fri 07/08/2020

Opera Reviews

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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The Greek Passion, Opera North - pertinence and power

graham Rickson

Martinů's The Greek Passion is a bold choice as a season opener, all the more so given that Opera North are staging the rarely-seen original version of his 1957 opera. Commissioned for Covent Garden then shabbily ditched, this is faster moving and more cinematic than the radically rewritten edition performed in Zurich two years after Martinů's death in 1959.

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Don Jo, Grimeborn review - conceptual style over musical substance

Miranda Heggie

Described as a "performer-led re-devising’"of Mozart’s 1787 opera Don Giovanni - a tale of an arrogant and ruthless lothario who seduced countess women - Don Jo certainly played around with many of the norms we encounter in both sexual relationships and in the operatic genre.

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Prom 59: Benvenuto Cellini, Monteverdi Choir, ORR, Gardiner review - don't stop the carnival

David Nice

So we never got the ultimate Proms spectacular, the four brass bands at the points of the Albert Hall compass for Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts, in the composer's 150th anniversary year.

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Prom 51: Die Zauberflöte, Glyndebourne review - smooth classic without depth

David Nice

Can we go back to an older Glyndebourne-at-the-Proms vintage, where the chosen production was merely sketched out with variations suited to the venue, and performed in whatever evening dress might be appropriate?

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