sun 16/06/2019

Opera Reviews

Hansel and Gretel, RNCM, Manchester review – an urban dream

Robert Beale

Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel is a ‘"fairytale opera" (its composer’s description), and yet one characteristic frequently commented on is its "Wagnerian" scoring. For this production, with David Pountney’s English translation, the RNCM used Derek Clark’s reduced orchestration.

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La traviata, English National Opera review - into a vortex of ineptitude

David Nice

You don't have to be a good director to manage the artistic side of an opera house. Daniel Kramer arrived at ENO and boosted morale at a time when company relations with then-CEO Cressida Pollock had hit rock bottom, and his repertoire choices for the new limited seasons look fine so far.

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Wake, Birmingham Opera Company review - power to the people

Richard Bratby

“Would you like a veil?” asked a steward, offering a length of black gauze, and when you’re at a production by Birmingham Opera Company it’s usually wisest to say yes.

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Rinaldo, The English Concert, Barbican review - Bicket's band steals the spotlight

alexandra Coghlan

It was the work with which Handel conquered London, the Italian opera that finally wooed a suspicious English audience to the charms of Dr Johnson’s “exotic and irrational entertainment”. Three hundred years later, neither Rinaldo nor London’s audience has changed much.

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From the House of the Dead, Royal Opera review - Janáček's prison oddity prompts hot tears

David Nice

A political prisoner is brutally initiated into the life of a state penitentiary, and leaves it little over 90 minutes later. Four inmates reveal their brutal past histories with elliptical strangeness - each would need an episode of something like Orange is the New Black - and two plays staged during a holiday for the convicts take up about a quarter of the action.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream, ENO review - shiveringly beautiful Britten

David Benedict

“What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?” Hang on a minute, Tytania, there are no flowers. Instead, as Britten’s ominously low strings slither and tremble up and down the scale, the curtain rises on a huge, near-acidic emerald green hilly slope lying against a seemingly fathomless International Klein Blue cyclorama broken only by a glowing crescent moon. Except it’s not just a hill: it’s also a giant bed; the perfect bed, in fact, in which to spend one wonderful midsummer’s night.

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Dialogues des Carmélites, Guildhall School review - calm and humane drama of faith

Sebastian Scotney

One question dominates any staging of Dialogues des Carmélites. How will the production team deal with the cruelty and tragedy in the 12th and last scene when all of the nuns, one by one, go through with their vow of martyrdom and calmly proceed to the guillotine, singing the Salve Regina?

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La Vie Parisienne, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire review - vintage champagne in a new bottle

Richard Bratby

Don’t you just love that new concert hall smell?

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Dead Man Walking, Barbican review - timely and devastating meditation on human violence and forgiveness

alexandra Coghlan

You have to wonder why it has taken this long. Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking premiered in San Francisco back in 2000 and has since been performed over 300 times across the world, staged everywhere from Cape Town to Copenhagen.

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Flight, Scottish Opera review - poignant and powerful, this production soars

Miranda Heggie

Inspired by the astonishing true story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, the Iranian refugee who lived in Charles de Gaulle Airport for 18 years, Jonathan Dove’s Flight is a humorous, touching, uplifting yet profoundly poignant study into human relationships, interactions and emotions. This is opera buffa for the modern age – relevant, relatable, lighthearted and often downright silly, but still revealing some very pertinent truths.

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