fri 19/08/2022

Opera Reviews

The Excursions of Mr Brouček, Grange Park Opera review - biting satire from bouncing Czechs

Jessica Duchen

Now for something completely different. The Excursions of Mr Brouček is Leos Janáček’s least typical opera and is rarely performed. Among his tragic tales such as Jenufa and Kat’a Kabanova, the charm of The Cunning Little Vixen and the strangely heart-twisting The Makropoulos Case, the Czech composer's biting satire – in which the time-travelling anti-hero is chiefly "blotto" – faces an uphill struggle for a look-in.

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Orfeo ed Euridice, Blackwater Valley Opera Festival review - heavenly possibilities, devils at work in the details

David Nice

"Elysian" is the best way to describe the dream gardens of Ireland's Lismore Castle in early June: lupins, alliums and peonies rampant in endless herbaceous borders, supernatural perspectives towards the main building on various levels. This year’s Blackwater Valley Opera Festival production of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, not so much: easily adjustable circumstances worked too often against talented performers in the converted stables space pressed into service once a year.

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Così fan tutte, Garsington Opera review - gambling with the highest stakes

Peter Quantrill

The scene is Monte-Carlo, around the beginning of the last century: a carefully observed world of cloudless skies, glittering seas, high society and careless privilege shared with Death in Venice.

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Parsifal, Opera North review - full focus and a dream line-up

Robert Beale

Wagner, in his medievalist, pan-European, 19th century way, wanted Parsifal to be a blend of abstract and religious experience for his audiences at Bayreuth, calling it a “festival play for a stage consecration”. Questions for those performing it today include how to do justice to its philosophical baggage as well as its marvellous music, and whether to introduce new elements in the visual staging that the composer never thought of.

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Siegfried, Longborough Festival review - happily concept-free but with 'Good Ideas'

stephen Walsh

With a lapse of three years between Das Rheingold and Siegfried, and with only a semi-staged Walküre in between, it’s been hard to stay tuned to Amy Lane’s Ring production at Longborough.

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Madama Butterfly, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - an opera masterclass

Robert Beale

An opera in the Hallé concert series, conducted by Sir Mark Elder, is rather like a blend of a religious observance and a masterclass in orchestral playing and singing technique.

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Samson et Dalila, Royal Opera review - from austerity to excess, with visual rigour and aural beauty

David Nice

Words and situations are one-dimensional, but the music is chameleonic, if not profound, and crafted with a master’s hand. What to do about Saint-Saëns’s Biblical hokum? In Richard Jones’s new production, the end justifies the means, with persecuted Hebrews and mocking Philistines circling two essential star turns, and Antonio Pappano’s handling of a hard-to-pace score is vivid from opening keenings to final cataclysm.

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Le nozze di Figaro, Glyndebourne review - fabulous singing and a classy production

Miranda Heggie

After two years of Covid-affected performances – even though there was a full season last year – Glyndebourne's annual festival is finally back in full glory. Following the big blaze of Saturday's The Wreckers, Sunday welcomed back Michael Grandage's durable production of a signature treasure, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

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The Wreckers, Glyndebourne review - no masterpiece, but vividly sung and played

David Nice

Interesting for the history of music, but not for music? Passing acquaintance with Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers, a grand opera by a woman at a time (the early 1900s) when circumstances made such a thing near-impossible, had suggested so.

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Fidelio, Insula Orchestra, Barbican review - truth and justice brought to light

Boyd Tonkin

Thanks to the pandemic, the planned tidal surge of Fidelio productions never quite happened during Beethoven’s anniversary year of 2020. Instead, the birthday’s boy’s sole opera – beset by glitches and re-thinks ever since its creation – has rolled on intermittent waves into houses and halls around the world.

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