tue 25/06/2024

Puccini

Il Trittico, Welsh National Opera review - another triumph for a hard-pressed company

It’s somehow typical of the Welsh National Opera I’ve known now for the best part of sixty years that it should confront its current funding difficulties with brilliant productions of two of the more challenging works in the repertory.The company’s...

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Tosca, Opera Holland Park review - passion and populism

Set in a tensely polarised Roman neighbourhood, with an election in the offing and radicals scrapping with reactionaries under poster-plastered walls, Stephen Barlow’s smart update of Tosca from 1800 to 1968 might have felt like a double dose of...

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Manon Lescaut, English Touring Opera review - a nightmare in too many ways

Opera in Britain is currently cursed by funders, politicians and ideologues – of right and left – who heartily detest the form. Alas, some directors do their work for them with interpretations seemingly designed to undermine the very art they are...

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Classical CDs: Microphones, mazurkas and mad scenes

 Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1-5 Garrick Ohlsson (piano), Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra/Sir Donald Runnicles (Reference Recordings)This set would be an artistic treat had it been captured onto a couple of C90 cassettes with a boombox....

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La Rondine, Opera North review - rehabilitation for a Puccini damp squib?

The signal achievement of this production of La Rondine may be that James Hurley (director) and Kerem Hasan (conductor) have rehabilitated it to its proper place, against the perception that it’s the least successful of Puccini’s mature operas.Even...

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Turandot, Royal Opera review - spectacle and sound wow in this significant revival

Nearly 40 years old, Andrei Serban’s Royal Opera Turandot feels like a gilded relic (I felt like a relic myself on learning that my writer neighbour wasn’t born when I saw Gwyneth Jones as the ice princess in 1984). Yet so too, outwardly, did...

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La bohème, Glyndebourne Tour review - Death and the Parisienne doing the rounds

The sopranos are Ethiopian-Italian and Hispanic-American, the tenor Uzbek, the baritones South African (no EU principals, but it seems you can't have everything). This is opera at its best: the cream of international singers coming together to make...

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Tosca, English National Opera review - a tale of two eras

Rome, 14/15 June 1800: the specifics of the original Sardou melodrama are preserved in Puccini’s thriller mixing love, lust, religion and tyranny. Many productions move forward in time, and sometimes change the place, with ease: after all, feudalist...

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La rondine, If Opera review - a bold opening gambit from a company changing the business of opera

Covid has been devastating for all the arts, but especially opera – the riskiest and most expensive gamble of the lot. And it doesn’t seem to be anywhere near done yet. On one memorable night this summer the number of covers stepping into principal...

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Margot La Rouge/Le Villi, Opera Holland Park review – Parisian fancies and Black Forest gâteau

Take an opera newbie along to Opera Holland Park’s double bill of rarities and they may have both their worst fears and their highest hopes confirmed. Outlandish plotting, overwrought melodrama and preposterous, supernatural stage business abounds....

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Zingari/Tosca Suite, Opera Rara, Rizzi, Cadogan Hall review - symphonic mastery and fluent hokum

Two major composers took Pushkin’s narrative poem The Gypsies as the subject for two very different operas. The 19 year old Rachmaninov in 1892 had inspiration but not much sense of dramatic continuity; Leoncavallo in 1912, 20 years on from his...

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Madam Butterfly, Welsh National Opera review - decent performance, disagreeable context

It’s easy enough to see the difficulty Madam Butterfly places your thinking director in. I share her pain. What the whirring brain will quickly see as a penetrating, or at least surface scratching, study of a whole repertoire of modern obsessions –...

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