tue 17/09/2019

Opera Reviews

The Adventures of Mr Brouček, Opera North

graham Rickson

To a bewitching, shimmering prelude, a back-projected astronaut plants a Czech flag on the lunar surface. So begins one of those evenings where you skip out of the theatre grinning and promising yourself that you will buy tickets for all your opera-disdaining friends.

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Turandot, English National Opera, London Coliseum

ismene Brown

It’s a let-down when a new production of an opera that spends two acts feeling dazzlingly invigorating and clever collapses in a careless mess in the third. My guess is that a key scene for the concept of English National Opera’s Turandot is when Ping, Pang and Pong - three very grand court officials - turn out to be Chinese cooks sneaking smokes up the fire escape at the Emperor Palace restaurant. It's a sharp idea, generating a sensationally visual production, but that fire escape...

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Carmen, Royal Opera

Adam Sweeting

Buoyed by winning the Classic FM Innovation award at Friday's Classic FM Gramophone Awards for its cut-price ticket offer for Sun readers, the Royal Opera House was at it again last night with the return of Francesca Zambello's production of Carmen.

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Tristan und Isolde, Royal Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

There’s nothing like a bit of communal booing to sharpen your critical faculties. And Christof Loy’s new production of Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House last night received wave after wave after wave of it. An ocean of boos almost as deep and profound as the Wagner that had just washed over us moments before.

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Werther, Opera North

graham Rickson

Werther is based on the young Goethe’s semi-autobiographical epistolary novel which tells of a young artist’s thwarted love for a simple country girl who is already engaged. First performed in Vienna in 1892, it is audibly a product of that time. You can hear the predominant influence of Wagner in piquant unresolved dissonances, suggestive of a fleeter-footed, gallic Tristan with added harps. The sheer depth and splendour of the music is what makes a potentially risible...

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Le Grand Macabre, ENO

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Door-sized detachable nipples, an angel of death with a dick to die for (literally), a cave of an arse housing a disco-dancing unit of storm troopers and an all-singing all-dancing couple of randy cadavers. Ever wondered what the Europeans might have done if they’d ever got hold of the Carry On brand? The ENO’s new production of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre offers up one possibility.

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Don Carlo, Royal Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

It finally came just over three hours in. Ferruccio Furlanetto’s gouty Philip II leans his elbow on his chair and begins to grind his head into his right-hand like he's a human pestle and mortar. He first castigates himself for ever having thought that his wife, Elizabeth of Valois - who he suspects of sleeping with his son, Don Carlos - might have fancied his unyielding, aged presence, and then tries to sing his way out of his tortured predicament.

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Linda di Chamounix, Royal Opera

Edward Seckerson

The hills are alive with the sound of... well, Donizetti, actually. His mature "Melodramma Semiserio" Linda di Chamounix arrived towards the climax of a prolific career in opera and was clearly a late attempt to capitalise on his successes and give his adoring audiences a little of everything and at great length. This season-opener concert performance at the Royal Opera (recorded, incidentally, by Opera Rara...

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Così fan tutte, Grand Theatre, Leeds

graham Rickson

The film critic Mark Kermode maintains that if a film is advertised on the side of a bus, it will inevitably be rubbish. Opera North are advertising this revival of Tim Albery’s 2004 Così fan tutte extensively on the sides of buses here in Leeds. Kermode’s theorem evidently doesn’t hold for opera.

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Doctor Atomic, ENO

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Among the most astonishing moments in John Adams's new opera Doctor Atomic (currently running at the English National Opera) is an aria at the end of the first act. The eponymous brains behind the Manhattan Project, Dr J. Robert Oppenheimer, stands alone on stage with his new creation, a spherical A-bomb coated in wires and tubes like a patient in intensive care, and sings John Donne's holy sonnet "Batter my heart, three-person'd God".

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