Barrie Kosky is one of the most sought-after opera directors in the world and his productions have been hailed as both visionary and controversial. In this three-part series on BBC 3, Barrie Kosky and explores three areas of music for the stage which have a resonance for him and shares some of his own personal story.
In episode one Barrie Kosky, the grandson of Jewish emigrants from Europe himself, explores the tragedy and tongue-in-cheek wit of a forgotten genre: Yiddish operetta. With songs of melancholy and despair, to infectious comedy, these were the soundtrack to multiple generations. Barrie explores these songs with themes of exile, loneliness and homesickness, but which are also about the joy of life – against all odds. Including a special recording of a concert he gave at the Komische Oper in Berlin. Available for 20 days on BBC Sounds - Barrie Kosky's Musical Stages - Yiddish Operetta - BBC Sounds.
‘Triumph, joy, madness, death, battle, jealousy, rage - what more do you want in a night at the opera?' Barrie Kosky explores not the staged operas but Handel's oratorios. in episode two. The Bible stories of Handel’s oratorios were not allowed to be staged in their day, but Kosky believes them to be intensely theatrical, not just because of their pageantry and brilliance but for the composer's ability to plumb the depths of characters in his music and finely describe the human condition. Barrie Kosky reminisces on his production of Saul with Christopher Purves, the gloriously visual word-painting depicting the plagues on Egypt as well as the pageantry of Solomon, the human drama of Jephtha and the spiritually uplifting sound-world of Messiah. Available for 27 days on BBC sounds - Barrie Kosky's Musical Stages - Theatrical Handel - BBC Sounds.
The final third and final episode, Comedy in Opera, Barrie Kosky looks at works by Verdi, Offenbach, Mozart, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Bernstein, in search of comedy on the stage. The episode is available this Sunday, 24 October 2021, listen on the radio at 11pm or catch up on BBC Sounds - BBC Radio 3 - Barrie Kosky's Musical Stages, Comedy in Opera.
Produced by Lindsay Pell