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Orpheus and l'Orfeo - an investigation of opera's relationship with Classics

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With Xavier Hetherington (tenor).

Everyone knows of Operas based on Classical mythology. But the relationship between these two great pillars of western culture is more nuanced than just the borrowing of stories. Monteverdi's Orfeo is sometimes said to be the first operatic masterwork and Handel wrote countless operas on Classical subjects. Strauss, Purcell, Britten and Turnage add to the list and create a chain which leads from opera's conception to the present day. Each of these composers is creating something new and unknown from the old and known. 

This lecture will get into the nitty-gritty of their inspiration, tackling central questions: how did the composers of opera use the stories of antiquity to produce new and different works? What was lost in that translation and what was gained? Why did they choose this group of stories in particular? Were there stylistic as well as narrative borrowings? Are such stories and such operas still of interest today?  

 Xavier Hetherington studied Classics at Cambridge and is now in his second year at the Royal College of Music.