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1001 Nights In One Evening

Kiwi opera diva, Anna Leese, will star in a celebration of story-telling when she joins Orchestra Wellington at the Michael Fowler Centre this month.

The Dunedin based soprano is the orchestra's virtuoso soloist on August 21st in Maurice Ravel's beguiling but fiendishly difficult song-cycle, Shéhérazade, just one of three musical masterpieces based on the tales of 1001 Nights.

A treasure-trove of Arabian and Persian folklore, the 1001 Nights are a set of stories supposedly told by the sultanah Sheherazade to placate her bitter husband, who, convinced all women are unfaithful, puts each new bride to death after their wedding night.

Sheherazade's stories of Ali Baba, Sinbad and Aladdin's Lamp are so compelling the Sultan can not bear to kill his wife, and eventually gives up on the idea altogether.

Ravel's song cycle is a setting of poems by his friend Léon Leclère, inspired by the sense of the Orient which captivated many in France in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Orchestra Wellington's musical director, Marc Taddei can't wait to take on the bewitching work with Anna Leese.

"Her interpretation of Ravel's magical song-cycle will be an exquisite experience".

Following the Ravel, Orchestra Wellington will perform one of the best known adaptations of the 1001 Nights tales in all art, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's tone-poem, Sheherazade.

A masterpiece of late 19th century Russian colour, the work overflows with beautiful melodies and brilliant solo playing from members of the orchestra, not least being its leader Amalia Hall, who as solo violinist, represents Sheherazade herself.

Even the concert's overture is a celebration of the 1001 Nights theme; an overture Ravel wrote for a planned opera on the story he never managed to complete.

With so much colour and melody on show, Orchestra Wellington's latest concert in its 2021 Virtuoso season, Virtuoso Diva, is the perfect winter escape for capital city arts lovers.


Virtuoso Diva
Saturday 21st August, 7:30pm
Michael Fowler Centre

Marc Taddei, Music Director
Anna Leese, Soprano

Maurice Ravel – Scheherazade Overture
Maruice Ravel – Scheherazade, Anna Leese, Soprano
Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade

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