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The Sunday Opera: Walton's "Troilus and Cressida"

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We turn to England for this week’s Sunday Opera (1/31 3:00 p.m.) for the only full-length opera of Sir William Walton, his 1954 treatment of a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer about the doomed love of “Troilus and Cressida.”  Cressida is the daughter of the high priest of Troy, Calkas, is in love with Troilus, the Prince of Troy.  After Calkas tries to falsely convince the Trojans that the Oracle at Delphi has declared that the Greeks are sure to be victorious, he is not believed and defects to the Greek camp.  Through a series of misadventures and meddling by Calkas through Cressida's maid, Evadne, Cressida is kept from Troilus until she promises herself to the Greek Prince Diomede setting in motion the tragic ending.  Our cast includes Judith Howarth as Cressida, Arthur Davies as Troilus, Clive Bayley as Calkas, Alan Opie as Diomede, and Yvonne Howard as the duplicitous servant Evadne.  Richard Hickox is our conductor in the recording from 1995, and he’s leading the Chorus of Opera North and the English Northern Philharmonia. 

The afternoon will be filled with more music of Walton including his Symphony No. 2 in G minor, Spitfire Prelude & Fugue, and his much loved Crown Imperial.  Also included will be Walton’s lesser-known ballet score entitled “The Quest,” an allegorical tale of good against evil based on a poem by Edmund Spenser.