sat 24/08/2019

Opera Reviews

Zaide, Sadler's Wells

Peter Culshaw

The story starts promisingly with a love story between a prisoner Gomatz and Zaide, the favourite concubine of the tyrant Soliman. The two lovers escape with the help of Allazim. They are re-captured. Then Mozart gave up. His sources for the story, by Sebastiani and Voltaire’s Zaïre, ended it by the dubious plot twist that Zaide and Gomatz are actually brother and sister and that Allazim saved Soliman’s life some years earlier and he lets them all free.

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Rigoletto, Welsh National Opera, Cardiff

stephen Walsh

Watching and hearing this revival of WNO’s now eight-year-old production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, it’s hard to remember he composed it only a year or two before La Traviata, that most psychologically believable of all his operas. In Rigoletto nothing makes sense: the hunchback’s pretty daughter, her apparently willing incarceration, Rigoletto’s hoodwinking (literally) into helping her abduction, her final self-sacrifice – all palpable nonsense.

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Manon, Royal Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

You'd be forgiven for thinking that an opera that - in all seriousness - climaxes to the words, "Farewell, little table. You seemed so large," might need a small, but firm, slap in the face. But you'd be quite wrong. Manon is really quite froth-free.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream, Garsington

stephen Walsh

The beautiful gardens of Garsington Manor might seem an ideal setting for Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with its ilex groves, its miniature forests of pyramid yew, and its paths overhung (o’er-canopied?) with climbing roses.  So it’s a mild shock to confront on the actual stage what looks like a huge attic store-room littered with beds, chucked in at all angles, a few lamps, various items of bric-à-brac, and, upstage centre, a large C. S.

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Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Welsh National Opera, Cardiff

David Nice

Only those who think the burnt-out question of Wagner and the Nazis can still be brought to bear on his operas could be disappointed by Richard Jones's life-enhancing new production.

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OperaShots, Royal Opera

alexandra Coghlan

Anyone hoping to take refuge from last night’s football fever in the solemn halls of the Royal Opera House would have scored something of an own goal. Heading the bill for OperaShots – a trio of new operas staged in the intimate Linbury Theatre – was Jocelyn Pook’s Ingerland, an operatic meditation on the beautiful game. Framed by shorter works from Orlando Gough and Nitin Sawhney, the evening was a chance for three established composers to have a “shot” at opera for the...

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Idomeneo, English National Opera

David Nice Poseidon adventures: Robert Murray and Sarah Tynan as star-crossed lovers in Idomeneo

It's official, like it or not: director Katie Mitchell is the high priestess appointed to make plain the ways of ancient family sacrifice to modern man. She had the high ground of collaborating with composer James MacMillan on his stunning new opera The Sacrifice, based on a Mabinogion revenge saga; but the jury's still out...

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Macbeth, Glyndebourne

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Shakespeare's Macbeth is full of fleetingly funny moments. Halfway through the regicidal Second Act, we stumble upon a castle porter gibbering on about the bodily consequences of drink - "nose-painting, sleep and urine". Verdi's opera mostly shuns these vignettes for the bigger, more concentratedly darker picture. The music works itself up into an ornamented mania and for the most part broods on low orchestral colourings. There is nothing funny about a single second of it.

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Gareth Goes to Glyndebourne, BBC Two

Jasper Rees

We love Gareth Malone, don’t we? We are big fans of the Pied Piper of primetime. And so we should be. The youth of today seem impressively eager to down tools, put away childish things like knives and drugs and safe-cracking equipment, and follow this slightly weedy and totally uncool choirmaster out onto the concert platform. Our glorious new coalition should be using him to tackle crime.

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The Love for Three Oranges, Grange Park Opera

stephen Walsh

“Art and love, these have been my life,” sings Tosca in Puccini’s opera. “Music or words first?” the Countess worries in Strauss’s Capriccio. Now in the third of Grange Park’s operas this summer we have the warring advocates of tragedy, comedy, melodrama and farce in Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges. Could it be guilt at its own idle detachment that...

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