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Lord Byron - Lord Byron

A summer without summer

Agustí Charles

An opera in two acts
Libretto by Marc Rosich

Lord Byron, un estiu sense estiu, opera of the Catalan composer, Agustí Charles, and the dramaturge, Marc Rosich, is the result of a commission by the Darmstadt Staatstheater, programmed for their 2010/2011 season. In this same theatre La Cuzzoni, esperpent d’una veu, a chamber opera about an 18th Century prima donna, a commission of the Barcelona Pocket Opera Festival, was premiered in 2007 with great success. Charles, who trained in Barcelona, continued his studies in Europe and America. He has a brilliant record as a composer receiving many important prizes (amongst which is that of the Asociación de Orquestras Sinfónicas Españolas (AEOS) for Seven Looks, which was performed throughout Spain between 2004 and 2008) and also as a musicologist. He is a professor at the Aragon Conservatorio Superior de Música and at ESMUC, the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya. His music has been performed the world over.

The libretto of Marc Rosich sets the action of the opera in Europe after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. At the same time as this event, the volcano Tambora became active in the Pacific Ocean and from it a toxic cloud of ash erupted which crossed the entire planet upsetting the natural seasonal order. The cloud reached Geneva in the summer of 1816 bringing with it alarming storms, and so trapping a curious group of exiles in their summer villas,, the group including Lord Byron,  Percy Bysshe Shelley, his lover Mary, her step-sister Claire Clairmont, and Doctor Polidori. The fruit of this encounter in the middle of the “summer without summer” was two of the most important texts of Gothic literature, Frankenstein and The Vampire.

The orchestra, chorus and soloists create an enveloping sound space which places the public in the middle of the opera, from the staging, which also functions as a powerful instrument to the percussion, placed in the theatre itself, along with a subtle amplification which makes it possible to enter the subconscious of the protagonists and read their obsessions. In short, this is a dramatic experience that allows us to get under the very skin of the protagonists.