thu 12/12/2019

Opera Reviews

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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What Makes a Great Tenor? BBC Four

Adam Sweeting

Thus I approached What Makes a Great Tenor? in a spirit of moderate scepticism. Had appearing on Popstar to Operastar destroyed at a stroke the credibility of its presenter, the Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón?

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Rick Stein's Food of the Italian Opera, BBC Four

william Ward

Golfing for Cats: Alan Coren once invented the perfect book title on the basis that if you combined those who follow the activities of Tiger Woods with those who adore smaller domestic felines, you have a massive demographic primed to buy your last tome. Likewise for TV commissioning editors, there must be something tempting about the high-concept hybrid.

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The Pearl Fishers, English National Opera

David Nice

To both paraphrase and contradict one of the many French critics who savaged young Bizet, his first stage work of genius mentions no fishers in its gawky libretto but offers strings of pearls in the music. That's to say, much more than the famous duet, the least moving number on offer last night. I’ve come to love this fitfully ravishing score’s gentle, intimate side but had given up on seeing a less than tawdry staging to solve the opera’s gimcrack orientalia.

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Le nozze di Figaro, Royal Opera

alexandra Coghlan

The opening night of Le nozze di Figaro was not so much an opera of two halves as an opera of two teams. In the pit we had Sir Colin Davis and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House offering a crisply incisive rendering of Mozart’s score; onstage we had the Royal Opera Chorus and a selection of soloists, most of whom seemed set on a rather different – and, in the case of the chorus, downright lacklustre – rendition of the score. Now on its second revival, David McVicar’s all-the-...

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Stephen Fry on Wagner, BBC Four

Jasper Rees

Is there anywhere Stephen Fry will not go? I mean in documentaries. We’ve had Fry on depression and Fry on America, Fry on HIV and Fry on endangered species. Movingly, we’ve had Fry on who he thinks he is, an odyssey in which he discovered that much of his family fetched up in the gas ovens. Fry on Wagner? Admit it, you weren’t surprised. You didn't think, not another bloody comedian investigating, in pursuit of ratings, a subject of which he knows next to nothing.

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