sun 25/08/2019

Opera Reviews

La Bohème, Opera North

graham Rickson An improbably attractive cast: Bülent Bezdüz as Rodolfo and Anne Sophie Duprels as Mimì

This is a revival of the 1993 production originally directed by Phyllida Lloyd (of Mamma Mia! fame). Directed on this occasion by Peter Relton, it still works brilliantly. Lloyd has updated the setting to 1950s Paris with her young bohemians wearing polo necks, jeans and berets. A gleaming motorbike is one of the objects adorning their living space, its condition degenerating along with the health of Mìmi until it is replaced by a pedal cycle in the final act.

Read more...

Elektra, Gergiev, LSO, Barbican Hall

ismene Brown Richard Strauss's Elektra (1909): 'It can and should be moving, as well as unsettling'

Richard Strauss’s 1909 opera Elektra is a diabolical piece of work - less an opera than an event determined to cut its mark. A vast orchestra of 112 players unleashes a two-hour tsunami of sound across the stage, on which female voices are buffeted like pieces of driftwood, shrieking of mothers who murder husbands, daughters who want to murder mothers, rivers of blood, flayed horses, dogs, bodies. Subtle it isn’t. Loud it is. In the hands of Valery Gergiev and London Symphony Orchestra...

Read more...

The Seckerson Tapes: Edward and Igor look back at 2009

Igor Toronyi-Lalic Nina Stemme gives a career-defining performance as Isolde at Covent Garden in Autumn 2009

Since before Christmas theartsdesk has been reviewing the past decade and previewing the year to come in the arts. As an extra we offer this special edition of The Seckerson Tapes, in which Edward Seckerson and Igor Toronyi-Lalic discuss the year in music, which, in the concert hall, saw the triumph of the new romantics in conductors Riccardo Chailly and Yannick Nezet-Seguin and, operatically, saw the arrival of three penetrating new productions of operatic classics: the...

Read more...

Classical and Opera 2000-9: The Highs and Lows

theartsdesk

 

No great new movements or radically transformational figures emerged to dominate classical music in the Noughties (not even him up there). Just one small nagging question bedevilled us: will the art form survive? Well, it has. What appeared to be a late 20th-century decline in audience interest in the classical tradition was in fact a consumer weariness with the choices on offer.

Read more...

La Bohème, Royal Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Very few of the staged goings-on in Covent Garden’s revival production of La Bohème this weekend rose above the level of mediocrity. The singing was blighted by illness and Eastern European bad habits. The 1970s set was as fresh as a fridge full of condemned meats. The 1970s vision of 19th century costume was extraordinary, as if the set of Abigail's Party had been emptied over the singers' heads. And yet, what an enjoyable evening.

Read more...

Imagine: Placido Domingo - The Time of My Life, BBC One

David Nice

How old Placido Domingo? Old Placido Domingo in not bad vocal health, to paraphrase Cary Grant's celebrated telegram reply. The other answer depends on your source of reference. Domingo is 68 in the eyes of last night's rather lazy, over-reverent Imagine, but 75 according to my not so New Everyman Dictionary of Music. Where did that come from?

Read more...

Carmen, Live from La Scala broadcast

Adam Sweeting Jonas Kaufmann as Don Jose clashes violently with Anita Rachvelishvili's Carmen

It was well worth a dash down a rain-deluged Shaftesbury Avenue to catch this live digital broadcast from Milan at the Odeon, Covent Garden. For a start it meant saving a plane fare and a ticket at 250 euros or (much) more, and it also meant eavesdropping in vivid close-up on what may have been a nugget of history in the making at the grand old opera house.

Read more...

Der Rosenkavalier, Royal Opera

David Nice

Seeking the snows of yesteryear, I remember a time when John Schlesinger's Covent Garden Rosenkavalier filled every moment of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's rococo libretto and Richard Strauss's jewel-studded score with life and meaning. 25 years on, its creator is no more, a revival director (Andrew Sinclair) fails to pull a dramatically variable cast together and many startling new productions have shown more readiness to engage with the opera's Viennese time machine...

Read more...

Otello, LSO, Sir Colin Davis, Barbican

David Nice Sir Colin Davis rehearsing the LSO last week: Starbursts and moonshine, but less of the broader sweep

Let's suppose that off-centre genius among opera directors Richard Jones had been asked to bring his imagination to bear on Sir Colin Davis's latest Verdi-in-concert. I imagine he might have weighed up leading men, chorus and the conductor's unexpected blend of manicure with flash alongside swathes of masterful beauty, and decided to follow up his 1940s Windsor Falstaff at Glyndebourne with a 1970s Otello set in Surbiton.

Read more...

Swanhunter, Opera North

graham Rickson Andrew Rees as Lemminkäinen with Yvonne Howard as Lemminkäinen's Mother

The violin figure which opens Jonathan Dove’s delightful Swanhunter evokes Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat. The allusion is surely deliberate. Like L’Histoire, and in contrast to Pinocchio, Dove’s large-scale Opera North commission of two years ago, Swanhunter is a 70-minute, chamber-sized work designed for performance in small venues.

Read more...

Pages

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

latest in today

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Jordan Brookes/ Catherine Coh...

Jordan Brookes Pleasance Courtyard ★★★★

Jordan Brookes doesn’t tell gags. Well, he does but not in a...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Creedence Clearwater Revival - Live at W...

Apparently, Creedence Clearwater Revival drummer Doug Clifford’s snare drum broke during the first song of their set at Woodstock Festival. On the...

Prince Albert: A Victorian Hero Revealed, Channel 4 review -...

It may sound perverse to say it, but Albert was the perfect twenty-first century prince. Thrust into the heart of the...

Prom 47: Schönheit, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Nelsons review - Bru...

After Thursday night’s concert I celebrated the Proms’ exploration of unfamiliar repertoire via...

A Faithful Man review - an atypical romance

There were some early warning signs that A Faithful Man might be another box-ticking...

Edinburgh International Festival 2019: JARV IS review - Brit...

”Cunts Are Still”. Well, that got your attention, didn’t it? Not my words, merely the title of one of JARV IS’s new tracks. In case you didn’t get...

CD: Taylor Swift - Lover

If there's a central motif to the sprawling, 18-track opus that is Taylor Swift’s seventh release - and it’s an album...