Opera: Passion, Power and Politics  - a talk by Kate Bailey

The exhibition Opera: Passion, Power and Politics, in collaboration with The Royal Opera House, will open on 30 September 2017 and will run until 25 February 2018 at The Victoria and Albert Museum. It will immerse visitors in some key moments of the history of European opera from its roots in Renaissance Italy to its present-day form, by focusing on seven operatic premieres in seven cities. It will reveal how opera brings together multiple art forms to create a multi-sensory work of art, and show 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.

The exhibition is curated by the V&A’s Kate Bailey, Senior Curator of Design and Scenography.

Kate Bailey will talk to the BIS about the creation of the exhibition with particular focus on two Italian cities:

- Venice with Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, 1642. The narrative of the exhibition will begin in Venice, a Renaissance centre of entertainment, gambling and disguise, with a sumptuous painting of composer Barbara Strozzi depicted as a courtesan. The original surviving manuscript score of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea – an opera exploring scandal and ambition, which premiered in Venice’s Carnival season in 1642-3 – represents opera’s transition from private court entertainment to the public realm.

- Milan with Verdi’s Nabucco, 1842. The growing importance of the chorus is explored through Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco which premiered in Milan in 1842. The opera’s ‘Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves’ (Va pensiero) became an unofficial national anthem for Italy after the events of the Risorgimento led to the country’s unification.

A glass of wine will be offered after the talk