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The new gallery at London’s V&A museum exhibits 400 years of opera history

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

art and culture Updated: Sep 27, 2017 16:04 IST
Opera,Opera history,Victoria and Albert Museum
Ensemble in ‘Spaceship’ at the dress rehearsal of ‘Einstein on the Beach,’ Philip Glass in collaboration Robert Wilson Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.(AFP)

The new Sainsbury Gallery at London’s V&A is set to stage an immersive exhibition exploring opera. In 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.

Milano, from the series Fratelli d’Italia (2005-2016) by Matthias Schaller ( AFP )

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.

Edouard Manet, Music in the Tuileries Garden, 1861-62 National Galleries ( AFP )

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.

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.

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First Published: Sep 27, 2017 16:00 IST