The Jewels of the Madonna, 2009
Poster for The Jewels of the Madonna (2009)

About the production

We are pleased to be able to announce that 2009’s main production will be The Jewels of the Madonna by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari.

Performances will be given at the Wroughton Theatre on 19th 20th and 21st February 2009.

Tickets are available through the Bath Festivals box office on 01225 463362 or

This production of Wolf Ferrari’s The Jewels of the Madonna is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see this amazing but rarely performed opera. Music lovers have had to be satisfied with just the Intermezzo as a popular concert item. Written around 1910 in the Italian ‘verismo’ style, the powerful music is reminiscent of Puccini’s later operas or Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci which were of the same genre and era. Hearing the rich and opulent music it is difficult to understand why this opera didn’t join them as staple repertoire of major opera houses. The answer is twofold – the score calls for a staggering variety of street instruments on top of already extravagant orchestration, but the main reason lies in the plot, which pulls few punches. Whilst quite tame by modern standards in the theatre, it was perhaps rather rich meat for the largely Catholic Europe of its day.

Against a riotous background of vibrant Neapolitan street characters celebrating the festival of the Madonna, the main protagonists indulge in mafia thuggery, theft, blasphemy… with rape and incest being more than strongly hinted at. It goes without saying that the main driver for all this is old fashioned Italian operatic passion. Honour is retrieved at the end but from an operatically unconventional source.

The production is directed by top international opera ‘dramaturg’ Ian Burton who has forsaken his usual venues such as La Scala, Glyndebourne,The Met and Covent Garden for his own once in a lifetime opportunity to direct this opera.

With large chorus and excellent orchestra under musical director Peter Blackwood this will be an impressive and spectacular event.

Over recent years the enterprising Bath Opera has successfully risen to the demands of challenging works from Bernstein to Wagner and those lucky enough to have been in the audience appreciate what a talented company Bath has in its midst. If you have not yet experienced bathOpera, do come and join us for this unique event .

Musical Director Peter Blackwood
Director Ian Burton

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