Chinese theatre and Eastern imagery run through Andrei Serban's production of Turandot.

Don Carlo musical highlight: the Grand Inquisitor duet

16 May 2017
<em>Don Carlo</em> musical highlight: the Grand Inquisitor duet

This riveting and sonorous duet for two basses sees two great forces face-off for who shall have ultimate power.

Waltzing down the years: the powerful symbolism of Vienna's defining dance

1 January 2017
Waltzing down the years: the powerful symbolism of Vienna's defining dance

From seductive to nostalgic – the fortunes of the quintessential Viennese dance have influenced how we view Der Rosenkavalier.

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

24 November 2016
Painting with music: How Tchaikovsky used the orchestra to create unrivalled ballet scores

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

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

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

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

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
<em>Tosca</em> Musical Highlight: The Te Deum

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
<em>Cavalleria rusticana</em> Musical Highlight: The Easter Hymn

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
<em>Pagliacci</em> Musical Highlight: ‘Vesti la giubba’

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
The Shipping Cues: Why ships on stage make great drama

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

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

Andrea Chénier Musical Highlight – The Act III Trial Scene

19 January 2015
Andrea Chénier Musical Highlight – The Act III Trial Scene

Giordano's music has a cinematic sweep in his depiction of the riotous trial where his hero is unjustly sentenced to death.

Ballet in Bloom: The Flower Waltz

24 December 2014
Ballet in Bloom: The Flower Waltz

Ballet choreographers have long loved to craft swirling floral patterns for the corps de ballet, set to a waltz's gentle lilt.

Un ballo in maschera musical highlight: The Laughing Chorus in Act II

9 December 2014
Un ballo in maschera musical highlight: The Laughing Chorus in Act II

Verdi’s music for the chorus ‘Ve’, se di notte’ shows how laughter can be used to heighten tragedy.

The ‘Tristan Chord’: the most significant chord in Western music?

20 November 2014
The ‘Tristan Chord’: the most significant chord in Western music?

Wagner is credited with changing the course of Western music in just four notes, but what turned a chord into a musical icon?

How to be perfect: Androids, humans and the danger of the ideal

13 November 2014
How to be perfect: Androids, humans and the danger of the ideal

Søren Nils Eichberg’s opera Glare explores a recurrent issue in science fiction - what do you do if you can't tell who is real?

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