sat 21/09/2019

Opera Reviews

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Nevill Holt Opera review - sprinkled with musical fairy-dust

alexandra Coghlan

“For I have found Demetrius like a jewel. Mine own, and not mine own.” Mine own and not mine own. This idea of transfiguration, of things familiar but somehow altered – is the spark that animates both Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Britten’s adaptation. Uncanny, Freud would have called it. There may be magic and naughty sprites, laughter and happy endings, but this is no fairy story.

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Porgy and Bess, Grange Park Opera review - good versus evil in Catfish Row

Jessica Duchen

If you go to a British country house opera to see a work about an addict and a cripple in a poverty-stricken Deep South tenement, you know the contrast between stage and garden marquee will be extreme. Seeing Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at Grange Park Opera was never going to be a comfortable experience.

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Un ballo in maschera, Opera Holland Park review - evocative and sensationally sung

alexandra Coghlan

A masked ball is a time of play and role-play, celebrating the duality, the conflicting selves within us all, allowing us to set aside our everyday public mask put on an alter ego for the evening. It seems appropriate then that Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera has a deep fissure running down the middle of its drama.

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Cendrillon, Glyndebourne Festival review - busy but engaging

Gavin Dixon

Cendrillon is Jules Massenet’s operatic version of Cinderella, based on the Charles Perrault story of 1698. It is a fairly faithful to the story we know, although it includes a dark third act, the scene after the ball, where Cendrillon attempts suicide. But, of course, the spirits intervene, and all ends happily.

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Falstaff, The Grange Festival review - belly laughs and bags of fun

alexandra Coghlan

What is the perfect country house opera? A Midsummer Night’s Dream? L’elisir? Cenerentola? Figaro? All are strong contenders, but in the absence of anyone brave enough to stage Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest the winner – surely – must be Falstaff.

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Le Nozze di Figaro, The Grange Festival review – the dark side of power

Boyd Tonkin

Productions of The Marriage of Figaro tend to press their thumbs on the comic or tragic side of the scales that hover so evenly throughout Mozart’s inexhaustible work. Director Martin Lloyd-Evans mostly favoured a darker interpretation at The Grange Festival, despite long stretches of niftily managed funny business...

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The Diary of One who Disappeared, ROH review – song cycle-as-opera is a mish-mash

Bernard Hughes

Singer Ian Bostridge once described The Diary of One who Disappeared as “a song cycle gone wrong”.

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Das Rheingold, Longborough Festival Opera review - more Wagnerian excellence in a Gloucestershire barn

stephen Walsh

The whole raison d’être of the Longborough Festival was always the performance of its founder Martin Graham’s beloved Wagner.

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Manon Lescaut, Opera Holland Park review - attempt to empower commodified woman falls flat

David Nice

"Waiting is always wearisome," declare the socialites as glitter-and-be-gay Manon Lescaut receives in the home of her nasty old "protector" Geronte. Despite the numerous sugar-plums Puccini weaves into his first fluent operatic masterpiece, waiting is very wearisome in the first half of Karolina Sofulak's new production for Opera Holland Park.

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The Bartered Bride, Garsington Opera review – musical glories, dramatic questions

Sebastian Scotney

It is a coincidence - and probably no more than that - that Garsington Opera has opened its 30th birthday season with the “founding work of modern Czech opera” in the year that also marks the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Prague.

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