wed 24/04/2019

Opera Features

Britten 100: Death in Moscow

Iestyn Davies

“A cold coming we had of it,” grumble the three kings in T S Eliot’s poem “The Journey of the Magi” later set by Britten as his Canticle IV. “Just the worst time of year for a journey,” they complain, carried onwards by the ungulate bass notes of the piano.

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theartsdesk in Wexford: European opera feast

Roderic Dunnett

At the Wexford Opera Festival this autumn you could see a bicentenary performance of Verdi’s La traviata. Likewise Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. But that’s not why Ireland’s operatic showpiece is one of the most famous, admired and respected events on the European opera calendar (to prove it, Opera Europe, the forum for all companies across the continent, held one of its annual conferences in Wexford this autumn).

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Satyagraha Remix: Opera Reaches Out

alexandra Coghlan

The brightly coloured flyer promises all manner of activities. Improvised jam sessions, performance poetry, and philosophy discussions. Oh, and an Indian dance workshop. On an obscenely cold Sunday night I find myself braving not only the cold, but an unprecedented evening of “genre-defying artistic collaboration”, courtesy of English National Opera’s outreach arm – ENO Baylis.

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Patrice Chéreau, 1944-2013: a partial view

David Nice

It has to be partial, because out of the 10 opera productions from the iconoclastic French actor-director, who died yesterday of lung cancer at the age of 68, I’ve seen but two, on screen only – but a big two at that – and only three of his 11 films. Yet they all had a tremendous impact, one way or another.

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Opinion: When artists could speak out

David Nice

Take note of the title, with its “could”, not “must”. “The word ‘must’ is not to be used to Princes,” quoth Good Queen Bess as echoed in Britten’s Gloriana. Yet that was the verb used by New York writer Scott Rose, guest-posting on Norman Lebrecht’s Slipped Disc blog.

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'O what have I done?'

Mark Padmore

“O what have I done, o what, what have I done? Confusion, so much is confusion.” So sings Captain Vere in the Prologue of Billy Budd and Benjamin Britten plunges us straight into this confusion from the very first bar as we are left in uncertainty which of two keys - B flat major and B minor - will prevail.

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Opinion: Opera does not deserve its image problem

Alexander Robinson

I'm a great fan of the BBC, I really am, but it pains me to say that its coverage of the arts on TV often leaves a great deal to be desired. A case in point is Sarah Montague's recent (29 July) HARDtalk interview of opera singer Thomas Hampson, which I watched via the HARDtalk YouTube page.

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theartsdesk in Bradford: Bollywood Carmen Live

Jasper Rees

“My generation all were steeped in Bollywood.” Meera Syal, Wolverhampton born and bred, is recalling the cinematic influences of her youth. “It was our major link to India and was much more current than trying to make a phone call. You did feel that, though you were so far away, you were watching the same movies as your cousins.”

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theartsdesk in Göttingen: Handel goes east

David Nice

Let me confess: I had to return to lovely Göttingen as much for the frogs as for the Handel. Puffing out their throats like bubblegum, the amphibians' brekekekek chorus in the ponds of the great university’s botanic gardens actually made a more spectacular showing, in my books, than the main opera of this year’s Handel Festival, the 93rd, with its canny theme linking the German honorary Englishman with the Orient.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Kate Lindsey and Katharina Thoma on Glyndebourne's Ariadne auf Naxos

David Nice

What’s the perfect Glyndebourne opera? Mozart, of course, must have first and second places with Le nozze di Figaro – Michael Grandage’s lively production of country-house mayhem is revived again this season – and Così fan tutte. Then comes Amadeus’s greatest admirer, Richard Strauss, and Ariadne auf Naxos - his most experimental collaboration with his then-established house poet for Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier, Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

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