sat 18/11/2017

WNO

The Barber of Seville, Welsh National Opera

The latest themed season from WNO, to add to their fallen women, Donizetti queens and what not, goes by the slightly worrying title (for anyone with a short attention span) of “Figaro Forever”, and consists of an operatic sequence derived from...

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Best of 2015: Opera

How ironic that English National Opera turned out possibly the two best productions of the year after the Arts Council had done its grant-cutting worst, punishing the company simply, it seemed, for not being the irrationally preferred Royal Opera....

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A Christmas Carol, Welsh National Opera

Dickens’s public readings from his novels were almost as famous and popular as the novels themselves. He would write special scripts that gave prominence to particular characters and that dramatized the salient events of each story; and of all these...

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Tosca, Wales Millennium Centre

There’s a good deal to be said for semi-staged opera. It concentrates the mind in a particular way; it brings the orchestra more fully into the action; it moves the singers closer to the audience; and above all it reduces – even removes – the power...

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Sweeney Todd, Welsh National Opera

If nothing else, Stephen Sondheim’s best-known work will put you off pies; it will put you off barbers; and it may in the end put you off Sondheim. Popular though it seems to be with planners and programmers, it’s sluggish and heavy going as drama...

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Orlando, Welsh National Opera

It’s almost impossible to imagine what a Handel opera performance can have been like in London in the 1730s, when Orlando first appeared. The audience came primarily to hear their favourite singers: and these must have been sensational, if not...

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I Puritani, Welsh National Opera

Whatever one may feel about Bellini’s music, it’s hard to think of him as in any sense a political composer. So you could almost hear the hearts hit the floor when the curtain went up – or rather was as usual already up – on the opening of Bellini’s...

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Listed: Essential Operas 2015-16

September is upon us and it’s nearly time for the new season. English National Opera’s Artistic Director John Berry may have left the building but his enterprising legacy lives on in a 2015-16 season that looks on paper as good as any in the past 20...

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Pelléas et Mélisande, Welsh National Opera

Debussy completed only one opera (though he started plenty), but it’s the most perfect work imaginable, not only in sheer musical refinement and narrative precision, but in psychological penetration and above all in that exact grasp of the...

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Peter Pan, Welsh National Opera

I must have been one of the few in Saturday’s audience for Richard Ayres’s new opera who had never seen Barrie’s play or read the book, so I’m unable to judge how faithfully it renders the original – in case that matters. Somehow one knows the...

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Die Walküre Act 3, WNO, Koenigs, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

There’s a lot to be said for concert performances of Wagner. Not only are you spared the post-prandial lucubrations of aspirant directors – the moonmen and the fighter pilots, the jackboots and the biogas installations. But it’s possible to...

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Hansel and Gretel, Welsh National Opera

After 16 years one might expect a revival of a repertory opera like Hansel and Gretel to come up with a dusty look and frayed edges. But Benjamin Davis has done a brilliant job pumping the life back into Richard Jones’s memorable but intricate 1998...

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