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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]

Posted on 14/09/2014
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Benvenuto Cellini, London Coliseum

Benvenuto CelliniHector 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]

Posted on 06/06/2014
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Peter Grimes, English National Opera, London Coliseum

English National Opera’s “ownership” of Britten’s Peter Grimes was more than a little advanced by the arrival of David Alden’s thrilling staging in 2009 – and seeing it again now only confirms what I thought and felt then, that this is physically and emotionally the theatrical embodiment of the piece: a bold expressionistic reimagining of … [Read More]

Posted on 30/01/2014
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Fidelio, English National Opera (Review)

The first words we hear don’t belong to Fidelio at all, the first music does, but not at all where you expect to find it. If you’ve read your programme (and who does before the show begins?) you’ll find a poem entitled “Labyrinth” by Jorge Luis Borges from a collection In Praise of Darkness. … [Read More]

Posted on 26/09/2013
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“Wozzeck”, English National Opera, London Coliseum (Review)

Wozzeck (Leigh Melrose) photo: Tristram KentonIf you should take your seats prematurely in the London Coliseum you’ll find yourself confronted with a group of serving British soldiers. You’ll shift a little uneasily under their gaze. There they are, staring, smoking, loitering; there we are, on a visit to the opera. There’s a disconnect. Among those soldiers is Wozzeck (Leigh Melrose), … [Read More]

Posted on 12/05/2013
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Martinu “Julietta”, English National Opera – Review ****

Julietta. The name is spelt out across the front cloth in the shifting body shapes of a sleeping figure – Michel Lepic, a bookseller (Peter Hoare). He stirs where the final “A” should be and with a suitcase packed full of dreams goes in search of his “eternal feminine” to a small French coastal town … [Read More]

Posted on 18/09/2012
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Prom 55: Britten “Peter Grimes”, English National Opera, Edward Gardner – Review ****

You can take the opera out of the opera house but you can’t take the opera house out of the opera – not when the spirit of David Alden’s benchmark 2009 production of Britten’s Peter Grimes resides so potently in English National Opera’s collective psyche. Company members may have come and gone in the interim … [Read More]

Posted on 25/08/2012
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Britten “Billy Budd”, English National Opera

The sight of Kim Begley’s old and broken Captain Vere silently mouthing Billy Budd’s death sentence as it is read out in the final scene of Britten’s opera will be one of the enduring images of David Alden’s new English National Opera production. It’s a terrible mantra that he will repeat over and over and … [Read More]

Posted on 19/06/2012
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Wagner “The Flying Dutchman”, English National Opera

The front curtain at the London Coliseum is a rare sight these days and suggested that we might for once be about to experience Wagner’s celebrated Overture without “illustration”. With Edward Gardner and the ENO Orchestra identifying the perfect storm, with those sizzling open fifths in tremolo violins and heroic horns pitching us into its … [Read More]

Posted on 29/04/2012
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Strauss “Der Rosenkavalier”, English National Opera

For those of us who believe (and don’t we all) that Octavian should end up with his true love – as opposed to his “fairy tale” romance – and live out his days with the Feldmarschallin, Maria Thérèse, David McVicar’s richly detailed 2008 staging of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier offers more hope than most. A moment … [Read More]

Posted on 29/01/2012
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