tue 10/12/2019

Opera Reviews

The Magic Flute, Welsh National Opera review - charming to hear, charmless to look at

stephen Walsh

I last saw this Magic Flute, directed by Dominic Cooke, when it was new, some 14 years ago, and I remember it mainly, I’m afraid, for its lack of visual charm.

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Akhnaten, English National Opera review - still a mesmerising spectacle

alexandra Coghlan

You start off fighting it. Those arpeggios, the insistent reduction, simplification, repetition, the amplification of the smallest gesture into an epic. Then something happens. Somewhere among the slow-phase patterns pulsing on ear and eye, you surrender to Glass-time and the hypnosis is complete.

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Un ballo in maschera, Welsh National Opera review - opera as brilliant self-parody

stephen Walsh

Why is Un Ballo in maschera not as popular as the trio of Verdi masterpieces – Rigoletto, Traviata, Trovatore – that, with a couple of digressions, preceded it in the early 1850s? Its music is scarcely less brilliant than theirs, and if its plot is on a par of absurdity with Trovatore’s, it is at least, on the whole, more fun.

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La Damnation de Faust, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - 'concert opera' indeed

Robert Beale

Berlioz called it a "concert opera". His telling of the Faust story is in scenes and highly theatrical, but a bit of a challenge to put on in the theatre, with its marching armies, floating sylphs, dancing will-o’-the-wisps and galloping horses. It seems he expected it to be a kind of giant cantata, and that’s the way the Hallé and Sir Mark Elder perform it.

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Anthropocene, Hackney Empire review - vivid soundscapes but not quite enough thrills

alexandra Coghlan

The flayed corpse of a dead seal hangs red and grotesque at the back of the stage. It’s a placeholder; we know that by the end of Anthropocene – Scottish composer Stuart McRae’s latest collaboration with librettist Louise Welsh – something more familiar, and far more horrifying, will take its place.

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Katya Kabanova, Royal Opera review - inner torment incarnate

David Nice

Backstories, we're told, are a crucial part of stage visionary Richard Jones's rehearsal process.

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Katya Kabanova, Opera North review – a grim tale

Robert Beale

A sad tale’s best for winter, and Opera North have returned to Janáček’s lyrical taken on a classic Russian drama of domestic abuse, guilt and suicide for this ingredient of their current season.

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Die Walküre, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - love shines out

David Nice

Harpers on the undeniably offensive aspect of Wagner the man might question attending a concert performance of his second Ring opera on World Holocaust Day. Fortunately there's nothing anti-semitic to be found anywhere in Die Walküre.

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The Queen of Spades, Royal Opera review - uneven cast prey to overthought concept

David Nice

Prince Yeletsky, one of the shortest roles for a principal baritone in opera but with the loveliest of arias, looms large in Stefan Herheim's concept of The Queen of Spades.

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Hänsel und Gretel, Royal Opera review - not quite hungry enough

David Nice

Once upon a time there was the terrible mouth of Richard Jones's Welsh National Opera/Met Hänsel und Gretel, finding an idiosyncratic equivalent to the original Engelbert Humperdinck's dark Wagnerian heart. Then came something very nasty in the witch's deep freeze of the last Royal Opera staging, something of a dog's dinner from Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser.

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