wed 27/05/2020

Opera Reviews

Donnerstag aus Licht, Pascal, RFH review – indulgent genius at work

Peter Quantrill

What happens on the stage of Stockhausen’s first opera would fill a book – quite a bad novel – but the plot is simple enough. Michael grows up with a domineering, game-hunting father and mentally unstable mother; discovers sex; passes his exams; travels the globe and finds his calling in life as a visionary and saviour.

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La Damnation de Faust, Glyndebourne review – bleak and compelling makeover

Peter Quantrill

Mid-career, moving ever further away from composing for concert platform and church towards the stage, Berlioz found himself unsure where his take on Faust belonged. In the end he hedged his bets and titled it a "dramatic legend". Staging it as an opera, as he really wanted, requires the work of a theatrical plastic surgeon.

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Phaedra, Linbury Theatre review - from confusing passion to blazing afterlife

David Nice

Leaving a revival performance of Harrison Birtwistle's The Minotaur, a friend asked Hans Werner Henze, also in the audience, that dreaded question: "what did you think?" "Very competent and extremely well performed," came the answer.

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Semele, Monteverdi Choir, EBS, Gardiner, Alexandra Palace review - Handel's cornucopia lavishly served

David Nice

Louise Alder, lyric soprano of the moment and vivacity incarnate, had yet to be born when John Eliot Gardiner made his first recording of Handel's Semele with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in 1981.

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Aida, Opera North review - militarism soundly subverted

Robert Beale

Opera North created something approaching a new art form when they performed Wagner’s Ring in "concert stagings", putting their large orchestra in full view, with singers symbolically dressed and given limited front-of-stage space, and a continuous projected screen backdrop.

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'The orchestra becomes the landscape': Annabel Arden on Opera North's concert staging of Aida

Annabel Arden

This will be the latest in Opera North’s acclaimed concert stagings of large-scale works, which have previously included Wagner’s Ring cycle, Puccini’s Turandot and Strauss’s Salome.

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Billy Budd, Royal Opera review - Britten's drama of good and evil too much at sea

David Nice

On one level, it's about Biblically informed good and evil at sea, in both the literal and the metaphorical sense. On another, the love that dared not speak its name when Britten and E M Forster adapted Hermann Melville's novella is either repressed or (putatively) liberated. The conflicts can make for lacerating music theatre, as they did in Orpha Phelan's production for Opera North.

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SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill, Isango Ensemble, Linbury Theatre - evocative and essential lyric theatre

David Nice

While Bach's and Handel's Passions have been driving thousands to contemplate suffering, mortality and grace, this elegy for black lives lost over a century ago also chimes movingly with pre-Easter offerings.

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Faust, Royal Opera review - fusty Gounod still dances

David Nice

Goethe's cosmic Faust becomes Gounod's operatic fust in what, somewhat surprisingly, remains a repertoire staple. You go for the tunes, hoping for the world-class voices to do them justice and prepared for a pallid quarter-of-an-hour or two.

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Franco Fagioli, Il Pomo d’Oro, Birmingham Town Hall review - flair and flamboyance

Miranda Heggie

For the final, and only UK, date of his Vinci Arias tour, virtuoso countertenor Franco Fagioli gave an animated and arresting recital of baroque arias at Birmingham Town Hall on Sunday afternoon with the Italian period instrument group Il pomo d’oro.

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