Tuesday 11 August, 7.30pm
Sir Charles Mackerras returns to the Proms to conduct Gilbert and Sullivan’s exuberant operetta Patience, which opened the famous Savoy Theatre in London in 1881. The work satirises the fad of the 1870s and 1880s known as the ‘aesthetic craze’, when poets, painters and composers were prolific but, some argued, empty and self-indulgent. It centres on Patience, the simple village milkmaid, sung here by Rebecca Bottone, who cares nothing for poetry.
Thursday 13 August, 11pm
Author Christopher Hope recalls helping to bring up his son Daniel, who has become a renowned violin player. The question is, how do a writer and a musician survive in the same family? In this episode he discusses the importance in Daniel’s life of the Russian composer Alfred Schnittke.
Music Feature: Giovanni’s House
Saturday 15 August, 12.15pm
Martin Handley explores the importance of the famous Italian music publishing firm Casa Ricordi. Founded in 1808 by Giovanni Ricordi, a violinist who led the orchestra in a small Milanese theatre, the business grew rapidly and the history of Italian opera was tied to the fortunes of this single house. Its special relationship with Verdi and Puccini was especially significant. Giovanni’s grandson Giulio persuaded Verdi to come out of retirement in 1880 and later played a vital role in Puccini’s artistic career, publishing all his works.
Desert Island Discs
Sunday 16 August, 11.15pm
Kirsty Young’s castaway is the singer Roberto Alagna. He is one of the most celebrated tenors in the world and one half of opera’s golden couple; his wife is the soprano Angela Gheorghiu. Yet, his is not a voice that was honed through early years in a conservatoire. He was brought up in Paris in a family of keen amateur musicians. He used to sing in nightclubs and in those early years, he says, the world of opera was, to him, no more than an impossible dream.
Proms on Four
Thursday 13 August, 8pm
Stravinsky’s riotous Rite of Spring comes to the Proms, played by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with conductor Ilan Volkov. Ravel’s choreographic poem La valse begins the programme, followed by the world premiere of Korean composer Unsuk Chin’s Cello Concerto, written especially for the solo cellist Alban Gerhardt. Suzy Klein presents.
Proms on Four
Friday 14 August, 7.30pm
Charles Hazlewood presents as the Proms mark the 75th birthday of one of Britain’s greatest living composers, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, with a rare performance of the central act of his monumental opera The Mask of Orpheus. It is performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Singers and a cast that includes Alan Oke and Christine Rice, and conducted by Martyn Brabbins with Ryan Wigglesworth. Brabbins opens the concert with Popcorn Superhet Receiver by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, a piece which won the Radio 3 Listeners’ Award at the 2006 British Composer Awards. Stravinsky’s elegant ballet music Apollo completes the programme.