June 7, 10, 14*, 16, 18 at 7.30pm
New production by Opera Holland Park
Opera in three acts
Sung in Italian with English surtitles
Libretto by Luigi Illica
With the City of London Sinfonia
Running times TBA
Pricing details are subject to change.
Like most of Mascagni’s full-length opera’s, Iris is now rarely performed, even in Italy. However when it made its première in 1898 at the Teatro Costanzi, Rome and then at the La Scala, Milan in 1899 it quickly became one of his most widely accepted works alongside Cavalleria Rusticana, making it’s way around the world by 1902.
The opera tells the story of a young girl, Iris. Daughter to an old blind man Iris lives happily enjoying the simple things of nature. A young lord named Osaka plans with a local brothel owner, Kyoto to kidnap Iris. He tries unsuccessfully to seduce her, frustrated by her simplistic ways, he leaves her to the malicious brothel owner, Kyoto, who exposes her on the balcony. Her father finds her there and not knowing about the kidnapping, curses her. Overcome by shame, Iris throws herself into an abyss.
Musically, Mascagni’s orchestration employs gongs, celesta, glockenspiel, and chimes to create an atmosphere that one can see made a strong impression on Puccini and his later Madama Butterfly. Taking influence from Wagner with his rising orchestration, Mascagni also creates the “exotic” atmosphere of Japan through the use of harps and whole-tone scales, a technique that is similarly a fundamental characteristic of Debussy’s music.