sat 08/08/2020

Opera Reviews

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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Orpheus in the Underworld, English National Opera review – ENO goes to hell

Jessica Duchen

Maybe some British opera houses just don’t get operetta. Without wit, lightness and snappy pace, cudgelling us with desperate relevance, the frothiest works crash to earth stone cold dead. There have been disasters elsewhere, too, though ENO is the chief culprit, and (after a miserable Merry Widow and a fearful Fledermaus) this one is the nail in the coffenbach.

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The Silver Lake, English Touring Opera review - shadows of the Weimar twilight

Boyd Tonkin

Almost exactly a century after the Weimar Republic’s constitution took effect, English Touring Opera presents a show whose birth coincided with the Republic's untimely death.

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The Seraglio, English Touring Opera review – focused and light

Gavin Dixon

No great innovations in this Seraglio – as ETO are styling Mozart’s early Singspiel (its full title in translation is The Abduction from the Seraglio – but a traditional staging that makes the most of all the work’s characters and quirks.

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Orpheus and Eurydice, English National Opera review – imaginative but underwhelming

Gavin Dixon

English National Opera chose a curiously low-key production to open their season. Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice has only three singing roles and very little action. For this production, Wayne McGregor has reimagined the work as an opera/dance hybrid.

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