sat 15/12/2018

Opera Reviews

Hänsel und Gretel, Royal Opera review - not quite hungry enough

David Nice

Once upon a time there was the terrible mouth of Richard Jones's Welsh National Opera/Met Hänsel und Gretel, finding an idiosyncratic equivalent to the original Engelbert Humperdinck's dark Wagnerian heart. Then came something very nasty in the witch's deep freeze of the last Royal Opera staging, something of a dog's dinner from Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser.

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Gianni Schicchi/Suor Angelica, RNCM, Manchester review – music does the magic

Robert Beale

The Royal Northern College of Music’s December opera production was the useful double bill of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi from Puccini’s Trittico.

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Candide, LSO, Alsop, Barbican review - nearly the best of all possible...

Jessica Duchen

When the biggest laugh in Bernstein’s Candide goes to a narrator’s mention of how nationalism was sweeping through Europe, you may have a problem. Still, the Bernstein Centenary has been among the best of all possible anniversary celebrations this year and at the LSO Candide - the great man’s bonkers operetta-ish take on Voltaire, a flawed masterpiece with a succession of glorious tunes and snappy lyrics - could have been its apex. At times, it was.

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L'heure espagnole, Mid Wales Opera review - Ravel goes like clockwork

Richard Bratby

Mid Wales Opera makes small-scale touring look fun – even when you suspect that, behind the scenes, it really isn’t. Barely 24 hours before this performance of their current production of Ravel’s L’heure espagnole, and 11 dates into their current 16 date tour, their Torquemada, Peter van Hulle, was invalided out.

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War Requiem, English National Opera review - a striking spectacle, but oddly unmoving

alexandra Coghlan

We’re not good at lack these days. Just look at the concert hall, where increasingly you turn up to find not just an orchestra and soloists but a giant screen. Videos, projections, live speakers, "virtual choirs"; if there’s so much as a chink of an opening in the music, you can bet that someone will try and fill it. It seems to come from a place of generosity, a desire to reach out, to supplement, to amplify, to explain, just in case we didn’t feel or see or understand before.

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Simon Boccanegra, Royal Opera review - a timely revival of Verdi's political music-drama

alexandra Coghlan

Political machinations and backroom power-brokering, leadership battles and unscrupulous rivals – if ever there was an opera for this week it’s Simon Boccanegra. Premiered in 1857 but only coming into its own after substantial revisions in 1881, Verdi’s problem-child of a piece had its own struggle for survival and success, and the work’s rather lumpy dramatic architecture shows the scars of its various grafts and interventions.

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The Silver Tassie, BBCSO, Barbican review - a bracing memorial for the WW1 anniversary

alexandra Coghlan

In a week of flickering memorial candles and cascading poppies we’ve all been asked to contemplate the pity of war – to remember and to seek consolation in beauty and silence. But before we can earn that consolation and mourn in that silence there must surely be rage and noise, bloody specificity before aesthetic abstraction.

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The Rake's Progress, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - supreme fluency from Eden to Bedlam

David Nice

Lightness and gravity in perfect equilibrium have always graced Vladimir Jurowski's Stravinsky.

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Serse, Fagioli, Il Pomo d'Oro, Barbican review - a night in counter-tenor heaven

Boyd Tonkin

What a scrumptious spread of musical virtuosity the Barbican has laid on with the aid of its international guests this week.

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Car, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Tognetti, Milton Court review - a rattlebag of happy collaborations

David Nice

Presenting the last Mozart symphonies as a three-act opera for orchestra, as Richard Tognetti and his febrile fellow Australians did on Monday, was always going to be a supreme challenge. It worked, as Boyd Tonkin reported here.

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