thu 21/11/2019

Opera Reviews

Eugene Onegin/Georgiana, Buxton Festival review - poetry and pantomime

Richard Bratby

It’s the saddest music in the world: the quiet heartbeat and falling melody with which Tchaikovsky opens his opera Eugene Onegin. Imagine a whole society, a whole lifetime of solitude, longing and disillusion, evoked in a single bass note and a few bars of tearstained violin. And then imagine it sustained over three acts.

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La Fille du Régiment, Royal Opera review - enjoyable but questionable revival

Gavin Dixon

On paper, this might seem like a revival too far, a production clearly intended as a vehicle for world-class singers being tacked on the end of the Covent Garden season, and without any big names in sight. But it turns out that Laurent Pelly’s staging, now in its fourth London return, has enough charm and substance to justify an outing with lesser names.

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The Turn of the Screw, Garsington Opera review - superb music drama on an open stage

stephen Walsh

The famous ambiguity of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw is whether the ghosts that take possession of the two children are real or merely figments of the young Governess’s imagination. Britten’s opera resolves this unequivocally in favour of their reality: they appear alone together, and generally materialise so solidly that it never occurs to you to doubt their real existence.

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Noye's Fludde, ENO/Theatre Royal Stratford East review - two-dimensional music theatre

David Nice

Benjamin Britten's musical mystery tour is still bringing young communities together to work with professionals at the highest level 61 years on from its premiere in a Suffolk church, and Lyndsey Turner's sweet production at Stratford must have been as much fun to be in as any.

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Rusalka, Glyndebourne Festival review - away with the distressed fairies

stephen Walsh

When you think of the extravagant, violent, super grown-up subject-matter that stalked the operatic stage round about 1900 - the Toscas and the Salomes, the Cavs, the Pags and the rest of the verismo pack - you might find it strange to contemplate the ageing Dvořák still messing around with fairies at the bottom of his woodland pool, a subject that surely went out with the early Romantics. 

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Trouble in Tahiti/A Dinner Engagement, Royal College of Music review - slick, witty and warm

alexandra Coghlan

It’s a clever decision to pair Lennox Berkeley’s A Dinner Engagement with Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. The first is all about happily-ever-after, while the second is all about what happens next. The optimistic grime and smog of 1950s London gives way to the shrink-wrapped brightness and professional happiness of the suburban American dream, smiles freeze into toothpaste-commercial grins and love curdles into quiet domestic despair.

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The Cunning Little Vixen, Rattle, LSO, Barbican review – dark magic in the woods

Boyd Tonkin

As midsummer night’s dreams go, it would be hard to surpass the darkly enchanting collaboration between Sir Simon Rattle and Peter Sellars that will bring The Cunning Little Vixen to the Barbican again this evening and on Saturday. Janáček’s spellbinding vision of humans and animals caught up in the inexorable cycles of nature and time has its rough and scary side, of course.

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BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019 Final, BBC Four review - stage confidence, supportive set-up

David Nice

If ever there was an instance of the great being the enemy of the good, it happened after all the live singing on Saturday night. This year we all remember, with sadness for his early death and amazement at his burning, burnished talent, the Siberian baritone Dmitry Hvorostovsky (1962-2017), winner in 1989.

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Brundibár, Welsh National Opera review - bittersweet children's opera from the ghetto

stephen Walsh

Politics, in case you may not have noticed, has been in the air of late: questions of escape, release, borders, refugees, things like that. So WNO’s June season of operas about freedom has been suspiciously well timed.

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Belshazzar, The Grange Festival review – songs of freedom

Boyd Tonkin

Cut almost anywhere into the lesser-known seams of Handel’s oratorios and you may strike plentiful nuggets of the purest gold. It may not be quite the case that Handel's Belshazzar, its score studded with nearly-forgotten musical treasures, has entirely disappeared from view.

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