sun 13/10/2019

Opera Reviews

Stravinsky, The Rake's Progress, Glyndebourne

Edward Seckerson

Thirty-five years on and this is still as much David Hockney’s Rake as it is Stravinsky’s or W H Auden’s. How rarely it is that what we see chimes so completely and utterly with what we hear. The limited palette of colours, the precisely etched cross-hatching, the directness and the cunningly conceived elements of parody – am I talking about Hockney or Stravinsky? Two great individualists in complete harmony. So why the disconnection?

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Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Rattle, Royal Albert Hall

alexandra Coghlan

In 1860 Wagner sent a full score of his recently published Tristan und Isolde to Berlioz, inscribing it: “To the great and dear composer of Roméo et Juliette, from the grateful composer of Tristan und Isolde.” The bonds between these two works go far beyond emotion, as last night’s inspired piece of programming from Simon Rattle and the Orchestra of the Age of...

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Francesca da Rimini, Opera Holland Park

David Nice

They're having a laugh at Holland Park, surely: offering 700 pay-what-you-like tickets to hook newcomers on the wonderful world of opera, and then serving up a Pythonesque staging of an immoveable Italian dinosaur.

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Hänsel und Gretel, Glyndebourne

Edward Seckerson Alice Coote and Lydia Teuscher in Cardboard City

Glyndebourne’s Hänsel und Gretel comes in a large cardboard box, with plain brown wrapper, duct-tape and a barcode. There’s a public health warning, too: sugar and spice and all things nice come at a price. The evil witch Rosina Sweet-Tooth is nothing more, nothing less than rabid consumerism masquerading as a smart lady in a pink two-piece suit. Yes, Laurent Pelly’s 2008 staging was/ is the first environmentally aware Humperdinck. It had to come. For revival read recycle.

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Simon Boccanegra, Royal Albert Hall

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

First to crane his head anxiously in Plácido Domingo's direction was the leader of the Royal Opera House orchestra, Peter Manning. Then came an agitated look from conductor Antonio Pappano. Soprano Marina Poplavskaya clutched Domingo's chest as if to feel for a heart beat. "Is he ok?" we all mouthed. We had just seen Domingo slam his wizened Simon Boccanegra to the ground, dead. The music had rumbled to a close. The Prommers' applause had erupted.

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Die Meistersinger at the Proms, BBC Four

David Nice

Two birthday parties kept me away from the Albert Hall yesterday (though I'll confess that in the end I treacherously skipped the second and stayed glued to the TV's delayed relay). That, and a slight fear that the concert performance of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg from the BBC Proms couldn't match up to the original Welsh National Opera production of the decade.

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The Duchess of Malfi, ENO, Punchdrunk

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

It's tough being a critic.

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La Traviata, Royal Opera

ismene Brown

Of course she isn't now the watchful, learning 29-year-old who premiered Covent Garden’s opulent, sensually loaded production in 1995, but Gheorghiu’s varicoloured voice - a rainbow of tears, sobs, scoops, warbling runs and top notes that seem to rack her body with pain - has if anything added more colours since then (including a less fetching...

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I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw The Sky, Theatre Royal Stratford East

David Nice Stewart Charlesworth's closety cop arrests Leon Lopez's Dewain while Leila (Cynthia Erivo), David (Jason Denton) and Tiffany (Natasha J Barnes) look on

John Adams thinks his and poet June Jordan's fantasia on love in a time of earthquake flopped at its 1995 Berkeley premiere for two main reasons. The characters - three blacks, two whites, a Hispanic and an Asian - were deemed too self-consciously multiculti: odd when America knew that was just how LA was then, even more so than Stratford...

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Salome, Royal Opera

David Nice

The first time I saw David McVicar's production of Strauss's hypersensuous shocker, I gaped in horrified wonder at the Pasolini Salò-style mise en scène but didn't find the action within it fully realised. When it came out on DVD, the close-ups won greater respect but there was still the problem of Nadja Michael's singing, hardly a note in true. Now it returns with Angela Denoke, an even more compelling actress with a far healthier soprano voice.

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