wed 05/10/2022

Opera North

Parsifal, Opera North review - full focus and a dream line-up

Wagner, in his medievalist, pan-European, 19th century way, wanted Parsifal to be a blend of abstract and religious experience for his audiences at Bayreuth, calling it a “festival play for a stage consecration”. Questions for those performing it...

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Rigoletto, Opera North review - Covid shocks, debut pleasures

Beware of joining the Duke of Mantua’s sleazy feast in time of Covid too late, as I did on Opera North’s Newcastle leg of its Verdi journey. You may find more than a couple of the distinguished guests on stage have fallen sick – three, no less, on...

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First Person: Femi Elufowoju Jr. on directing Verdi's 'Rigoletto'

I find that my experience of living as a Black man in the UK cannot help but inform the way I approach my work and never more so than with Verdi’s Rigoletto. It was because Verdi’s and his librettist Piave’s exploration of the impact of difference...

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Carmen, Opera North review - humanity and no bull

Is Bizet’s Carmen all about Carmen? Or Don José and his obsession with her? Or the society that made her what she is? Or all of the above? Inevitably it’s an opera that almost never escapes some Regietheater treatment these days. Director Edward...

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Bernstein Double Bill, Opera North review - fractured relationships in song and dance

Leonard Bernstein’s one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti enjoyed a relatively trouble-free gestation, at least compared to his other stage works. Its seven short scenes last around 50 minutes, Bernstein providing his own libretto and completing much of...

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Fidelio, Opera North online review - less is really more

Adaptability is the name of the game for big companies in the music business now. And Opera North’s streamed presentation of Beethoven's Fidelio from inside Leeds Town Hall is a prime example of just how adaptable things need to be.The orchestra is...

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The Seven Deadly Sins, Opera North online review - viscerally thrilling

Theatres are currently banned from moving scenery and props about on stage and you might expect this to present a major obstacle to a production of The Seven Deadly Sins. How else is the opera’s protagonist to be seen to visit seven American cities...

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The Turn of the Screw, Opera North, OperaVision review - claustrophobic visions of terror and beauty

Feeling stir-crazy right now? Imagine being confined to one room with a half-crazed housekeeper, two dysfunctional kids and two increasingly insistent ghosts, plagued by nightmares, unable even to get out into the garden or walk down to the lake....

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Street Scene, Opera North review - a true ensemble achievement

Kurt Weill’s “Broadway opera” – his own preferred description – is an extraordinary and brilliant piece of work. Its music ranges from the seriously dramatic to fun numbers like the "Ice Cream Sextet" and the jitterbug dance song “Moon Faced, Starry...

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The Greek Passion, Opera North - pertinence and power

Martinů's The Greek Passion is a bold choice as a season opener, all the more so given that Opera North are staging the rarely-seen original version of his 1957 opera. Commissioned for Covent Garden then shabbily ditched, this is faster moving and...

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'This goes beyond music and drama': tenor Nicky Spence on Martinů's 'The Greek Passion'

I’m a big fanboy of Czech music, Janáček and Martinů especially, but I’d never seen The Greek Passion before being cast as Manolios in Opera North’s new production, as it remains quite a rarity in the opera house. For those who don’t know the...

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Aida, Opera North review - militarism soundly subverted

Opera North created something approaching a new art form when they performed Wagner’s Ring in "concert stagings", putting their large orchestra in full view, with singers symbolically dressed and given limited front-of-stage space, and a continuous...

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