mon 15/08/2022

Opera Reviews

Jenůfa, Welsh National Opera review - powerful drama with a kitsch tailpiece

stephen Walsh

If like me you regard the ending of Janáček’s Jenůfa as one of the most moving scenes in all opera, you might care to consider how it would be possible to deflate it in spite of the best singing imaginable.

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The Telephone / Miss Fortune, Guildhall School review - brilliantly-executed double bill

David Nice

Serendipity, rather than the fate which clings to the protagonist of Judith Weir’s Miss Fortune, led me to catch the last night of a double-cast spectacular at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. What a tonic to find a top-notch young cast and orchestra working their disciplined socks off for conductor Dominic Wheeler and director Martin Lloyd-Evans after the dog’s dinner of English Touring Opera’s Rimsky-Korsakov on Saturday.

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The Golden Cockerel, English Touring Opera review - no crowing over this henhouse

David Nice

A plea to anyone who was seeing Rimsky-Korsakov’s last opera for the first time at the Hackney Empire: please don’t give up on ever seeing or listening to it again, as some I spoke to afterwards said they just had. I promise you, the fault lies in this production, though not for the most part in the singing.

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Rigoletto, Royal Opera review - second time lucky

David Nice

Two Royal Opera staples, Verdi's La traviata and Puccini’s Tosca, now come round with too much frequency for critical coverage. It looks like Director of Opera Oliver Mears’ Rigoletto will do the same. Yet the production’s September 2021 debut was clouded by routine performances from its protagonist baritone and tenor Duke of Mantua, so a second visit was due to see if fresh casting might make a difference.

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The Cunning Little Vixen, English National Opera review - half-realised men and beasts

David Nice

Nature in the form of Storm Eunice stopped this Cunning Little Vixen in her tracks on Friday evening. ENO shrugged off the cancellation and rescheduled for Sunday afternoon. And here we were, getting the essential message that humans must reach an accommodation with the natural world or die in despair. So much for a cute animal fable.

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Don Giovanni, Welsh National Opera review - fine young cast let down by unhelpful conducting

stephen Walsh

If Don Giovanni is not the greatest opera ever written, it’s at least one of the very, very few that even in erratic performances have the capacity to seem it.

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Alcina, Opera North review - flat update redeemed by excellent vocal performances

graham Rickson

This new production of Handel’s Alcina opens well, with no preamble, the protagonists’ arrival on the island inhabited by the titular sorceress suggested by footage of rushing water projected onto the backdrop.

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Bajazet, Irish National Opera, Linbury Theatre review – robust but a bit rough

David Nice

One thing’s clear from Irish National Opera’s bold championship of Vivaldi: he’s his own man when it comes to the stage, not some baroque generic, even if Bajazet is a pasticcio incorporating other composers’ music.

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Theodora, Royal Opera review - God, love, sex, death - and terrorism

David Nice

Some of Handel's late London oratorios, like the indestructible Semele, work well as fully staged operas. Others, usually the ones which swap mythology for the sacred, need dramatic help. Theodora is one of them, though Peter Sellars' now-legendary Glyndebourne production had a once-in-a-lifetime intensity. The singing if not the acting is more fitfully stunning here, but Katie Mitchell just about pulls off one of her most vivid and focused reimaginings.

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Total Immersion: Music for the End of Time review - miracles from the house of the dead

David Nice

History’s most grotesque act of cynicism has to be the model ghetto the Nazis mocked up for the cameras in Terezin/Theresienstadt in October 1944, several days before transporting all the musicians and smartly-dressed attendees present at the concert included in the film to Auschwitz.

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