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Die Frau ohne Schatten, Royal Opera House

Emily Magee in Die Frau ohne Schatten - ROH - Clive Barda 2014Die Frau ohne Schatten is an opera awash with high-flown symbolism and dubious, if not downright dodgy, sub-Freudian psychology. It peddles ludicrous notions about the inherent conflict between spiritual and physical love, frowning at the sex that does not lead to results – i.e. procreation – and worst of all daring to suggest that a … [Read More]

Posted on 15/03/2014
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Elektra, Royal Opera House (Review)

Christine Goerke as Elektra in Elektra © ROH / Clive Barda 2013 by Royal Opera House Covent GardenApplause for the conductor – even if it is Andris Nelsons – is just about the last thing we need to hear when Richard Strauss is about to fling down the brutal chords which spell out the name of Agamemnon. Surely the start of Elektra is now one of those occasions where we must set … [Read More]

Posted on 24/09/2013
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Tchaikovsky “Eugene Onegin”, Royal Opera House (Review)

Simon Keenlyside as Eugene Onegin with dancer in Eugene Onegin © ROH / Bill Cooper 2013We begin where we will end – with Onegin and Tatyana closing the door on the life that was and the life that might have been. It’s one of the great “what ifs” of opera and Kasper Holten’s first production as Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House is a bold one – thoughtful, … [Read More]

Posted on 05/02/2013
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Birtwistle/Harsent “The Minotaur”, Royal Opera House (Review)

The Minotaur Copyright Bill Cooper and Royal Opera House

Ancient myths reside in Harrison Birtwistle’s orchestral writing – and in The Minotaur, which I now believe to be the richest of all his stage works, it comes up through your body like the shifting of tectonic plates, the antiphonal percussion batteries rumbling, grinding, thundering between the stage boxes while bellowing tubas and the … [Read More]

Posted on 22/01/2013
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Verdi “Otello”, Royal Opera House

It is the most resplendent of vocal fanfares that brings Otello to the stage in Verdi’s wonderful opera and Aleksandrs Antonenko – the latest in a most distinguished lineage (including Vickers and Domingo) to have strode into the tempest-tossed opening of Elijah Moshinsky’s ageless staging – at once raised the temperature in the house cleaving … [Read More]

Posted on 13/07/2012
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Verdi “Falstaff”, Royal Opera House

Where there’s Falstaff there’s food. And Robert Carsen’s new staging of Verdi’s final operatic masterpiece plays like an ode to gastronomical excess. It begins with a binge and ends with a banquet and even the scene of the fat knight’s ill-fated liaison with Alice Ford takes place in her spanking new kitchen: state of the … [Read More]

Posted on 16/05/2012
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Puccini “La Boheme”, Royal Opera House

Not just another revival of a venerable old staging but its 25th showing in the 50th year of director John Copley’s work at the Royal Opera House. They served up a cake and a vintage cast for the occasion – and the snow fell once more on the Latin Quarter swelling the Christmas Eve crowds … [Read More]

Posted on 01/05/2012
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Judith Weir “Miss Fortune”, Royal Opera House

Miss Fortune in name and deed. Sad to say but Judith Weir’s sixth opera is an embarrassment. Sad because Weir’s folk inspired fables have won many friends, sad because she is a composerly composer whose luminous orchestral backdrops and singable vocal lines display an honest talent that never hides behind overworked technique. But Miss Fortune … [Read More]

Posted on 13/03/2012
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Dvorak “Rusalka”, Royal Opera House

It’s on occasions like this that the star-rating system runs into irreconcilable difficulties. I honestly cannot remember a time when musical and theatrical values were in such total divergence. The Royal Opera’s long-overdue first staging of Dvorak’s late masterpiece Rusalka is an incomprehensible travesty – hideously designed (Barbara Ehnes and Anja Rabes) and ineptly directed … [Read More]

Posted on 28/02/2012
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Puccini “Madama Butterfly”, Royal Opera House

One can only hope that the ill wind which strips away the cherry blossom at the close of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser’s feeble 2003 production of Madama Butterfly might soon carry off the entire staging. I’ve seen some cheesy operatic moments over the years but the sight of poor Butterfly in her death throes … [Read More]

Posted on 30/06/2011
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