wed 17/04/2024

Opera Reviews

L'elisir d'amore, Glyndebourne review - fun and unfussy, with quality at its core

Miranda Heggie

Sometimes a production which isn’t trying to do anything too clever can be quite refreshing. Sinéad O’Neill's revival of Annabel Arden’s 2007 Glyndebourne touring production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore is just that.

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Wozzeck, Royal Opera review - orchestral and visual beauty salve human misery at its most extreme

David Nice

If you’re going to be locked in an auditorium with a crazed soldier for over 90 minutes, you need to be overwhelmed by the human frailty and baseness in Büchner’s still-shocking stage play of the late 1830s, the spiderweb beauty of Berg’s 1925 score to match it and a vision in various stage pictures. Director Deborah Warner, conductor Antonio Pappano and set designer Hyemi Shin deliver on all fronts.

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Don Giovanni, Glyndebourne review - stunning, exuberant production reveals human nature in all its complexity

Rachel Halliburton

Why stage Don Giovanni in a post #MeToo world? That’s the question most frequently being asked about Mariame Clément’s new production for Glyndebourne and on its opening night she delivered a response that was as conceptually subtle as it was visually flamboyant.

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The Pearl Fishers, Opera North review - focus on the mystery

Robert Beale

The Pearl Fishers is very much a mid-19th century Romantic opera, with a plot that’s basically a love triangle set in an exotic location. Its writers, Michel Carré and Eugène Cormon, were not the greatest of plot inventors, and after hearing the opening scene alone, you might think much the same about the inspiration of the music, beautifully crafted though it is.

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Blue, English National Opera review - the company’s boldest vindication yet?

David Nice

Two recent operas by women have opened in London’s two main houses within a week. Both have superbly crafted librettos dealing with gun violence without a shot being fired, giddyingly fine production values and true ensembles guided by perfect conducting. The main difference is that while Kaija Saariaho’s Innocence feels to me ice-cold musically, and not always coherent with dramatic or vocal possibilities, Jeanine Tesori’s Blue hits us in the guts when it matters most.

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Arminio, Royal Opera review - Handel does Homeland, and it works

Boyd Tonkin

Invasion by a colonising power has convulsed a country, dividing families – even individuals – between the rival claims of resistance and collaboration. A captured freedom-fighter from the indigenous elite faces execution; an imperial general hopes to wed his widow and bring a kind of peace to the conquered land.

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Innocence, Royal Opera review - timely, layered drama with almost incidental music

David Nice

To create a sensitive and original music-drama around the subject of a school killing is a colossal achievement. Director Simon Stone, set designer Chloe Lamford and novelist Sofi Oksanen’s cutting libretto make Innocence seem like a masterpiece. I wish I were less ambivalent about Kaija Saariaho’s score.

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Theodora, Arcangelo, Cohen, Barbican review - gloriously dark and sober

alexandra Coghlan

Handel’s Theodora – voluptuously beautiful, warm-to-the-touch music, yoked to a libretto of chilly piety about Christian martyrdom in 4th-century Rome. It’s a red rag to directors, and there’s a relief to seeing the oratorio in the concert hall, where the composer is cut free from a lot of acrobatic conceptual wriggling. And really, when it sounds like this, you need nothing more.

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Mansfield Park, RNCM, Manchester review - bringing out the best

Robert Beale

Mansfield Park was written to be a country house opera – that kind where you have a smallish number of performers, no chorus, and the “set” is simply the rooms and furnishings of a gracious residence from an age gone by.

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The Dead City, English National Opera review - strong dream world, weak love story

David Nice

Is Korngold a second-rank composer with some first-rate ideas? Most performances of the 23-year-old Viennese prodigy's Die tote Stadt make it seem so. Nearly smothered in glitter and craft, the story can compel – an oblique, promising stance on Georges Rodenbach’s Bruges-la-morte, about an obsessive widower who thinks he sees his dead wife in a vivacious dancer. Does Annilese Miskimmon, ENO's semi-visible Artistic Director, carry it off?

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