Hans Werner Henze's 'The Bassarids',
reviewed by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
Teatro dell'Opera di Roma usually selects a rather well-known title to inaugurate its season. The opera chosen is generally not very long to allow for extended intermissions and dinner parties where ladies can show their evening dresses and gentlemen their tuxedos. This year, the new management team made the bold decision to start the season with Hans Werner Henze's two hour one act tragedy The Bassarids in its original English version. In Italy, The Bassarids was performed only once — in La Scala's 1967-68 season — for a few evenings, and in a German translation. Bravery is often rewarded. At the 27 November 2015 inauguration, I was in a very full theatre with an unusual audience: tuxedos, long evening dress, dark suits and very casual attire, including jeans and cardigans. Also in the audience were quite a few young people, due to special arrangements made with their schools. The two hours elapsed in full silence due to the tension of the libretto (by W H Auden and Chester Kallman, after Euripides' tragedy The Bacchae and of the enthralling music; then the audience erupted in a ten minute standing ovation, even though a few old subscribers appeared disgruntled.
Copyright © 30 November 2015 Giuseppe Pennisi,