Phoebe Briggs on the pleasures and challenges of conducting Respighi’s rarely heard marionette opera for Victorian Opera.

What can audiences expect from this rarely heard opera?

It’s a traditional setting of the classic fairy tale, enhanced by Respighi’s theatrical vision and incorporating puppetry into the musical world.

Respighi specifically composed The Sleeping Beautyfor a young audience. Is this something that a child today could attend?

Yes, absolutely. Each character is clearly defined musically and children will certainly be able to follow the story very easily, and will be swept along by the storytelling of the puppets and singers. As in any fairy tale there are dark elements to the story, but I do believe it’s an opera that’s suitable for both children and adults. The puppetry, shadow puppetry, singing and music will appeal to audiences of any age.

  Victorian Opera’s  The Sleeping Beauty. Photo © Charlie Kinross

Many audience members are only really familiar with Respighi through his tone poems. What might surprise them about the composer of this opera?

I think what will surprise the audience is Respighi’s ability to jump effortlessly from style to style and from mood to mood. He inserts...

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