wed 15/08/2018

Opera Reviews

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Royal Opera review - bleak rigour and black comedy still cast a spell

David Nice

Anyone who's seen Richard Jones's rigorous production before will remember the makeover – Katerina Izmailova, bored and brutalised housewife released by sex and murder from her shackles, having her drab bedroom expanded and redecorated in deliberate incongruity with Shostakovich's most shattering orchestral music – and its polar opposite, the near-black horror of convicts in trucks by the river on...

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Bernstein's MASS, RFH review - polymorphousness in excelsis

David Nice

Live exposure to centenary composer Leonard Bernstein's anything-goes monsterpiece of 1971, as with Britten's War Requiem of the previous decade, probably shouldn't happen more than once every ten years, if only because each performance has to be truly special.

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Coraline, Royal Opera, Barbican review - spooky story, underwhelming score

David Nice

With the eyes of musical fashion turned relentlessly on the calculating stage works of chilly alchemist George Benjamin, hopes ran high for a brighter spark in a new opera by his contemporary Mark-Anthony Turnage.

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The Marriage of Figaro, English National Opera review - sassy, probing and splendidly cast

Jessica Duchen

One year to Brexit, a seemingly endless winter chill and Londoners need soul food, badly. I prescribe an evening of total immersion in The Marriage of Figaro.

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Ariadne auf Naxos, Scottish Opera review - superb singing in slick new production

Miranda Heggie

"The Show must go on". So say the posters dotted around Glasgow and Edinburgh for Scottish Opera's production of Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. Except on Thursday, it didn’t.

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Hansel and Gretel, RNCM, Manchester review – an urban dream

Robert Beale

Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel is a ‘"fairytale opera" (its composer’s description), and yet one characteristic frequently commented on is its "Wagnerian" scoring. For this production, with David Pountney’s English translation, the RNCM used Derek Clark’s reduced orchestration.

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La traviata, English National Opera review - into a vortex of ineptitude

David Nice

You don't have to be a good director to manage the artistic side of an opera house. Daniel Kramer arrived at ENO and boosted morale at a time when company relations with then-CEO Cressida Pollock had hit rock bottom, and his repertoire choices for the new limited seasons look fine so far.

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Wake, Birmingham Opera Company review - power to the people

Richard Bratby

“Would you like a veil?” asked a steward, offering a length of black gauze, and when you’re at a production by Birmingham Opera Company it’s usually wisest to say yes.

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Rinaldo, The English Concert, Barbican review - Bicket's band steals the spotlight

alexandra Coghlan

It was the work with which Handel conquered London, the Italian opera that finally wooed a suspicious English audience to the charms of Dr Johnson’s “exotic and irrational entertainment”. Three hundred years later, neither Rinaldo nor London’s audience has changed much.

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From the House of the Dead, Royal Opera review - Janáček's prison oddity prompts hot tears

David Nice

A political prisoner is brutally initiated into the life of a state penitentiary, and leaves it little over 90 minutes later. Four inmates reveal their brutal past histories with elliptical strangeness - each would need an episode of something like Orange is the New Black - and two plays staged during a holiday for the convicts take up about a quarter of the action.

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