GRAMOPHONE Review: Heggie – It’s A Wonderful Life

It’s interesting – and revealing – that Pentatone has a designated “American Operas” series. It’s an acknowledgement, if you like, that there is something very particular, very recognisably “American”, about the USA’s contribution to the genre, something that separates them from the world of international contemporary opera. It’s in their traditions, their songs, and most … [Read More]

Boris Godunov, Royal Opera House

borisgudonov1503aAs one who grew up listening to what other people did to Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov – most notably the gifted gift-wrapper Rimsky-Korsakov – the seven-scene original is doubly startling in its concision and starkness. This is a piece in which what happens outside of the seven scenes becomes as important as the narrative contained within … [Read More]

L’Etoile, Royal Opera House

L'EtoileIt’s a kind of French Mikado. In a distant and exotic kingdom a victim must be found to celebrate the King’s name-day. No little list, no W H Gilbert wit, either, but a handful of delicious tunes, most of them deftly previewed in one of operetta’s smartest overtures. Mark Elder had the orchestra skip … [Read More]

The Force of Destiny, London Coliseum

100613Whenever the name Calixto Bieito is mentioned it’s invariably to mention ‘the toilets’ – not the reasons for them, just the fact that they were there at all. That production of Verdi’s A Masked Ball was one of the most theatrical and exciting in English National Opera’s post-powerhouse era. It’s true that Bieito’s passion can … [Read More]

La Boheme, English National Opera

287451_770_previewSo this is the moment where the tables are turned and La Boheme, the opera, takes its cue from Rent, the musical, and Rodolfo the poet’s observation that he has “a few more lines” to finish takes on a rather different connotation. An entirely redundent blog in a certain national newspaper seemed to … [Read More]

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, London Coliseum

lady_macbethMark Wigglesworth’s arrival as English National Opera’s new Music Director was never going to be a quiet affair. They probably heard it all the way over at the Kremlin. It wasn’t so much a case of a new door opening as the existing one being kicked in. The choice of composer was shrewdly one he … [Read More]

The Pirates of Penzance, London Coliseum

pirates of penzance @ ENOLet it never be said that English National Opera hasn’t done its bit for Gilbert and Sullivan – but the fact that only one its several stagings has achieved recognition and longevity surely says something about the very particular difficulties of this fragile repertoire and the suitability (or otherwise) of the London Coliseum as a … [Read More]

The Girl of the Golden West, English National Opera, London Coliseum

Girl of the Golden West Susan BullockWell, there won’t be any complaints about performing this one in English – or should that be American. Thank heavens Richard Jones has made Puccini’s spaghetti western an operatic-home-counties-free-zone and got his cast delivering Kelley Rourke’s translation with enough of a trans-Atlantic drawl to affect a colloquial tang. Let’s face it, great swathes of this … [Read More]

Otello, English National Opera, London Coliseum

otello enoIt is 30 years ago – but feels like another life – that David Alden first exploded on to English National Opera’s Coliseum stage with his forever notorious cut-price staging of Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa. None of us there will ever forget the high-drama of that evening on stage and off. The booing began with the … [Read More]

La Traviata, Glyndebourne

Venera Gimadieva in La Traviata Glynebourne image Richard Hubert SmithImages of Violetta taken to her bed or receding like a ghostly mirage into an eternity of solitude preface and conclude scene after scene of Tom Cairns splendid new staging at Glyndebourne. Designer Hildegard Bechtler has created minimalist surfaces, upholstered or slickly veneered, square or curved and offset by a slash of curtain – crimson … [Read More]

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