There is a new opera festival in the city named… well… Opera in the city. It description says: will show innovative takes on rarely performed masterpieces as well as new and experimental works. Yesterday we have a take on the former: a couple of operatic masterpieces not commonly set nowadays.

The double bill started with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart & Salieri, you know, the opera based on the same Pushkin’s drama which Amadeus was based on too. So you know the drama: Salieri poisoning Mozart. The original Russian text was translated into English, which fits well, as the vocal lines are very in spoken-style. The orchestra part was reduced into piano and viola. Nick Dwyer as Salieri and Roger Paterson as Mozart sang very well, with a lot of emphasis on the drama and acting in a very convincing way. The whole stage directing, while simple, was very well though and powerful.

The second part of the bill was Zanetto, a very short opera from Pietro Mascagni. It was the first time on my life listening to it and… wow… the music is so beautiful! What a sense for the melody Mascagni had! The story is simple: the encounter between the rich Silvia and a wandering poet Zanetto (performed by a woman to reflect the youth). The original text was set during the Renaissance, far from the verismo present in other Mascagni works, but here the English translation moved it 20th century London.

Becca Marriott singing Silvia was terrific, perfect voice, very well projected and amazing musicality. Sophie Goldrick in the role of Zanetto was also very good. Staging was intelligent helping in showing the characters interaction. Again the musical part was a piano a viola reduction that sounded very well.

This first visit to the Opera in the City festival at the Bridewell Theatre was a very nice experience. It was a pity seeing empty seats. With a price of only 15£f it should be totally sold out. Maybe as it is a newcomer not many londoners know about it. So if you are reading this, tonight 3rd of August is your last change to see this couple of gems. And you could also go to the next week Zemlinsky’s A Florentine Tragedy that also looks promising.