entertainment

Leonardo da Vinci's sexuality to be explored in new opera at London's V&A

'Leonardo' will examine the famed polymath's most intimate relationships 500 years after his death.

2019-10-23

Leonardo da Vinci's life and sexuality are set to be explored in a new opera at London's V&A next month.

Leonardo, which delves into the famed 15th cenutry polymath's private llife and emotional world, will receive its world premiere at the V&A on 9 November as part of a series of global events marking 500 years since da Vinci's death.

Composed by Alex Mills and with text from playwright Brian Mullin, the 50-minute production focuses on da Vinci's personal relationships with two of his closest assistants: Salai, his companion for over 20 years, and Francesco Melzi, who  inherited the majority of his estate following his death in 1519 and was considered something of a surrogate son.

da Vinci, who modern historians widely consider to have been homosexual, proved to be one of the most influential artists and thinkers of the Renaissance era, with works including the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and Vitruvian Man.

'Leonardo' will focus on da Vinci's close personal relationships with two assistants: Salai (left) his companion for over 20 years, and Francesco Melzi, who inherited the majority of his estate following his death in 1519.

In 1476, when he was aged 24, da Vinci and three other young men were arrested and charged with sodomy, though the charges were later dropped. Historians have found little evidence that he ever had close relationships with women and speculation regarding his sexuality stretches back to the 16th century.

Leonardo is set to be performed by viol consort Fretwork and singers Tom Randle, Feargal Mostyn-Williams and Richard Immerglück, who will take to the stage of The Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre at the V&A in South Kensington on 9 November.

The production was created in consultation with two leading da Vinci experts, Oxford University professor Martin Kemp and the curator of the current Leonardo exhibition at Buckingham Palace, Martin Kemp.

From left-right: 'Leonardo' singers Tom Randles, Feargal Mostyn-Williams and Richard Immergluck

The production was created in consultation with two leading da Vinci experts, Oxford University professor Martin Kemp, and the curator of the current Leonardo exhibition at Buckingham Palace, Martin Clayton.

Tickets for Leonardo are available here.