wed 24/05/2017

Opera Reviews

Sebestyén, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Fischer, RFH

Sebastian Scotney

This was a very fine concert indeed, plus a lot more. The first half was a very carefully planned series of unveilings around the theme of Béla Bartók and Hungarian folk music, the second an overwhelming performance of his Duke Bluebeard’s Castle.

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Hipermestra / La Traviata, Glyndebourne

ismene Brown

 A Saudi princess in her white wedding dress digs her own grave as men pile up stones to hurl at her head — next, an Isis fighter is stabbing a knife at her neck to decapitate her. Ah, the fate of the heroine of the average baroque opera about the appalling ways of men and gods.

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Y Tŵr, MTW, Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

stephen Walsh

Until yesterday my only experience of the Welsh language in the opera house was a few isolated passages in Iain Bell’s In Parenthesis last year and the surtitles WNO routinely put up alongside the English in the Millennium Centre.

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Ariodante, The English Concert, Bicket, Barbican

alexandra Coghlan

To hear The English Concert playing Handel is to arrive in technicolour Oz after a lifetime of black and white baroque in Kansas.

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Turandot, Opera North

graham Rickson

I’ve seen the future, and it’s semi-staged. The gains here are far more significant than the losses. And where Opera North’s minimalist Leeds Town Hall Ring let Peter Mumford’s video projections fill in the gaps, this new production of Turandot is costumed, lit and directed, lacking only a...

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L'Incoronazione di Poppea, EBS, Gardiner, Colston Hall, Bristol

stephen Walsh

Whatever musicologists may tell us about the patchy authenticity of Monteverdi’s last two operas, they unquestionably make a pair. Il ritorno di Ulisse is all about fidelity and ends with a love duet between the reunited husband and wife.

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Doctor Atomic, BBCSO, Adams, Barbican

david Nice

Bomb-dropping is the new black again in Trump's dysfunctional America. Awareness of that contributed to the crackling cloud of dynamic dread hanging over last night's concert staging of John Adams's opera-oratorio - my description, not his - about the July 1945 desert testing of the plutonium bomb under the supervision of self-divided Robert Oppenheimer, an American Faust.

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The Exterminating Angel, Royal Opera

Peter Quantrill

"But is any of this normal?," asks poor Beatriz at the end of Act One. Of course not. She and 14 other grand creatures are crossing the space of an aristocratic drawing-room from which, they are coming to realise, there is no escape. At the same time, it’s completely normal. This is opera.

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Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, EBS, Gardiner, Colston Hall, Bristol

stephen Walsh

“Never give one concert if you can give a hundred” might stand as a motto for the conductor who once hauled his choir and orchestra round the world performing all 200 or so of Bach’s cantatas. And mathematically Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s latest project is a nearly exact honouring of that idea.

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Patience/Tosca, English Touring Opera

Richard Bratby

How well do you know your bad Victorian poetry? “When through the purple corridors the screaming scarlet Ibis flew/In terror, and a horrid dew dripped from the moaning Mandragores.” Go on, guess the author. Or how about this? “What time the poet hath hymned/The writhing maid, lithe-limbed,/Quivering on amaranthine asphodel". Got it yet? The first is Oscar Wilde’s The Sphinx, from 1881.

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