tue 25/06/2019

Opera Reviews

Berenice, Royal Opera/London Handel Festival review - luminous shenanigans in the Linbury

David Nice

It might be the nature of Handel's operatic beasts, but performances tend to fall into two camps: brilliant in the fusion of drama and virtuosity, singing and playing, or boring to various degrees.

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Elizabeth I/Macbeth, English Touring Opera review - elegance and eeriness

Richard Bratby

A crash, a scurry, a long, lilting serenade – the overture to Rossini’s Elizabeth I sounds oddly familiar. Not to worry. English Touring Opera has anticipated our confusion.

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La forza del destino, Royal Opera review - generous voices, dramatic voids

David Nice

When "Maestro" Riccardo Muti left the Royal Opera's previous production of Verdi's fate-laden epic, disgusted by minor changes to fit the scenery on the Covent Garden stage, no-one was sorry when Antonio Pappano, the true master of the house then only two years into his glorious reign, took over.

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Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Birmingham Opera Company review - searing music-theatre for all

David Nice

A rum cove sidles up pimping with a tatty business card offering the services of Sonyetka. Not for me, I say, pointing out that in any case she’ll be dead three hours later. "That's more than I know," he says and wanders off to hook other possible clients. Further on, rodent-headed creatures flit by. One seems to be in an altercation with a Rentokil officer. Odd, too, that there should be policemen parading the disco-lit, dilipidated Tower Ballroom on the edge of Edgbaston Reservoir.

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Idomeneo, English Touring Opera review – honest excellence

Boyd Tonkin

Selfish, cunning, cynical, the older generation has screwed up the world with aggression abroad and dishonesty at home. Can their children make it good again? This family drama of transgression and reparation threads through Idomeneo, the opera that Mozart – who had his own troublesome issues with both biological fathers and father-figure patrons – premiered in Munich in 1781.

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Robin Hood, The Opera Story, CLF Café review - folk hero re-imagined as Tory villain

Bernard Hughes

What’s the one thing everyone knows about Robin Hood? That he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. So it was quite a brave decision to re-cast Robin as a rapacious Tory shires MP, doing his best to stop the poor becoming rich. At least, I think that was what happened: in much of the story is opaque, even having read the synopsis carefully.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream, Guildhall School review - earthy, energetic Britten

David Nice

It speaks vivid volumes for the superb health of our music colleges that the Guildhall School tackles every aspect of Britten's long and layered Shakespeare adaptation with total confidence.

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The Merry Widow, English National Opera review - glitter but no sparkle

alexandra Coghlan

It’s all there. High kicks and tight corsets; silk and sequins and shenanigans in a broom closet; hot pinks and still hotter can-can girls; waltzing, scheming, sparring, and a bit with a banquet table. There’s even a dancing beaver. So why don’t I feel more elated?

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Così fan tutte, Royal Opera review - fine singing and elegant deceits

Peter Quantrill

Give hope to all, says Despina: play-act. Così fan tutte has always been a piece about four young and silly people being appalling to one another without much need for encouragement from a cynical old manipulator and a confused maid who, in the main, is the one character capable of arousing real sympathy.

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The Monstrous Child, Royal Opera, Linbury Theatre review - fresh operatic mythology for teenagers

alexandra Coghlan

Hel, heroine of Gavin Higgins and Francesca Simon’s new opera, is the illegitimate daughter of the Norse god Loki. In many ways The Monstrous Child itself feels like a bastard offspring, born – moody, mouthy and full of fragile rage – to Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Skins or possibly 13 Reasons Why.

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