sun 31/05/2020

Opera Reviews

War and Peace, Welsh National Opera, Royal Opera House - bold epic weakened by loosely-directed characterisations

David Nice

On the UK's biggest day of shame, it was some relief to tap in to the fury of the Russian people at a much greater national degradation (Napoleon's invasion in 1812, Hitler's in 1941).

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Il Segreto di Susanna/Iolanta, Opera Holland Park review - superb singing, mixed staging

alexandra Coghlan

Secrets, and the voluptuous, sensory pleasures they conceal, may unite Wolf-Ferrari’s Il segreto di Susanna and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, but far more divides two works that make awkward bedfellows in Opera Holland Park’s latest double-bill.

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Die Zauberflöte, Glyndebourne Festival review – high jinks in the Grand Mozart Hotel

Boyd Tonkin

Die Zauberflöte rarely attracts the plain cooks of the operatic world. Mozart’s farewell opera chucks so many highly-spiced ingredients into its outlandish pot – pantomime and parable, burlesque and ritual – that many productions opt for one show-off recipe that promises to unify all its flavours into a single, spectacular dish....

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Pavarotti review - enjoyable but superficial survey of a superstar

Adam Sweeting

One of the most memorable moments in Ron Howard’s documentary about Luciano Pavarotti is one of its earliest scenes. It’s a chunk of amateur video shot when Pavarotti visited the Teatro Amazonas in Manaus, a splendid Belle Epoque structure in the midst of the Amazonian jungle.

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Don Giovanni, Longborough Festival Opera review - Mozart in the urinal

stephen Walsh

One of the features of the converted barn that forms the theatre at Longborough is a trio of statues that tops the front pediment of the building: Wagner, flanked by Verdi on the right and Mozart on the left. No one could question Wagner: Longborough has done him proud.

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Eugene Onegin/Georgiana, Buxton Festival review - poetry and pantomime

Richard Bratby

It’s the saddest music in the world: the quiet heartbeat and falling melody with which Tchaikovsky opens his opera Eugene Onegin. Imagine a whole society, a whole lifetime of solitude, longing and disillusion, evoked in a single bass note and a few bars of tearstained violin. And then imagine it sustained over three acts.

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La Fille du Régiment, Royal Opera review - enjoyable but questionable revival

Gavin Dixon

On paper, this might seem like a revival too far, a production clearly intended as a vehicle for world-class singers being tacked on the end of the Covent Garden season, and without any big names in sight. But it turns out that Laurent Pelly’s staging, now in its fourth London return, has enough charm and substance to justify an outing with lesser names.

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The Turn of the Screw, Garsington Opera review - superb music drama on an open stage

stephen Walsh

The famous ambiguity of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw is whether the ghosts that take possession of the two children are real or merely figments of the young Governess’s imagination. Britten’s opera resolves this unequivocally in favour of their reality: they appear alone together, and generally materialise so solidly that it never occurs to you to doubt their real existence.

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Noye's Fludde, ENO/Theatre Royal Stratford East review - two-dimensional music theatre

David Nice

Benjamin Britten's musical mystery tour is still bringing young communities together to work with professionals at the highest level 61 years on from its premiere in a Suffolk church, and Lyndsey Turner's sweet production at Stratford must have been as much fun to be in as any.

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Rusalka, Glyndebourne Festival review - away with the distressed fairies

stephen Walsh

When you think of the extravagant, violent, super grown-up subject-matter that stalked the operatic stage round about 1900 - the Toscas and the Salomes, the Cavs, the Pags and the rest of the verismo pack - you might find it strange to contemplate the ageing Dvořák still messing around with fairies at the bottom of his woodland pool, a subject that surely went out with the early Romantics. 

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