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Dr Lawrence Zazzo to perform at the Salzburg Festival

A Newcastle University academic is starring this summer in Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno at the world famous Salzburg Festival, which is celebrating its centenary this year.

2 August 2021


Dr. Larry Zazzo, a Lecturer at the International Centre for Music Studies at Newcastle University and a Handel scholar, is also a renowned countertenor who will sing the role of 'Disinganno', an allegorical figure for Enlightenment, in Handel's 1707 Roman oratorio.

"After a year spent away from the stage due to the pandemic," says Zazzo. "It's wonderful to re-engage my performing muscles and make my Salzburg debut with such a wonderful production team and cast of singers."

The cast includes renowned mezzo soprano Cecilia Bartoli singing the famous aria, 'Lascia la spina'."

While the original piece was an unstaged oratorio, with a theologically-inclined libretto by an aging Roman cardinal and composed by a the young 24-year old Handel, Il Trionfo has been reconceived this summer for the modern stage by Canadian opera director Robert Carsen as an episode of 'World's Top Model' that takes a strange but moving turn.

As Dr. Zazzo notes: "Robert and I have worked on finding a way to portray Disinganno, a potentially dehumanised oracle of life truths, as an X-Factor-type judge who is a cross between Michael Caine, Simon Cowell, and Sigmund Freud.  The character slowly transforms into a kind of psychotherapist for the main character, Bellezza ('Beauty'), supporting her as she negotiates the tensions between worldly and eternal pleasures. 

"Written over 300 years ago, both music and text still speak so freshly and directly to our contemporary society's obsession with appearance and youth, and our human tendency to distract ourselves from the passage of time."

Handel cantata

Dr Zazzo has sung at numerous opera houses internationally, including the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Canadian National Opera, the Vienna State Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He is particularly known for his portrayals of the title role in Handel’s Giuilio Cesare and Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As part of his research for Newcastle University, he has recently released a new CD on Inventa Records, Handel Uncaged, which features the world premiere of an unpublished Handel cantata.

Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno will be performed from Thursday 4 August to 17 August at the Mozart House in Salzburg.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences