tue 02/06/2020

Opera Reviews

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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Rigoletto, Welsh National Opera review - same old update, fine performance

stephen Walsh

Considering the doubtfulness of its underlying idea, James Macdonald’s production of Rigoletto has shown remarkable staying power since its Cardiff début 17 years ago.

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The Intelligence Park, Linbury Theatre review - baroque to the point of obscurity

David Nice

Could Gerald Barry's first opera really be as enervating in the Royal Opera House's Linbury Theatre as it seemed nearly 30 years ago at its Almeida Music Festival premiere?

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Agrippina, Royal Opera review - carry on up the Campidoglio

David Nice

It was said of the Venetian audiences randy for the satirical antique of Handel's first great operatic cornucopia in 1709 that "a stranger who should have seen the manner in which they were affected, would have imagined they were all distracted".

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Carmen, Welsh National Opera review - intermittent brilliance in a gloomy, unclear environment

stephen Walsh

You can love Carmen as much as you like (as much as I do, for instance), and still have a certain sympathy for the poor director who has to find something new to say about a work so anchored in a particular style and place. For all its musical and dramatic brilliance, Bizet’s piece is a litter of stereotypes: the wild gipsy girl, the village ingénue, the strutting toreador, the smugglers (all forty or fifty of them), the Spanish dancers, the castanets, the wiggling hips.

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Werther, Royal Opera review - shadows and sunsets from an unreconstructed romantic

Jessica Duchen

Goethe’s Die Leiden des junges Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther) was a vital spark in the ignition of the German romantic movement. The story of a young man driven to kill himself for love of a woman, Charlotte, who loves him but marries someone else out of duty to her family, it was first published in 1774. It triggered a fever across Europe ranging from fashion trends (Werther wears blue with a yellow waistcoat) to a spate of copycat suicides.

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Don Giovanni, Royal Opera review - laid-back Lothario

Gavin Dixon

Kasper Holten left a mixed bag of productions behind at Royal Opera when he left in 2017, but the best of them - though not all my colleagues on The Arts Desk have agreed - is this Don Giovanni, now back for its latest revival.

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