mon 26/09/2022

WNO

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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Madam Butterfly, Welsh National Opera review - decent performance, disagreeable context

It’s easy enough to see the difficulty Madam Butterfly places your thinking director in. I share her pain. What the whirring brain will quickly see as a penetrating, or at least surface scratching, study of a whole repertoire of modern obsessions –...

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The Barber of Seville, Welsh National Opera review - back to work in an old banger

Welcome back, WNO! Yes, emphatically, and with a loud hurrah, which is precisely what the company received, and rightly received, from the somewhat arbitrarily scattered first night Millennium Centre audience for their opening revival of The Barber...

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Les vêpres siciliennes, Welsh National Opera review - spectacular, silly, but some great music

It’s not hard to see why The Sicilian Vespers has struggled since its surprisingly successful opening run at the Paris Opéra in 1855. Verdi had composed it reluctantly, despised the librettist, Eugène Scribe, who he regarded as a well-named cynical...

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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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