thu 24/10/2019

WNO

The Cunning Little Vixen, Welsh National Opera review - family night in the forest

Considering that Janáček’s Vixen is, among other things, an allegory of the passing and returning years, it’s appropriate that WNO continue to recycle David Pountney’s now nearly 40-year-old production, and that it comes up each time refreshed, with...

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Rigoletto, Welsh National Opera review - same old update, fine performance

Considering the doubtfulness of its underlying idea, James Macdonald’s production of Rigoletto has shown remarkable staying power since its Cardiff début 17 years ago. It’s true that this particular opera - which, unlike one or two others of Verdi’s...

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Carmen, Welsh National Opera review - intermittent brilliance in a gloomy, unclear environment

You can love Carmen as much as you like (as much as I do, for instance), and still have a certain sympathy for the poor director who has to find something new to say about a work so anchored in a particular style and place. For all its musical and...

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BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019 Final, BBC Four review - stage confidence, supportive set-up

If ever there was an instance of the great being the enemy of the good, it happened after all the live singing on Saturday night. This year we all remember, with sadness for his early death and amazement at his burning, burnished talent, the...

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Brundibár, Welsh National Opera review - bittersweet children's opera from the ghetto

Politics, in case you may not have noticed, has been in the air of late: questions of escape, release, borders, refugees, things like that. So WNO’s June season of operas about freedom has been suspiciously well timed. We’ve had the dead man walking...

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The Magic Flute, Welsh National Opera review - charming to hear, charmless to look at

I last saw this Magic Flute, directed by Dominic Cooke, when it was new, some 14 years ago, and I remember it mainly, I’m afraid, for its lack of visual charm. Nothing much has changed: the relentless box sets (designer Julian Crouch), not a leaf or...

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Un ballo in maschera, Welsh National Opera review - opera as brilliant self-parody

Why is Un Ballo in maschera not as popular as the trio of Verdi masterpieces – Rigoletto, Traviata, Trovatore – that, with a couple of digressions, preceded it in the early 1850s? Its music is scarcely less brilliant than theirs, and if its plot is...

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Best of 2018: Opera

Outnumbered by four to one: out of the classical/opera team, Alexandra Coghlan, Jessica Duchen, David Benedict and Boyd Tonkin all chose English National Opera's production of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess as their best of the operatic year, while I...

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War and Peace, Welsh National Opera review - an Operation Barbarossa that comes off

What lunatic would ever have the idea of turning War and Peace into an opera? Well, maybe if you, a composer, had found yourself in Moscow in June 1941 when news of the German invasion reached the Soviet capital, you might have decided to mount an...

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Tosca, Welsh National Opera review - ticking the traditionalist boxes

Opera-lovers: if you’ve finally had enough of the wheelchairs and syringes, the fifties skirts and heels, the mobile phones and the white box sets, and the rest of the symbolic paraphernalia of the right-on modern opera production, pop along to the...

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La forza del destino, Welsh National Opera review - rambling drama, fine music

David Pountney’s tenure at WNO has been an almost unqualified success, despite some eccentricities of repertoire and a certain obstinacy in the matter of new commissions. His own productions have included at least three of unforgettable quality. He...

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Best of 2017: Opera

It may not have been the best year for eye-popping productions; even visionary director Richard Jones fell a bit short with a tame-ish Royal Opera Bohème, though his non-operatic The Twilight Zone is something else. Instead there's been time to...

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