An invitation to an opera that promises a party is not to be sneezed at! As Willem Jeths discovers in his third music drama, Ritratto (Portrait), parties are an elegant way of introducing assorted characters, and a perfect excuse for bad behaviour. Think no further than Flora’s Party in La traviata, or more recently Thomas Adès The Exterminating Angel.
Jeths and his librettist Frank Siera’s hostess is the fabulously rich Marchese Luisa Casati, who with the help of the early 20th-century avant-garde, including D’Annunzio, Diaghilev, Marinetti and Man Ray, intends to make herself a work of art. Unfortunately, the Great War marches through her salon, although Casati partly lives out her ambition by embellishing her portrait with her own eyes and breasts as it’s being painted by Romaine Brooks.