sat 28/05/2022

18th century

Serse, The English Concert, St Martin-in-the-Fields review - star turns from five remarkable women

You know great singing when you hear it. In Handel, for me, that was when Lucy Crowe took over a Göttingen gala back in 2013; in Mozart, most recently, it came from Emily D’Angelo making her Royal Opera debut in La clemenza di Tito. Last night, in...

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Esfahani, CBSO, Morlot, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - ghostly enchantments

Bent Sørensen has christened his new harpsichord concerto Sei Anime: “six souls”. The six concise movements, written for Mahan Esfahani and a chamber-sized orchestra, are modelled, apparently, on the dance movements of a Bach keyboard suite. But as...

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St John Passion, English Touring Opera, Lichfield Cathedral review - free-range Bach doesn't quite add up

JS Bach’s Passions as music theatre? Well, why not? Whatever the aura of untouchability around these works, they were always conceived as part of a bigger picture: a communal sacred ritual in which the divide between performer and audience wasn’t so...

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Don Giovanni, Welsh National Opera review - fine young cast let down by unhelpful conducting

If Don Giovanni is not the greatest opera ever written, it’s at least one of the very, very few that even in erratic performances have the capacity to seem it. There was so much wrong, in detail, with WNO’s revival of John Caird’s now eleven year-...

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Bajazet, Irish National Opera, Linbury Theatre review – robust but a bit rough

One thing’s clear from Irish National Opera’s bold championship of Vivaldi: he’s his own man when it comes to the stage, not some baroque generic, even if Bajazet is a pasticcio incorporating other composers’ music. He doesn’t characterize through...

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Theodora, Royal Opera review - God, love, sex, death - and terrorism

Some of Handel's late London oratorios, like the indestructible Semele, work well as fully staged operas. Others, usually the ones which swap mythology for the sacred, need dramatic help. Theodora is one of them, though Peter Sellars' now-legendary...

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Le nozze di Figaro, Royal Opera review - New Year champagne

One of the galvanizing wonders of the operatic world happened when David McVicar’s production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro was new, back in 2006: the sight and sound of Royal Opera music director Antonio Pappano in seamless dual role as...

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Solomon's Knot, Wigmore Hall review - festive music for uncertain times

It had been a tense week, explained Jonathan Sells, the artistic director and bass-baritone of Solomon’s Knot, from the stage of the Wigmore Hall: unsure if the concert would go ahead, unsure who exactly would be able to perform, unsure if there...

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Die schöne Müllerin and The Alehouse Sessions, Middle Temple Hall review - overflowing musical energy and joy

The world of the 17th-century tavern is a long way from the contemporary concert hall. A quick glance at the scene in paintings by Jan Steen or his contemporaries shows us a joyful tangle of men and women, dogs, cats and small children, all engaged...

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Dennis, SCO, Whelan, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh review - period touches and classical sparkle

Peter Whelan is best known to Scottish audiences from his years of service as principal bassoon in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He left to pursue other projects several years ago, the most illustrious of which has probably been his work with the...

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Bavouzet, Manchester Camerata, Takács-Nagy, Stoller Hall, Manchester review - together again

The joint enterprise of soloist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy, with Manchester Camerata, in recording publicly all Mozart’s piano concertos alongside his opera overtures – with the project theme “Mozart, made in Manchester” –...

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The Magic Flute, Royal Opera review - all but a guarantee of a great night out

Rarely has the revolving door of opera twirled so efficiently. David McVicar’s venerable production of Rigoletto may have exited the Royal Opera on Monday (presumably with one final squeak of protest from that pesky revolve), replaced by a shiny new...

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