The London museum is collaborating with the Royal Opera House to examine 400 years of opera. 

Picture 001
“Milano” from the series “Fratelli d’Italia” (2005-2016). (c)Matthias Schaller. 

Opening at the museum from the 30th September, this landmark exhibition will be the first to explore the world of opera on a grand scale.

Taking visitors on a journey through nearly 400 years of opera history, Opera: Passion, Power and Politics will take visitors through some key moments in the history of European opera from its roots in Renaissance Italy all the way through to the present day.

The exhibition will focus on seven important operatic premieres in seven cities, revealing along the way how opera can bring together several different art forms as well as how social, political, artistic and economic factors interact with great moments in the history of opera to tell a story of Europe over hundreds of years.

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics will bring together over 300 different objects to tell this story and will include several important loans. Highlights of the display will include Salvador Dali’s costume design for Peter Brook’s 1949 production of Salome; Music in the Tuileries Gardens by Edouard Manet, the original score of Verdi’s Nabuccofrom the Archivio Storico Ricordi in Milan and one of two surviving scores from the first public opera (L’incoronazione di Poppea).

Along the way, visitors will also experience world-leading opera performances through headphones, changing as they move through the exhibition’s selected cities and objects including a new recording of the Royal Opera Chorus singing ‘Va pensiero’ (the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco. 

It will be the first exhibition to be displayed in the museum’s purpose-built Sainsbury Gallery, opening beneath the new Sackler Courtyard as part of the Exhibition Road Building Project.

Kate Bailey, V&A curator of the exhibition, said: “Opera: Passion, Power and Politics will be an ambitious exhibition from the V&A, the world-leader in innovative performance exhibitions. We are delighted to be working so closely with the Royal Opera House, drawing together their expertise with the V&A’s broad collections to bring the total art form of opera to life in a stunning new space”

The exhibition’s seven cities and premieres are: Venice – Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, 1642, London – Handel’s Rinaldo, 1711, Vienna – Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, 1786, Milan – Verdi’s Nabucco, 1842, Paris – Wagner’s Tannhäuser, 1861, Dresden – Strauss’ Salome, 1905, St Petersburg – Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, 1934.

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum from the 30th September until the 25th February 2018. To book tickets visit: Love Theatre.com

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