wed 28/02/2024

Opera Reviews

Così fan tutte, Welsh National Opera review - relevance reduced to irrelevance

stephen Walsh

We can’t do without Così fan tutte; it’s an irresistible masterpiece. But it’s a thorn in the flesh of modern directors, who struggle to find the "relevance" they seem to need in order to get the wretched piece on to the stage.

Read more...

Manon Lescaut, English Touring Opera review - a nightmare in too many ways

Boyd Tonkin

Opera in Britain is currently cursed by funders, politicians and ideologues – of right and left – who heartily detest the form. Alas, some directors do their work for them with interpretations seemingly designed to undermine the very art they are employed to serve. English Touring Opera (rare beneficiaries of a recent boost to their public subsidy) have regularly excelled in the past. They will do so again.

Read more...

Marx in London, Scottish Opera review - the humour of history made manifest

Miranda Heggie

An opera about a day in the life of Karl Marx doesn’t exactly sound like a barrel of laughs. But then so much of Jonathan Dove’s witty 2018 work proves that things are not always what they seem, whether that’s through Dove’s jaunty score-writing, Charles Hart’s ingenious  libretto or Jürgen Weber’s drolly imagined scenario.

Read more...

Cavalleria Rusticana/Aleko, Opera North review - a new foil for Mascagni

Robert Beale

Opera North have a new pairing for Mascagni’s popular but clichéd Cavalleria Rusticana in this double bill: an early Rachmaninov one-acter, written when he was 19. The production of the former is a revival of the one seen in 2017 in their Little Greats season, and its director then, Karolina Sofulak, has returned to create this Aleko alongside it.

Read more...

Così fan tutte, Opera North review - a safe bet

Robert Beale

Reviving Tim Albery’s production of Così fan tutte, now almost 20 years old, again at Leeds Grand Theatre, Opera North have a bet that’s as safe as Don Alfonso’s in the story – that “Women are all the same”. It’s a sure-fire winner, and the best part this time round lies in the balance and contrast of both voices and personalities in the casting of the central pairs of lovers.

Read more...

The Handmaid's Tale, English National Opera review - last chance saloon for sub-Atwood baggy monster

David Nice

Never underestimate the enduring power of a great story over an unwieldy operatic setting. Few of us who saw the first ENO production of The Handmaid’s Tale back in 2003 thought the work stood much chance of revival. Yet Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel has justifiably gained even greater hold since then, so here we are on a third run of Poul Ruders’ baggy monster.

Read more...

Elektra, Royal Opera review - moral: don’t wait too long for revenge

David Nice

Those were happy days back in 2014 when, justifiably flushed with the success of the Royal Opera’s Tristan und Isolde revival, director Christof Loy, music director Antonio Pappano and soprano Nina Stemme mooted possibly the toughest role challenge of them all, that of Strauss and Hofmannsthal’s vengeful obsessive Elektra. Yet nearly a decade is a long time in the life of a dramatic soprano, and on last night’s evidence, it's come too late in London.

Read more...

Albert Herring, Opera North review - immersive and intimate fun

Robert Beale

Reviving Giles Havergal’s 2013 production from its “Festival of Britten” of that year, Opera North have an Albert Herring that’s both immersive and intimate, to quote their own publicity.

Read more...

Jenůfa, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - a variegated but gorgeous bouquet

David Nice

An inexhaustible masterpiece shows different facets with each new interpretation. I’d thought of Jenůfa, Janáček's searing tale of Moravian village life based on a great play by a pioneering woman (Gabriela Preissová), as an open razor rushing through the world, cutting left and right. Simon Rattle presented instead an opulent bouquet, one slowly purged of the poisonous blooms within it.

Read more...

Best of 2023: Opera

David Nice

Choosing a limited best seems almost meaningless when even simply the seven operatic experiences I've relished in the run-up to Christmas (nothing seasonal) deserve a place in the sun. But in a year which has seen Arts Council devastation versus brilliant business as usual where possible, English National Opera – faced with “Manchester or die” – needs the first shout-out for doing everything the moneygivers want it to.

Read more...

Pages

latest in today

Cable Street, Southwark Playhouse review - engaging new musi...

Hot on the heels of Brigid Larmour’s updating of The Merchant of Venice to the East End in 1936, a spirited new...

Andy Parsons, Touring review - reasons to be cheerful...

In the middle of another age of austerity, a climate crisis and seemingly intractable international conflicts, it's cheering that a comic should...

Out of Season, Hampstead Theatre review - banter as bullying

One island off the coast of Spain has more cultural oomph than all the rest put together. I’m talking about Ibiza, the sun-soaked, music-happy and...

Album: Yard Act - Where's My Utopia?

The best popular music tunes into the zeitgeist. It can reflect cultural currents, encourage them, or enable the public to turn away and...

'Migrations' String Quartet Weekend, National Conc...

It was chance that the National Concert Hall’s weekend of quartet events featuring responses to war and refugees should coincide with the second...

Drive to Survive, Season 6, Netflix review - F1 documentary...

When the first season of Drive to Survive launched on Netflix in 2019, it was greeted with suspicion by some in the Formula One paddock....

Shifters, Bush Theatre review - love will tear us apart agai...

For the past ten years, Black-British playwrights have been in the vanguard of innovation in the form and content of new writing. I’m thinking not...

Così fan tutte, Welsh National Opera review - relevance redu...

We can’t do without Così fan tutte; it’s an irresistible masterpiece. But it’s a thorn in the flesh of modern directors, who...

Driving Mum review - a dark comedy that has you laughing out...

Hilmar Oddsson’s award-winning film Driving Mum is pitch-perfect. Jon has spent the last 30 years looking after his domineering mother....