fri 23/07/2021

Opera Features

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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Listed: Essential Operas 2015-16

theartsdesk

September is upon us and it’s nearly time for the new season. English National Opera’s Artistic Director John Berry may have left the building but his enterprising legacy lives on in a 2015-16 season that looks on paper as good as any in the past 20 years; what happens after that is anyone's guess. Still, there shouldn’t be too much grief that ENO Music Director Edward Gardner has moved on, since his successor Mark Wigglesworth already has a fine track record with the company.

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theartsdesk at the Buxton Festival: Bloody Lucia, saintly Joan and sweet Louise

Richard Bratby

Sunlight bounces off Derbyshire stone, buskers strum on the Pavilion Gardens bandstand and there’s improvised Shakespeare on the streets: it’s Festival time again in Buxton.

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Remembering Jon Vickers (1926-2015)

theartsdesk

Canadian heroic tenor Jon Vickers, who died on Friday 10 July aged 88 and whose full life took him from work on a Saskatchewan farm to the great opera houses of the world, was inimitable, terrifying and titanic. Faced with the intense flavour of what follows, I can only write a sober short introduction to the magical words of our two contributors. 

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