wed 17/04/2024

Wagner

theartsdesk in Strasbourg: crossing the frontiers

A single pair of swans glided serenely under the bridges of the river Ill as I walked to the premiere of the Opéra National du Rhin’s new production of Lohengrin in Strasbourg on Sunday.It felt like an auspicious omen for Michael Spyres’s first full...

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Der fliegende Holländer, Royal Opera review - compellingly lucid with an austere visual beauty

The shadow of Nosferatu hangs heavily over Tim Albery’s powerfully austere staging of Wagner’s opera of desire and damnation, which returns to the Royal Opera House 15 years after it premiered there. Bryn Terfel’s Dutchman is a subtly vampiric...

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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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Tannhäuser, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Edinburgh International Festival 2023 - compelling concert Wagner

This was one of the more strait-laced concert performances, with few concessions to Wagner’s underlying stage drama. The soloists were in formal concert dress, strung out in a line at the front of the stage, with interaction between them limited to...

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Götterdämmerung, Longborough Festival review - from the hieratic to the mundane and back

Götterdämmerung is not only the grandest of Wagner’s Ring operas, it is also the most varied. Siegfried’s journey down the Rhine transports him in a short quarter-hour from the hieratic world of the Norns and the World Ash to the soap-opera of the...

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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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Tannhäuser, Royal Opera review - true goodness triumphs in the end

It’s always a disappointment when the Venusberg orgy Wagner added in 1861 to his original, 1845 Tannhäuser to suit Parisian tastes gives way to foursquare operatic conventions. Especially so in this revival of Tim Albery’s 2010 production, where...

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Classical CDs: Symphonies, suppers and knitting needles

 Roger Norrington: The Complete Erato Recordings (Erato)Richard Osborne’s booklet essay contains some telling words from Sir Roger Norrington, tucked away at the end of the final paragraph: “I don’t mind if a performance is unhistorical; I do...

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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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