mon 18/01/2021

Opera Reviews

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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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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