Australian Tenor Features In Reconstruction of Liszt’s Forgotten Opera

Franz Liszt by Henri Lehmann
Franz Liszt by Henri Lehmann

Frozen in time through 170 years, a fragment of an opera by Franz Liszt, begun in 1849 and later abandoned, has been carefully reconstructed and prepared for performance by David Trippett, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge. A documentary of the project, due for release in May 2017 features tenor Samuel Sakker, presently a member of the ensemble at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and originally from Sydney.

Entitled Sardanapalo, the libretto, based on Lord Byron’s tragedy Sardanapalus, tells the tale of Sardanapalo, the last King of Assyria and his downfall.

Trippett first discovered the opera in an archive in Weimar more than ten years ago. Only one act is complete and much of the 111 page score for just piano and voices, is written in shorthand. He has spent the last two years working on the manuscript and a ten-minute excerpt from the opera will be premiered in June 2017, by Armenian soprano and rising talent Anush Hovhannisyan at the final of the BBC Singer of the World competition.

Right now, the University of Cambridge is creating a documentary that follows the recreation of  of Liszt’s forgotten masterpiece with soprano Anush Hovhannisyan, tenor Samuel Sakker and bass-baritone Arshak Kuzikyan. This will be released on 15 May.

Liszt’s only other opera is Don Sanche, written between 1824 – 5, a one-act opera in French, lost for 30 years until it was it was rediscovered in 1903 and performed in 1977, 74 years after its rediscovery.

More + listen to excerpts at and the University of Cambridge.

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