wed 21/02/2024

Opera Features

theartsdesk in Ravenna - Riccardo Muti passes on a lifetime's operatic wisdom

David Nice

Does “the practice of opera singing in Italy” need help from UNESCO, which has newly inscribed it on the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”? Italian opera is surely immensely popular worldwide. But when it comes to practising the art properly, its greatest senior exponent, Riccardo Muti, powerfully argues that Verdi and Bellini, his most recent special projects in the city where he lives, Ravenna, need as much respect and care as Beethoven or Schubert.

Read more...

Michael Powell: a happy time with Bartók’s Bluebeard

David Nice

In his final years Michael Powell mooted the possibility of a Bartók trilogy. He wanted to add to the growing popularity of his work on Bluebeard’s Castle, the deepest of one-act operas, an idea he had previously rejected of filming the lurid "pantomime" The Miraculous Mandarin and, as third instalment, not the earlier ballet The Wooden Prince but a film about the composer’s time in America and his return, after death, to Hungary.

Read more...

theartsdesk at Wexford Festival Opera - four operas and a recital in one crazy day

David Nice

Imagine a Glyndebourne season where all those promising young singers in the chorus get to be principals in a series of fringe operas. At Wexford, they already have their work cut out, though this year not so much in the three main rarities – hence the sheer joy of witnessing so many fine performances in Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, Donizetti’s La fille du régiment and Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri.

Read more...

theartsdesk in Ukraine - Stankovych's 'Psalms of War' at the Lviv National Opera

Ed Vulliamy

Yevhen Stankovych is Ukraine’s most important living composer and – after decades of writing music that seems to grow from this country’s rich black earth, tribulations, literature and folklore – he now contributes, with his latest piece, the most cogent musical event of the current calamity.

Read more...

First Person: Director Sir David Pountney on creating a new 'Masque of Might' from the music of Purcell

Sir David Pountney

Purcell came very early to me. When I was a chorister at St. John’s Cambridge “Jehova quam multi sunt” was a perennial favourite and we were thrilled by the evenings when George Guest brought in some string players to accompany Purcell’s verse anthems. These were special occasions. Then, since no management had the wit to invite me to direct Purcell, I finally engaged myself to direct The Fairy Queen at ENO.

Read more...

First Person: mezzo Stephanie Wake-Edwards on open dialogue and shared goals in the new show 'FEAST'

Stephanie Wake-

“Do you actually speak like that?” was the first thing a senior colleague said to me during my initial week at a prestigious UK opera house. I’ve always had a tricky time understanding who I really am.

Read more...

First Person: composer Russell Hepplewhite on setting John Burningham's 'Borka' to music

Russell Hepplewhite

Taking a book and lifting it from the page so that it works on the stage is daunting. When the target audience happens to be children aged between about four and eight, the challenge is magnified. As I write this, a brand new company, Ignite Music, is about to embark on a nationwide tour of an opera I wrote back in 2014 that was composed specifically for this audience - the ones with the very youngest of ears.  

Read more...

First Person: soprano Soraya Mafi on why Glyndebourne's tour cancellation is disastrous

Soraya Mafi

Anyone concerned about making the arts accessible regardless of where they live should be concerned by the recent announcement from Glyndebourne that it’s having to cease touring across England.

Read more...

theartsdesk in Brno - a visionary at home in his ‘Moravian Bayreuth’

David Nice

“Visionary,” I’m told, is a clichéd word these days. But so long as you don’t fling it about too freely, it’s apt: for me, there are only two visionary directors working in opera right now. One is our own Richard Jones – though even he can get it wrong occasionally – and non-Czechs probably won’t know much about the other as yet.

Read more...

An open letter from Dame Sarah Connolly and colleagues to Arts Council England

Sarah Connolly

The decision of Arts Council England to withdraw funding from the English National Opera and force it to move out of London is not only another hammer blow to the opera industry but it has huge ramifications for the extensive number of British freelance artists the company employs.

Read more...

Pages

latest in today

Album: Laeitia Sadier - Rooting for Love

It must be kind of unreal living in the Stereolab universe. A band of geeky introverts, beloved of the type of...

The Way, BBC One review - steeltown blues

This three-part drama arrives trailing clouds of big-byline...

Dance for Ukraine Gala, London Palladium review - a second r...

It’s tempting to see the second gala created by Ukrainian-born Ivan Putrov as a reflection of the shift in Ukraine’s fortunes since his first one...

Sheila Heti: Alphabetical Diaries review - an A-Z of inner l...

After a first read of the blurb for Sheila Heti’s Alphabetical Diaries, you might be forgiven for assuming that this is merely a gimmick...

Blu-ray: Jerzy Skolimowski - Walkower, Bariera, Dialóg 20-40...

Diving into this three-disc set of early films by maverick...

Kin, Series 2, BBC One review - when crime dynasties collide

The end of the first series of Kin found Dublin’s Kinsella crime family ridding themselves of bloodsucking...

Fung, BBC Philharmonic, Weilerstein, Bridgewater Hall, Manch...

Placing the UK premiere of Katherine Balch’s whisper concerto (for cello and orchestra) after...

Paul Foot, Soho Theatre review - how to discover the meaning...

It's probably fair to say that Paul Foot is an acquired taste for some; his absurdist, poetic comedy isn't for everyone but he has built a strong...

Album: MGMT - Loss of Life

The dolefulness of the title Loss of Life is reflected by what’s in the grooves. The lyrics of the Todd Rundgren/Queen-esque fifth track...

Music Reissues Weekly: Lou Christie - Gypsy Bells

Lou Christie fancied offering some social comment. The lyrics of his May 1967 single “Self Expression (The Kids on the Street Will Never Give in...