sun 25/06/2017

Opera Reviews

Otello, Royal Opera review — Kaufmann makes a pretty Moor

ismene Brown

Recorded on disc, this cast would be extraordinary for much of the time — to look at, not so much.

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Pelléas et Mélisande, Garsington Opera review - brilliant but frustrating

stephen Walsh

A drama of passion for essentially passive characters, Debussy’s one and only completed opera is a masterpiece of paradox. How do you stage a work whose dramatis personae hardly seem aware of their own destructive feelings, and who inhabit their island world like the blind who, according to Pelléas, used to visit the curative fountain but stopped doing so when the king himself went blind?

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Der Rosenkavalier, Welsh National Opera review - hard to imagine a stronger cast

stephen Walsh

Der Rosenkavalier, you might think, is one of those operas that belong in a specific place and time and no other. “In Vienna,” says Strauss's score, “in the first years of Maria Theresia’s reign” (i.e. the 1740s). But this, of course, is a provocation.

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Hamlet, Glyndebourne review - integrity if not genius in Brett Dean's score

david Nice

Nature’s germens tumble all together rather readily in more recent operatic Shakespeare. Following the overblown storm before the storm of Reimann’s Lear and the premature angst of Ryan Wigglesworth’s The Winter’s Tale, what's rotten in the state of Denmark rushes to the surface a little too quickly in Brett Dean's bold new take on the most challenging of all the tragedies.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream, Snape Maltings

alexandra Coghlan

It’s all there in the first few bars of Britten’s music – that unsettling tension between beauty and familiarity, and eerie, undefinable otherness. Those cello glissandi might end in glowing major chords, but the tentacle-like slides throw them into doubt. We’re no longer in a binary world of major or minor, but a harmonic landscape of infinite possibility.

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Tristan und Isolde, Longborough Festival

stephen Walsh

The Longborough Festival was started, essentially, to perform Wagner, and Wagner is still what it does best. This revival of Carmen Jakobi’s production of Tristan und Isolde is the strongest argument imaginable for small-theatre Wagner.

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Radamisto, Guildhall School, Milton Court

alexandra Coghlan

''…after various Accidents, it comes to pass that he recovers both Her and his Kingdom”.

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La Rondine, Opera Holland Park

david Nice

When are the big international opera houses going to wake up to the great British talent that is Elizabeth Llewellyn? With her opulent soprano – shaded middle register, full bloom at the top, cutting chest voice – she was born to sing Verdi and Puccini, and her stage presence is undeniable from the moment she steps out.

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L'Orfeo, EBS, Gardiner, Colston Hall, Bristol

stephen Walsh

This last of Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s semi-staged Monteverdi series took us back practically to the very start of the whole genre. L’Orfeo was presented in Mantua in 1607 as a court opera, and will have been seen and heard by a fraction of the number of people who crowded into Bristol’s Colston Hall on...

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The Mikado review - Sasha Regan's all-male operetta formula hits a reef

david Nice

Men playing boys playing girls, women and men, all female parts convincingly falsettoed and high musical standards as backbone: Sasha Regan's single-sex Gilbert and Sullivan has worked a special magic on Iolanthe and The Pirates of Penzance, HMS Pinafore and now The Mikado, not so much. Energetic song and dance are still in evidence.

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