Friday, December 27, 2019

George Humphreys sings lead drag role in Donizetti's Viva la Diva

George Humphreys' shirtless curtain call in Glass' The Trial
British barihunk George Humphreys just wrapped up a successful run in Carl Maria von Weber's Oberon at the Salzburger Landestheater, where is a member of the ensemble.

He will next appear with the company in Donizetti's comedy Viva la Diva, whose original title was the mouthful Le convenienze e le inconvenienze teatrali (Conventions and Inconveniences of the Stage). Performances start on February 8 and run through April 2.

Donizetti wrote the lead role of La Diva (aka Agata) for a baritone, which opens up another level of comedy as the singer performs in drag. As the drama unfolds and the jealousies come to a head, it is up to La Diva  to rescue an evening at a theater company trying to mount an opera. Donizetti chose a subject that allowed him to compose both virtuosic and parodistic music.

The opera became a great success after its 1827 world premiere in Naples and 1831 performances in Milan, but was soon forgotten. Regular performances did not resume until 1963. Recent performance include a 2015 production at the Volksoper Wien and one at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 2017. The National Theatre Prague is currently staging the opera with Roman Hoza in the title role.

The Salzburger Landestheater produces its own version of the opera with a new translation by Andreas Fladvad-Geier, which revives the tradition of transferring the opera’s plot into a local setting to make the parody of the opera world even easier to recognize and appreciate for audiences.

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