mon 21/09/2020

Opera Reviews

Anna Nicole, Royal Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Look past the cum buckets, the trucker pussy, the fuck you-ing and cunt-hungry beasting (librettist Richard Thomas's words, not mine), the mountainous titties and cheap promotional candy that had been confected for the legions of rubbishy celebrity opera virgins scattered in the Royal Opera House audience at last night's world premiere and you will find a profoundly conservative, and mostly not unattractive, new opera in Anna Nicole.

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Parsifal, English National Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Some of you will know that Wagner and I haven't been seeing eye to eye of late. Last year's Tannhäuser I believed was the end of the road for the two of us. Not quite. With one of the most celebrated Wagner productions of the past two decades returning to the English National Opera last night - Nikolaus Lehnhoff's Parsifal - I decided to give him a final chance. My whole mind, body and soul was primed to repel it, yet I came out almost blubbing.

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Die Fledermaus, Welsh National Opera, Cardiff

stephen Walsh

Those WNO regulars who remember the company’s last Fledermaus (directed nine years ago by Calixto Bieito) with a shiver of horror can rest assured that its replacement contradicts it at almost every point. John Copley, past-master of Texttreue (truth to the text, or at least its spirit), does not rummage around in Strauss’s frothy masterpiece for a critique of modern man, does not transplant it to Merthyr Tydfil or turn it into a rugger-club knees-up, does not coarsen the...

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Nixon in China, Metropolitan Opera HD Live

David Nice

Metcentric New Yorkers tend to think an opera hasn’t achieved classic status until it arrives at their vast inner sanctum. Whereas other cities worldwide know that the inimitable Peter Sellars production of grand opera’s last masterpiece (to date) has become a virtual brand since its 1987 Houston premiere. John Adams's first, and biggest, opera was an obvious here-to-stay triumph at the Edinburgh Festival the following year, and its strengths become more apparent with the passing of time.

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The Portrait, Opera North

graham Rickson

Based on a short story by Gogol, Alexander Medvedev’s libretto for Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Portrait was originally conceived for Shostakovich. It was subsequently passed to Weinberg, who finished his opera in 1980. It’s a bleak, Faustian tale of a struggling artist who buys the eponymous painting, after which material success is mirrored by moral collapse.

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The Marriage of Figaro, Dragon Opera, The Gate, Cardiff

stephen Walsh Llio Evans and Annie Sheen as Susanna and Cherubino: Witty, eye-catching, uninhibited

Dragon Opera (or Opera’r Ddraig, if you insist: they don’t) is in every sense a young company, founded a mere two years ago, and based at Cardiff’s Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Its singers, directors and orchestral players are nearly all recent or current students at the college, the company is run by recent graduates, and its funding is set up by a student collective called RepCo, run from the RWCMD, and parent also to a couple of student orchestras and a community...

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Die Zauberflöte, Royal Opera

alexandra Coghlan

“Tumult and peace, the darkness and the light – were all like workings of one mind.” Writing almost a century after Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Wordsworth was still contemplating the essential duality of the sublime – that greatest of Enlightenment legacies. Rationalism, order and science, we are reminded, are only the admissible part of an age that would also beget the sinister fantasies of Romanticism and the Gothic – those most pernicious of bastard offspring.

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Lucrezia Borgia, English National Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

When future historians write the story of 21st-century film, Mike Figgis will play a founding father-like role. Figgis's Timecode (2000) was one of the world's first and most ambitious digital films. I still remember the excitement the day I saw it, the unified screen before me shattering into shards of narrative. This was the first film to sing in four simultaneously cast parts in the manner of a Bach fugue.

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Rameau's Castor et Pollux, Theater an der Wien

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

For us Ramistes the brilliance came as no surprise. But did the genius come across to the uninitiated? This new production of Castor et Pollux, one of Rameau's finest tragédie en musique, was the Baroque composer's Austrian stage premiere.

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Il barbiere di Siviglia, Royal Opera

alexandra Coghlan

Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia comes gift-wrapped in its own candy-striped box – packaging that sets the tone for the brittle, sugary entertainment within. Trading satire for slapstick, politics for aesthetics, and subversion for celebration, the production is generous in laughs but lingers scarcely longer in the mind than on the lips. With previous alumni including Mark Elder, Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez, there are some long...

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