wed 23/10/2019

ENO

The Mask of Orpheus, English National Opera review - amorphous excess

Advance publicity overstated the case for The Mask of Orpheus. "Iconic"? Only to academics and acolytes, for British audiences haven't had a chance to see a production since ENO's world premiere run in 1986. "Masterpiece"? Sitting there after the...

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Orpheus in the Underworld, English National Opera review – ENO goes to hell

Maybe some British opera houses just don’t get operetta. Without wit, lightness and snappy pace, cudgelling us with desperate relevance, the frothiest works crash to earth stone cold dead. There have been disasters elsewhere, too, though...

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Orpheus and Eurydice, English National Opera review – imaginative but underwhelming

English National Opera chose a curiously low-key production to open their season. Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice has only three singing roles and very little action. For this production, Wayne McGregor has reimagined the work as an opera/dance hybrid...

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Noye's Fludde, ENO/Theatre Royal Stratford East review - two-dimensional music theatre

Benjamin Britten's musical mystery tour is still bringing young communities together to work with professionals at the highest level 61 years on from its premiere in a Suffolk church, and Lyndsey Turner's sweet production at Stratford must have been...

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Hansel and Gretel, ENO, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre review - into the broomstick woods

Shoving a child-eating drag-queen witch into an oven can't be good for any kid's psyche. Director Timothy Sheader doesn't let us forget it in a production which nevertheless treads a fine line between the darkness of the Grimm story and the...

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Man of La Mancha, London Coliseum review - historical work better left in the past

English National Opera continues its run of semi-staged musicals, in commercial collaboration with Grade Linnit, with a revival of this vintage oddity. Mind, commercial might be a stretch, as Dale Wasserman, Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh's 1965 work –...

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Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel, English National Opera review - powerful ensemble, wrong subject

If you can’t put a name to any of Jack the Ripper’s victims – and spin it however you please, victims they remain – then you shouldn’t buy the publicity about this new opera "bringing dignity back" to the murdered women in question. Isn’t it time to...

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The Merry Widow, English National Opera review - glitter but no sparkle

It’s all there. High kicks and tight corsets; silk and sequins and shenanigans in a broom closet; hot pinks and still hotter can-can girls; waltzing, scheming, sparring, and a bit with a banquet table. There’s even a dancing beaver. So why don’t I...

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Akhnaten, English National Opera review - still a mesmerising spectacle

You start off fighting it. Those arpeggios, the insistent reduction, simplification, repetition, the amplification of the smallest gesture into an epic. Then something happens. Somewhere among the slow-phase patterns pulsing on ear and eye, you...

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Best of 2018: Opera

Outnumbered by four to one: out of the classical/opera team, Alexandra Coghlan, Jessica Duchen, David Benedict and Boyd Tonkin all chose English National Opera's production of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess as their best of the operatic year, while I...

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War Requiem, English National Opera review - a striking spectacle, but oddly unmoving

We’re not good at lack these days. Just look at the concert hall, where increasingly you turn up to find not just an orchestra and soloists but a giant screen. Videos, projections, live speakers, "virtual choirs"; if there’s so much as a chink of an...

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Porgy and Bess, English National Opera review - strength in depth on Catfish Row

After exhausting years of financial and artistic crisis-management at the Coliseum, English National Opera urgently needed an ironclad, feelgood success. This season’s opener, a somewhat idiosyncratic take on Strauss’s Salome, was unlikely to fit...

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