Rossini opera on queen Zenobia of the Syrian city Palmyra to travel to US

AFP , Thursday 28 Jan 2016

YouTube still from 'Aureliano in Palmira'

A long obscure Rossini opera set in Syria will be performed for the first time in the United States at New York's Caramoor summer festival.

The festival, announcing its lineup on Wednesday, said that staging the opera was especially timely in light of Syria's bloody civil war but that the US premiere was "centuries overdue."

"Aureliano in Palmira" revolves around the beautiful queen Zenobia of the Syrian city commonly spelled as Palmyra, which in more recent times has been ravaged by extremists from the Islamic State group.

In Rossini's opera, the queen is in love with a Persian prince but they come under attack from the Roman emperor who wants Zenobia as his bride.

The opera premiered at Milan's La Scala in 1813 -- starring one of the last famous castrati, Giovanni Velluti -- but faded into obscurity as Rossini gained greater recognition for his other works.

"Aureliano in Palmira" has been revived in recent years and was recently restored to its original form by Will Crutchfield, the opera director at Caramoor.

His restored production opened at the Rossini Opera Festival in Italy in 2014.

The Caramoor festival, launched in 1945 as World War II was ending, emphasizes opera but offers a range of genres at a Mediterranean-style estate some 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Manhattan.

Other highlights of the 71st season, which runs from June 18 to August 7, include a jazz day headlined by the trio of piano great Chick Corea.

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