wed 21/02/2024

ENO

The Handmaid's Tale, English National Opera review - last chance saloon for sub-Atwood baggy monster

Never underestimate the enduring power of a great story over an unwieldy operatic setting. Few of us who saw the first ENO production of The Handmaid’s Tale back in 2003 thought the work stood much chance of revival. Yet Margaret Atwood’s dystopian...

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Best of 2023: Opera

Choosing a limited best seems almost meaningless when even simply the seven operatic experiences I've relished in the run-up to Christmas (nothing seasonal) deserve a place in the sun. But in a year which has seen Arts Council devastation versus...

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Iolanthe, English National Opera review - still gorgeous but ever so slightly less funny than before

Parliament may be topsy-turvy, with a motley bunch of Lords the only hope in vetoing outrageous bills, but up the road at the London Coliseum a more disciplined company is steering a luxury liner with perfect craft. Cal McCrystal’s best G&S so...

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Peter Grimes, English National Opera review - not quite the pity or the truth

Britten’s biggest cornucopia of invention seems unsinkable, and no-one seeing his breakthrough 1945 opera for the first time in this revival will fail to register its forceful genius. David Alden’s expressionist nightmare of a production, though,...

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Blue, English National Opera review - the company’s boldest vindication yet?

Two recent operas by women have opened in London’s two main houses within a week. Both have superbly crafted librettos dealing with gun violence without a shot being fired, giddyingly fine production values and true ensembles guided by perfect...

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The Dead City, English National Opera review - strong dream world, weak love story

Is Korngold a second-rank composer with some first-rate ideas? Most performances of the 23-year-old Viennese prodigy's Die tote Stadt make it seem so. Nearly smothered in glitter and craft, the story can compel – an oblique, promising stance on...

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The Rhinegold, English National Opera review - tacky, edgy, brilliant

All that glitters, titular treasure included, is dangerous childsplay in Richard Jones’s third UK staging of what Wagner called the “preliminary evening” to the three main operas of The Ring of the Nibelung. It’s nothing like the previous two, for...

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An open letter from Dame Sarah Connolly and colleagues to Arts Council England

The decision of Arts Council England to withdraw funding from the English National Opera and force it to move out of London is not only another hammer blow to the opera industry but it has huge ramifications for the extensive number of British...

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It’s a Wonderful Life, English National Opera review - Capra’s sharp-edged sentiment smothered in endless schmaltz

Looking for a sparkly operatic musical, well sung and played, slick and saturated in a range of mainstream styles that stop short in the year the movie masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life was released, 1946? Then Jake Heggie’s 2016 confection may be...

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First Person: conductor Leo Hussain on why we still need English National Opera in London

I still remember vividly my first encounter with ENO. I was taken, as a nine-year-old boy, on a school trip to see a performance of Peter Grimes. And I was hooked. I pestered my parents to take me back several times to that same production. I can...

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The Yeomen of the Guard, English National Opera review - half-good shot at an unusual G&S misalliance

Sullivan’s Overture to The Yeomen of the Guard isn’t quite the equal of Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger – what is? – but its brass-rich brilliance and wholesome ceremonials wouldn’t have been possible without that great example. Cue...

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Tosca, English National Opera review - a tale of two eras

Rome, 14/15 June 1800: the specifics of the original Sardou melodrama are preserved in Puccini’s thriller mixing love, lust, religion and tyranny. Many productions move forward in time, and sometimes change the place, with ease: after all, feudalist...

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