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Work of the Week – Huw Watkins: Horn Concerto

The horn is rarely heard alone in the orchestra and usually in the background: It sits in pairs or in the quartet at the back left. But in a solo concerto such as the new Horn Concerto by Huw Watkins, it makes its grand entrance. At the world premiere on 7 April 2024 in Saffron Walden, England, Ben Goldscheider will be the soloist in front of the orchestra. He will be accompanied by the Britten Sinfonia under the direction of Michael Papadopoulos.

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Work of the Week – Nino Rota: Aladino e la lampada magica

A new production of Nino Rota’s Aladino e la lampada magica ("Aladdin and the Magic Lamp") directed by Julien Ostini will open in Saint-Etienne in France on 16 October, performed by the Orchestre Symphonique Saint-Etienne Loire and conducted by Laurent Touche. The fairytale opera will be performed in a French translation.

Rota, sometimes called the “Italian Mozart”, composed his first children’s opera Il principe porcaro (1925-26) at the age of 13. A sense of childlike wonder has infused Rota’s music throughout his career, evident particularly in his film scores composed for director Federico Fellini, which remain among his best-known works today. For Rota, fairytales were never trivial; although they provided fantastical entertainment, they stemmed from deeper moral motivations and life lessons. Such is Rota’s understanding of Aladdin, which was first recounted to him as a child by his Grandmother.

Aladino e la lampada magica by Nino Rota – an opera for everyone

Aladino e la lampada magica (1968) comes from one of the most popular tales of the well-known collection of stories “One Thousand and One Nights,” commonly known as “Arabian Nights”. The narrative follows Aladdin, an impoverished young boy, who dreams of wealth. After a sorcerer gains Aladdin’s trust, intending to use him only as a tool to obtain a mysterious oil lamp from a magical cave, an exciting and dangerous adventure begins.

The enchanted world of Rota’s Aladino e la lampada magica gives great scope for appealing staging, with colourful bazaars and extravagant costumes, presenting an ideal first opera experience for young children.  The work is further full of refreshingly tonal musical language, employing the traditions of operatic composition yet in a modern and distinctive fashion. Despite being termed a children’s opera, it will nonetheless appeal to audience members of all ages.
When I’m creating at the piano, I tend to feel happy; but, the eternal dilemma arises - how can we be happy amid the unhappiness of others? I'd do anything I could to give everyone a moment of happiness. That's what's at the heart of my music. – Nino Rota

The Leipzig Opera will perform a reduced orchestration version of Aladino e la lampada magica, as arranged by Rainer Schottstädt, on 28 and 31 October.