wed 26/01/2022

Opera Reviews

Total Immersion: Music for the End of Time review - miracles from the house of the dead

David Nice

History’s most grotesque act of cynicism has to be the model ghetto the Nazis mocked up for the cameras in Terezin/Theresienstadt in October 1944, several days before transporting all the musicians and smartly-dressed attendees present at the concert included in the film to Auschwitz.

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Nabucco, Royal Opera review - high passion but low drama

Gavin Dixon

This latest revival of the Royal Opera’s Nabucco production has suffered more than most from COVID disruptions. At the first night, on 20 December, the chorus were obliged to wear masks, news that was greeted by boos from the audience. Then the next two performances were cancelled.

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Le nozze di Figaro, Royal Opera review - New Year champagne

David Nice

One of the galvanizing wonders of the operatic world happened when David McVicar’s production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro was new, back in 2006: the sight and sound of Royal Opera music director Antonio Pappano in seamless dual role as conductor and recitative fortepianist.

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Best of 2021: Opera

David Nice

January to mid-May 2021 were the bleakest Covid months, yielding only the occasional livestream at least half as good as being there (Barrie Kosky’s magically reinvented Strauss Der Rosenkavalier from Munich, a film of Britten's The Turn of the Screw around Wilton’s Music Hall more imaginative than the actual production).

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Zingari/Tosca Suite, Opera Rara, Rizzi, Cadogan Hall review - symphonic mastery and fluent hokum

David Nice

Two major composers took Pushkin’s narrative poem The Gypsies as the subject for two very different operas. The 19 year old Rachmaninov in 1892 had inspiration but not much sense of dramatic continuity; Leoncavallo in 1912, 20 years on from his deserved smash hit Pagliacci, managed the flow but not the inspiration.

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The Valkyrie, English National Opera review - fitfully flickering flames

David Nice

That the ever-decreasing circles of Richard Jones’s first Wagner Ring instalment for English National Opera ended in a no-show for the fire that should have made former Valkyrie supreme Brünnhilde proof against all but a fearless hero – Westminster City Council poured cold water on it before this first night – is in a way the least of it.

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The Cunning Little Vixen, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - nature, large as life

Richard Bratby

"Nature is healing," declared the social media meme, back in the early days of lockdown when humanity had temporarily retreated to focus on its banana bread. There were pictures to prove it, apparently. Dolphins sported in the canals of Venice; city gardens filled with newly emboldened songbirds. Didn’t a herd of goats colonise Llandudno at one point? Something like that, anyway.

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Macbeth, Royal Opera review - bloody, bold, and resolute

Gavin Dixon

Phyllida Lloyd’s production of Macbeth has been in rep at the Royal Opera since 2002, and it is a solid performer. The setting is slick and vaguely period, with lots of iron weaponry, smart, pony-tailed warriors, but not a kilt in sight.

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Siegfried, RINGafa, St Mary’s Putney review - heroes everywhere

Peter Quantrill

A Samoan-themed Ring cycle? Well, why not? A calculated distance has always separated its audience from the Norse and German epics of its origin.

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Carmen, Opera North review - humanity and no bull

Robert Beale

Is Bizet’s Carmen all about Carmen? Or Don José and his obsession with her? Or the society that made her what she is? Or all of the above? Inevitably it’s an opera that almost never escapes some Regietheater treatment these days. Director Edward Dick’s take on it is definitely one of those, and tries to tackle as many of the issues as it can.

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