sun 14/04/2024

Opera Reviews

Everest, Barbican review - a powerful operatic debut from Joby Talbot

alexandra Coghlan

Schubert gave us a winter’s journey for the 19th century: a wandering lover brooding, remembering, fantasising, maybe even dying to the chilly accompanying churn of the hurdy-gurdy man. In Everest, composer Joby Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer recreate it for the 21st.

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Il trovatore, Royal Opera review - heaven and hell

David Nice

The trouble with Trovatore, Verdi’s sometimes barrel-organish, slightly middle-aged troubadour, isn’t so much the silly shocker of a plot, triggered by a gypsy so crazed with vengeance that she throws her own baby on a bonfire by mistake, as the choppy dramatic line, so hard to thread. Under the circumstance, Adele Thomas’s medieval-hell production could have been a lot worse, and the vocal quality is there throughout under Antonio Pappano’s watchful guidance.

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Werther, Royal Opera review - Kaufmann off form in this stiff revival

alexandra Coghlan

Benoit Jacquot’s handsome period production of Werther has been quietly putting in the miles for the Royal Opera.

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L'elisir d'amore, Longborough Festival review - agreeable nonsense in a semi-modern English village

stephen Walsh

Frederick Delius composed an opera called A Village Romeo and Juliet; Donizetti composed a sort of village Tristan and Isolde, but called it L’elisir d’amoreThe Love Potion. The hero, Nemorino, inspired by the Tristan tale, buys an elixir off a passing quack, in the hope it will make the beautiful, capricious Adina fall for him.

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Hansel and Gretel, Opera Holland Park review - the Great Grimm Bake-Off

Boyd Tonkin

Like any decent cake (and we saw plenty on the Holland Park stage), a tasty production of Hansel and Gretel needs a careful balance of flavours. Sweet and sharp; light and dark; fantasy and realism; fright and delight. Directed by John Wilkie, Opera Holland Park’s version of Engelbert Humperdinck’s well-preserved “fairy-tale opera” from 1893 skilfully mixes its ingredients into a sort of Great Grimm Bake-Off. It hints at horrors but never really threatens to turn sour.

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Dialogues des Carmélites, Glyndebourne review - faith overwhelmed by horror

David Nice

Harrowing and holiness alternate in Poulenc’s unique masterpiece, nominally an opera about nuns during the French revolution, at a deeper level a music-drama about the greatest disturbances in the human condition. Glyndebourne’s cast, conductor and orchestra handle the variety wth total mastery. If Barrie Kosky’s production lets horror overwhelm us, that’s justified too. If you’re not a heap at the end of it, that’s your problem.

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Princess Ida, OAE, Wilson, QEH review - musical brilliance undermined by textual botch

David Nice

Sullivan’s score for his eighth collaboration with Gilbert is vintage work, mostly equal to the splendid sentinels flanking it, Iolanthe and The Mikado. On Wednesday night master animator John Wilson did its buoyancy and occasional pathos full justice. But what of Gilbert’s words? “A woman’s [sic] college! Maddest folly going!” doesn’t promise an operetta for our times.

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Rigoletto, Opera Holland Park review - Verdi's Duke gets the Oxbridge treatment

alexandra Coghlan

“I am a poor student,” the Duke tells a smitten Gilda, in music that can barely keep a straight face, so plush is its melody, so oozing with confidence and privilege.

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Requiem, Opera North review - partnership and diversity

Robert Beale

Innovation is always a risky business. Opera North’s vision and ambition for this production is to create, in effect, a new genre: a combination of staged choral-orchestral performance with contemporary dance.

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Götterdämmerung, Longborough Festival review - from the hieratic to the mundane and back

stephen Walsh

Götterdämmerung is not only the grandest of Wagner’s Ring operas, it is also the most varied. Siegfried’s journey down the Rhine transports him in a short quarter-hour from the hieratic world of the Norns and the World Ash to the soap-opera of the Gibichungs and their anxieties about marriage and political standing (opinion polls?).

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