sat 18/05/2024

Opera Reviews

Carmen, Glyndebourne review - total musical fusion

David Nice

It’s what you dream of in opera but don’t often get: singers feeling free and liberated to give their best after weeks of preparation with a master conductor. Glyndebourne Music Director Robin Ticciati leads the way with a peerless London Philharmonic Orchestra in Bizet’s absolute masterpiece, and Tunisian-Canadian mezzo Rihab Chaieb’s Carmen stuns in a vocally magnificent cast.

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L'Olimpiade, Irish National Opera review - Vivaldi's long-distance run sustained by perfect teamwork

David Nice

In Vivaldi’s more extravagant operas, some of the arias can seem like a competition for the gold medal. L’Olimpiade is relatively modest in most of its demands, with one notable exception, and Irish National Opera’s track record in exemplary casting across the board gave us a relay race from an ideal team, keeping the work’s trajectory from modest introductions to greater depth and fire in the set pieces stylishly on course.

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Götterdämmerung, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - outside looking and listening in, always with fascination

David Nice

Four years embracing pandemic, genocide and rapid environmental degradation predicted by Wagner’s grand myth have passed before the Southbank Brünnhilde could become a new woman – literally, in this Ring. Since Das Rheingold, the “preliminary evening”, in 2018, the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski has grown ever more idiomatic and resplendent. Casting of the main roles, however, had more than its usual peaks and troughs this time round.

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Simon Boccanegra, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - thrilling, magnificent exploration

Robert Beale

If ever more evidence were needed of Sir Mark Elder’s untiring zest for exploration and love of the thrill of live opera performance, it was this ground-breaking collaborative event with Opera Rara – a performance coupled to a new studio recording of the original version of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra.

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Aci by the River, London Handel Festival, Trinity Buoy Wharf Lighthouse review - myths for the #MeToo age

Boyd Tonkin

“Site-specific” performance locations rarely come more atmospheric, or evocative, than this one. Beyond the East India Dock basin, with the hedgehog-backed dome of the O2 looming just across the Thames on a gusty spring evening, a cavernous “chain store” abuts the Trinity Buoy Lighthouse. For the London Handel Festival, director Jack Furness transforms this haunting (and haunted) chunk of early-Victorian dockland architecture into the studios of “Cyclops Pictures”.

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Carmen, Royal Opera review - strong women, no sexual chemistry and little stage focus

David Nice

When will the Royal Opera give us a totally electrifying Carmen, rather than just a vocally perfect Carmen (as Aighul Akhmetshina surely is)? Supposed firebrand Damiano Michieletto’s production is mostly tepid after Barrie Kosky’s half-brilliant take. Kosky didn’t seem to care for his Don José or Micaëla, but as this officer turned smuggler fails to develop and the girl from his village is a plain-Jane cliché, there’s not much improvement on that front.

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La scala di seta, RNCM review - going heavy on the absinthe?

Robert Beale

The overture to Rossini’s La scala di seta is a frequent and familiar concert piece – not so the opera itself.

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Death In Venice, Welsh National Opera review - breathtaking Britten

mark Kidel

Benjamin Britten’s last opera Death in Venice (1973), adapted from Thomas Mann’s novella of the same name (1912) and the subject of one of Visconti’s later, most celebrated films, explores homoerotic attraction, the nature of beauty and the inescapable presence of mortality.

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Salome, Irish National Opera review - imaginatively charted journey to the abyss

David Nice

“Based on the play by Oscar Wilde,” declared publicity on Dublin buses and buildings, reminding opera-cautious citizens that the poet whose text Richard Strauss used for his own Salome grew up only 10 minutes’ walk away from Daniel Libeskind's Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Word of mouth, meanwhile, did much in a mere week of performances to spread the news that Sinéad Campbell Wallace’s interpretation of the fast-unravelling teenage princess was a sensation.

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Jenůfa, English National Opera review - searing new cast in precise revival

David Nice

Face scarred, baby murdered – both crimes committed by those closest to her – village girl Jenůfa rises again with extraordinary strength of will. Of all affirmative endings in opera, Janáček’s has to be the most moving, and all the more so in this revival of David Alden’s clear and perceptive production as Jennifer Davis uses the power behind her beautiful lyric soprano to go the extra mile, as she always does.

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