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The history of opera in an amazing exhibition: Passion, Power and Politics

March 16th, 2017 / by / in: Exquisite experiences / No responses

Salvador Dali’s costume design, the original score of Verdi’s Nabucco, digital footage of compelling opera performance and a new recording of the Royal Opera Chorus, experienced in a 360-degree sound installation: these are some of the highlights of one grandiose exhibition taht will be held at Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  (photo up: Ensemble in “Spaceship” at the dress rehearsal of Einstein on the Beach Philip Glass in collaboration Robert Wilson Dorothy Chandler Pavilion  / © Lawrence K. Ho Los Angeles Times / Getty Images)

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics will be the first exhibition staged in the V&A’s purpose-built Sainsbury Gallery and it will be open for visitors between 30 September 2017 – 25 February 2018. 

This autumn, the Victoria and Albert Museum, in collaboration with the Royal Opera House, will create a vivid and immersive journey through nearly 400 years of opera, exploring its passion, power and politics. The only exhibition ever to explore opera on a grand scale, it will immerse visitors in some key moments of the history of European opera from its roots in Renaissance Italy to its present-day form, by focusing on seven operatic premieres in seven cities.

Barbara Hannigan in "Written on Skin". Director Katie Mitchell, designer Vicki Mortimer / © 2012 ROH Stephen Cummiskey

Barbara Hannigan in “Written on Skin”. Director Katie Mitchell, designer Vicki Mortimer / © 2012 ROH Stephen Cummiskey

More than 300 extraordinary objects, including important international loans, will be shown alongside digital footage of compelling opera performances. Objects on display include Salvador Dali’s costume design for Peter Brook’s 1949 production of Salome; Music in the Tuileries Gardens by Edouard Manet, a masterpiece of modernist painting contextualising Wagner’s modern approach to music in 1860s Paris; the original score of Verdi’s Nabucco from the Archivio Storico Ricordi in Milan; and one of two surviving scores from the first public opera (L’incoronazione di Poppea) will be on display. Original material from the 1934 St Petersburg premiere of Shostakovich’s avant-garde Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk will be reunited and displayed outside Russia for the first time: these include the composer’s original autograph score, along with stage directions, libretto, set models and costume designs.

Nadja Michael as Salome Royal Opera House, London, 2008 ROH / © Robbie Jack - Corbis. Corbis Entertainmen. Getty Images

Nadja Michael as Salome Royal Opera House, London, 2008 ROH / © Robbie Jack – Corbis. Corbis Entertainmen. Getty Images

But this is not all: world-leading opera performances will be played via headphones, dynamically changing as you explore the cities and objects, to create an evocative and fully immersive sound experience. The exhibition will include a powerful new recording of the Royal Opera Chorus singing ‘Va pensiero’ (the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco, experienced in a 360-degree sound installation.

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