tue 11/08/2020

Opera Features

Pick of the BBC Proms 2016

theartsdesk

"Refreshingly traditional" is how one of our writers describes this year's BBC Proms programme. Alarmingly unadventurous might be another way of putting it, though only in comparison with many of the golden years under Roger Wright.

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theartsdesk at the Holland Festival

james Woodall

The Holland Festival is one of the greats. It has a British director, the articulate Ruth Mackenzie, formerly of the Chichester Festival and the cultural Olympiad, now into her second year. It’s the same age as Edinburgh and Avignon – 70 in 2017 – but not as well known, though it should be. “We must,” Mackenzie says, “seriously punch above our weight.

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Alberto Remedios: 'his natural instrument obeyed his inner thoughts with ease'

Linda Esther Gray

When I sang Isolde to Alberto’s Tristan at English National Opera all those years ago, it was a joy to hear such wonderful tenor sounds in my ears, my heart and my soul. It was always difficult for him to memorise his work and up until the first night I wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen. Yet when we went into that other place of performing he became Tristan and we travelled, on the waves of his beautiful sounds, to places I have seldom been.

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theartsdesk in Prague: Czech Spring with Smetana and Martinů

David Nice

On the itinerary of musical tourists around Europe, the opening of the Prague Spring Festival comes a close third to the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year's Day Concert and the Bayreuth experience. That said, Smetana's Má vlast (My Homeland) – the immoveable opener – is more of an acquired taste than Johann Strauss or Wagner.

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theartsdesk in Warsaw: Moniuszko Vocal Competition 2016

Gavin Dixon

We don’t hear much about composer Stanisław Moniuszko in the West, but in Poland he’s considered a key figure in the history of opera. Moniuszko’s statue stands at the entrance of the National Opera House in Warsaw, and inside he’s depicted by several busts and portraits.

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theartsdesk in Göttingen: HandelFest 2016

David Nice

What Auden called "the sexy airs of summer" arrived early in Göttingen this year. Frog action in the Botanical Gardens of the town's pioneering University may have been less clamorous than when I first came here in late rather than early May (the annual International Handel Festival usually begins whenever the Ascension Day holiday happens to be, so it's a moveable celebration).

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Daniel Kramer for ENO Artistic Director: cause for cautious optimism?

David Nice

Within the wounded, divided company of English National Opera – artists and administration still at loggerheads – the buzz is surprisingly positive. CEO Cressida Pollock does finally seem to be listening: union deputies from chorus and orchestra met the final candidates for the too-long-dormant role of Artistic Director.

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Save ENO: The Chorus Speaks

David Nice

"Just listen". That's an imperative, of course, but it can be a very fair and reasonable one if the tone is right. It was Claudio Abbado's encouragement to his Lucerne Festival Orchestra players to make chamber music writ large. It also sounds persuasive and not at all militant coming from the mouths of ENO chorus members as their plea to the dramatic changes proposed by Chief Executive Officer Cressida Pollock, appointed a year ago.

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200 Miller Mikados at ENO

David Nice

Much of what follows was included in the 25th anniversary programme for Jonathan Miller’s legendary production of The Mikado at English National Opera. And the show goes on, still dazzling on each curtain-up thanks to the undated feat of the late Stefanos Laziridis’ sets and Sue Blane’s costumes, its routines absolutely classic on its 14th revival. On 6 December it marked its 200th performance, so there’s good reason to wheel out this celebration of sundry Mikados again.

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10 Questions for Conductor Laurence Equilbey

David Nice

It’s a sunny afternoon at altitude – 1,082 metres, to be precise – in the precincts of France’s highest historic building, the austerely impressive early Gothic Abbey-Church of St-Robert, La Chaise-Dieu.

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