sun 20/08/2017

Opera Reviews

Prom 31 review: La Damnation de Faust, Gardiner - Berlioz tumbles out in rainbow colours

david Nice

The road to hell is paved with brilliant ideas in Berlioz's idiosyncratic take on the Faust legend.

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Prom 29 review: BBCSO, Bychkov - Musorgsky's Khovanshchina sears in concert

david Nice

"Ura!" as soldiers cry in Russian epic opera's last fling, Prokofiev's War and Peace: supertitles have arrived at the Proms, after much special pleading here and elsewhere.

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La clemenza di Tito, Glyndebourne review - fine musical manoeuvres in the dark

david Nice

So much light in the Glyndebourne production of Brett Dean's Hamlet; so much darkness in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito according to director Claus Guth.

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Le nozze di Figaro, Clonter Opera review - a wedding full of future stars

Robert Beale

Clonter Opera is a finishing school for young opera performers, with its own well appointed theatre and professional administration and artistic direction, based on a farm in Cheshire near Jodrell Bank. It’s seen a succession of promising young post-conservatoire singers come to perform in fully staged productions for many years, and is also (from an audience point of view) the only countryside summer opera venue of any substance in the north of England.

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Prom 9 review: Fidelio, BBCPO, Mena - classy prison drama rarely blazes

david Nice

What a pity Beethoven never composed an appendage to Fidelio called The Sorrows of Young Marzelline. One crucial moment apart, the music he gives to his second soprano in his only opera isn't his best, but Louise Alder so lived the role of the gaoler's daughter in love with a woman disguised as a man that everything else felt rather less intense. It's only fair to say that there were...

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Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance, Royal Opera review - vocal promise, poor stagecraft

david Nice

They get to work with the best music and language coaches in the business. They make their mark in small parts throughout the Royal Opera season and showcase their art more prominently at the end of it, proving to the world that there are major talents among them (four outstanding ones, I reckon, on this showing).

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Katya Kabanova, Opera Holland Park review - clarity and pace in Janáček's Volga tragedy

Gavin Dixon

Katya Kabanova is an ideal fit for Opera Holland Park’s verismo-focussed programming. It’s Czech, of course, but the dramatic style is very close to the Italian opera of the day, the story all gritty realism, the music punctuated with intense emotive episodes. This staging, a revival of Olivia Fuchs’s 2009 production, does the work full justice, a straightforward account that doesn’t overcomplicate the clear-cut narrative and morality.

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El-Khoury, Spyres, Hallé, Rizzi, Cadogan Hall review - bel canto lives again

david Nice

Unless you're an undiscriminating fan of bel canto, the lesser Italian and French operas of the 1830s and '40s - that's to say, not Verdi's Nabucco and Macbeth or Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini - need to be approached with caution. Once you've lowered expectations to a simpler level of compositional style, you then have to hope for stylists of the first order to make it work. That doesn't happen too often these days, but the inspirational company Opera Rara,...

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The Magic Flute, Longborough Festival review - sparkling and moving

stephen Walsh

About The Magic Flute there’s a certain amount of domestic theatre and a great deal of pantomime. It calls for fun, sentiment, movement, a measure of spectacle, and plenty of direct communication with the audience. But like the mechanicals’ play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream it needs no excuse, no big ideas.

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Buxton Festival review - early Verdi, earlier Mozart and refreshing Britten

Richard Bratby

“The subject is neither political nor religious; it is fantastical” wrote Verdi to the librettist Piave about his opera Macbeth. “The opera is not about the rise of a modern fascist: nor is it about political tyranny.

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