sun 14/04/2024

Opera Reviews

Semele, Glyndebourne review - the dark side of desire

Boyd Tonkin

It never rains but it pours – and hails, snows or, above all, thunders. The presiding tone of Semele, in Adele Thomas’s new production for Glyndebourne, matches the current English summer with its grey skies, glowering clouds and stormy outbursts. Jove’s evidently in a rage, despite his rejuvenating lust for the Theban king’s daughter, Semele.

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The Magic Flute, Clonter Opera review - inventive ideas on the farm

Robert Beale

Necessity has to be the mother of invention for many operatic enterprises these days – and there are few with such inventive powers as those of Clonter Opera in Cheshire.

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L'Orfeo, Longborough Festival Opera review - landmark opera survives rock-star wedding and hospital soap

Boyd Tonkin

Cotswold Line railway stations currently sport posters for Alex James’s “Big Feastival”, in which the ex-Blur bassist hosts a food-and-music jamboree on his cheese-making farm. Just up the road at Longborough Festival Opera, the crowd gathered on stage for the nuptials of Orfeo and Euridice would fit snugly in chez James as well.

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theartsdesk at the Buxton International Festival - bel canto in the High Peak

Robert Beale

Bellini’s La Sonnambula is the highspot of a four-show lyric theatre bill at the Buxton International Festival this year, and demonstrates again how beautifully suited the small Matcham opera house in the High Peak is to mid-19th century bel canto repertoire.

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The Bartered Bride, Garsington Opera review - brilliant revival of a comedy of cruelty

stephen Walsh

Smetana’s enchanting bitter-sweet comedy is probably on the danger-list for cancellation by the modern guardians of our moral sanctity. The plot hinges, like Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, on the cash-sale of the hero’s bride (in Hardy, the wife and daughter): not nice, and surely a risky hint to any young men in the audience teetering on the brink.

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Don Carlo, Royal Opera review - Lise Davidsen soars above routine

David Nice

Not a good start. The tenor (Brian Jagde) walks downstage and sings loudly, if securely, to the audience: hardly a characterisation of an idealistic young Infante meditating on love. The next voice, the Page’s, is barely heard (Ella Taylor gets better). Then we have The Presence: Lise Davidsen, who you know is Elisabeth de Valois in the only carefree mode she’s to experience throughout the opera.

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Out of Her Mouth, Dunedin Consort, Mahogany Opera, Hera, Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh review - she carried a watermelon

Miranda Heggie

A joint venture between Dunedin Consort, Mahogany Opera and intersectional feminist opera company Hera, Out of Her Mouth is a semi-staged version of three short baroque cantatas. Written by French composer Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, each is based on a different woman from the Old Testament.

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Candide, Welsh National Opera review - vaut le voyage, just for the visual side

stephen Walsh

If you read the synopsis of Candide - which I strongly advise if you plan a visit to this new WNO production - you may well wonder how it will be possible to get through so much in so short a time. Voltaire’s novella is itself fairly short, but opera takes more time and songs are songs, not action.

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Werther, Grange Park Opera review - Italian-American principal singers with strong chemistry

Sebastian Scotney

Grange Park Opera has been setting a high standard in French opera ever since the company's first proper season in 1999. This Werther is the company's third by Jules Massenet. The first two were rarities, pioneering efforts: a fascinating tussle between lubriciousness and piety in Thais in 2006, and then a poignant and deeply felt portrayal of old age in a splendid Don Quichotte in 2014.

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Ariadne auf Naxos, Garsington Opera review - golden thread leads to deep emotion

David Nice

When tears well up during stretches of Strauss and Hofmannsthal’s curious hybrid which you never expected to move you, something special's going on. The magic happened last night in an evening which I didn't anticipate equalling “the Carmelites experience” at Glyndebourne. But, in its very different way, it did, in terms of casting, conducting and a production (by Bruno Ravella) that wasn’t too interventionist but had some powerful ideas of its own.

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