sat 21/09/2019

Opera Reviews

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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Armida, Garsington Opera

David Nice

It's not hard to imagine the Bloomsburyites frolicking around the exquisite Garsington grounds in mock-ups of scenes from Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata. Lady Ottoline, chateleine of the enchanted garden, would writhe as eastern sorceress Armida, though Lytton and co would hardly make a very butch bunch of opposing crusaders. To be honest, there wasn't much more testosterone or sex on show in Rossini's dramatically flimsy, musically elaborate operatic nod to Tasso last night, and the...

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Le nozze di Figaro, Garsington Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

The sun rode high, the gardens glowed green, my lemon berry pudding bulged proudly and, on stage, the familiar 24-carat farce that is Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro was working itself out to perfection. It was Garsington - and my baking - at its very finest, a fittingly triumphant opening to the final season at Garsington Manor (they move down the road to Wormsley Estate next year).

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Capriccio, Grange Park Opera

stephen Walsh

By far the most uncomfortable – perhaps the only uncomfortable - thing about Richard Strauss’s last opera is the date of its first performance. In October 1942 the battle of El Alamein was raging and the British were bombing German cities while the Munich opera audience were entertained by a rambling disquisition on the respective merits of poetry and music as art forms, set in an eighteenth-century French château. What modern director could resist this provocation? Stephen Medcalf...

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Mary Stuart, Opera North

graham Rickson The encounter that never happened: Sarah Connolly as Mary Stuart and Antonia Cifrone as Elizabeth

Among the many pleasures of Donizetti's Mary Stuart is the fun of watching a chunk of primary-school history filtered through a florid bel canto imagination. There are moments when you want to cry out, “That’s not what happened!” But it’s so fast-moving, so well-paced, that you soon stop complaining and just surrender.

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