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Nigel Osborne: Hell's Angels

  • Duration: 120’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1·0·1·0 - 1·1·0·0 - perc. - hp. - vln., vla., vc.
  • Composer: Nigel Osborne
  • Librettist: David Freeman
  • Writer of pre-existing text: Oskar Panizza
  • Text adapter: David Nigel

Work introduction

“[…] This was Osborne’s first opera [...]. The starting point for Hell’s Angles, however, was a play, The Council of Love, by the late 19th-century dramatist Oskar Panizza, which tells the story of a divine retribution on the court of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI in 1494. God looks down upon his representative on earth and does not like what he sees; he calls a Council of Love in Heaven to decide how he should punish his subjects for their debauchery and corruption. Satan is asked to help, and he suggests a plan: he invents syphilis and introduces it into the papal court carried by a beautiful woman.

For Hell’s Angels, however, Osborne and Freeman give the scenario a contemporary parallel, interweaving the 15th-century saga with Heaven and Earth in the present, when the Papacy is again under threat, this time for being too honest – the new Pope is in favour of birth control and wants to rid the Vatican of the taint of financial jiggery-pokery; he ends up poisoned by his aides. God is stirred into action again, a second Council of Love is summoned, and Satan’s solution this time is even more specific – he invents AIDS. The opera ends with the infected youth sent into the world to exact revenge. […]”

OPERA/3/1986/Andrew Clements

World première

Royal Court Theatre, London (GB)
London Sinfonietta
Diego Masson

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