tue 25/06/2019

Opera Reviews

Hänsel und Gretel, Glyndebourne

Edward Seckerson Alice Coote and Lydia Teuscher in Cardboard City

Glyndebourne’s Hänsel und Gretel comes in a large cardboard box, with plain brown wrapper, duct-tape and a barcode. There’s a public health warning, too: sugar and spice and all things nice come at a price. The evil witch Rosina Sweet-Tooth is nothing more, nothing less than rabid consumerism masquerading as a smart lady in a pink two-piece suit. Yes, Laurent Pelly’s 2008 staging was/ is the first environmentally aware Humperdinck. It had to come. For revival read recycle.

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Simon Boccanegra, Royal Albert Hall

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

First to crane his head anxiously in Plácido Domingo's direction was the leader of the Royal Opera House orchestra, Peter Manning. Then came an agitated look from conductor Antonio Pappano. Soprano Marina Poplavskaya clutched Domingo's chest as if to feel for a heart beat. "Is he ok?" we all mouthed. We had just seen Domingo slam his wizened Simon Boccanegra to the ground, dead. The music had rumbled to a close. The Prommers' applause had erupted.

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Die Meistersinger at the Proms, BBC Four

David Nice

Two birthday parties kept me away from the Albert Hall yesterday (though I'll confess that in the end I treacherously skipped the second and stayed glued to the TV's delayed relay). That, and a slight fear that the concert performance of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg from the BBC Proms couldn't match up to the original Welsh National Opera production of the decade.

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The Duchess of Malfi, ENO, Punchdrunk

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

It's tough being a critic.

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La Traviata, Royal Opera

ismene Brown

Of course she isn't now the watchful, learning 29-year-old who premiered Covent Garden’s opulent, sensually loaded production in 1995, but Gheorghiu’s varicoloured voice - a rainbow of tears, sobs, scoops, warbling runs and top notes that seem to rack her body with pain - has if anything added more colours since then (including a less fetching...

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I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw The Sky, Theatre Royal Stratford East

David Nice Stewart Charlesworth's closety cop arrests Leon Lopez's Dewain while Leila (Cynthia Erivo), David (Jason Denton) and Tiffany (Natasha J Barnes) look on

John Adams thinks his and poet June Jordan's fantasia on love in a time of earthquake flopped at its 1995 Berkeley premiere for two main reasons. The characters - three blacks, two whites, a Hispanic and an Asian - were deemed too self-consciously multiculti: odd when America knew that was just how LA was then, even more so than Stratford...

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Salome, Royal Opera

David Nice

The first time I saw David McVicar's production of Strauss's hypersensuous shocker, I gaped in horrified wonder at the Pasolini Salò-style mise en scène but didn't find the action within it fully realised. When it came out on DVD, the close-ups won greater respect but there was still the problem of Nadja Michael's singing, hardly a note in true. Now it returns with Angela Denoke, an even more compelling actress with a far healthier soprano voice.

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Don Giovanni live from Aix, Ciné Lumière

David Nice

With several replicas of Mozart's libertine stalking the country this summer, there had to be a good reason for seeking him out in the cinema. I had two. One was a curiosity to see how the TV channel Arte and the French Institute in South Kensington would handle a medium so successfully exploited around the world by New York's Metropolitan Opera.

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Singing for Life, BBC Four/ Gazza's Tears, ITV1

Jasper Rees Township chorister goes it alone: Thami, 18, at an operatic audition

I once sat in a rehearsal room in a brick-box theatre on the outskirts of Cape Town. The cast was warming up for Carmen. First, the choreographer put 40 mostly black South African singers through a gruelling physical warm-up. Opera singers are rarely slender, and they were all in a muck sweat by the time the vocal coach stepped forward to lead them through a vocal warm-up. But when they opened their mouths it was as if someone has strapped you to a chair in a wind tunnel. The...

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Don Giovanni, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Jonathan Wikeley

It seems somehow wrong to come away from a Don Giovanni feeling a bit noncommittal about the whole thing. It’s the sort of opera that should raise you from your seat – that should fire and inspire – but this performance, directed by Jonathan Kent, never truly got off the ground.

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