Blog Archives

Massenet “Cendrillon”, Royal Opera House

The words are in French but still familiar – “Once upon a time….” – and the story which follows, Cendrillon (that’s Cinderella to you and me), is writ large across the surfaces of Barbara de Limburg’s set, opening like a pop-up book of fairytales whose sliding panels have our eyes hanging on to every word. … [Read More]

Posted on 06/07/2011
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Britten “Peter Grimes”, Royal Opera House

Willy Decker’s 1994 production of Britten’s Peter Grimes has not worn well and pales now in the shadow of David Alden award-winning staging down the road at English National Opera. That, too, is due for revival. Decker’s problem – more pronounced in Francois de Carpentries’ revival – is that the highly stylised and fussily choreographed … [Read More]

Posted on 22/06/2011
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Verdi “Macbeth”, Royal Opera House

Phyllida Lloyd’s 2002 staging of Verdi’s Macbeth is prematurely looking like a parody of itself – an exhibit in one of designer Anthony Ward’s gilded display cases. But it’s sounding rather terrific in this second revival and before we actually see the shrieking and cackling hags of Verdi’s prelude – a bizarrely choreographed red-turbaned chorus … [Read More]

Posted on 25/05/2011
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Massenet “Werther”, Royal Opera House

Rolando Villazón is back. That was the overriding headline of this highly emotional revival of Massenet’s heartbreaker. The other was how and why Benoit Jacquot’s painterly staging came to be so lambasted from some quarters when it was premiered in 2004. This opera is all about keeping up appearances in direct contradiction of innermost feelings … [Read More]

Posted on 06/05/2011
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Operashots, Royal Opera Linbury Studio Theatre

Whether by design or accident this latest “double” in the Royal Opera’s Operashots project hit us with the most compelling of juxtapositions. Both composers – Stewart Copeland and Oscar winner Anne Dudley – hailed latterly from the movies but by no means exclusively so: she was a founder member of Art of Noise, he was … [Read More]

Posted on 09/04/2011
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Verdi “Aida”, Royal Opera House

David McVicar’s darkly primitivist Aida was a necessary antidote to the whole tedious tradition of sub-De Mille spectacle in this piece. The cleverest thing about his staging – and I cannot for the life of me work out why it was greeted with such derision on its first outing – is that it honours the … [Read More]

Posted on 12/03/2011
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Humperdinck, Hansel and Gretel, Royal Opera House

The moment of truth in any staging of Hansel and Gretel must be the Dream Pantomime which closes act one. This is the director’s moment, the moment where the entire premise of the production finds fulfillment in some of the most beautiful and harmonically luminous music to emerge from the turn of the 19th century. … [Read More]

Posted on 24/12/2010
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Wagner “Tannhäuser”, Royal Opera House

To ravish the senses or feed the soul? That is the question. And although Wagner posed it knowing full well that its significance would resonate through the ages – and no more so than now – he also knew, as a man of the theatre, that in the right hands we his audiences might have … [Read More]

Posted on 12/12/2010
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Adriana sensitively exhumed

Kaufmann and Gheorghiu were not the only star attractions of this early and clearly expensive Christmas gift from the Royal Opera. Cilea’s Frenchified melodrama hasn’t been seen in the house since 1906 and the dusty wing space of Charles Edwards’ extraordinary set looked like it might actually have been excavated from the theatre as it … [Read More]

Posted on 19/11/2010
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