Writer and journalist Helena Matheopoulos, author of Fashion Designers at the Opera, presents a celebration of prayer in the operatic repertoire – prayer to God, the Angels, the Virgin Mary, and the ancient gods of the pre Christian ages. This talk is part of the Oxford Literary Festival.
Prayers by composers from Mozart to Verdi, Gounod, Puccini and Wagner cover every imaginable human emotion and condition and always occur in climactic and/or highly poignant moments in the dramatic action. Written for every type of operatic voice – soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone and bass as well as the chorus – they constitute some of the most sublime music in opera.
Matheopoulos will play recordings of prayers from operas set in ancient Egypt (Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Verdi’s Aida), Babylon (Verdi’s Nabucco), Greece (Mozart’s Idomeneo), Rome, (Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito), Celtic Britain (Bellini’s Norma), and the Christian era (Verdi’s I Lombardi, La forza del destino, Otello, Humperdinck’s Hansel & Gretel, and Gounod’s Faust). To mark the time of year, she will play the Good Friday music from Wagner’s Parsifal, the Resurrection chorus from Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust and the Easter Hymn from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana.
Matheopoulos is a former fashion editor of Tatler magazine and a contributor to The Times, Gramophone and Opera Now. She has published widely on opera, including Placido Domingo; Diva: The New Generation; and Fashion Designers at the Opera.