King Arthur in Music
Camelot Comeback In Spain
Albeniz with Daughter Laura in 1905, 3 years after completion of Merlin
BBC/Opus Arte has released on DVD the world premiere production of the complete version of Merlin, Isaac Albeniz's opera. The DVD received a rave review in Opera News (October 2004)
Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) is best known for his piano works, and especially
for the collection Iberia, 12 piano
suites of technical infusing Spanish folk idioms with his hero Franz Liszt. At the turn of the
century, he tried very hard to
establish himself as an opera composer. Living in London, he composed three operas in collaboration with Money-Coutts, of which
Merlin was the most ambitious. It was intended as the first part of a huge
trilogy of Arthurian legends, loosely based on Malory's Morte d'Arthur.
Albeniz died while working on the second installment, Launcelot, and never began
the third, Guinevere. The only portion of Merlin that he heard performed during
was the opening orchestral prelude. The full score languished until 1950, when
it was staged, much cut and sung in Spanish, in Barcelona. Recently it appeared on disc, with Placido Domingo singing the part of King Arthur.
The success of the Placido Domingo disc led to the