tue 17/09/2019

Opera Reviews

Prom 5, Pelléas et Mélisande, Glyndebourne review - for the ears, not the eyes

stephen Walsh

What a fabulous score Pelléas et Mélisande is, and what a joy to be able to hear it in a concert performance without the distraction of some over-sophisticated director’s self-communings. Well, if only.

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Isabeau, Opera Holland Park review - Mascagni's lumpy Godiva-ride rarity

David Nice

Valiant Opera Holland Park, always taking up the gauntlet for Italian operas which should mostly never be staged again. Worst was Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini, where musical ambition vastly outruns technique and inspiration. Mascagni's Iris with its hideous misogyny has now been followed by the same composer's Isabeau of 1911, turgid of libretto and dramaturgy.

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Ariadne auf Naxos, Longborough Festival review - appetising energy and wit

stephen Walsh

Much as I love Strauss’s Ariadne in its final form, I have a sneaking nostalgia for the original version (attached to Hofmannsthal’s adaptation of Molière’s Le bourgeois gentilhomme), which had Zerbinetta and her companions popping up after the final love duet and gently letting out some of its gas.

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Alzira / The Daughter of the Regiment, Buxton Festival review – thundering good tunes

Robert Beale

Alzira is Verdi’s shortest opera and his least performed, and you have to ask why.

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Idomeneo, Buxton Festival review - revolution in the head

Richard Bratby

The audience at the Buxton International Festival has a way of cutting to the essence of a production.

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Pelléas et Mélisande, Glyndebourne review - frigid metatheatre

David Nice

Pierre Boulez simply crystallised the obvious when he described Debussy's unique masterpiece as "theatre of cruelty," despite its enigmatic beginnings. Richard Jones, when I asked him to talk about its plot, declared "it's about two men who love the same woman, with disastrous results". Productions by Jones, Peter Stein with Boulez conducting and Vick at Glyndebourne have all had us shaking with fear and weeping with pity.

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The Turn of the Screw, ENO, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre review - one dimension, not four

David Nice

Opera and music theatre have set the birds shrilling in Regent's Park before in the shape of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess – a very forgettable production – and Sondheim's Into the Woods – much better, and a score which can give any 20th century opera a run for its money in terms of thematic interconnection.

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Partenope, Iford Arts review - a midsummer night's dream of a Handel comedy

alexandra Coghlan

Rejected by London’s Royal Academy of Music in 1726 on grounds of frivolity, Partenope is the ultimate Handelian rom-com – a comedy whose intriguing is carried out with a smile, a swagger and a sparkle in the eye.

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La Traviata, Longborough Festival review - muddled director, vocal mixed bag

stephen Walsh

One wearies of quarrelling with opera directors’ concepts. But what’s the alternative? To ignore or acquiesce in crude, approximate reimaginings that, like Daisy Evans's new La Traviata at Longborough, stuff a work any old how into some snappy, after-dinner parody that says nothing useful about the piece, vulgarises the situations and confuses or misrepresents the text. 

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The Abduction from the Seraglio, The Grange Festival review - enjoyable if conventional production

Bernard Hughes

Just as the Last Night of the Proms is an end-of-term party with a concert tacked on, The Grange Festival (like other similar venues) offers a massive picnic interspersed with some opera.

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