Today at the Proms - Prom 50

Continuing our daily coverage of what's on at The Proms 2019, Susan Omand has a quick look at the programme for Prom 50: Orchestre de Paris ...

The main event this evening involves full on countryside relaxation for a bank holiday with Beethoven's Symphony No 6, the Pastoral Symphony. If you've seen the original Fantasia film by Disney, you'll know the work well because it's the bit that has all the cherubs and centaurs (male and female!) and pegasuses (pegasi?) in.

We start off tonight though with the overture to Schumann's only opera, Genoveva, based on a the medieval legend of Genevieve of Brabant. Apparently, as an opera, it was really not well received when it premiered in 1850, being performed only three times in that run, and the negative criticism in the press played a large part in Schumann not writing a second one! Surely it's not that bad is it?

But it's the work just before the interval that draws my interest tonight and it's a suite from another opera, this time Babylon by composer, conductor and clarinettist Jörg Widmann. This is a relatively new work, with the opera premiering in 2012 and this suite having been first performed in 2014 with tonight as the first live performance of the suite in London. Looking at the libretto (story) it reads more like a prog rock concept album with forbidden love between rivals, carnivals, disasters, sacrifices, the fall and rise of a new world order.

The music too divided opinion at the time, being called "monstrous", "strange", "howling", "opulent" and worst of all "indifferent!"

Here's the trailer for the world premiere of the opera itself to let you make your own mind up... brace yourselves.

Here's the full programme for this evening's Prom which you can listen to live from 19:30 on Radio 3 or on the iPlayer 

Robert Schumann
Genoveva – overture(9 mins)

Jörg Widmann
Babylon Suite(30 mins)London premiere


Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 6 in F major, 'Pastoral'(39 mins)

Image - Photo © Chris Christodoulou
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