sun 14/04/2024

Opera Reviews

La Traviata, Welsh National Opera review - memorable revival, unforgettable lead

stephen Walsh

It’s always tempting, at curtain-up in La Traviata, to settle back, half-close one’s eyes, and soak up the familiar without the anxiety of the new. Not this time you won’t. David McVicar’s lavish 2009 text-true staging is being revived with a generally strong, stylish and dependable cast.

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Peter Grimes, English National Opera review - not quite the pity or the truth

David Nice

Britten’s biggest cornucopia of invention seems unsinkable, and no-one seeing his breakthrough 1945 opera for the first time in this revival will fail to register its forceful genius. David Alden’s expressionist nightmare of a production, though, has never seemed to me to hit the heart of the matter. And though musical values are strong, ENO music director Martyn Brabbins doesn’t always keep the tension flowing.

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The Yellow Wallpaper, Lilian Baylis Studio review - a tense and intimate monodrama

Bernard Hughes

What a difference a few years make. In 2019 I reviewed composer Dani Howard’s first opera, Robin Hood, also produced by The Opera Story, and commented on the fundraising success that enabled a cast of six and an ensemble of 10.

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Das Rheingold, Royal Opera - knotty, riveting route to destruction

David Nice

Let’s set aside, to begin with, the question of the concept, other than to praise it as consistent. Most vital about this brave new Rheingold is the vindication of director Barrie Kosky’s claim that “what makes a Ring production interesting is the detailed work within the scenes between the characters”. With a conductor as intent on clarity and meaning as Antonio Pappano, and a true ensemble of performers willing to go along with him and Kosky, the battle is three-quarters won.

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Ainadamar, Welsh National Opera review - hits hard without breaking ground

stephen Walsh

I find it hard to know quite what to make of Ainadamar, Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov’s one-act opera about the life and death of the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who was murdered in unknown circumstances – probably by Nationalist militia – in the early months of the Spanish civil war in August 1936.

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Prom 64: Les Troyens, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Sousa review - ravishing interpretation of Berlioz's masterpiece

Rachel Halliburton

It’s one of the great tragedies of Les Troyens that its composer never got to hear it performed in its entirety during his lifetime. This ravishing, big-hearted interpretation of the two of the most dramatic episodes in Virgil’s Aeneid was dismissed by orchestras that could not comprehend its technical or emotional demands, with the consequence that there was no attempt at a proper staging till 21 years after Berlioz's death.

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Tannhäuser, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Edinburgh International Festival 2023 - compelling concert Wagner

Christopher Lambton

This was one of the more strait-laced concert performances, with few concessions to Wagner’s underlying stage drama. The soloists were in formal concert dress, strung out in a line at the front of the stage, with interaction between them limited to looks of anguish and the sparest of gestures. The shepherd boy in Act 1 was banished to the upper reaches of the organ gallery, and there was a substantial off-stage band in Act 2, but otherwise there was nothing to distract us from the music.

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Prom 43: Endgame, BBC Scottish SO, Ryan Wigglesworth review - beautiful sounds but slow, slow drama

Bernard Hughes

György Kurtág is 97 and the last man standing of the post-war generation of avant-garde composers. Last night the Proms staged the UK premiere of his first opera, started in his eighties and premiered in 2018, a setting of Samuel Beckett’s typically mystifying play Endgame.

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Prom 31: Dialogues des Carmélites, Glyndebourne, BBC Radio 3 review - full force on air

David Nice

“There will be more incense,” promised Glyndebourne Music Director Robin Ticciati of the company’s annual visit to the Proms. He was talking to my Opera Zoom class between the final rehearsal and first performance of Poulenc’s great masterpiece about the martyrdom of Carmelite nuns during the French revolution, as directed by Barrie Kosky with unsparing horror and humanity. And now here was the operatic company of the year taking its final bow after a sellout run in Sussex.

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The Pilgrim's Progress, Three Choirs Festival review - revelatory performance by young musicians

stephen Walsh

Whatever your opinion of Vaughan Williams, it’s unlikely that you think of him as an essentially theatrical composer.

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