fri 19/04/2019

Royal Opera

Faust, Royal Opera review - fusty Gounod still dances

Goethe's cosmic Faust becomes Gounod's operatic fust in what, somewhat surprisingly, remains a repertoire staple. You go for the tunes, hoping for the world-class voices to do them justice and prepared for a pallid quarter-of-an-hour or two. David...

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Berenice, Royal Opera/London Handel Festival review - luminous shenanigans in the Linbury

It might be the nature of Handel's operatic beasts, but performances tend to fall into two camps: brilliant in the fusion of drama and virtuosity, singing and playing, or boring to various degrees. If this handsome opening gambit in the 2019 London...

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In the spirit of the composer as innovator: Samir Savant on the London Handel Festival

This is my third year as festival director of the London Handel Festival, an annual celebration of the life and work of composer George Frideric Handel, which takes place every spring in venues across the capital. Our core charitable and artistic...

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La forza del destino, Royal Opera review - generous voices, dramatic voids

When "Maestro" Riccardo Muti left the Royal Opera's previous production of Verdi's fate-laden epic, disgusted by minor changes to fit the scenery on the Covent Garden stage, no-one was sorry when Antonio Pappano, the true master of the house then...

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Così fan tutte, Royal Opera review - fine singing and elegant deceits

Give hope to all, says Despina: play-act. Così fan tutte has always been a piece about four young and silly people being appalling to one another without much need for encouragement from a cynical old manipulator and a confused maid who, in the main...

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Rachvelishvili, ROH Orchestra, Pappano, Royal Opera House review - perfect night and day

There's now something of a gala atmosphere when the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House takes to the Covent Garden stage with its music director Antonio Pappano. Admittedly some of the players are not the same as when he took up his tenure, but the...

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Katya Kabanova, Royal Opera review - inner torment incarnate

Backstories, we're told, are a crucial part of stage visionary Richard Jones's rehearsal process. Janáček, or rather Russian playwright Ostrovsky on whose The Storm the composer based Katya Kabanova, gives several of his hemmed-in characters...

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The Queen of Spades, Royal Opera review - uneven cast prey to overthought concept

Prince Yeletsky, one of the shortest roles for a principal baritone in opera but with the loveliest of arias, looms large in Stefan Herheim's concept of The Queen of Spades. Not so much as a name in Pushkin's perfect short story of 1834, a mere...

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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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Hänsel und Gretel, Royal Opera review - not quite hungry enough

Once upon a time there was the terrible mouth of Richard Jones's Welsh National Opera/Met Hänsel und Gretel, finding an idiosyncratic equivalent to the original Engelbert Humperdinck's dark Wagnerian heart. Then came something very nasty in the...

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Simon Boccanegra, Royal Opera review - a timely revival of Verdi's political music-drama

Political machinations and backroom power-brokering, leadership battles and unscrupulous rivals – if ever there was an opera for this week it’s Simon Boccanegra. Premiered in 1857 but only coming into its own after substantial revisions in 1881,...

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Verdi's Requiem, Royal Opera, Pappano review - all that heaven allows

Here it comes - get a grip. The tears have started flowing in the trio "Quid sum miser" and 12 minutes later, as the tenor embarks on his "Ingemisco" solo, you have to stop the shakes turning into noisy sobbing. The composer then lets you off the...

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