sat 21/09/2019

Royal Opera

Werther, Royal Opera review - shadows and sunsets from an unreconstructed romantic

Goethe’s Die Leiden des junges Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther) was a vital spark in the ignition of the German romantic movement. The story of a young man driven to kill himself for love of a woman, Charlotte, who loves him but marries...

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Don Giovanni, Royal Opera review - laid-back Lothario

Kasper Holten left a mixed bag of productions behind at Royal Opera when he left in 2017, but the best of them - though not all my colleagues on The Arts Desk have agreed - is this Don Giovanni, now back for its latest revival.Visually, the...

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La Fille du Régiment, Royal Opera review - enjoyable but questionable revival

On paper, this might seem like a revival too far, a production clearly intended as a vehicle for world-class singers being tacked on the end of the Covent Garden season, and without any big names in sight. But it turns out that Laurent Pelly’s...

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Boris Godunov, Royal Opera review - cool and surgical, with periodic chills

Suppose you're seeing Musorgsky's selective historical opera for the first time in Richard Jones's production, without any prior knowledge of the action. That child's spinning-top on the dropcloth: why? Then the curtain rises and we see Bryn Terfel'...

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The Diary of One who Disappeared, ROH review – song cycle-as-opera is a mish-mash

Singer Ian Bostridge once described The Diary of One who Disappeared as “a song cycle gone wrong”. But this reimagining of it as an opera, by the Belgian director Ivo van Hove at the Royal Opera’s Linbury Theatre, also goes wrong, throwing in...

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Phaedra, Linbury Theatre review - from confusing passion to blazing afterlife

Leaving a revival performance of Harrison Birtwistle's The Minotaur, a friend asked Hans Werner Henze, also in the audience, that dreaded question: "what did you think?" "Very competent and extremely well performed," came the answer. What snap...

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Billy Budd, Royal Opera review - Britten's drama of good and evil too much at sea

On one level, it's about Biblically informed good and evil at sea, in both the literal and the metaphorical sense. On another, the love that dared not speak its name when Britten and E M Forster adapted Hermann Melville's novella is either repressed...

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SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill, Isango Ensemble, Linbury Theatre - evocative and essential lyric theatre

While Bach's and Handel's Passions have been driving thousands to contemplate suffering, mortality and grace, this elegy for black lives lost over a century ago also chimes movingly with pre-Easter offerings. First seen in Southampton last year as a...

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Faust, Royal Opera review - fusty Gounod still dances

Goethe's cosmic Faust becomes Gounod's operatic fust in what, somewhat surprisingly, remains a repertoire staple. You go for the tunes, hoping for the world-class voices to do them justice and prepared for a pallid quarter-of-an-hour or two. David...

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Berenice, Royal Opera/London Handel Festival review - luminous shenanigans in the Linbury

It might be the nature of Handel's operatic beasts, but performances tend to fall into two camps: brilliant in the fusion of drama and virtuosity, singing and playing, or boring to various degrees. If this handsome opening gambit in the 2019 London...

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In the spirit of the composer as innovator: Samir Savant on the London Handel Festival

This is my third year as festival director of the London Handel Festival, an annual celebration of the life and work of composer George Frideric Handel, which takes place every spring in venues across the capital. Our core charitable and artistic...

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La forza del destino, Royal Opera review - generous voices, dramatic voids

When "Maestro" Riccardo Muti left the Royal Opera's previous production of Verdi's fate-laden epic, disgusted by minor changes to fit the scenery on the Covent Garden stage, no-one was sorry when Antonio Pappano, the true master of the house then...

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