sat 13/04/2024

Royal Opera

Carmen, Royal Opera review - strong women, no sexual chemistry and little stage focus

When will the Royal Opera give us a totally electrifying Carmen, rather than just a vocally perfect Carmen (as Aighul Akhmetshina surely is)? Supposed firebrand Damiano Michieletto’s production is mostly tepid after Barrie Kosky’s half-brilliant...

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Giant, Linbury Theatre review - a vision fully realised

Abandon hope of the human comedy so precisely charted in Hilary Mantel’s related historical fiction The Giant, O’Brien, prepare for a vision of outsized body and soul revealed in sleep, and your patience will be rewarded. Sarah Angliss’s haunting...

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Elektra, Royal Opera review - moral: don’t wait too long for revenge

Those were happy days back in 2014 when, justifiably flushed with the success of the Royal Opera’s Tristan und Isolde revival, director Christof Loy, music director Antonio Pappano and soprano Nina Stemme mooted possibly the toughest role challenge...

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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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Jephtha, Royal Opera review - uncomfortable sacrifice oratorio not seismic enough

“Tell me,” The West Wing’s President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) asks of a right-wing TV host who uses the Bible to call homosexuality an abomination, “I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21.7… What would a...

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Das Rheingold, Royal Opera - knotty, riveting route to destruction

Let’s set aside, to begin with, the question of the concept, other than to praise it as consistent. Most vital about this brave new Rheingold is the vindication of director Barrie Kosky’s claim that “what makes a Ring production interesting is the...

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Don Carlo, Royal Opera review - Lise Davidsen soars above routine

Not a good start. The tenor (Brian Jagde) walks downstage and sings loudly, if securely, to the audience: hardly a characterisation of an idealistic young Infante meditating on love. The next voice, the Page’s, is barely heard (Ella Taylor gets...

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Il trovatore, Royal Opera review - heaven and hell

The trouble with Trovatore, Verdi’s sometimes barrel-organish, slightly middle-aged troubadour, isn’t so much the silly shocker of a plot, triggered by a gypsy so crazed with vengeance that she throws her own baby on a bonfire by mistake, as the...

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Werther, Royal Opera review - Kaufmann off form in this stiff revival

Benoit Jacquot’s handsome period production of Werther has been quietly putting in the miles for the Royal Opera. Since its premiere in 2004, this unexceptionable staging – “this wall, this fountain, this cool shade” all present and laboriously...

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Wozzeck, Royal Opera review - orchestral and visual beauty salve human misery at its most extreme

If you’re going to be locked in an auditorium with a crazed soldier for over 90 minutes, you need to be overwhelmed by the human frailty and baseness in Büchner’s still-shocking stage play of the late 1830s, the spiderweb beauty of Berg’s 1925 score...

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Arminio, Royal Opera review - Handel does Homeland, and it works

Invasion by a colonising power has convulsed a country, dividing families – even individuals – between the rival claims of resistance and collaboration. A captured freedom-fighter from the indigenous elite faces execution; an imperial general hopes...

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Innocence, Royal Opera review - timely, layered drama with almost incidental music

To create a sensitive and original music-drama around the subject of a school killing is a colossal achievement. Director Simon Stone, set designer Chloe Lamford and novelist Sofi Oksanen’s cutting libretto make Innocence seem like a masterpiece. I...

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