Project of the Month: Listening to Liszt’s lost opera for the first time in 170 years
Franz Liszt is one of the most renowned composers of the nineteenth century and is celebrated in his native Hungary. In 1845, he began composing an Italian opera but abandoned the project in 1852. Scholars concluded that the score, largely written in shorthand, could never be performed due to the material being fragmentary and seemingly indecipherable.
Project of the month
However, one tenacious academic, Dr David Trippett, funded through the European Research Council project DTHPS, spent three years deciphering the 115-page manuscript, resulting in the complete first act of Sardanapalo, an Italian opera based on Lord Byron’s Assyrian tragedy of 1821, Sardanapalus.
The world premiere of the opera took place in Weimar, Germany, on 19-20 August 2018 to widespread critical acclaim. Following its broadcast on Deutschlandfunk Kultur, the first recording of the work was released to the general public on 8 February 2019. Future performances are planned in America, Hungary and Serbia.
For more information, please see: https://www.cam.ac.uk/Lisztopera
“Unlike unfinished art, unfinished music needs performance to be experienced as music. It works through time. Quite early on, I began working with singers from Covent Garden to try out the emerging lines, tempi and articulation, to understand how the music fits into the voice. The music was born of great ambition and it sounds like that -- a unique blend of Italianate lyricism and harmonic innovation. There is nothing else quite like it in the operatic world.”
- Dr David Trippett
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