thu 23/05/2019

Opera Reviews

Lohengrin, Royal Opera review - swan mystery musically illuminated

David Nice

It's awfully long for a fairytale in which a mystery prince helps a damsel in distress, and she asks him the question she shouldn't. Myth tends to go deeper, as Wagner did in The Ring of the Nibelung after Lohengrin. Here he captures the magic of transformation and transcendence, but in between there's too much hard-to-stage pomp.

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La finta semplice, Classical Opera, QEH review - consummate musicianship stokes early Mozart

David Nice

You can always be sure of impeccable casting and spirited playing as Ian Page takes his Classical Opera through Mozart year by year. Just don't expect more than the glimmer of genius to come in 1768, though.

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Der fliegende Holländer, Longborough Festival review - stand and deliver on an empty stage

stephen Walsh

Brilliant and innovative though it is in many respects, The Flying Dutchman is by no means a straightforward piece to stage. It’s an odd, sometimes uncomfortable mixture of the genre and the epic. At Sadler’s Wells in the sixties they had a little ship and a big ship that hove into view, a fishing village, sailors with tankards and striped shirts, and girls at looms.

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Capriccio, Garsington Opera review - a classy evening with words and music

David Nice

Like the comedies of Mozart – the genius the artistic milieu depicted in Capriccio seems to be waiting for, if its original 1770s setting is observed – the more conversational operas of Richard Strauss depend far more than one often realises on conducting that sets a stylish, buoyant pace.

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Così fan tutte, Opera Holland Park review - the pain behind the prettiness

Boyd Tonkin

A proper production of Così fan tutte should make you feel as if the script for a barrel-scraping Carry On film has been hi-jacked by Shakespeare and Chekhov – working as a team. The story is so silly (even nasty), the music so sublime.

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Die Zauberflöte, Garsington Opera review - visually stimulating, conceptually confusing

alexandra Coghlan

Something is afoot at Garsington this season. Walking past the lake you might just catch sight of three strange figures in the distance – white-clad pawns engaged in a solemn game of human chess. Continue towards the auditorium and, somewhere among the topiary, there’s a splash of colour. A man with the cap and long red robes of an Inquisitor stands silently and contemplates the statuary. Opera, once again it seems, has fallen through the looking glass.

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Der Rosenkavalier, Glyndebourne - detailed acting, great singing

David Nice

If Hugo von Hofmannsthal's libretto for Richard Strauss in their joint "comedy for music" is the apogee of elaborately referenced dialogue and stage directions in opera, Richard Jones's realisation - for all that it throws out much of the original rulebook - may well be the most rigorously detailed production on the operatic stage today.

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Madama Butterfly, Glyndebourne review - perverse staging, outstanding cast

stephen Walsh

Puccini’s heroines and the rough treatment he hands out to them have come in for plenty of opprobrium over the years.

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The Rosenkavalier film, OAE, Paterson, QEH review - silent-era muddle expertly accompanied

David Nice

Let's face it, Robert "Cabinet of Dr Caligari" Wiene's 1926 film loosely based on Strauss and Hofmannsthal's 1911 "comedy for music" is a mostly inartistic ramble. Historically, though, it proves fascinating.

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Lessons in Love and Violence, Royal Opera review - savage elegance never quite glows red-hot

alexandra Coghlan

A rope is mercy; a razor-blade to the throat, a kiss; a red-hot poker… But, of course, we never get anything so literal as the poker in George Benjamin and Martin Crimp’s elegant, insinuating retelling of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II.

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