mon 17/06/2019

Opera Features

theartsdesk in Dresden and Berlin: Happy Birthday, Richard Strauss

David Nice

Richard Strauss was born in Munich 150 years ago today. Christian Thielemann is celebrating the fact by conducting the Staatskapelle Dresden in the juiciest of all-Strauss operatic potpourris, a festive concert to be held in the city’s glorious Semperoper. What wouldn’t I give to hear Anja Harteros, alongside Anne Schwanewilms the loveliest of Strauss sopranos, and chaste nymph Daphne’s metamorphosis into a laurel in a peerless operatic epilogue?

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theartsdesk in Budapest: Magyar Strauss

Roderic Dunnett

If the Hungarian State Opera wanted to demonstrate that it is now back on top form, it could not have chosen a better way than this six-opera celebration of Richard Strauss’s 150th anniversary. Mahler conducted here before moving to Hamburg, Vienna and New York. Filled with new ambition, after a contractual shake-up under General Manager Szilveszter Ókovács, Budapest displays revitalised strength and amazing depth in all departments.

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Caspar Gomez hits Glyndebourne Opera Festival

Caspar Gomez

It’s certainly different from the Glastonbury shuttle, I’ll tell you that. I’m sitting with Finetime on the minibus that takes festival-goers from Lewes Station to the opening day of Glyndebourne Opera Festival 2014.

Finetime’s looking very much the peacock today, a suit of many colours and he’s even wearing an earring with a blue feather. I clank my Asahi beer against his.

“The first of too many,” I say.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Robin Ticciati

David Nice

Poised when I met him six weeks ago between 40th anniversary celebrations of  the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, of which he has been a shaping chief conductor for the past five years  and putting his new music directorship of Glyndebourne into action, Robin Ticciati hardly seemed like a man in positions of power, more an idealistic youth with a touch of the dreamer softening a powerful intellect.

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Remembering Sir George Christie (1934-2014)

Brian Dickie

I started work at Glyndebourne in 1962 at the age of 20 and remained there for 27 years, for the last seven of which I was General Administrator. Throughout that period George was Chairman of Glyndebourne Productions, and my ultimate boss. 

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theartsdesk in Sydney: Beyond the Cringe

alexandra Coghlan

I hadn’t heard the term “cultural cringe” until I went to live in Australia. Holiday encounters had been so full of sunshine, art, water and music that it hadn’t occurred to me to doubt the cultural confidence and energy of the nation that gave us Patrick White and Peter Carey, Baz Luhrmann and Brett Whiteley, Joan Sutherland and Robert Hughes. But once I did, the phrase was everywhere.

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A silver rose for Glyndebourne's 80th

David Nice

Der Rosenkavalier, Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s 1911 “comedy for music” about love, money and masquerading in a putative 18th-century Vienna, is a repertoire staple around the world.

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Kiri at 70

theartsdesk

Even more deserving of the sobriquet “the beautiful voice” than Renée Fleming, the natural successor who virtually copyrighted it, Kiri te Kanawa was one of the great sopranos of the 20th century. With those big, candid brown eyes and bone structure she’s still a beauty, as the images of her cameo role in the Royal Opera’s La Fille du régiment underline. The voice now – well, as I wrote in my review of Monday’s opening, it’s what you’d expect of a 70 year old with form....

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theartsdesk in Bordeaux: Bottoms up for Rameau

David Nice

Jean-Philippe Rameau, the most radical and inventive of French composers before Berlioz, died in Paris 250 years ago this September. 16 years later a gem among theatres opened its doors for the first time with a long evening’s entertainment including Racine’s Athalie, supported by an incidental score from the resident music master Franz Beck.

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theartsdesk in Oslo: Barocking Handel in the Opera House

David Nice

Oslo is a winter wonderland, and adults seem to be outnumbered by children, flocking from all over Norway to Disney on Ice. It’s the deep snow and the silence in pockets of the city rather than the kids which make me wonder if anyone has set Handel’s Alcina in the icy lair of C S Lewis’s White Witch, with hero Ruggiero as Edmund fed Turkish delight from the magic phial. There's even a captive lion. Francesco Negrin’s straightforwardly magical production - look, no metatext!

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