wed 23/05/2018

Opera Features

Soprano Ruby Hughes on Handel's last prima donna

Ruby Hughes

Who was Giulia Frasi? This is so often the response I get when I mention the name of this Italian singer who came to London and became Handel’s last prima donna during the final decade of his life and, consequently, the supreme soprano of English music in the mid-18th century.

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theartsdesk at the Lucerne Easter Festival: Haitink, Schiff and an alternative Passion

David Nice

Anyone passionate about great conducting would jump at the chance to hear 89-year-old Bernard Haitink giving three days of masterclasses with eight young practitioners of the art, his eighth and possibly last series in Lucerne (though he's not ruling anything out). That was the hook to visit this year's Easter Festival.

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Glyndebourne Opera Cup - a view from inside

Jessica Duchen

I was on a panel of six critics convened to choose the winner of a special "media award" at the Glyndebourne Opera Cup on Saturday evening. What follows is therefore not a review, but rather a chance to chew over the concept and its highs (and occasional lows). And you may be intrigued to hear that our panel and the main jury picked the exact same top three winners.

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Having a Verdi ball: conductor Richard Farnes on Opera North's upcoming production

Richard Farnes

Commentators have, over the years, variously described Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball) as all things to all people: Verdi’s Tristan und Isolde, Verdi’s masterpiece, Verdi’s Don Giovanni, a pure love poem, and much more. It seems to me to be one of his most consistently exciting works, perfectly proportioned and dramatically astute.

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Best of 2017: Opera

David Nice

It may not have been the best year for eye-popping productions; even visionary director Richard Jones fell a bit short with a tame-ish Royal Opera Bohème, though his non-operatic The Twilight Zone is something else. Instead there's been time to reflect on what makes a true...

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theartsdesk in Stockholm - HK Gruber and sacred monsters

David Nice

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 orchestra Frankenstein!! stood the test of time? One word: brilliantly.

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Remembering Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962-2017)

David Nice

A certain online scandalmonger and coffin-chaser likes to preface news of deaths in the musical world with "sadness" or "tragedy", usually when neither he nor we have heard of the person in question.

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'Singers must act better than ever before'

Selina Cadell

"Vary the song, O London, change!" sings Tom Rakewell as he tires of the great metropolis. WH Auden and Chester Kallman's libretto for Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress strikes a chord with me too. London has magnificent opera but, at the top end, it comes at a price. Not just for the audience but for the singers. Lavish sets and costumes force historical productions into revivals.

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'Fanny Price’s pained silences gave me the impulse to write music for her'

Jonathan Dove

When I first read Mansfield Park, some 30 years ago, I heard music. That doesn’t always happen when I read, and it certainly didn’t happen when I read other novels by Jane Austen. There is something about this particular book that provoked musical ideas.

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‘A massive party full of treats and surprises’: Annabel Arden on six mini masterpieces at Opera North

Annabel Arden

The first day of rehearsals for The Little Greats was thrilling and terrifying in equal measure: the casts of six shows, the whole chorus, all the creative teams and management milling around and talking nineteen to the dozen in the big, reverberant Linacre Studio at Opera North. Old friends, new colleagues – it was like a mixture of freshers’ week and a first night party. The noise was stupendous.

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