400 years of opera history to go on display at new V&A gallery

Arts & Culture

September 25, 2017 | BY AFP Relaxnews

The brand-new Sainsbury Gallery at London's V&A is set to stage an immersive exhibition exploring opera on a grand scale

opera-exhibition-1.jpg“Milano”, from the series "Fratelli d'Italia" (2005-2016) by Matthias Schaller | Photo: courtesy of Matthias Schaller

A collaboration with the Royal Opera House, "Opera: Power, Passion and Politics" focuses on seven operatic premieres in seven cities at different points in the history of opera in Europe, from its roots in Renaissance Italy to the present day. Within this 400-year span, it intends to reveal how such multi-sensory works of art are created as well as the social, political and economic factors that have played a role in European opera.

opera-exhibition-2.jpgEnsemble in 'Spaceship' at the dress rehearsal of 'Einstein on the Beach,' Philip Glass in collaboration Robert Wilson Dorothy Chandler Pavilion | Photo: courtesy of Lawrence K. Ho Los Angeles Times Getty Images

More than 300 objects are set to go on display, including Salvador Dali's costume design for Peter Brook's 1949 production of "Salome"; "Music in the Tuileries Gardens" by Edouard Manet, shedding light on Wagner's modern approach to music in 1860s Paris; the original score of Verdi's "Nabucco"; one of two surviving scores from the first public opera ("L'incoronazione di Poppea"); and original material from the 1934 St. Petersburg premiere of Shostakovich's avant-garde "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk."

opera-exhibition-3.jpgEdouard Manet, "Music in the Tuileries Garden," 1861-62 National Galleries | Photo: courtesy of The National Gallery, London Scala, Florence

Digital footage of opera performances will also be featured; played on headphones, the operas' scores will dynamically change as visitors explore the cities and objects. In a 360-degree sound installation, visitors will hear a new recording of Verdi's "Va pensiero" from "Nabucco" by the Royal Opera Chorus.

opera-exhibition-4.jpgCostume design for The Executioner Salvador Dalí (1904-89) Ink on paper, 1949 Royal Opera House, London | Photo: courtesy of Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, DACS 2017

The exhibition will be the very first staged in the V&A's new Sainsbury Gallery, which was created beneath the Sackler Courtyard as part of the museum's recently unveiled Exhibition Road.

"Opera: Power, Passion and Politics" runs from September 30, 2017 through February 25, 2018.