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]

Prom 1, Elgar “The Kingdom. Royal Albert Hall

Sir Andrew Davis conducts the BBC Symphony OrchestraBack in the Royal Albert Hall for the unveiling of Proms 2014 and speaking personally adjustments need to be made – the heat, for one, but also the acoustical amplitude. As Elgar rolled out the magisterial themes for The Kingdom in its glorious Prelude my auditory memory was recalling Andrew Davis’ recent airings of the … [Read More]

Forbidden Broadway, Menier Chocolate Factory

forbidden broadwaySince 1982 it’s been open season on the great and the good of Broadway musicals. It was in that very year that a chap called Gerard Alessandrini created Forbidden Broadway and from the hitherto innocuous sidelines of the fringe set out to cut any and everything with ideas above its station down to size. No … [Read More]

La finta giardiniera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Ramiro and Arminda La finta giardiniera image Tristram KentonThe title of the opera provides the essence of Frederic Wake-Walker’s staging. Finta – pretend, fake – and giardiniera – gardener – are key elements in a show where Arcadian bliss is not even glimpsed until the counterfeit facade of 18th century manners and deceit has quite literally crumbled away. Wake-Walker and his designer … [Read More]

London Symphony Orchestra, Luisi, Barbican Hall

It is not often we hear Bruckner’s colossal Eighth Symphony in its longer and far quirkier original version (1887 ed Nowak) and when we do hear it in either of its two incarnations it invariably stands alone. That Fabio Luisi chose it for his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra was in itself more than … [Read More]

Benvenuto Cellini, London Coliseum

Benvenuto Cellini London ColiseumHector Berlioz and Terry Gilliam were undoubtedly made for each other – kindred spirits with wild imaginations, impractical demands, and a touch of anarchy. But Berlioz was a chaotic dramatist at best and in a piece like Benvenuto Cellini which he and his librettists described as an Opéra semi-seria but was in truth a miserable … [Read More]

Dialogues des Carmélites, Royal Opera House

DIALOGUES DES CARMELITES PRODUCTION  (C) ROH:STEPHEN CUMMISKEYPoulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites is a special and very particular opera. There is nothing else quite like it. Just as the drama – set to the composer’s own libretto – teeters between fear and faith so too does Poulenc’s score, an extraordinary apposition of austerity and lushness where belief is harmonically consonant, festooned in seraphic … [Read More]

Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre

Eva Noblezada and Alistair Brammer as Chris,  CREDIT Michael Le Poer TrenchThe heat is on in Saigon – and 25 years after its world premiere Cameron Mackintosh has just turned up the thermostat. Boublil and Schönberg’s celebrated take on Puccini’s Madam Butterfly has always been my favourite of their collaborations (though I retain an enthusiasm for the pre-revised score of Martin Guerre) and there are … [Read More]

Der Rosenkavalier, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Der RosenKavalier Glynbourne 2014You can count on Richard Jones for challenging our perceptions and turning expectation on its head but the image of the Marschallin rising Venus-like from her bath while showers of water rain down like gold dust on her post-coital nakedness is not exactly one that a century’s tradition of Der Rosenkavalier would recognise. In a … [Read More]

The Pajama Game, Shaftesbury Theatre

Joanna Riding and Michael XOn the Richter scale of catchiness Richard Adler and Jerry Ross’ songs for The Pajama Game are right up there. Quite who did what in their brief but shining songwriting partnership was never entirely clear, though Adler claimed supremacy in the music department – but one thing is clear: the man who brought them on … [Read More]