mon 01/06/2020

Opera Reviews

Sukanya, RFH review - Ravi Shankar's bright-eyed, varied fable

David Nice

Admirable as it was of the London Philharmonic Orchestra to launch its concerts in 2020 with a performance celebrating the Ravi Shankar centenary, the hard fact remains that this lively spectacle might have worked better without two-thirds of its players.

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prisoner of the state, Barbican review - beauty, but where is the drama?

alexandra Coghlan

You can see the temptation.

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Best of 2019: Opera

David Nice

There's no question about my top opera choice for 2019, especially since the London houses rarely delivered at the same pitch of engagement. It's Graham Vick's walkabout Birmingham Opera Company spectacular, a production of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk that worked on every level.

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Peter Grimes, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Gardner, RFH review - more instrumental than vocal intensity

David Nice

"Sadler's Wells! Any more for Peter Grimes, the sadistic fisherman?," a cheery bus conductor is alleged to have called out around the time of this towering masterpiece's premiere in 1945.

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Death in Venice, Royal Opera review – expansive but intimate evocations

Gavin Dixon

Death in Venice is usually a dark and claustrophobic affair. It lends itself to small-scale staging with minimal props and suggestive, low-key lighting. But for this new production at the Royal Opera, director David McVicar has taken a different approach. He has used all the resources at the company’s disposal to create a more expansive vision.

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Orphée, English National Opera review – through a screen darkly

Boyd Tonkin

Like almost everything that it touches these days, English National Opera’s autumn season of shows rooted in the Orpheus myth has enjoyed a fairly mixed reception. The company’s programme of visits to the Underworld concludes with another high-risk journey: Philip Glass’s 1993 opera Orphée, inspired by the 1950 film that Jean Cocteau spun from his own earlier drama on this theme.

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Mrs Peachum's Guide to Love and Marriage, Mid Wales Opera review - scaled down seediness, with a swing

Richard Bratby

The Beggar’s Opera: does any piece of music theatre promise more fun and deliver more tedium? Yes, it was the satirical smash of 1728; yes, it inspired Brecht and Weill; yes, with its combination of popular melodies and a topical script it was effectively the world’s first jukebox musical. I get all that.

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Der Freischütz, Barbican review - Gothic chills rooted in flesh and earth

alexandra Coghlan

It’s hard to believe that in 1824 there were no fewer than six productions of Weber’s Der Freischütz in London alone. Since then this colourful piece of German Romanticism hasn’t fared nearly so well, disappearing from the UK’s opera houses not just for years but decades at a time.

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The Mask of Orpheus, English National Opera review - amorphous excess

David Nice

Advance publicity overstated the case for The Mask of Orpheus. "Iconic"? Only to academics and acolytes, for British audiences haven't had a chance to see a production since ENO's world premiere run in 1986. "Masterpiece"?

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The Cunning Little Vixen, Welsh National Opera review - family night in the forest

stephen Walsh

Considering that Janáček’s Vixen is, among other things, an allegory of the passing and returning years, it’s appropriate that WNO continue to recycle David Pountney’s now nearly 40-year-old production, and that it comes up each time refreshed, with this or that altered or added detail, but quantum-like the same general image.

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