tue 31/03/2020

Opera Reviews

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

David Nice

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.

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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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Don Giovanni live from Aix, Ciné Lumière

David Nice

With several replicas of Mozart's libertine stalking the country this summer, there had to be a good reason for seeking him out in the cinema. I had two. One was a curiosity to see how the TV channel Arte and the French Institute in South Kensington would handle a medium so successfully exploited around the world by New York's Metropolitan Opera.

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Singing for Life, BBC Four/ Gazza's Tears, ITV1

Jasper Rees Township chorister goes it alone: Thami, 18, at an operatic audition

I once sat in a rehearsal room in a brick-box theatre on the outskirts of Cape Town. The cast was warming up for Carmen. First, the choreographer put 40 mostly black South African singers through a gruelling physical warm-up. Opera singers are rarely slender, and they were all in a muck sweat by the time the vocal coach stepped forward to lead them through a vocal warm-up. But when they opened their mouths it was as if someone has strapped you to a chair in a wind tunnel. The...

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Don Giovanni, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Jonathan Wikeley

It seems somehow wrong to come away from a Don Giovanni feeling a bit noncommittal about the whole thing. It’s the sort of opera that should raise you from your seat – that should fire and inspire – but this performance, directed by Jonathan Kent, never truly got off the ground.

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Semele, Théâtre de Champs-Élysées

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

David McVicar's revival production of Handel's oratorio-cum-opera Semele isn't terribly clever or beautiful or impressive, or fecund with ideas or detail or emotion. But it does work. It does tell the story.

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Simon Boccanegra, Royal Opera House

David Nice

SIMON-2413_1448-DOMINGOFURLANETTO-CASHMOREI'll admit that many of us were spoiled by the last revival of...

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Zaide, Sadler's Wells

Peter Culshaw

The story starts promisingly with a love story between a prisoner Gomatz and Zaide, the favourite concubine of the tyrant Soliman. The two lovers escape with the help of Allazim. They are re-captured. Then Mozart gave up. His sources for the story, by Sebastiani and Voltaire’s Zaïre, ended it by the dubious plot twist that Zaide and Gomatz are actually brother and sister and that Allazim saved Soliman’s life some years earlier and he lets them all free.

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Rigoletto, Welsh National Opera, Cardiff

stephen Walsh

Watching and hearing this revival of WNO’s now eight-year-old production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, it’s hard to remember he composed it only a year or two before La Traviata, that most psychologically believable of all his operas. In Rigoletto nothing makes sense: the hunchback’s pretty daughter, her apparently willing incarceration, Rigoletto’s hoodwinking (literally) into helping her abduction, her final self-sacrifice – all palpable nonsense.

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Manon, Royal Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

You'd be forgiven for thinking that an opera that - in all seriousness - climaxes to the words, "Farewell, little table. You seemed so large," might need a small, but firm, slap in the face. But you'd be quite wrong. Manon is really quite froth-free.

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