Opera Scotland

Pietro Mascagni's Iris

Posted 5 Nov 2019

The Scottish premiere of Pietro Mascagni’s Iris, a gripping tale of innocence lost, is presented by Scottish Opera on Sunday 1 December at City Halls, Glasgow.

Roxana Haines (Opera Highlights 2019) directs this semi-staged work, featuring soloists Helena Dix, Ric Furman (Kátya Kabanová 2019) and Roland Wood (Pelléas and Mélisande 2017). They are joined by The Orchestra of Scottish Opera and a 40-strong chorus, conducted by Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford.

Set in Japan, Iris tells the story of a naïve young girl who is blissfully unaware of life’s darker side. When she is tempted from her home, she suffers a brutal crash course on how cruel the world can be. An opera full of colour and vibrancy, Iris features ‘Hymn to the Sun’, which is often hailed as Mascagni’s finest work.

Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford said: ‘Iris is, in many ways, Mascagni’s greatest opera. Composed six years before Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, it too looks to Japan for inspiration. The opening ‘Hymn to the Sun’ is one of the most spectacular depictions of a sunrise in music, starting from the murky depths of a solo double bass playing a quasi tone-row, later swelled by the rest of the strings, glittering horn calls and just when you think it can’t get any louder the full chorus join in to reach a tremendous climax.

The drama is brutal and uncompromising, with some of the most alluring music given to the most desperate and appalling situations which creates a huge sense of unease in the listener.’

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