tue 16/07/2019

Opera Reviews

The Tsarina's Slippers, Royal Opera House

David Nice Larissa Diadkova (Solokha) and Maxim Mikhailov (the Devil) in The Tsarina's Slippers

A vain, capricious girl sends her lunk of a suitor on a quest for the best ruby slippers in the world, while said lunk's mother, the village witch, cosies up to the Devil. It's a whimsical Christmas Eve tale, exuberantly narrated by Nikolay Gogol in his Ukrainian-based Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka; but you wouldn't think there would be much room for pathos and sentiment. Trust Tchaikovsky to favour the heartfelt and the melancholy in his very characteristic early opera Vakula...

Read more...

Angela Gheorghiu, Royal Festival Hall

Adam Sweeting

The famously tempestuous Romanian soprano is, we learn, living a separate life from her husband Roberto Alagna. If Opera's Most Romantic Couple is no more, will Brand Angela be terminally damaged? Surely a showcase performance in the South Bank's International Voices season would be just the thing to rally the faithful and reaffirm Ms Gheorghiu's spectacular star quality, but I must admit that by the time we reached the interval, I was beset with gnawing doubt.

Read more...

Maria di Rohan, Royal Festival Hall

Igor Toronyi-Lalic Krassimira Stoyanova's Maria di Rohan was the show-stopper

So many 19th-century opera plots park themselves on fertile historical ground, amid all the colour, character and juice you could ever want, and then spend three hours picking at some anaemic daisies at the edges. It was a worry last night as I watched Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan in concert at the Royal Festival Hall.  By sidestepping the heavyweight power players of Louis XIII’s reign, the eminently operatic figures of Cardinal Richelieu (endlessly...

Read more...

Duke Bluebeard's Castle/Rite of Spring, ENO

ismene Brown

There are horrors in the world so vile that few of us want to think about them. None more so than such cases as Josef Fritzl - or Jaycee Lee Dugard, or Arcedio Alvarez, or Raymond Gouardo, or Wolfgang Priklopil, or Marc Dutroux... but you get the picture. Cases where men abduct girls and turn them into sex slaves and father multiple children by them, often incestuously, hiding them in garages, basements, behind walls, sometimes for decades undiscovered, sometimes murdering them.

Read more...

The Turn of the Screw, ENO

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw is first and foremost a psychological horror. And psychological horrors are all about rocking the mental boat. Capsizing the mental boat. Sinking the mental boat. David McVicar’s production of The Turn of the Screw for the English National Opera does not rock the mental boat. He doesn't rock any boat. I'm not sure McVicar is in a boat. He plays the work so supremely safe, so PG-safe, so two-condom safe, that I feel McVicar is...

Read more...

L'Heure Espagnole and Gianni Schicchi, Royal Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Will UK Gold now be permanently available at the Royal Opera House? Or was Italian TV being beamed into the auditorium last night by mistake? The 1970s scene before us actually just meant the return of Richard Jones’s inspired sitcom treatment of Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi to Covent Garden. Even before the curtain had lifted we were raising a 1970s titter, being prepped for a...

Read more...

The Adventures of Mr Brouček, Opera North

graham Rickson

To a bewitching, shimmering prelude, a back-projected astronaut plants a Czech flag on the lunar surface. So begins one of those evenings where you skip out of the theatre grinning and promising yourself that you will buy tickets for all your opera-disdaining friends.

Read more...

Turandot, English National Opera, London Coliseum

ismene Brown

It’s a let-down when a new production of an opera that spends two acts feeling dazzlingly invigorating and clever collapses in a careless mess in the third. My guess is that a key scene for the concept of English National Opera’s Turandot is when Ping, Pang and Pong - three very grand court officials - turn out to be Chinese cooks sneaking smokes up the fire escape at the Emperor Palace restaurant. It's a sharp idea, generating a sensationally visual production, but that fire escape...

Read more...

Carmen, Royal Opera

Adam Sweeting

Buoyed by winning the Classic FM Innovation award at Friday's Classic FM Gramophone Awards for its cut-price ticket offer for Sun readers, the Royal Opera House was at it again last night with the return of Francesca Zambello's production of Carmen.

Read more...

Tristan und Isolde, Royal Opera

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

There’s nothing like a bit of communal booing to sharpen your critical faculties. And Christof Loy’s new production of Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House last night received wave after wave after wave of it. An ocean of boos almost as deep and profound as the Wagner that had just washed over us moments before.

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

The Night of the Iguana, Noël Coward Theatre review - Clive...

One of the glories of contemporary London theatre is its revivals of classic American drama. Year after year, audiences are able to revisit and...

The Day We Walked on the Moon, ITV review - it was 50 years...

It was on 16 July 1969 that Apollo 11 lifted off from Florida en route for the Moon, and exactly 50 years later, as we nervously anticipate the...

Inside the Social Network: Facebook's Difficult Year, B...

Not everybody is on Facebook, yet. So far, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media monolith has only managed to scrape together about 2.3 billion users,...

Equus, Trafalgar Studios review - passionate intensity

When he gave Martin Dysart, the troubled psychiatrist protagonist of Equus, a line in which he speaks about “moments of experience” being...

Elbow and New Order, Lucca Summer Festival review – a meetin...

Thirty-three years ago, at Manchester's Festival of the Tenth Summer, I fumed that New Order had been given top billing over The...

Whitewash, Soho Theatre review - a wild-at-heart linguistic...

This witty street-smart play about a white-skinned...

CD: Sum 41 - Order In Decline

Sum 41 were one of those light-weight punk-ish bands in unfeasibly...

Django Bates Belovèd Trio, Evan Parker, Wigmore Hall review...

"Genius" is a word to be used sparingly, but Django Bates surely is one. “A musical polymath and prodigiously gifted composer” went the citation...

Don Giovanni, Longborough Festival Opera review - Mozart in...

One of the features of the converted barn that forms the theatre at Longborough is a trio of statues that tops the front pediment of the building...