Life is a Dream

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

“The music, conducted by William Lacey and excellently played by an orchestra sitting in a mini bullring, is burblingly melodic, with some impassioned arias and big-hearted, musical theatre-style lusty choruses.”Fiona Maddocks | The Observer

 

An Opera in Three Acts

Libretto by Alasdair Middleton after the play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Commissioned by Birmingham Opera Company

World Premiere: Birmingham Opera Company, Birmingham, 21 March 2012

Life Is a Dream was commissioned by Graham Vick’s extraordinary Birmingham Opera Company for professionals and the people of Birmingham to perform together in a disused chemical works
in the city.

Jonathan Dove’s full-length operatic version of
Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s ‘philosophical play’ La vida es sueño with a libretto by Alasdair Middleton has echoes of 19th-century grand opera. The polarised struggles between father and son, freewill and predestination, dream and reality are passionately carried along with powerful choruses and strongly etched characters including a tour de force for bass-baritone in the role of the Prince.

The original orchestration, designed for the Birmingham production, is for 28 players, but in opera-house productions the opera may be performed with a conventional string section.

Synopsis

Prince Segismund has been imprisoned in a remote tower since his birth, and the only human face he has ever seen is that of his jailor. Then, one day, he wakes up in a palace, and finds himself king. Is this really happening? By the end of this eventful day, he has ordered the execution of his jailor, thrown a courtier out of the window, and attempted to rape the beautiful Rosaura. He wakes again to find himself locked up back in his tower. Was everything that happened just a dream? Is life itself a dream? But his story is not yet over…

A father fleeing destiny, a woman bent on vengeance, a man discovering himself.

Production History

Birmingham Opera Company, UK March 2012

Duration, Technical Information and Resources

Life Is A Dream (2012)

Opera in Three Acts | 120 minutes

Libretto by Alasdair Middleton after the play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

S.Mez.2T.B-Bar.B Soli—SATB Chorus

2(I&II=Picc).1.1.1(CBsn)—2.2.2.1—3Perc—Pf—Hp—Str(3.3.2.2.1 minimum)

2(II=Picc).2(II=CA).2(I=Eflat,II=SSax).2—4.3.3.1—Timp—3Perc—Pf(Cel)—2Acdn—Mand—Hp—Str(10.8.5.4.3)

Commissioned by Birmingham Opera Company

First performed 21 March 2012, Argyle Works, Birmingham

EP 72221

Roles

Rosaura Mezzo-soprano
Segismund Bass-baritone
Clotaldo Bass
Astolfo Tenor
Estella Soprano
King Basil Tenor
Guards, Supporters of Estella and Astolfo, People of Poland, Courtiers Chorus

Photos

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

Birmingham Opera Company (Donald Cooper)

Audio

Act 2, Scene 2: What if he’s right?

Act 3, Scene 3: Let’s dream a while of happiness.

Live Archive Recording, Birmingham Opera Company. • By kind permission of Birmingham Opera Company. www.birminghamopera.org.uk

Other

For further information

Contacts

General enquiries; commissioning, perusal and performance material; first point of contact UK and English-speaking territories outside Americas; principal composer contact:

Katie Tearle, Director of New Music
Tel: +44 (0)20 7553 4033   Email: katie.tearle@editionpeters.com

General enquiries; commissioning, perusal and performance material; first point of contact German-speaking territories:

Stefan Conradi, Neue Musik Promotion / Konzert, Bühne, Medien
Tel: +49 (0)69 63 00 99-41   Email: stefan.conradi@editionpeters.com

General enquiries, commissioning, perusal and performance material, first point of contact Americas:

Gene Caprioglio, Vice President for New Music and Rights
Tel: +1 (718) 416-7822   Email: gene.caprioglio@editionpeters.com

Media and rights enquiries:

Andrew Kemp, Head of Business Affairs
Tel: +44 (0)20 7553 4031   Email: andrew.kemp@editionpeters.com
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