sun 18/02/2018

Puccini

Tosca, Welsh National Opera review - ticking the traditionalist boxes

Opera-lovers: if you’ve finally had enough of the wheelchairs and syringes, the fifties skirts and heels, the mobile phones and the white box sets, and the rest of the symbolic paraphernalia of the right-on modern opera production, pop along to the...

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Classical CDs Weekly Special: Callas Live

Remastered they may be, but the 20 live operas recorded here between 1949 and 1964 vary soundwise from clean at best to atrocious, with all the caprices of stage noise and audience participation seemingly acceptable at the time (so often there's the...

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theartsdesk in Stockholm - HK Gruber and sacred monsters

It was excellent, flesh-creepy fun back in 1978, when a young Simon Rattle conducted the Liverpool world premiere with the composer declaiming, but how well has Austrian maverick H(einz) K(arl) "Nali" Gruber's "pandemonium" for chansonnier and...

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Grenfell Tower Benefit Concert, Cadogan Hall - stellar line-up for a vital cause

“Keep here your watch, and never part.” There was a strong symbolism of standing and singing together in the last moments of the Grenfell Tower Benefit Concert. After singing the Lament of Purcell's Dido, Christine Rice made her way back slowly...

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La Bohème, Royal Opera review - spectacle and sentiment not yet in focus

“I’m not in the mood” – “non sono in vena” – sings aspiring poet Rodolfo as he settles down to write a lead article. Was it me, or had the mood not settled by the premiere of the Royal Opera’s first new production of Puccini's structurally perfect...

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Michael Volpe on a Requiem for Grenfell: 'one of the most remarkable evenings in our history'

On the morning of the Grenfell Tower disaster, as the news of the fire gathered pace and gravity, our phones were abuzz with concern for our front of house colleague, Debbie Lamprell, who we knew lived in the tower. We all called her number time and...

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La Rondine, Opera Holland Park

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...

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Turandot, Opera North

I’ve seen the future, and it’s semi-staged. The gains here are far more significant than the losses. And where Opera North’s minimalist Leeds Town Hall Ring let Peter Mumford’s video projections fill in the gaps, this new production of Turandot...

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DVD: Mario Lanza - The Best of Everything

Born Alfred Arnold Cocozza to immigrant working-class Italian parents in Philadelphia, Mario Lanza was lauded by the likes of Serge Koussevitsky and Arturo Toscanini, becoming a huge Hollywood star by the early 1950s. Lanza couldn’t read music, and...

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Patience/Tosca, English Touring Opera

How well do you know your bad Victorian poetry? “When through the purple corridors the screaming scarlet Ibis flew/In terror, and a horrid dew dripped from the moaning Mandragores.” Go on, guess the author. Or how about this? “What time the poet...

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Madama Butterfly, Royal Opera

"È un'immensa pietà" - "it's heartbreaking," rather than "it's a huge pity" - sings consul Sharpless of "Butterfly" Cio-Cio San's fatal belief that her American husband will return to her. Heartbreak is what we expected from Ermonela Jaho after her...

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Mirjam Mesak, Kristiina Rokashevich, St Bartholomew the Great

Treasure our young continental European musicians in London while you can. Only last week I learned that so many of the overseas students at London's Guildhall School had stories to tell about being questioned in public (usually "are you Polish?"...

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