sat 08/08/2020

Opera Reviews

Edinburgh International Festival 2019: Bach's Multiple Concertos/ Manon Lescaut reviews - dancing harpsichords, perfect Puccini

David Nice

Puccini's and Abbé Prévost's glitter-seduced Manon Lescaut might have been inclined to linger longer in the salon of dirty old man Geronte if he'd served her up not his own madrigals but Bach's music for various harpsichords and ensemble.

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Edinburgh International Festival 2019: Breaking the Waves, Scottish Opera/Opera Ventures review - great film makes a dodgy opera

David Nice

Love him or hate him, Lars von Trier has time and again made the unpalatable and the improbable real and shatteringly moving in a succession of great films. Breaking the Waves set an audacious precedent. Baldly told, it's a story of a mentally ill, deeply loving woman at odds with her Hebridean community who thinks she can save her paralysed husband by having sex with strangers and describing the acts to him.

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Edinburgh International Festival 2019: Eugene Onegin, Komische Oper review - no-holds-barred romanticism

Miranda Heggie

Returning to Edinburgh International Festival, Berlin's Komische Oper brought Barrie Kosky’s sumptuous production of Eugene Onegin to the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. It’s a production that isn’t trying to do anything overly clever or convey a layered meaning; it’s simple in its grandeur in that it looks beautiful, sounds beautiful, and is faithful to Tchaikovsky’s music and Pushkin’s story.

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Rinaldo, Glyndebourne Festival review - teenage dreams

Miranda Heggie

If you’d started senior school when this production premiered, you’d be finished by now and out in the world of work or at university, your first year days a distant memory. A lot’s changed since the curtain first came up on this version in 2011, and nearly a decade on, and in the wake of #metoo, Robert Carsen’s high school-set production feels more than a little out of date.

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The Gondoliers, National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company review - charm where it matters

Richard Bratby

Once more, gondolieri! Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers leaps into life to the sound of a saltarello: a blaze of Mediterranean sunshine and good natured exuberance that sweeps you some 20 minutes into Act One on the same unbroken surge of sparkling dance and ensemble song.

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L'Arlesiana, Opera Holland Park review - at last, a rare Italian gem

David Nice

So many second-rate Italian operas with good bits have been served up by Opera Holland Park and glitzier UK companies; despite best intentions and fine execution, none of the works by Mascagni, Zandonai, Alfano, Leoni, Ponchielli or Giordano has really flown.

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War and Peace, Welsh National Opera, Royal Opera House - bold epic weakened by loosely-directed characterisations

David Nice

On the UK's biggest day of shame, it was some relief to tap in to the fury of the Russian people at a much greater national degradation (Napoleon's invasion in 1812, Hitler's in 1941).

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Il Segreto di Susanna/Iolanta, Opera Holland Park review - superb singing, mixed staging

alexandra Coghlan

Secrets, and the voluptuous, sensory pleasures they conceal, may unite Wolf-Ferrari’s Il segreto di Susanna and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, but far more divides two works that make awkward bedfellows in Opera Holland Park’s latest double-bill.

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Die Zauberflöte, Glyndebourne Festival review – high jinks in the Grand Mozart Hotel

Boyd Tonkin

Die Zauberflöte rarely attracts the plain cooks of the operatic world. Mozart’s farewell opera chucks so many highly-spiced ingredients into its outlandish pot – pantomime and parable, burlesque and ritual – that many productions opt for one show-off recipe that promises to unify all its flavours into a single, spectacular dish....

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Pavarotti review - enjoyable but superficial survey of a superstar

Adam Sweeting

One of the most memorable moments in Ron Howard’s documentary about Luciano Pavarotti is one of its earliest scenes. It’s a chunk of amateur video shot when Pavarotti visited the Teatro Amazonas in Manaus, a splendid Belle Epoque structure in the midst of the Amazonian jungle.

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