tue 29/11/2022

Wagner

theartsdesk at the Bayreuth Festival Ring 2022 - a jumbled mess of ideas, some of them compelling

It is mid-way through the new Ring cycle, and we are taking lunch outside the old town hall on the high street in Bayreuth. Discussion at neighbouring tables is intense: “The Ring is a child!”, “Why does Wotan have no spear?”, “The pyramid in the...

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theartsdesk in Zurich - forging a brilliant new Ring

Could this be the summer Bayreuth finally sees a new Ring production that comes anywhere near its last great epic success, Harry Kupfer’s, which ran from 1988-92? If so, it’s been pipped to the post by a rather more comfortable and bijou opera house...

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theartsdesk Q&A: bass-baritone Christopher Purves on communicating everything from Handel to George Benjamin

He’s the most haunting, at times terrifying Wozzeck I’ve seen, in Richard Jones's Welsh National Opera baked-bean-factory production, and the funniest Falstaff. When we met in his dressing room at the Zurich Opera House, Christopher Purves was about...

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Parsifal, Opera North review - full focus and a dream line-up

Wagner, in his medievalist, pan-European, 19th century way, wanted Parsifal to be a blend of abstract and religious experience for his audiences at Bayreuth, calling it a “festival play for a stage consecration”. Questions for those performing it...

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Siegfried, Longborough Festival review - happily concept-free but with 'Good Ideas'

With a lapse of three years between Das Rheingold and Siegfried, and with only a semi-staged Walküre in between, it’s been hard to stay tuned to Amy Lane’s Ring production at Longborough.Here, for instance, is Mime in his cave (rather well, if...

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Lohengrin, Royal Opera review - a timely return to warzone Brabant

David Alden’s Lohengrin is back at Covent Garden for a first revival. The defining image the first time round, in 2018, was of the ending, a political rally for King Henry’s regime, with Lohengrin and the swan as its icons. That felt crude – a two-...

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Colli, Bournemouth SO, Scaglione, Lighthouse, Poole review - drama and romance

The Drama and Romance of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s promotional hook for this concert signalled a heady musical mix. Appropriate for the stark contrasts of mood central to Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4,...

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LPO, Canellakis, Royal Festival Hall review - ecstatic sonorities at full pelt

This remarkable evening should really have been more remarkable still. The unfortunate pianist Cédric Tiberghien took an official pre-travel Covid test that obliged him to drop out at 5pm – even though, as he tweeted in frustration, three subsequent...

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The Valkyrie, English National Opera review - fitfully flickering flames

That the ever-decreasing circles of Richard Jones’s first Wagner Ring instalment for English National Opera ended in a no-show for the fire that should have made former Valkyrie supreme Brünnhilde proof against all but a fearless hero – Westminster...

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Siegfried, RINGafa, St Mary’s Putney review - heroes everywhere

A Samoan-themed Ring cycle? Well, why not? A calculated distance has always separated its audience from the Norse and German epics of its origin.Wagner composed it once capital and technology had begun their ineluctable overthrow of gods and kings,...

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'Everyone who played for him always gave their very best': remembering Bernard Haitink (1929-2021)

Few musicians get to stage-manage a dignified departure from the world. Among his last compositions, Richard Strauss set a poem by Eichendorff depicting an old couple looking into the sunset and asking “is this perhaps death?”, and towards the end...

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'Rest now, you God': remembering bass-baritone Norman Bailey (1933-2021)

Few singers really change your life. Norman Bailey did that for me [writes David Nice of theartsdesk]. The occasion wasn't my first experience of a Wagner opera, but it was the first time I'd been to a performance of his great human comedy Die...

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