tue 25/06/2019

Opera Reviews

The Turn of the Screw, Opera North

graham Rickson Not fun, but compelling: Fflur Wyn, Elizabeth Atherton and James Micklethwaite  in 'The Turn of the Screw'

To paraphrase a cliché, it’s rare to leave a theatre humming the lighting. But here, Matthew Haskins’ lighting designs help make this production so powerful and evocative, whether projecting grotesque, distorted shadows on the back wall of Madeleine Boyd’s claustrophobic set, or illuminating characters’ subtle facial expressions. Dawn and dusk are both beautifully realised, and when we’re finally shown a brightly lit stage at the opera’s shocking close, you almost have to shield your...

Read more...

Ariadne auf Naxos, Welsh National Opera

stephen Walsh

Ariadne auf Naxos, according to its librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, is all about fidelity: fidelity in love, fidelity in art, fidelity in spirit. Ariadne on her island, abandoned by Theseus, can give herself to Bacchus only by persuading herself that he’s a god. The actress Zerbinetta gives herself to every man in sight, including the Composer (played, incidentally, by a girl), who for a moment weakens in his lofty contempt for these comic actors who intrude on his high ideals...

Read more...

Radamisto, English National Opera

alexandra Coghlan

If interior décor could shout, then last night’s music might have proved altogether incidental. The curtain rises to reveal a set gift-wrapped – ramparts, city walls and all – in the brightest of hot-pink damasks: a Nicky Haslam acid trip. Ladies and gentlemen, we are now entering operatic Orient 2.0, a sexy, postmodern take on the original you know and love, complete with an oversized menagerie of animals, evil tyrants and exotic princesses.

Read more...

Les Pêcheurs de Perles in concert, Royal Opera House

David Nice Nicole Cabell: Gorgeous presence, classy phrasing as Hindu priestess Léïla

Ditch the divers, the video-projected sea and the Relevance with a capital R of ENO's production last season - which managed all three very well indeed - and what remains of Bizet's Pearl Fishers in concert (and in French)? Three ravishing arias, three passionate duets, orchestration and harmony of a subtlety way beyond the plot's cod...

Read more...

The Seckerson Tapes: Ailish Tynan on Radamisto

Edward Seckerson

Ailish Tynan plays a short, fat, bald man in David Alden's staging of Handel's Radamisto at ENO. It is, she says, an occupational hazard when venturing into the cross-gender world of 18th-century opera. That Tynan is one of our brightest young stars - a shining lyric soprano equally at home in the rarefied world of song as she is in opera - only adds to the somewhat surreal prospect of hearing that voice emanating from a grotesquely fat-suited body.
 

Read more...

Sellars and Viola's Tristan und Isolde, Royal Festival Hall

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

People always overlook how much of a hippie Richard Wagner was intellectually. His philosophical stance differs little from that of Neil from The Young Ones. It's a side of Wagner you can't get away from in Tristan und Isolde, with its endless railing against temporal realities and its search for universal oneness - yeah man, oneness.

Read more...

Niobe, Regina di Tebe, Royal Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

One after the other they came. Stunning aria after stunning aria. Affecting in their harmonies, infectious in their rhythms, arresting in their textures, vivid in their melodies. The Royal Opera had taken a mighty gamble with Agostino Steffani's 300-year-old Niobe, Regina di Tebe, a forgotten opera by a forgotten composer. But they were completely right to do so. For Niobe is a masterpiece. And last night's performance was a triumph.

Read more...

The Makropulos Case, English National Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic 'Amanda Roocroft was incredible as Emilia Marty, both vocally and physically, capturing the fragility of this well-travelled soul as well as the mania'

Opera spends so much of its time killing off female protagonists that it's refreshing to come back to The Makropulos Case. In it Janáček, in one of his many moments of generosity, imagines what might happen if you allowed a woman not just to live but to live forever. The answer? They become a bloody nightmare.

Read more...

Faust, English National Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Gounod's Faust is many things: vaudeville act, sentimental romance, Gothic tragedy, Catholic catechism, in short, a wholly unrealistic but winningly schizophrenic work that should be taken about as seriously as an episode of Sunset Beach.

Read more...

Fidelio, Welsh National Opera, Cardiff

stephen Walsh

In fact Giuseppe Frigeni’s production and sets have already been seen in Bordeaux, so perhaps it’s more that the novelty by now has worn off. Either way, it’s a miserable affair, devoid of movement or dramatic tension, obscure in its characterisation and motivation, poorly lit and self-evidently costumed not just for a different cast, but for a different race of men and women.

Read more...

Pages

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

latest in today

Cash Cow, Hampstead Theatre review - timely look at pushy te...

“How much does she owe us?” So ponder the now estranged parents of a former tennis pro, as they calculate the very literal investment they’ve put...

Mari review - bittersweet drama with flair

Mari is one part kitchen sink drama, one part...

Blu-ray: For All Mankind

Al Reinert's For All Mankind isn't quite what it seems. In a famous 1962 speech, President Kennedy spoke of the knowledge to be gained...

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019 Final, BBC Four review...

If ever there was an instance of the great being the enemy of the good, it happened after all the live...

Brundibár, Welsh National Opera review - bittersweet childre...

Politics, in case you may not have noticed, has been in the air of late: questions of escape, release, borders, refugees, things like that. So...

Belshazzar, The Grange Festival review – songs of freedom

Cut almost anywhere into the lesser-known seams of Handel’s oratorios and you may strike plentiful nuggets of the purest gold. It may not be quite...

Beecham House, ITV review - a cartoon version of 18th centur...

It has become routine to accuse Brexiteers of wanting to bring...

Anna Bolena, Longborough Festival Opera review - Henry VIII...

Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived. Anne Boleyn is number two on the list, so anyone who can remember even that much Tudor...

CD: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Bandana

Don't let the presence of nerds' favourite Madlib on production duties fool you: this is a big bad bastard of a West Coast rap record. It's a...

Ocean Vuong: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous review – the ne...

Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is written as a letter to...