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Les Vepres Siciliennes, Royal Opera House (Review)

It started so thrillingly, director Stefan Herheim pulling off a theatrical coup which simultaneously fleshed out the opera’s back story whilst casting us body and soul into the gloriously opulent world of French opera-ballet. But as Verdi’s sprawling Parisian epic lost its dramatic impetus and sense of direction so Herheim and aspects of his staging … [Read More]

Posted on 18/10/2013
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Posted in Opera, Reviews

Benjamin/Crimp “Written On Skin”, Royal Opera House (Review)

Barbara Hannigan in Written on Skin photo by Stephen CummiskeyGeorge Benjamin and Martin Crimp’s Written On Skin arrives at the Royal House for its UK premiere trailing extraordinary plaudits from all who’ve seen it. One can understand why. Music theatre is such a delicate, precarious, business but when words and music and staging come together as they do here in a cunning and intricately … [Read More]

Posted on 09/03/2013
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Meyerbeer “Robert Le Diable”, Royal Opera House (Review)

In the fictional museum of operatic history the Meyerbeer exhibit invites curiosity more than it commands respect. One sees his place in the grand – very grand – scheme of things, one can appreciate his influence, acknowledge his success, but hearing a piece like Robert Le Diable (staggeringly the 74th performance at the Royal Opera … [Read More]

Posted on 07/12/2012
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Verdi “Rigoletto”, Royal Opera House

Distressed and decaying amidst crumbling masonry Michael Vale’s brutalist set tilts and turns towards catastrophe like some sort of post-modernist installation. The Court of Mantua is a world off its axis in David McVicar’s much-revived staging of Verdi’s Rigoletto and as this world fornicates its way to extinction it’s as if the roaring boys from … [Read More]

Posted on 31/03/2012
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Mozart “Don Giovanni”, Royal Opera House

There is hell-fire enough at the close of Francesca Zambello’s 2002 staging of Don Giovanni to consume not just the Don but the entire production. Not such a bad idea, I found myself thinking, as the Commendatore’s gigantic gauntlet descended, its accusing finger aflame. There’s nothing quite like a burst of pyrotechnics to gee up … [Read More]

Posted on 22/01/2012
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Wagner “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”, Royal Opera House

The years have undoubtedly taken their toll and what seemed so fresh and new in 1993 – the pristine abstractions of Richard Hudson’s design, the washes of orange and gold light, the assertively jolly Brueghelesque costumes – now looks a little pantomimic. And yet the Shakespearian artifice of Graham Vick’s thoughtful and much-admired staging of … [Read More]

Posted on 20/12/2011
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Wagner “Die Fliegender Holländer”, Royal Opera House

We actually don’t need the billowing front cloth, the torrential rain, or strafing searchlights – from the moment Wagner lays bare those sizzling open fifths in the strings he does the tempest-tossed thing for us. Indeed that Overture presages the legend of the Flying Dutchman in ways that not even Tim Albery’s beautifully lit and … [Read More]

Posted on 19/10/2011
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Gounod “Faust”, Royal Opera House

“This is my domain”, says Méphistophéles, and suddenly we his audience are behind the footlights looking into an auditorium just like ours. It isn’t a particular original idea casting the devil as master of ceremonies and purveyor of dreams and nightmares but in David McVicar’s thrillingly opulent 2004 staging of Gounod’s Faust the conflict between … [Read More]

Posted on 19/09/2011
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Puccini “Il Trittico”, Royal Opera House

The accepted wisdom on Puccini’s trio of one-acters, Il Trittico, is that Gianni Schicchi is the masterpiece, Suor Angelica of very particular and questionable taste, with Il Tabarro, all shadow and melodrama, bringing up the rear. But should we now, in the light of Richard Jones’ revelatory staging of the central “altarpiece”, be … [Read More]

Posted on 13/09/2011
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Puccini “Tosca”, Royal Opera House

Bring together three of the most intuitive talents (and biggest stars) on the planet, meld them under the baton of Antonio Pappano whose command of every caress, swoon, and dramatic impulse of Puccini’s Tosca is not learned but instinctively felt and you have a recipe for the kind of evening that gives the Royal Opera … [Read More]

Posted on 15/07/2011
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