sat 21/01/2017

Opera Reviews

Summerfield, Jackson, Riches, Classical Opera, Page, Wigmore Hall

david Nice

Young Amadeus is growing up in real time with MOZART 250, Classical Opera's ambitious 26-year project following its hero's creative life from childhood to the grave. 2015's start, marking two and a half centuries since the boy wonder's first visit to London, and its sequel had little to show of its main man, but plenty of other, senior composers flourishing in the same years.

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La Traviata, Royal Opera

alexandra Coghlan

It takes some pretty special casting to spice up Richard Eyre’s Royal Opera regular, currently returning for its 14th revival (with a 15th on the cards later this year). And that’s exactly what was on the bill here, with house debuts from both Joyce El-Khoury’s Violetta and Sergey Romanovsky’s Alfredo.

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The Last Supper, BBCSSO, Brabbins, City Halls, Glasgow

David Kettle

You can tell it’s a big deal when even a handful of London critics abandon the capital for a Saturday evening in chilly Glasgow.

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Le Grand Macabre, LSO, Rattle, Barbican

david Nice

The Big Mac – as in Ligeti's music-theatre fantasia on the possible death of Death – is here to stay. Back in 1990, three critics (I was one) were invited on to the BBC World Service to say which work from the previous decade we thought would survive.

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Written on Skin, Royal Opera

alexandra Coghlan

There’s a passage in Martin Crimp’s impeccable libretto for Written on Skin that describes a page of illuminated manuscript. The ink, he tells us, stays forever wet – alive with moist, fleshy, indecent human reality rather than dried into decorous fixity. As a metaphor for storytelling, it’s potent; as a description of George Benjamin’s score, it’s close to literal.

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Best of 2016: Opera

david Nice

It was the best and worst of years for English National Opera. Best, because principals, chorus and orchestra seem united in acclaiming their Music Director of 14 months, Mark Wigglesworth, for his work at a level most had only dreamed of (“from the bottom up,” said a cellist, contrasting it with the top-down approach of predecessor Edward Gardner).

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Der Rosenkavalier - Cast 2, Royal Opera

david Nice

Fiftysomething may well be the new 32, the age Strauss and Hofmannsthal made the central figure of the Marschallin in their "comedy for music" Der Rosenkavalier.

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Der Rosenkavalier, Royal Opera

alexandra Coghlan

Der Rosenkavalier is an opera of thresholds. Characters are caught between states – girlhood and marriage, lover and lover-no-more, woman and whatever lies beyond sexuality and desirability – while around them a city and a nation are also poised on the brink, blocking out the noisy winds of change with waltzes that swirl ever more urgently through parquet ballrooms and gilded staterooms.

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El Niño, LSO, Adams, Barbican

david Nice

Second and third times lucky: after the migraine-inducing multimedia overload of Peter Sellars's premiere production of El Niño, first seen in London in 2003 and subsequently excoriated in eloquent prose by the composer himself, John Adams's layered masterpiece has had two further performances here proving that the drama is all in the music. Vladimir Jurowski's 2013 Festival Hall...

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Das Rheingold, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Robert Beale

With two of the biggest parts of the tetralogy already behind them, it might have seemed that Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé would aim simply at as near a perfect recording-cum-concert of Das Rheingold as possible, to get one more in the can and head for the final straight in a year or so’s time.

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