tue 23/07/2019

Opera Features

'I'm the photographer. Any nudity? Any fighting?'

Bill Knight

We are sitting in the lobby of the National Theatre in the early afternoon waiting for the photocall for Dara to begin. Six or seven photographers, one woman, all dressed in jeans and dark jackets with large camera bags, some on wheels. There is not much conversation. As a relative newcomer I don't normally speak, but on this occasion I venture a remark.

“I have seen this play.”

After a pause one of the company says, “You're keen.”

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theartsdesk in Oslo: Two Peer Gynts and a Hamlet

David Nice

Not so much a national hero, more a national disgrace. That seems to be the current consensus on Peer Gynt as Norway moves forward from having canonized the wild-card wanderer of Ibsen's early epic. It’s now 200 years since Norway gained a constitution, and 114 since Peer first shone in the country's National Theatre, that elegant emblem of the Norwegian language.

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theartsdesk in Stockholm: A Nobel Prize for Musical Excellence

David Nice

Should you not have caught one of the 20th century’s handful of greatest Wagnerian singers live - I did, just once, in a Prom of uneven excerpts - chances are that you first heard Birgit Nilsson in Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene from Götterdämmerung on Sir Georg Solti’s Vienna Philharmonic Ring recording.

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Remembering Christopher Hogwood (1941-2014)

theartsdesk

He was not only a bracing conductor/harpsichordist pioneer in period-instrument authenticity, writes David Nice, but also a gentleman and a scholar.

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Alright on the Night: at Glyndebourne with the OAE

Adam Sweeting

If you only ever listened to opera from recordings, you might overlook the fact that it's as much theatre as it is music. In the opera house on the night, it's all well and good for the orchestra to play the score and the singers to sing their parts, but on top of that you have to allow for costume changes, move the scenery, adjust the lighting and make sure you get all the right people on and off stage at the appropriate moments.

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theartsdesk in Bregenz: A floating opera festival

alexandra Coghlan

It’s raining. Not spitting or drizzling, properly raining, with clouds so thick that you know they’re here to stay. Yet rather than take shelter in restaurants and bars, or simply stay at home on this soggy summer night, 7,000 people in a stylish array of plastic macs and souwesters have made their way to the harbourside of the small Austrian town of Bregenz. Why? An annual festival that takes opera to extremes.

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Opinion: What does opera have to say to the under-30s?

alexandra Coghlan

If, like me, your first reaction to the question “What does opera have to say to under-30s” is “What doesn’t opera have to say to them, or anyone, for that matter?” then you can stop reading now. Job done. Go out and spread the word. For everyone else – and that includes Tolstoy, Rousseau and Samuel Johnson, famous opera-detractors all – I have just one further question: what is your problem with opera?

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Lorin Maazel (1930-2014) on Puccini's Golden Girl

David Nice

I met one of the 20th century’s most impressive, if not always sympathetic, conductors twice, on both occasions to talk Puccini before La Scala recordings of La fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) and Manon Lescaut.

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Nightmare in Aix: Sarah Connolly on a shocking first night

Sarah Connolly

I felt so shocked by the events that took place during the premiere of Handel’s Ariodante on 3 July in the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence last week, and so disappointed that our painstaking work with director Richard Jones over the last six weeks had been so comprehensively ruined, that I felt I should document what happened.

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First Person: Who is Mozart's fake garden girl?

Frederic Wake-Walker

La finta giardiniera is about seven characters in search of love. They are all pretending to some extent – they are not being truthful to themselves. It’s a classic Mozartian conceit which comes back in Così fan tutte in particular but also in Le nozze di Figaro – that, in order to love someone, you need to know yourself. Finta is about these seven characters coming to some level of understanding by the end, and therefore being able to love each other.

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