Ross Halford

The Bicentenary of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi

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Don’t worry this isn’t one of those magazine columns where we take two historic figures and decide who would score higher. Nor is it a Celebrity Deathmatch (although, in my opinion, Wagner would win). No, it is of course our very own historic figure in present day Stephen Fry.

This year’s Deloitte Ignite, in partnership with the Royal Opera House have taken on Mr Fry to curate the 200th year of the birth of these two great and possibly, most influential composers of all time. It will be running from Friday 6 Septmeber – Sunday 29 September 2013, and will include Simon Callow, Julian Joseph, Stephen Fry and his QI Counterpart, Alan Davies to name but a few.

Here is a listing of what is going on during those days:

• 6-30 September – The Ring Cyclotrope. A wondrous, kinetic innovation from theatre designer Es Devlin. Most famed for her work on the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony, Devlin brings Wagners powerful operas, Der Ring des Nibelungen and Die Walküre. A beautiful 21st century interpretation on a 19th century invention.

• 6-28 September – Inside Wagner’s Head. Following his acclaimed performance of the one-man show, Being Shakespeare, Simon Callow is back to represent Richard Wagner, an exploration of the great composer and his convoluted life, from love to exile; this special show has been specially commissioned for Deloitte Ignite.

• 7-9 September – various attractions at the Royal Opera House including: a magnificent exhibition of people (just like me and you) singing Verdi’s, Va Pensiero: The comedy-dance duo, New Art Club giving their take on several of Verdi’s operas: Workshops on percussion and singing based on the Anvil Chorus; and so much more.

• 14 – 15 September – Tickets may be sold out but The Royal Opera House will be live streaming a debate held by Stephen Fry, and featuring Norman Lebrecht and Phillip Hensher, to discuss the two composers joint bicentenary, and of course their expansive masterpieces.

• 22 – 23 September – Julian Joseph, Composer and Jazz Pianist will perform a special one off concert in the Linbury Studio, a beautiful musical interpretation of Tristan and Isolde.

• 29 September – Stephen Fry, takes his favoured panelist, Alan Davies, hooks them both up to machines being watched over by a team of neurologists to discover what exactly happens when we listen to classical music, especially Simon Boccanegra by Verdi.


So if you enjoy Classical Music, then you undoubtedly enjoy these two powerhouses of musical evolution. This is just a snippet of what else will be going on the entire month, for more information visit the Royal Opera Houses’ website. Just remember to take your houseplants; they need days out too.

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