sun 14/04/2024

Opera Reviews

Daphne, Scottish Opera, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - Strauss’s translucent hymn to nature

David Nice

On an Edinburgh afternoon of torrential rain close to the winter solstice, what ecstasy to be transported to an ancient Greek midsummer day, a Claude landscape with shepherds calling across the hills, painted in the most translucent colours by Richard Strauss in his late mastery. All it needs are world-class voices and an orchestra that glows; it got both in Scottish Opera’s concert staging.  

Read more...

Rodelinda, The English Concert, Bicket, Saffron Hall review - perfect team helps us stay the long Handel course

David Nice

If ever a marriage was made in heaven, it would have to be the one between Lucy Crowe’s beleaguered Queen Rodelinda and Iestyn Davies’ King Bertarido, the husband she believes dead and almost loses a second time. The duet at the end of Handel’s gem-packed Act Two where they’re reunited and then separated again was peerlessly moving as they performed it last night in Saffron Hall with the vibrant English Concert under Harry Bicket (more about the circumstances later).

Read more...

Gazzaniga's Don Giovanni, Royal College of Music review - a modest one-acter overloaded

David Nice

Fascinating for the history of opera, less so for opera. The most interesting thing about Gazzaniga’s take on the libertine and the stone guest, apart from a couple of sprightly numbers, is the libretto by Bertati, repurposed with better dramatic shape by Da Ponte for Mozart, whose masterpiece opened in Prague eight months after the lesser work’s Venice premiere of February 1787. We have a right, though, to witness Gazzaniga’s unadulterated original. This wasn’t it.

Read more...

Jephtha, Royal Opera review - uncomfortable sacrifice oratorio not seismic enough

David Nice

“Tell me,” The West Wing’s President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) asks of a right-wing TV host who uses the Bible to call homosexuality an abomination, “I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21.7… What would a good price for her be?” He might also have cited Judges 11 and asked about sacrificing his daughter as thanks for victory over his enemies, the position of Israelite Jephtha having massacred the Ammonites.

Read more...

Un ballo in maschera, Chelsea Opera Group, Cadogan Hall review - Italianate vitality, if not much finesse

David Nice

Eighteenth century Sweden is the nominal setting for A Masked Ball, but its essence is a unique mixture of Italian testosterone and French opéra-comique elegance. If this concert performance brought it closer to the indiscriminate vitality of early Verdi rather than the experimental shades of the middle period, there was still a huge amount to enjoy, and one stellar performance.

Read more...

La Rondine, Opera North review - rehabilitation for a Puccini damp squib?

Robert Beale

The signal achievement of this production of La Rondine may be that James Hurley (director) and Kerem Hasan (conductor) have rehabilitated it to its proper place, against the perception that it’s the least successful of Puccini’s mature operas.

Read more...

Masque of Might, Opera North review - a tale of ecological virtue

Robert Beale

Sir David Pountney’s creation of a “masque” performance for our times, recycling music Purcell wrote for his, is downright good entertainment even if the plotline’s a bit incoherent.

Read more...

Iolanthe, English National Opera review - still gorgeous but ever so slightly less funny than before

David Nice

Parliament may be topsy-turvy, with a motley bunch of Lords the only hope in vetoing outrageous bills, but up the road at the London Coliseum a more disciplined company is steering a luxury liner with perfect craft. Cal McCrystal’s best G&S so far, where fairies meet peers with, as the cliché has it, hilarious results, was a winner first time round, with gorgeous designs by Paul Brown taking fairyland, Arcadia and Westminster seriously. 

Read more...

Faust, Irish National Opera review - world-class singing turns the musical-dramatic screw

David Nice

Is Gounod’s Faust really a “complex and multi-layered work”, as director Jack Furness claims? Goethe’s original and Berlioz’s Damnation, absolutely; this tuneful concoction, half light opera, half kitsch melodrama, not so much. If Furness’s take leads him to concept overload, as well as quite a few really strong ideas, the big strength here lies in the casting of three world-class singers in the eternal triangle of rake, seduceable innocent and devil.

Read more...

Falstaff, Opera North review - going green and having fun

Robert Beale

There’s a charmingly retro feel to Opera North’s new Falstaff, which comes from it being done as part of their new “green”, i.e. ecologically conscious, season.

Read more...

Pages

latest in today

Music Reissues Weekly: Congo Funk! - Sound Madness From The...

Brazzaville is on the north side of the Congo River. It is the capital of the Republic of the Congo. Kinshasa is on the south side of the Congo....

First Person: Leeds Lieder Festival director and pianist Jos...

Everyone needs friends and everything is connected. As we throw the doors open on to the 2024 Leeds Lieder Festival I am struck by just how...

Ellie Goulding, Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, Royal...

For a singer so often sampled in electronic dance music, it’s a high-end...

Album: A Certain Ratio - It All Comes Down to This

After a long period of relative inactivity, the last five years has had A Certain Ratio getting the bit between their teeth, trying out new sounds...

Back to Black review - rock biopic with a loving but soft to...

Sam Taylor-Johnson has fashioned her biopic of Amy Winehouse with great care and affection, but sometimes, as she shows her subject...

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Philharmonia Chorus, RPO, Petrenko, RFH...

Purple patches flourished in the first half of this admirable programme: it could hardly have been otherwise given Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s devotion...

Six Chick Flicks, Leicester Square Theatre review - funny, f...

Spoofing movies or movie genres has been done before, but Six Chick Flicks goes the extra mile. It's a funny, frenetic and...

Civil War review - God help America

Alex Garland’s fourth movie as writer/director is a chilling glimpse of an...

The Teachers' Lounge - teacher-pupil relationships unde...

The Teachers’ Lounge should really have been translated into English as The Staffroom, but that’s a minor gripe. Focussing on a...