sat 22/09/2018

Royal Opera

L'Ange de Nisida / JPYAP Summer Programme, Royal Opera - buoyant touch in Donizetti bagatelle

Two rules should help the non-Donizettian: avoid all stagings of the prolific Bergamasco's nearly 70 operas other than the comedies; and seek the guarantee of top bel canto stylists. Conductor Mark Elder and soprano Joyce El-Khoury certainly fit...

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Mamzer Bastard, Royal Opera, Hackney Empire review - inert Hasidic music-drama

Striking it lucky with a successful new opera is a rare occurrence, though every company has a duty to keep on trying. The Royal Opera hit the jackpot with 4.48 Psychosis, a highly original approach to Sarah Kane's profound and authentic play by...

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Lohengrin, Royal Opera review - swan mystery musically illuminated

It's awfully long for a fairytale in which a mystery prince helps a damsel in distress, and she asks him the question she shouldn't. Myth tends to go deeper, as Wagner did in The Ring of the Nibelung after Lohengrin. Here he captures the magic of...

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Lessons in Love and Violence, Royal Opera review - savage elegance never quite glows red-hot

A rope is mercy; a razor-blade to the throat, a kiss; a red-hot poker… But, of course, we never get anything so literal as the poker in George Benjamin and Martin Crimp’s elegant, insinuating retelling of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II. The title...

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4.48 Psychosis, Royal Opera, Lyric Hammersmith review - despairing truth in song and speech

Depression, with or without psychotic episodes, is a rare subject for drama or music theatre - and with good reason: the sheer unrelenting monotony of anguish and self-absorption is hard to reproduce within a concentrated time-span. So we still...

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Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Royal Opera review - bleak rigour and black comedy still cast a spell

Anyone who's seen Richard Jones's rigorous production before will remember the makeover – Katerina Izmailova, bored and brutalised housewife released by sex and murder from her shackles, having her drab bedroom expanded and redecorated in deliberate...

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Coraline, Royal Opera, Barbican review - spooky story, underwhelming score

With the eyes of musical fashion turned relentlessly on the calculating stage works of chilly alchemist George Benjamin, hopes ran high for a brighter spark in a new opera by his contemporary Mark-Anthony Turnage. Would Coraline, a music-drama for...

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From the House of the Dead, Royal Opera review - Janáček's prison oddity prompts hot tears

A political prisoner is brutally initiated into the life of a state penitentiary, and leaves it little over 90 minutes later. Four inmates reveal their brutal past histories with elliptical strangeness - each would need an episode of something like...

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Carmen, Royal Opera review - clever concept, patchy singing, sexy dancing

Roll up, dépêchez-vous, for Carmen the - what? Circus? Vaudeville/music-hall/cabaret? Opéra-ballet, post-Rameau? Not, certainly, a show subject to the kind of updated realism which has been applied by just about every production other than the...

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The Return of Ulysses, Royal Opera, Roundhouse review - musical drama trumps dodgy stagecraft

The power of music solves every problem, at least when as bewitchingly performed as it was here. With the great mezzo Christine Rice voiceless for at least a night, and rising star Caitlin Hulcup singing for her from the midst of the instruments in...

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Best of 2017: Opera

It may not have been the best year for eye-popping productions; even visionary director Richard Jones fell a bit short with a tame-ish Royal Opera Bohème, though his non-operatic The Twilight Zone is something else. Instead there's been time to...

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Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci, Royal Opera review - one tenor, two samey brutes

Are "Cav and Pag" inseparable? Clearly not, to judge from Opera North's "Little Greats" and elsewhere, but it's still the pairing of choice. Tricky, because as music-theatre, Leoncavallo's drama of rough life entwined with rough art stands high...

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