sun 29/01/2023

Opera Reviews

Least Like the Other, Irish National Opera, Linbury Theatre review - the harrowing of Rosemary Kennedy

David Nice

This multimedia horror revue gave me heart trouble, which is an odd kind of compliment. Not at first: the assault of abrasive music, the one singer having to leap all over the place vocally, competing with spoken word and information overload, can seem self-defeating. And that vile word “lobotomy” is enough in itself to trigger a panic attack. But ultimately the impact is powerful, unforgettable, in tune with great artistic statements about the human condition.

Read more...

A Child in Striped Pyjamas, The Cockpit review - a brave tackling of a Holocaust story

Bernard Hughes

The obstacles that have faced Noah Max in the five years since he resolved to make an opera of John Boyne’s Holocaust novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas would have stymied someone less determined. Not just the usual fundraising and logistical challenges that every opera has to deal with, but also Covid – and the demand from the story’s rights holder for £1 million for their permission.

Read more...

Katya Kabanova, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - living every bar of Janáček’s tragedy

David Nice

Amanda Majeski pushed the boundaries as Janáček's tormented heroine for director Richard Jones at the Royal Opera. Here there were confines – no “concert staging” this, but a laissez-faire affair with scores and music stands, occasionally obscuring the stage directions – but she still conveyed the essence in front of Simon Rattle’s throbbing, luminous London Symphony Orchestra and flanked by other cast members of uniform excellence.

Read more...

Best of 2022: Opera

David Nice

Looking through everything we’ve covered this year – and some of our reviewers have made their choices from an even wider sphere – I find, as in 2021, that the abundance of classical-concert top choices is richer than the number of truly outstanding opera productions. Personally, I’ve seen only three performances in the UK that ticked all boxes (production, singing, conducting, top quality work) and three abroad, despite limited travel.

Read more...

Die Zauberflöte, Royal Opera review - classic show but disappointing conductor

Sebastian Scotney

“The great thing about this production,” Colin Davis observed in 2003, during rehearsals for its very first run, “is that the director [David McVicar] hasn’t attempted to shock anybody. He has tried to tell the story of The Magic Flute. And thank God for that.”

Read more...

Die Fledermaus, RNCM, Manchester review - a champagne cork-popping celebration

Robert Beale

The Royal Northern College of Music is in the mood for celebration. Its 50 years of existence warrants popping the champagne corks big-time, so for its end-of-year operatic production Die Fledermaus is just what the doctor ordered.

Read more...

Don Pasquale, Irish National Opera review - stock comedy shines at close quarters

David Nice

Only a group of top musicians stood, or mostly sat, between a full but necessarily small house and Dr Malatesta’s Plastic Surgery Clinic in the bijou surroundings of Dun Laoghaire’s 324-seater Pavilion Theatre.

Read more...

It’s a Wonderful Life, English National Opera review - Capra’s sharp-edged sentiment smothered in endless schmaltz

David Nice

Looking for a sparkly operatic musical, well sung and played, slick and saturated in a range of mainstream styles that stop short in the year the movie masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life was released, 1946? Then Jake Heggie’s 2016 confection may be for you. One thing’s for sure, though: it may be trying to do something different from the Capra classic, and it’s welcome to have the Bailey family as African Americans, but this isn't a patch on the rather more layered film.

Read more...

The Rake's Progress, Royal Academy of Music review - Hogarth's Rake enters the digital age

alexandra Coghlan

Paris, Vienna, Rome – all have their operatic homages. But London (and I mean real London, not the slightly-grey Italy of Donizetti’s Tudor Queens) only rarely makes it into the opera house. Curiously, on the rare occasions it does, it’s the seedy side of things that’s very much at the fore in The Beggar’s Opera and, of course, the Hogarth-inspired The Rake’s Progress.

Read more...

Alcina, Royal Opera review - sharp stage magic, mist over the pit

David Nice

Handel’s audiences must have taken a very long time to settle – at least an act, to judge from the mostly inconsequential music of Alcina’s first hour. Lovely: we’re on an enchanted isle where puritanical people have been transformed into animal-headed courtiers, and a love-imbroglio merits only a “so what?” Richard Jones and his singers keep it lively and focused, but the bounce needed from Christian Curnyn and the Royal Opera House Orchestra doesn’t come.

Read more...

Pages

latest in today

Music Reissues Weekly: Padang Moonrise - The Birth of the Mo...

“Ka Huma” by Ivo Nilakreshna sounds as if a jazz band was taking on rock ’n’ roll. There’s a swing and sway, busy rhythm guitar and a lead female...

The Fabelmans review - Spielberg remembers with wit and wond...

Spielberg sometimes directed The Fabelmans through a film of tears, as he recreated his cinema’s origins. Lightly fictionalising his own...

Album: Sebastian Rochford, Kit Downes - A Short Diary

A Short Diary, a duo album for piano and drums,...

Jansen, LSO, Noseda, Barbican review - hearts of darkness

There’s life in the old overture-concerto-symphony format yet – especially if the...

Noises Off, Phoenix Theatre review - much revived classic fa...

There’s a chance – a slim one – that you haven’t seen Noises Off, Michael Frayn’s farce...

The Last Stage review - a former prisoner returns to the dea...

Seventy-eight years ago, on January 27,1945, Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Red Army. The iconic images of the ovens with...

Charlie & Stan, Wilton’s Music Hall, review - a beguilin...

Imagine what would have happened if the young Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel were cabin-mates on a transatlantic liner. The Told by an...