Opera Profile: Igor Escudero’s ‘I, Claudius’ Trilogy

By John Vandevert

I, Claudius” and “Claudius the God is a trio of operas composed by Spanish composer Igor Escudero and librettist Pablo Gómez during 2019 on the theme of two Roman rulers, Augustus and Claudius, as well as the dynamics of the Julio-Claudian family. The opera’s initial began in 2014 following the eponymous BBC TV series. The opera premiered at the Miguel Delibes Cultural Center in Valladolid, Mexico in June 2019 in a semi-staged version.

The opera’s central plots come from Robert Grave’s eponymous 1934 novel and 1935 novel, and after talking with the Robert Graves Foundation, Escudero began to construct his opera’s trilogy. Musically, the opera combines Ancient modal language with contemporary orchestration and uses “traditional canons, formulas, and structures to approach a new dramatic synergy” as the composer notes. The project itself was focused on exploring and expanding the operatic canon through a renegotiation with the structures of creativity. 

The narrative of the opera follows three chapters and stays true to the story told by Robert Grave’s two novels. Filling out the cast were tenor William Wallace, soprano Conchi Moyano, and actress/singer Estíbaliz Martyn, and featured a cast of 60. Reviews noted the weakeness of the staging and cheapness of the costumes yet the sophistication and grandeur of the music. Nevertheless, the opera went on tour shortly after premiering throughout cities in Mexico and Spain including Mérida, Bilbao, Zaragoza, and Madrid.




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