An Opera Odyssey

The four century history of opera from Peri and Monteverdi to Birtwistle, Bruči, and Tkach

About the series

An Opera Odyssey is a prodigious production undertaking by Elbrus TV – a boutique production company specialising in documentary making within the realms of classical music, literature, and history. It will represent the most substantial, significant, and meaningful visual history of opera ever to be produced.

Viewers will see how the communicative power of opera with its intoxicating mix of live orchestral music, the unique quality of the human voice, poetry-like stories, and inspiring stage designs, affects us both intellectually and emotionally. And it will demonstrate how we need all of these elements to coalesce to give us a true opera experience.

Being filmed in more than 40 countries, the four-season series will bring viewers on an unrivalled journey through the four-century history of this rich and multifaceted musical genre in an insightful and approachable manner. Viewers will learn not only of opera’s development from the late 1590’s in an alluring, at times amusing, and always engaging way – but also how vocal technique evolved, how the role of the orchestra changed through time, and they will gain a valuable insight into the lives of the great composers, who quite paradoxically, are frequently little more than a footnote in opera programmes, to say nothing of the librettists.

We will be bring our cameras inside some of the most opulent and majestic opera houses giving viewers unparalleled, behind the scenes access. They will be enlightened by musicologists, conductors, musicians, operatic singers, archivists, designers, and museum curators.

But far more than being a series solely with an emphasis on the troika of composers, operas, and singers, we will also explore the socio-political, philosophical, economic, religious, and aesthetic factors of the genre. We look at human behaviour by examining some notable operatic characters and try to ascertain if they were inherently bad or mentally disturbed. And given opera’s penchant for murder and mourning, we take a look at how some poor unfortunates met their end.

Uniquely, Opera Odyssey is a Massive Open Participatory Arts Project in which the public, as well as corporate entities, can play an invaluable part and leave a lasting educational legacy, by supporting our Friends & Patrons programme and product placement initiative.

A Word from our Music Director

In spite of, or maybe thanks to, Hermann Hesse’s Age of Feuilleton, opera is an integral part of modern society: starting with theatrical representations in the dawn of western culture, opera, in its various forms, moved through centuries, wars, political and cultural turmoils growing as one of the most popular artform expressions.

Sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic, sometimes tragic, opera traverses the entire spectrum of human emotions, summing up history in just a few hours: from Monteverdi’s Orfeo through Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte to Puccini’s Turandot and all the way to Bruci’s Gilgamesh we can observe history – our own history – through the glass of time, recognizing ourselves in all those characters that are nothing but a mirror exposing our flaws, our regrets, our passions, and making us love life to its very core.

Opera Odyssey is a fantastically inspiring journey, a coup de théâtre in the age of tweets that is bound to fascinate newcomers and aficionados alike, enticing them into exploring more of the magic of opera, and to realize that their stories, our stories, the composers’ stories are everything but one: the story of humankind.

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Our Team

MUSIC DIRECTOR
Maestro Gianmaria Griglio

ASSOCIATE CONDUCTOR
Miriam Němcová

TV DIRECTOR
Gerard Patrick

PRODUCTION MANAGER
Dina Šnejdarová

FLOOR MANAGER
Zdeňka Horáčková

LEAD CAMERA OPERATOR
Anthony Ryan

PROPERTY MANAGER
Paul Johnson

MUSIC LIBRARIAN
Emilie Kratochvílová

RECORDING ENGINEER
Adaq Khan

ARTIST LIAISON
Alex Campbell

SET DESIGN
Nikolai V. Ivanov

DATA MANAGER
Mehdi Adlany

EDITORS & COLOURISTS
Neva Post Production

ARTIST & CARICATURIST
Alexander Novoseltsev

GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Biljana Nedelkovska

PRODUCTION SECRETARY
Ger O’Connor

A Glimpse into Season 1

Far more than an exploration of opera, the series showcases the development of music itself in Europe from the Middle Ages, to the Renaissance, and Baroque era.

Temple of Dionysus

Where it all began - Ancient Greece.  Granted the influence on opera took a millennia or two to take effect, but Season 1 will open here, in the Temple of Dionysus, where viewers will learn about Ancient Greek theatre and its import to opera as we know it today. Also featured will be the Epidaurus Theatre.

Baroque Theatres

Viewers of Season 1 will have an exclusive backstage access to some of the most beautiful Baroque theatres in Europe.  In fact two are older, being from the Renaissance period.  They will learn of how theatres developed and how today, despite the pull of technology, they remain so crucial to our love of public performance.

Period Instruments

It may surprise some, that period instruments of the baroque era are still played to this day - more than three centuries later.  Season 1 will feature a selection of these and viewers will learn about them from distinguished virtuosi as well as hearing them played in intimate settings.

Composers & Librettists

The lives, times, and works of thirteen Baroque era composers and ten of their librettists are explored to reveal the rich tapestry of European music in the 17th and early 18th centuries.

What to expect

We begin by looking at what influenced and nourished the birth of opera in the final years of the 1500's. For that we need to travel back to ancient Greece however, and the theatres of Dionysus (6th century BC) in Athens, built on the southern slope of the Acropolis hill, and of Epidaurus (4th century BC) near modern day Lygourio. It was in the times of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero that this refined civilisation held music and theatre in such high esteem, which ultimately, albeit two millennia later, was such a pivotal catalyst in the development of opera.

The series then moves on to the Middle Ages and explores how music was used in liturgical drama and mystery plays, before we arrive at the real genesis of opera during the Renaissance period. We visit Ferrara in Italy where in the late 15th century, the earliest of the important precursors of opera - the intermedio - took place. From here we look at the Medici family in Florence and Gonzaga family in Mantua, and go on to discuss the Florentine Camerata, two of the members of which, Guilio Caccini and Jacopo Peri, wrote some of the earliest operas.

At the core of Season 1 is the first of four operatic eras that form the basis of the entire Opera Odyssey series - Baroque. But to give it context, we look too at the Baroque style as it was reflected in painting, architecture, sculpture, and dance. Also featured in Season 1 is a look at the history of the Teatro San Cassiano, the first public opera house which opened in 1637, and the wonderfully exciting plans to rebuild it.

We discuss how dramma per musica suffered Papal sanction; how new musical forms evolved, such as monody, recitative, and aria; and how other European countries developed their own operatic traditions. We discuss for example, the French divertissements and tragédie lyrique, and the English masques. We dedicate one episode to the phenomenon of the Castrati, and look at the lives of some of the more famed singers. It leads to a discussion on voice types in opera. We look at the lives of two early female stars - Madama Europa and Anna Renzi. Also discussed will be some of the period instruments which are still played today and we are delighted that viewers will have the opportunity of learning about them and hear them played by eminent musicians. And of course, we look at the lives of the renowned Baroque era composers as well as their librettists, as we discuss 33 of their operas.

Filming for Season 1 starts in the beautiful city of Prague in August 2021 when we will record a selection of baroque arias that will be featured throughout the episodes. We are indebted to Dr. Lukáš Vendl, Deputy Director, and the staff of the Prague Conservatory, for welcoming us to film in such an august institution. Our sincere thanks too to the Praga Sinfonietta Orchestra and its founder Miriam Němcová for their renowned scholarship and professionalism that they will bring to the aria recording.

Opera's Extraordinary Phenomenon

Season 1 will feature the lives of some of the most famous castrasti including Senesino, Gaetano Majorano, Nicolò Grimaldi, Gioacchino Conti, Giovanni Carestini, Antonio Bernacchi, Francesco Pistocchi and, perhaps the most famous all, Farinelli (1705-1782). This was the stage name of Carlo Maria Michelangelo Nicola Broschi, one of the greatest singers in the history of opera.  Listen to the podcast below to learn more about the extraordinary phenomenon of the castrati.

A Philanthropic Project

The Opera Odyssey project is a non-profit and philanthropic undertaking for our production company. We are very pleased that upon its completion, Opera Odyssey will provide substantial support for the sterling work of the renowned charity Musicians Without Borders. We fully support and are committed to the charity's mission in using the power of music to bridge divides, connect communities, and heal the wounds of war.

PRAGUE CONSERVATORY

The baroque aria recording will take place in the Prague Conservatory and we extend our sincerest appreciation to Dr. Lukáš Vendl, Deputy Director, and all the staff , for working with us to make the Opera Odyssey series truly innovational.

No strangers to the conservatory will be the players of the Praga Sinfonietta Orchestra and its founder Miriam Němcová, who will work with us over the next few years in proving the music to the subsequent seasons in the series.  But furthermore, they will collaborate on two festivals with us.  One featuring the music of Alexander Scriabin (in 2021) and the other, the music of Dmitry Shostakovich (in 2025).

SOME OF OUR EXEMPLARY SINGERS

Jan 2020

AUDITIONS

OUR GRACIOUS THANKS

Opera Odyssey is most grateful to all of the opera singers who attended our auditions in Dublin at the end of January (2020). The staggering depth of talent exceeded our wildest expectations. We sincerely thank all of the singers for their interest and support, as well as for their invaluable help in promoting and sharing our website, and joining us on Twitter.

We are also indebted to our most distinguished panel of judges: Maestro Gianmaria Griglio, the acclaimed Violetta Lazin, and the renowned Prizrenka McCray. Their dedication and hospitality towards the singers was matched by a most diligent selection process beforehand, to select 60 for the live auditions from more than 220 singers who had applied.

CHECK OUT SOME SINGERS' WEBSITES

ARIAS BEING FEATURED

Baroque
(Season 1)

Opprimete i contumaci
Son pien di giubilo
Lascia ch’io pianga
Dover, giustizia, amor
Revenez, Amours
Disprezzata regina
Sempre in contrasti
When I am laid
Aux langueurs d’Apollon Daphne
Sussurrando il venticello

Classical & Belcanto
(Season 2)

Casta diva
E che? Io sono Medea!
Una furtiva lagrima
Che faro’ senza Euridice
Rachel quand du Seigneur
Oh, wie will ich triumphieren
Mi tradi’ quell’alma ingrata
Largo al factotum
Nell’impero di Cupido

Romantic
(Season 3)

Votre toast
Song to the Moon
M’appari tutt’amor
Death of Boris
Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix
Kuda kuda
Bella figlia dell’amore
Credo in un Dio crudel
Dich teure Halle
Die Frist ist um
Durch die Wälder, durch die Auen

Verismo & beyond
(Season 4)

Now the great bear
Acerba volutta’
Nemico della patria
Marcello mio
To this we’ve come
Si’ morir ella d’e’
E lucevan le stelle
In questa reggia
Sein wir wieder gut
Aria of Katerina Izmailova act I

After the Prague aria recording....

is when the ‘road trip’, commences.  Far from being a leisure and recreational sabbatical, our journey will see us filming in 10 countries, but passing through a few more.  It is on this journey that the majority of the programme content will be acquired –  filming in theatres, galleries, museums, archives, and historic buildings, as well as recording over 60 contributors to season 1.  We will have the pleasure of working with eminent scholars and subject matter experts, which will bring so much added value to the production.

Staying on schedule will be a challenge, to say nothing of the language and cultural considerations.  The series director has recently completed a course of study on International Project Management (thanks to Rochester Institute of Technology), to best ensure that all stakeholders interests from our Opera Odyssey Friends to Corporate Patrons and broadcasters are represented and protected.

Gala Concerts

a celebration of four centuries of opera

Opera devotees and those new to opera, will be able to enjoy a more than five-hour festivity celebrating 400 years of opera.  The Inaugural Gala will be presented in the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic.

Sadly, due to the current global predicament of plagues, pestilence, and pandemics, we are unable to give a definitive date for the inaugural gala concert or subsequent ones.  March 2022 for the Prague Gala is our aspiration.  But if you subscribe below for concert updates, we will let you know as soon as we have more information. (This subscription is not necessary if you are already a newsletter subscriber).

FRIENDS

By being part of a society that values the heritage of classical music and how it enriches and impacts favourably on our lives, the Friends of Opera Odyssey are vital in ensuring the promotion of opera for generations to come.  Our Friends are cultural collaborators of this entertaining and comprehensive educational resource, and as such, they make a valuable worldwide cultural and artistic contribution.

CORPORATE PATRONS

Opera Odyssey’s Corporate Patrons provide significant and strategic operational support to this breath-taking project. In particular, patrons ensure the series documents recherché operatic works, that are so vital to a comprehensive history. In light of that, Opera Odyssey works intently and diligently with corporate entities across the continent and beyond, to ensure we best meet our patrons’ specific business goals across a range of media. 

PRODUCT PLACEMENT

ALEXANDER NOVOSELTSEV

We are truly honoured to be working with the celebrated artist and caricaturist Alexander Novoseltsev. Alexander will paint respectful caricatures of the more noted composers featured in our series, as well as scenes from many of operas discussed.

We will be making the artworks available as giclée fine art prints, both as general release paper prints, and limited edition canvas prints, (limited to 25 copies each). These will be available through this website commencing in 2021, and their sale will be a significant support in the funding of the Opera Odyssey project.

The Opera Odyssey Book

Accompanying the TV series, but being published to coincide with the launch of Season 1, is the Opera Odyssey book.  It will resemble nothing like you have ever seen before.  A limited edition, large format, lavishly illustrated, glorious work on opera’s history, it will be an expression of excellence and beauty. Written in an authoritative yet approachable style, the book will be a veritable treasure trove of opera’s life from its earliest times.

And for a truly exceptional experience, some may be interested in the Exclusive Edition, of which only 100 are being produced.  Quarter bound in fine Moroccan leather, with gilt-edged pages, this exquisite volume is presented in a hand-made clamshell box.

Teatro San Cassiano

Opera Odyssey is not the only innovate opera project in progress. We urge you to have a look at the magnificent and praise-worthy plan to reconstruct the original Teatro San Cassiano (1637) in Venice, not only as prized attraction in itself, but also to stage historically informed performances of baroque opera.

Featured composers by era: BaroqueClassical & BelcantoRomanticVerismo & beyond

Caccini
Caldara
Cavalli
Galuppi
Handel
Lully
Monteverdi
Pepusch
Pergolesi
Peri
Purcell
Rameau
Scarlatti

Beethoven
Bellini
Berezovsky
Cherubini
Cimarosa
Donizetti
Eggert
Giordani
Gluck
Gretry
Marcus Portugal
Mozart
Paisiello
Piccinni
Rossini
Salieri
Spontini

Auber
Balfe
Berlioz
Bizet
Boieldieu
Borodin
Carrer
Chabrier
Charpentier
Cornelius
de Sarno
Delibes
Dvorak
Glinka
Gounod
Halevy
Humperdinck
Keil
Lalo
Marschner
Massenet
Meyerbeer
Moniuszko
Mussorgsky
Nani
Nicolai
Rimsky-Korsakov
Samaras
Smetana
Taneyev
Tchaikovsky
Thomas
Verdi
von Flotow
von Weber
Wagner
Wallace
Zajc
Zelenski

Aav
Adams
Albeniz
Antanasov
Bajić
Barber
Bartok
Berg
Berio
Bibalo
Birtwistle
Boito
Boughton
Braen, Edvard
Bretan
Britten
Bruči
Busoni
Buys
Catalani
Cilea
Dallapiccola
Davies
De Falla
Debussy
Delius
Dukas
Enescu
Gerschwin
Giordano
Glass
Gotovac
Granados
Hajibeyov
Henze
Hindemith
Holst
Honegger
Hristic
Huber
Jakova
Janacek
Joplin
Kalniņš
Karnavicius
Ketting
Klova
Kodaly
Kokkonen
Konjović
Korngold
Krenek
Leoncavallo
Ligeti
Madetoja
Makedonski
Mariotte
Martinu
Mascagni
Menotti
Messiaen
Moruzi
Nielsen
O'Dwyer
Osterc
Paliashvili
Papandopulo
Penderecki
Pfitzner
Pijper
Ponchielli
Poulenc
Prokofiev
Puccini
Rangström
Rautavaara
Ravel
Riemann
Schjelderup
Schoenberg
Schreker
Shostakovich
Spendiaryan
Statkowski
Strauss, Richard
Stravinsky
Suchoň
Szymanowski
Taktakishvili
Tippett
Tkach
Ullmann
van Gilse
Vaughan Williams
von Einem
von Zemlinsky
Walton
Weill
Wolf-Ferrari
Zimmermann

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The Operas

When looking for the names of operas, please be aware they may not be listed here in English.
For example, Mozart’s The Magic Flute is featured here as Die Zauberflöte.

Acis and Galatea
Agrippina
Alcina
Almira
Ariodante
Atys
Bellerophon
Dafne
Dido and Aeneas
Giasone
Giulio Cesare
Gustavo primo, re di Svezia
Hippolyte et Aricie
Il filosofo di campagna
Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria
Il Tigrane
La Calisto
La clemenza di Tito
La liberazione di Ruggiero
La serva padrona
Les Indes galantes
L’incoronazione di Poppea
L’Orfeo
Orlando
Ormindo
Platee
Rinaldo
Rodelinda
Semele
Serse
Tamerlano
The Beggar’s Opera
The Fairy Queen

Alceste
Anna Bolena
Armida
Armide
Bastien und Bestienne
Beatrice de Tenda
Cosi fan tutte
Demofonte
Der Schauspieldirekor
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Die Zauberflöte
Don Giovanni
Don Pasquale
Europa Riconosciutta
Falstaff
Fidelio
Genius of Ireland
I Capuleti e I Montecchi
I puritani
Idomeneo
Il barbiere di Siviglia
Il barbiere di Siviglia
Il matrimonio segreto
Il pirata
Il re pastore
Il Turco in Italia
Iphigenie en Aulide
Iphigenie en Tauride
La buona figliuola
La Cenerentola
La clemenza di Tito
La donna del lago
La favorite
La fille du regiment
La finta giardiniera
La gazza ladra
La Huron
La scala di seta
La siege de Corinthe
La sonnambula
La straniera
La vestale
Le nozze di Figaro
L’elisir d’amore
Les Danaides
L’italiana in Algeri
Lucia di Lammermoor
Lucio Silla
Lucrezia Borgia
Maometto II
Maria Stuarda
Medee
Mitridate, re di Ponto
Mosè in Egitto
Norma
Orfeo ed Euridice
Otello
Roberto Devereux
Semiramide
Silvain
Svante Sture och Märta Leijonhufvud
Tancredi
The marriage of Figaro

A life for the Tsar
Agnese Visconti
Aida
Attila
Balkanska Carica
Benvenuto Cellini
Boris Godunov
Carmen
Cendrillon
Dalibor
Das Liebesverbot
Das Rheingold
Der Barbier von Bagdad
Der fliegende Hollander
Der Freischütz
Der Vampyr
Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor
Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg
Die Walküre
Don Carlos
Don Quichotte
Ernani
Eugene Onegin
Euryanthe
Falstaff
Faust
Flora Mirabilis
Fra’ Diavolo
Goplana
Götterdämmerung
Halka
Hamlet
Hansel und Gretel
Haunted Manor
Herodiade
I Lombardi alla prima crociata
Il Trovatore
Iolanta
Isabella d’Aspeno
Khovanshchina
Konigskinder
La dame blanche
La damnation de Faust
La forza del destino
La Juive
La Martire
La Traviata
L’Africaine
Lakme
Le prophete
Le roi d’Ys
Le roi malgre lui
Les Huguenots
Les pecheurs de perles
Les Troyens
Les vepres siciliennes
L’etoile
Lohengrin
Louise
Luisa Miller
Macbeth
Maid of Orleans
Manon
Maritana
Martha
Mazepa
Mignon
Mireille
Nabucco
Nikola Subic Zrinski
Oberon
Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio
Oresteia
Otello
Parsifal
Prince Igor
Rienzi, der letzte der Tribunen
Rigoletto
Robert le diable
Romeo et Juliette
Rusalka
Ruslan and Lyudmila
Sadko
Serrana
Siegfried
Simon Boccanegra
Stiffelio
Tannhäuser
Thais
The Bartered Bride
The Bohemian Girl
The Devil and Kate
The Golden Cockerel
The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh
The Queen of Spades
The Snow Maiden
The Two Widows
Tristan und Isolde
Un ballo in maschera
Un giorno di regno
Werther

A Hand of Bridge
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A village Romeo and Juliet
Abesalom da Eteri
Adriana Lecouvreur
Albert Herring
Almast
Amahl and the Night Visitors
Andrea Chenier
Anne Pedersdotter
Anthony and Cleopathra
Antigone
Arabella
Ariadne auf Naxos
Ariane et Barbe-bleue
Baņuta
Billy Budd
Bluebeard’s Castle
Boulevard Solitude
Capriccio
Cardillac
Cavalleria rusticana
Čerëmuški
Dantons Tod
Death in Venice
Der ferne Klang
Der Kaiser von Atlantis
Der Rosenkavalier
Der Simplicius
Der Zwerg
Dialogues des Carmelites
Die Frau ohne Schatten
Die Schneider von Schönau
Die Soldaten
Die tote Stadt
Doktor Faust
Edgar
Edipo re
Eine florentinische Tragödie
Einstein on the beach
Eithne
Elektra
Ero s onoga svijeta
Erwartung
Fedora
From the House of the Dead
Gawain
Gergana
Gianni Schicchi
Gilgamesh
Goce
Goyescas
Grazina
Halewijn
Hary Janos
Il prigioniero
Il Tabarro
Intermezzo
Ithaka
Jenufa
Jonny spielt auf
Julietta
Kata Kabanova
King Roger
Knez Ivo od Semberije
Koštana
Krog s kredo
Kronbruden
Krútňava
La bohème
La bohème
La Dolores
La fanciulla del West
La Gioconda
La Rondine
La Vida breve
La voix humaine
La Wally
Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District
L’amico Fritz
Le Grand Macabre
Le Villi
Lear
L’enfant et les sortileges
Les enfants terrible
Les mamelles de Tiresias
Leyli and Majnun
L’heure espagnole
Luceafărul
Lulu
Madama Butterfly
Manon Lescaut
Maria
Maskarade
Mathis der Maler
Mefistofele
Merlin
Mindia
Moses und Aron
Mrika
Nixon in China
Oedipe
Oedipus Rex
Owen Wingrave
Pagliacci
Palestrina
Pelleas et Melisande
Pepita Jimenez
Pescarii din Sulina
Peter Grimes
Pilenai
Pohjalaisia – The Ostrobothnians
Porgy and Bess
Punch and Judy
Riders to the Sea
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogonny
Saint Francois d’Assise
Salomè
Salomè
Saul og David
Savitri
Sly
Spring night
Sunčanica
Suor Angelica
Suton
Tavener
The Bassarids
The Bear
The Consul
The Cunning Little Vixen
The Devils of Loudun
The Fiery Angel
The Immortal Hour
The Knot Garden
The last temptations
The Lighthouse
The Love for Three Oranges
The Makropulos Affair
The Mask of Orpheus
The Medium
The Midsummer Marriage
The Nightengale
The Nose
The Pilgrim’s Progress
The Rake’s Progress
The Rape of Lucretia
The smile at the foot of the ladder
The Telephone
The Threepenny Opera
The Turn of the Screw
Thijl
Tosca
Treemonisha
Troilus and Cressida
Turandot
Un re in ascolto
Unchiul meu din Paris
Vanessa
Vikerlased
Vincent
War and Peace
Wozzeck
Zaza

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