thu 20/06/2019

Opera Reviews

War Requiem, English National Opera review - a striking spectacle, but oddly unmoving

alexandra Coghlan

We’re not good at lack these days. Just look at the concert hall, where increasingly you turn up to find not just an orchestra and soloists but a giant screen. Videos, projections, live speakers, "virtual choirs"; if there’s so much as a chink of an opening in the music, you can bet that someone will try and fill it. It seems to come from a place of generosity, a desire to reach out, to supplement, to amplify, to explain, just in case we didn’t feel or see or understand before.

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Simon Boccanegra, Royal Opera review - a timely revival of Verdi's political music-drama

alexandra Coghlan

Political machinations and backroom power-brokering, leadership battles and unscrupulous rivals – if ever there was an opera for this week it’s Simon Boccanegra. Premiered in 1857 but only coming into its own after substantial revisions in 1881, Verdi’s problem-child of a piece had its own struggle for survival and success, and the work’s rather lumpy dramatic architecture shows the scars of its various grafts and interventions.

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The Silver Tassie, BBCSO, Barbican review - a bracing memorial for the WW1 anniversary

alexandra Coghlan

In a week of flickering memorial candles and cascading poppies we’ve all been asked to contemplate the pity of war – to remember and to seek consolation in beauty and silence. But before we can earn that consolation and mourn in that silence there must surely be rage and noise, bloody specificity before aesthetic abstraction.

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The Rake's Progress, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - supreme fluency from Eden to Bedlam

David Nice

Lightness and gravity in perfect equilibrium have always graced Vladimir Jurowski's Stravinsky.

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Serse, Fagioli, Il Pomo d'Oro, Barbican review - a night in counter-tenor heaven

Boyd Tonkin

What a scrumptious spread of musical virtuosity the Barbican has laid on with the aid of its international guests this week.

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Car, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Tognetti, Milton Court review - a rattlebag of happy collaborations

David Nice

Presenting the last Mozart symphonies as a three-act opera for orchestra, as Richard Tognetti and his febrile fellow Australians did on Monday, was always going to be a supreme challenge. It worked, as Boyd Tonkin reported here.

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Verdi's Requiem, Royal Opera, Pappano review - all that heaven allows

David Nice

Here it comes - get a grip. The tears have started flowing in the trio "Quid sum miser" and 12 minutes later, as the tenor embarks on his "Ingemisco" solo, you have to stop the shakes turning into noisy sobbing. The composer then lets you off the hook for a bit, but only transcendent beauty in singing and playing can achieve quite this effect in Verdi's Requiem.

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Juliana, Nova Music Opera, St John's Smith Square review - new version of a classic drama

Bernard Hughes

Joseph Phibbs is not the first composer to make an opera out of Strindberg’s Miss Julie, and it is not difficult to see the operatic appeal of this taut, passionate three-handed drama.

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Cendrillon, Glyndebourne Tour review - too many ingredients in the magic soup

David Nice

Supernatural wonders, consciously avoided in Rossini's enlightened tale of goodness rewarded La Cenerentola and unrealised by second-rank composer Isouard in his 1810 Cendrillon, recently uneathed by Bampton Classical Opera, flood Massenet's gem-studded version of the Cinderella story. For a contemporary production to avoid visual representation to match would be foolhardly; but to yoke magic to an alternative narrative can also be confusing.

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Porgy and Bess, English National Opera review - strength in depth on Catfish Row

Boyd Tonkin

After exhausting years of financial and artistic crisis-management at the Coliseum, English National Opera urgently needed an ironclad, feelgood success. This season’s opener, a somewhat idiosyncratic take on Strauss’s Salome, was unlikely to fit that bill.

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