sun 21/07/2024

WNO

Il Trittico, Welsh National Opera review - another triumph for a hard-pressed company

It’s somehow typical of the Welsh National Opera I’ve known now for the best part of sixty years that it should confront its current funding difficulties with brilliant productions of two of the more challenging works in the repertory.The company’s...

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Death In Venice, Welsh National Opera review - breathtaking Britten

Benjamin Britten’s last opera Death in Venice (1973), adapted from Thomas Mann’s novella of the same name (1912) and the subject of one of Visconti’s later, most celebrated films, explores homoerotic attraction, the nature of beauty and the...

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Così fan tutte, Welsh National Opera review - relevance reduced to irrelevance

We can’t do without Così fan tutte; it’s an irresistible masterpiece. But it’s a thorn in the flesh of modern directors, who struggle to find the "relevance" they seem to need in order to get the wretched piece on to the stage.In his new production...

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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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La Traviata, Welsh National Opera review - memorable revival, unforgettable lead

It’s always tempting, at curtain-up in La Traviata, to settle back, half-close one’s eyes, and soak up the familiar without the anxiety of the new. Not this time you won’t. David McVicar’s lavish 2009 text-true staging is being revived with a...

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Ainadamar, Welsh National Opera review - hits hard without breaking ground

I find it hard to know quite what to make of Ainadamar, Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov’s one-act opera about the life and death of the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who was murdered in unknown circumstances – probably by Nationalist...

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Candide, Welsh National Opera review - vaut le voyage, just for the visual side

If you read the synopsis of Candide - which I strongly advise if you plan a visit to this new WNO production - you may well wonder how it will be possible to get through so much in so short a time. Voltaire’s novella is itself fairly short, but...

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Blaze of Glory!, Welsh National Opera review - sparkling entertainment up the valleys

Like certain other opera companies, WNO has leant in recent years towards popular shows of one kind or another. In their case this is not mere pandering to the Valleys coach parties, but a genuine attempt to assert an identity through an exploration...

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The Magic Flute, Welsh National Opera review - Mozart remodelled and remuddled

So why not rewrite The Magic Flute with a new text and a heavily reconstructed plot? After all, the original was just a pantomime, albeit one that embodied one or two big issues of the day (1791), but essentially popular theatre with a text by a...

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The Makropulos Affair, Welsh National Opera review - complexity realised brilliantly on the stage

What, anyway, is The Makropulos Case all about? Is it simply about the horrors of unnatural longevity; or does it expose the limitations of the rational mind confronted by the irrational; is it about love of a distorted ideal, like some updated...

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Jenůfa, Welsh National Opera review - powerful drama with a kitsch tailpiece

If like me you regard the ending of Janáček’s Jenůfa as one of the most moving scenes in all opera, you might care to consider how it would be possible to deflate it in spite of the best singing imaginable. You might, for instance, bring up a back...

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Don Giovanni, Welsh National Opera review - fine young cast let down by unhelpful conducting

If Don Giovanni is not the greatest opera ever written, it’s at least one of the very, very few that even in erratic performances have the capacity to seem it. There was so much wrong, in detail, with WNO’s revival of John Caird’s now eleven year-...

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