Opera and Musical Theatre Reviews

TritticoOpera Review: Richard Jones's production of Il trittico opens the Royal Opera season A couple of weeks ago, a business-like email from the Royal Opera's press office announced the withdrawal of German soprano Anja Harteros from Suor Angelica, the central opera of Puccini's Il Trittico. No reason was given, but one could almost hear a collective sigh of disappointment. As an appropriately grand season opener, though, and as a two-thirds-new production... more>


FrauOpera Review: The Mariinsky in Die Frau ohne Schatten When Valery Gergiev brought the Kirov Opera to Edinburgh in the mid-1990s, audiences revelled at their encounter with the Russian vocal tradition while at the same time sniggering at the spectacularly, opulently naff production as elaborately garbed singers planted themselves... more> GardinerProm 73 Review: Sir Gardiner leads the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique in Weber's Der Freischütz Weber's Der Freischütz is fundamentally a piece about the power of the supernatural. With its score of woodwind shrieks, feral horns, murky string sonorities and trombones galore...more>
Don GiovanniThe Budapest Festival Orchestra performs Don Giovanni at the Rose Theater Sitting in the Rose Theater, a venue of jazz at Lincoln Center that is occasionally used for song recitals and smallish performances of opera, I remembered my frustration when, some years ago, my New York editor wrote a headline punning... more> Scottish OperaOpera Review: Scottish Opera in Brecht and Weill's Seven Deadly Sins in Edinburgh Was it as long ago as 2008 that the Edinburgh International Festival opened with Brecht & Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny? It was an acutely resonant choice at the time, and the intervening years have... more>
Turn of the ScrewA powerful Turn of the Screw revival at Glyndebourne The Glyndebourne Festival season this year began with a huge, magnificent, no expense spared production of Die Meistersinger and ends with a work at the other end of the operatic scale – Britten's 1954 chamber opera, based on the novella by Henry James, The Turn of the Screw... more> ElisirDanielle de Niese stars in Glyndebourne's L'elisir d'amore Annabel Arden's production for Glyndebourne of Donizetti's 1832 comic masterpiece was first seen with Glyndebourne on Tour in 2007: it then came to the main stage in 2009, and was revived again this year with a new and promising cast. The production has worn well – the single set is attractive... more>
Don GiovanniThe Budapest Festival Orchestra performs Don Giovanni at the Rose Theater Sitting in the Rose Theater, a venue of jazz at Lincoln Center that is occasionally used for song recitals and smallish performances of opera, I remembered my frustration when, some years ago, my New York editor wrote a headline punning... more> DioneoOpera Review: Dioneo present Ullmann's The Emperor of Atlantis Composed in 1943/44, The Emperor of Atlantis was a thinly veiled criticism of Nazi activities. Nevertheless, it reached rehearsal stage before the Nazis understood its message. They immediately banned any performance of the piece and within days, on 16 October 1944... more>
CaramoorOpera Review: Rossini's Guillaume Tell at the Caramoor International Music Festival Guillaume Tell, Rossini's milestone of Franco-Italian lyric impulses on a truly vast scale, is not often produced because of its formidable challenges. Curiously, the work was to have been the first of several Rossini works for Paris, but in fact it was his last opera... more> VoigtMusical Theatre Review: Deborah Voigt stars in Annie Get Your Gun It may be a stretch to argue that anything Ethel Merman can do Deborah Voigt can do better. Still, there's no denying that the Wagnerian soprano hit her target, got her man and won the crowd at Glimmerglass Festival's opening-night performance Saturday of the Irving Berlin classic... more>
CarmenOpera Review: Carmen at Glimmerglass The 2011 Glimmerglass Festival (formerly Glimmerglass Opera) marks the first year of programming under Francesca Zambello, the iconoclastic opera director appointed Artistic and General Director of the festival in September 2010. Life will no longer be the same in and around Cooperstown... more> PappanoProm 2 Review: Pappano conducts Rossini's Guillaume Tell The operatic concert performance is an odd beast. Heroes and villains rub dinner-jacketed shoulders like a police line-up after an Ascot brawl, while women in ball gowns occasionally sweep on and off (such dresses being less than practical for fisticuffs). Some manage to convey... more>
OneginOpera Review: Eugene Onegin at Stanley Hall Opera Now in its eleventh season, Stanley Hall Opera opted this year to move on from the Mozart, Rossini/Donizetti and early Verdi comic opera repertoire in which it has made quite a name for itself and to tackle a much more serious work: the ‘seven lyric scenes after Pushkin’ that constitute Eugene Onegin. It was a grown-up choice and the work was... more> Deborah VoigtReview: A roundup of recent productions in New York Recent musical news from New York was dominated by the New York City Opera finally declaring an exit from Lincoln Center, where it had played for decades. Facing a severe economic shortfall, a motionless board, and a host of other problems - including a well-heeled Metropolitan Opera across the plaza - the already compromised seasons... more>
ButterflyOpera Review: Madama Butterfly returns to the Royal Opera House Arriving with time to spare before curtain-up of ROH's latest revival of Moshe Leiser's and Patrice Caurier's Madama Butterfly, I busied myself with the programme book. Amid glossy ads and countless images of women in varying degrees of Japanese.. more> GotterdammerungOpera Review: A successful Götterdämmerung concludes the San Francisco Opera Ring The first cycle of the Northern Californian Ring has come to an end on 19 June with an overall wonderfully executed Götterdämmerung. The orchestral performance was especially remarkable, as Donald Runnicles and his musicians... more>
WalkureOpera Review: Willy Decker's Peter Grimes revived at the Royal Opera Creeping below every exchange here, even in the bawdier scenes in the drunken second act, is a sense of community-as-crusade. The production seeks to reveal the dark forces that underlie and undergird kinship, that are indeed at the core... more> WalkureOpera Review: Nina Stemme shines in Die Walküre at the SF Opera The second instalment of the Ring Cycle revealed to be a crescendo in the architecture of this San Francisco tetralogy – both from a dramatic and from a musical perspective: a Germanic quality in the musical rendition and a nexus of complex personal and political... more>
The Rape of LucretiaOpera Review: Ian Bostridge leads a stellar line-up in The Rape of Lucretia The major work by Britten in this year’s Aldeburgh Festival was his third opera, The Rape of Lucretia, in two concert performances on the Maltings stage. The cast was stellar: Ian Bostridge and Susan Gritton singing the Male and Female Chorus parts, Angelika Kirchschlager singing... more> SiegfriedOpera Review: Siegfried at the SF Opera Francesca Zambello's Siegfried, the third instalment of the 2011 San Francisco Ring, is a more composite mixture as for the social and historical themes it addresses, compared to the previous operas. As the director had promised, environmental issues are brought to the fore more... more>
Cendrillon ROHOpera Review: Massenet's Cendrillon makes its ROH debut Completed in 1898, well after his more famous Manon (1884) and Werther (1892), Massenet’s Cendrillon was premiered at the Opéra-Comique, Paris in 1899. After its initial success and run of performances in various... more> RheingoldOpera Review: Zambello's Ring opens at the SF Opera with Das Rheingold One year after Achim Freyer's Ring Cycle at the LA Opera - majestic, experimental, and, as our correspondent Adeline Mueller put it, "dangerous" - the West Coast is the home of another important production of Wagner's tetralogy. Francesca Zambello brings... more>
BoccanegraOpera Review: Dmitri Tcherniakov's new production of Simon Boccanegra at ENO The young Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov gets a certain sort of press: Enfant Térrible Courts Controversy is the usual autocue. His debut at ENO as both director and designer of this new Simon Boccanegra has inevitably been given its... more> Richard Hubert SmithOpera Review: Muhly's Two Boys opens at the Coliseum The subject matter of the opera concerns the shifting character of social relations in a digital world, and pivots on the sense that morality itself is scrambling amidst the scramble of digital mediation. Sixteen year old Brian is being questioned by Detective Anne Strawson about a serious assault in which he is the main suspect... more>
IolantaOpera Review: A Donizetti-Tchaikovsky Double Bill from the Guildhall Full marks are due to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for choosing two unjustly neglected masterpieces for their opera double-bill. According to the listing of Donizetti’s operas in the New Grove Dictionary of Music, Rita was Donizetti’s... more> RigolettoOpera Review: Rigoletto from Grange Park Opera The box office success of this year’s Grange Park Opera festival was Rigoletto, sold out almost as soon as the schedule of performances was announced. Those who know the venue can readily imagine the way Rigoletto might play in a smallish (500 seat) house: just big enough for some of the spectacle that Verdi’s 1851 masterpiece demands... more>
img src="http://www.musicalcriticism.com/opera/roh-tosca-0611-update.jpg" alt="Tosca" width="100" height="100" />Opera Review: Martina Serafin and Marcello Giordani in Tosca (ROH) The cast taking on eight June performances for this latest revival of Tosca suffer, even before one steps into the Royal Opera House, by comparison with the starry trio of Gheorghiu, Kaufmann and Terfel, which forms the line-up for a couple of performances in July... more> DevinOpera Review: The Young Artists Summer Performance at the Royal Opera House Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of the Young Artists Summer Performance at the Royal Opera House was that there was nothing wrong with it. This is rare in opera houses where so many components can go wrong... more>
Gerald FinleyOpera Review: Gerald Finley excels in Glyndebourne's first Meistersinger Glyndebourne’s first-ever Meistersinger, in a production by David McVicar, is a stupendous achievement. It is a big and ambitious undertaking for any opera house, let alone for a summer festival that is limited in terms of scale and space, but the Glyndebourne production team have responded to the huge and many challenges with... more> TristanOpera Review: Grange Park dips into Wagner with Tristan und Isolde For their first foray into the intensely demanding, challenging and iconic world of Wagnerian opera, Grange Park chose Tristan und Isolde. They have tackled it in their fourteenth year of existence - a testament to the astonishing speed and vigour with which Grange Park has grown over the last few years - whereas it took Glyndebourne nearly 70... more>
Zurich OperaOpera Review: La Juive at Zurich Neil Shicoff, the Brooklyn-Born tenor who is a regular member of the Zürich Opera and the Wiener Staatsoper, has made La Juive a signature work for himself, and his performance as Eléazar is superbly impressive. (He repeated this role in Moscow this season.). It was director David Pountney’s conceit to take this story, originally set... more> Zurich OperaOpera Review: An Orff/Offenbach Double Bill at Zurich Die Kluge (The Wise Maiden) was first seen and heard at the Frankfurt Opera in 1943. Offenbach’s operettas were forbidden during the Third Reich, which made this an interesting double-bill. Die Kluge is a fairy-tale opera in the form of a Singspiel, with spoken dialogue. The accompaniment consisted of two pianos and a battery of percussive instruments. The music... more>
Don GiovanniOpera Review: Jonathan Kent's production of Don Giovanni is revived at Glyndebourne Jonathan Kent's 2010 production of Don Giovanni has been very swiftly revived this season. Its original Don and conductor – Gerald Finley and Vladimir Jurowski – are this year engaged in matters Wagnerian, so American baritone Lucas Meachem heads the fine cast... more> MacbethOpera Review: Pappano conducts Keenlyside and Monastyrska in Macbeth (ROH) In her programme essay for the Royal Opera's revival of Phyllida Lloyd's Macbeth (here performed in its revised 1865 version), Mary Jane Phillips lists the scenic requirements that were to make the Florence premiere of the opera's first version such a challenge. The list includes 'castles, a cave, a heath, a forest, a battlefield, a "magic" chair... more>
wishartOpera Review: Gerald Barry's The Intelligence Park in Dublin This concert performance of Gerald Barry's first opera, The Intelligence Park, was the first time the opera has been aired since its initial production twenty-one years ago at the Almeida Festival in London. A raucous and triumphant show, it was a salute to the first foray into opera by an.... more> A Midsummer Night's DreamOpera Review: Willard White in ENO's new Midsummer Night's Dream The irony of Christopher Alden's new production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is that in reading it as personal to its composer Benjamin Britten, he also takes it away from what the composer's own ideas about the piece must have been. For this is not The Dream but A Midsummer's Nightmare... more>
The Damnation of FaustOpera Reviews: Villazón returns to Werther and Terry Gilliam's ENO Damnation of Faust It was something of a coincidence that two of Goethe's seminal works – filtered through a very different pair of French composers – featured on London's two major opera stages on consecutive evenings. In the latest revival of... more> Katya KabanovaOpera Review: Janacek's Katya Kabanova with Angela Denkoke Why a director like the Swiss Christoph Marthaler is allowed to inflict his zombie-like, excruciatingly dull mises-en-scène on international opera productions is a mystery to me. It is not enough that he tends to place his productions in dull housing works or vacant rooms, or has his characters standing still, sometimes with their fronts or backs... more>
TurandotOpera Review: Puccini's Turandot returns home to La Scala, Milan I find Turandot luxuriously orchestrated, with some robustly effective finales, and certainly a colour palette that one doesn’t find in other Puccini works. But compared to the lush orientalism of Madama Butterfly, or the initimate, then grand, and more emotionally-involving La Bohème, or the tense dramatic flow of Tosca, the musical dramaturgy... more> AkhmatovaOpera Review: Mantovani's Akhmatova enjoys a successful world premiere in Paris The Bastille Opera in Paris has popular success on its hands with Akhmatova, a new, commissioned opera by the Italian composer Bruno Mantovani, to a libretto by Christophe Ghristi (in French). A ballet, Siddharta, by the same composer was produced in Paris last season... more>
Tsar's BrideOpera Review: Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride makes it to the Royal Opera House As the nation's Kate'n'Wills obsessives brace themselves for this month's Happily Ever After, Rimsky-Korsakov's Tsar's Bride presents rather different royal wedding preparations. Seen here for the first time ever at the Royal Opera House, the workis directed by Paul Curran in a high-gloss... more> WozzeckOpera Review: Levine's Wozzeck at the Met Greeted to the podium by a chorus of hoots and cheers, James Levine delivered a devastating performance of Berg's score last night. His Met Orchestra manages, as only the best orchestras do, to morph into a far greater sound-force than the sum of its parts. Hair aglow and... more>
FidelioOpera Review: Nina Stemme stars as Jürgen Flimm's Fidelio returns to Covent Garden Announcing that Beethoven's Fidelio is an opera with problems is a bit like pointing out the calorie-count of a deep-fried Mars Bar. Even its defenders tend to agree that, if a masterstroke at all, it will be so (in the words of one writer)... more> The Return of Ulysses at ENOOpera Review: ENO's new Return of Ulysses dazzles at the Young Vic Perhaps I should clarify right at the start that this was my first encounter with Monteverdi's Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria, whether in the original or vernacular language. The music is immediate and gripping. Although Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607)... more>
AidaOpera Review: Alagna and Borodina star as McVicar's Aida returns to Covent Garden When David McVicar's new Aida was unveiled at Covent Garden less than a year ago, it attracted little praise. I missed it first time round, but it seems some of its excesses have been toned down second time round. On this occasion, too, it boasts a cast that comes closer to the sort of... more> MikadoOpera Review: Jonathan Miller's production of The Mikado returns on its 25th anniversary Jonathan Miller's famous 1930s English hotel-set staging of Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Japanese' satire The Mikado is now twenty-five years old, and returns on its anniversary for yet another run with core cast retained (Richard Suart and Richard Angus as Ko-Ko and The Mikado respectively)... more>
NixonOpera Review: Nixon in China at the Met Nixon in China opens with Air Force One making its historic descent into Beijing. Once the Presidential party disembarks and the singing begins, it soon becomes apparent that the opera's libretto is still up in the clouds. For all the craft and intellectual sheen in Alice Goodman's symbolic poetry, its clever verses set in rhymed, metered couplets... more> ParsifalOpera Review: A welcome return to London's Coliseum for Nikolaus Lehnhoff's Parsifal In an ENO season that has led to a fair few grumblings regarding choice of directors, Nikolaus Lehnhoff's 1999 production of Parsifal returns to serve as an important reminder that specialist opera directors are far from the spent force the company management's decisions occasionally... more>
Lucrezia 3DOpera Review: ENO's controversial Lucrezia Borgia in 3D The event was trumpeted on ENO's website as 'The world's first live 3D opera': another dimension added to the now-familiar 'Live from the Met' format; another milestone in media history. Given the attention (some would say controversy) attracted by the production itself since its premiere, this particular night at the cinema... more> Kelli O'HaraReview: Kurt Weill's musicals Lost in the Stars and Knickerbocker Holiday return to New York City Maxwell Anderson, the popular and prolific American dramatist of the first half of the twentieth century, has not fared particularly well with posterity. The author of such long-running plays... more>
ParsifalOpera Review: Anna Nicole opens to a rapturous Royal Opera Mark-Anthony Turnage and Richard Thomas' long-awaited opera on the life of former Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith, Anna Nicole, turns out to have been well worth the wait. By turns riotous and sorrowful, farcical and principled, the opera set Covent Garden ablaze this.... more> Michael FabianoOpera Review: Lucrezia Borgia opens at ENO English National Opera's history of success in staging the bel canto repertoire is dealt no favours whatsoever with their new production of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia. The company that once delivered world-class performances from Rosalind Plowright and Janet Baker in a now-famous production of the same composer's Mary Stuart comes... more>
FanciullaOpera Review - Perspectives: The Met's La fanciulla del West Considering his well-documented fascination with American cowboy folklore, Giacomo Puccini must have been familiar with the phrase, "Go West, young man!" In 1907 the composer took this advice, if only as far as New York, and while there attended a Broadway play by American playwright David Belasco... more> FanciullaOpera Review - Perspectives: The Met's La fanciulla del West Puccini's La Fanciulla del West was the first of his operas to be premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (eight years prior to Il Trittico), and created an immediate sensation, eliciting nineteen curtain calls, making headlines in the press, and drawing international attention.  It helped that no expense... more>
ENO MakropulosOpera Review: The Makropulos Case at the ENO A suited bureaucrat sits in a mausoleum of a corporate atrium, meditatively chewing on a sandwich. A shoal of papers burst suddenly from the ceiling, eddying as they swim through the air and spread themselves across floor, table and chairs. The bureaucrat, unmoved, continues eating. Christopher Alden's... more> Pelleas et MelisandeOpera Review: Simon Rattle debuts at the Met with Pelléas et Mélisande featuring Finley and Kozená Beginning with its premiere performance of Pelléas et Mélisande in 1925, the Metropolitan Opera has consistently lavished first-rate conductors and singers on Debussy's enigmatic masterpiece... more>
TannhäuserOpera Review: Tim Albery's new Tannhäuser opens at the Royal Opera House Wagner's Tannhäuser, not seen at Covent Garden for some twenty-five years, makes a most welcome return to the Royal Opera with this new staging by Tim Albery. Its absence is perhaps understandable since, despite the enormous popularity of certain numbers (the overture, Wolfram's... more> Promised EndOpera Review: Alexander Goehr's Promised End brings Lear to Snape Maltings After the joyous light and shade of Britten?s Midsummer Night?s Dream on the Spring tour 2010, James Conway moved into a far darker area of the Shakespearean canon this autumn with a brand new opera and an ETO commission. King Lear is an opera project that has defeated many composers, Verdi and Britten ... more>
adogsheartOpera Review: Complicite and Raskatov's A Dog's Heart opens at the Coliseum A Dog's Heart is a collaboration between the director and choreographer Simon McBurney, his company Complicite, and the composer Alexander Raskatov. The opera is based on Mikhail Bulgakov's homonymous 1925 satire of early Soviet communism, a satire that uses the story of a bourgeois... more> NetrebkoOpera Review: Netrebko shines in Don Pasquale at the Met No one knows whether W.C. Fields was thinking of Don Pasquale when he delivered the phrase, "never give a sucker an even break." But when it comes to the plot of Donizetti's farce, the celebrated American comedian was right on target. Pasquale, the well-to-do elderly bachelor in this delightful... more>
MozartOpera Review: Royal Academy Opera's Così More often than not, Royal Academy Opera productions could be regarded as master classes for invention within modest monetary conditions. Their Così Fan Tutte is no exception: here too modest means create an entirely credible atmosphere which is often lacking in lavish... more> CosìOpera Review: William Christie's Così fan tutte at the Met On many fronts, the Metropolitan Opera's most recent production of Così Fan Tutte is elegant, streamlined and effective. Fiordiligi and Dorabella are Così young veterans Miah Persson and Isabel Leonard, known for their interpretation of the same roles at the 2009... more>
ddrianaOpera Review: Gheorghiu and Kaufmann star in Adriana Lecouvreur at the Royal Opera For an opera not seen at Covent Garden for over a century, Adriana Lecouvreur inspires a remarkable feeling of déjà vu. In his most famous opera, Francesco Cilea plays a fascinating but dangerous game in producing a work so layered with what John Snelson, in his programme... more> MattilaOpera Review: The Makropulos Case and a terrific Mattila conclude the SF Opera winter season The Makropulos Case, which premiered at the National Theatre Brno in 1926, was first seen in the US at the San Francisco Opera – forty years after Janacek composed it. This opera is back in California as the last piece of the winter season in an excellent co-production with... more>
DessìOpera Review: Butterfly at the SF Opera with Daniela Dessì Puccini's Madama Butterfly continues its run at the War Memorial Opera House with a scheduled change of cast: leading Italian soprano Daniela Dessì has taken up the title role from November 5th, and Bulgarian director Julian Kovatchev has substituted Maestro Nicola Luisotti for the remaining... more> Domingo CyranoOpera Review: Domingo stars in Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac at the SF Opera If it is possible to attend a performance of the almost-forgotten Cyrano de Bergerac by Franco Alfano, it is partly thanks to one who, in his more than 50-year long career, has devoted his life to opera. This is, of course, Plácido Domingo. As he himself explained during... more>
Don GiovanniOpera Review: Rufus Norris's new Don Giovanni opens at the London Coliseum English National Opera's admirable willingness giving theatre directors a break in the operatic world?a world still too often shrouded behind accusations of snobbery and an ivory-tower feeling of smug superiority?has brought both failure and success. If nothing else... more> L'isola diasabitataOpera Review: Haydn's L'isola disabitata provides a showcase for the Jette Parker Young Artists The current run of Haydn's L'isola disabitata [The desert island] at the Linbury Studio Theatre represents the first performances of this delightful opera at the Royal Opera House. The piece, a masterly chamber opera, is an excellent choice for performers in the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme and... more>
PapeOpera Broadcast Review: Boris Godunov with Papé at the Met Listening to mostly male voices (and basses at that) delivering recitatives and monologues in Russian for four and a half hours can be enough to, well, foment a revolution. Perhaps that's why master-orchestrator Rimsky-Korsakov twice revised Mussorgsky's bland musical score to Boris Godunov... more> Roméo et JulietteOpera Review: Beczala and Machaidze star in Roméo et Juliette at the Royal Opera London's been doing quite well for Gounod this Autumn, and the composer's version of Shakespeare's tale of star-crossed lovers follows on at the Royal Opera from his take on Goethe's Faust, which has only just closed at ENO. Both works keep a hold on the repertory despite the fact that... more>
ButterflyOpera Review: Butterfly shines at the SF Opera Like the success of Carmen with children, Butterfly's popularity with West Coast audiences is counterintuitive. Japanese immigration to California has, at least historically, been troubled - and that cannot make the chauvinism and racism with defines the interactions between Pinkerton and Cio-Cio San easier... more> Boris GodunovOpera Review: Boris Godunov with Pape at the Met Between Pushkin's Boris Godunov in 1825 and the first version of Musorgsky's opera (1869) there is gap of almost half a century. And not just any half century: the subject was made into high literature by Pushkin while its musical setting bears the mark of the age of Dostoevsky. In Musorsgky's crooked dramaturgy, the turning points... more>
RigolettoOpera Review: Hvorostovsky stars as McVicar's Rigoletto returns to Covent Garden Just hours after the announcement that Dame Joan Sutherland had passed away, Elaine Padmore took to the Covent Garden stage to dedicate this performance of Rigoletto to her memory. It was here that she had debuted as Gilda in 1957, and it was a fitting testimony that it was Patrizia Ciofi as Gilda who here... more> ButterflyOpera Review: Butterfly shines at the SF Opera Like the success of Carmen with children, Butterfly's popularity with West Coast audiences is counterintuitive. Japanese immigration to California has, at least historically, been troubled - and that cannot make the chauvinism and racism with defines the interactions between Pinkerton and Cio-Cio San easier... more>
RadamistoOpera Review: ENO's new production of Radamisto If we ignore Handel's music, David Alden's staging of Radamisto for the English National Opera might be considered as having merits. Alden is innovative, funny and shocking. However, such attributes can be destructive, if they contradict the dramatic content. Opinions are divided as to whether Alden destroys ... more> BoeschConcert Review: Don Giovanni in concert with Kate Royal, Florian Boesch and the SCO It was an exciting prospect when it was announced, the new season's opening concert featuring Robin Ticciati and a stellar cast in a concert performance of Mozart?s ever-black Don Giovanni. Since then, the death of Sir Charles Mackerras intervened, giving this performance a bittersweet flavour and lending the phrase. ... more>
De Niese and PisaroniOpera Review: De Niese and Pisaroni conquer the SF Opera in Le nozze di Figaro After more than two hundred years, Le nozze di Figaro still manages to keep audiences entertained in opera houses around the world – even more so when a terrific cast is combined with careful direction, able to exploit all the comic nuances of the opera without pushing them too far. This is precisely the case of this...more> NiobeOpera Review: Steffani's Niobe is revived at Covent Garden Agostino Steffani ? hardly the name on everyone's lips, even among the dedicated coterie of baroque enthusiasts. A contemporary of Corelli, his operas fit stylistically somewhere into the gap between Cavalli and Handel, relishing the last evocative flourishes of rusticity before baroque was polished and refined into its established forms...more>
by Robert WorkmanOpera Review: Jonathan Miller's La bohème is revived at ENO Jonathan Miller's simple and effective 1930s-set production of La bohème debuted in 2009 to positive reviews, and returns this week to ENO for its first revival. The show is scheduled to run intermittently over the next three months. The cast shares some members with the first run, though the front line is largely new... more> SFO AidaOpera Review: San Francisco Opera 2010-11 season opens with Aida It is another Verdian masterpiece that inaugurates the operatic season at the War Memorial Opera House. After Il trovatore in 2009, this year music director Nicola Luisotti opted for a monumental work from the repertoire: Aida. While there were both... more>
YvonneOpera Review: The new season at La Monnaie opens with Boesmans and Bondy's Yvonne Philippe Boesmans' new opera Yvonne, Princesse de Bourgogne is based on Witold Gombrowicz's 1935 play of the same name. Both play and opera use the story of a crown prince (Philippe in the opera) and his mute fiancé (Yvonne) to show how the sensations of desire and disgust are closely related, and to explore the idea... more> FaustOpera Review: ENO's new season opens with Toby Spence in a new production of Faust directed by Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff Starting as they intend to go on, English National Opera's 2010-11 season opened with a new production ? just one of ten this season ? of Gounod's Faust. It's a co-production with the Met... more>
SFO WertherOpera Review: Massenet's Werther at the SFO with Várgas and Coote With Werther Massenet was at considerable remove from the dramatic machinations of the grand style. Action is intimate and limited, focused on Werther to the exclusion of other characters. Charlotte and Werther's attachment to one another is unusually transparent, unmarked by intrigue or coups de théâtre. Director Franceso... more> Cosi fan tutteOpera Review: Rebecca Evans dazzles in the ROH's season-opening Cosi fan tutte To begin the season with yet another revival of Jonathan Miller's production of Così fan tutte – last seen earlier this year – almost made it seem like The Royal Opera wasn't quite taking it seriously, especially since ENO's season-opener is a new Faust and the Met's is the start of... more>
BlissEIF Opera Review: Brett Dean and Opera Australia's Bliss Peter Carey's loosely autobiographical novel Bliss was acclaimed for putting Australian literature 'on the map' when it arrived in 1981. The project of turning it into an opera has clearly been fired by an ambition to do something similar for Australian opera, and Australian art music in general.... more> La bohemeOpera Review: British Youth Opera's La boheme First things first: this is an excellent show. La Boheme is an opera all about the loves and tribulations of young people, and young people is whatBritish Youth Opera have in abundance: no wonder then that it is the single most-performed opera in BYO's 23 year history to date. But the company have not tackled the.... more>
MacbethOpera Review: Verdi's Macbeth revived at Glyndebourne What a difference a run of performances makes! I saw the Richard Jones Macbeth in May 2007 and thought it then a confection of interesting ideas, not fully realized and not particularly well sung (although the orchestral work even then, with Vladimir Jurowski in the pit, was fresh, thrilling... more> NozzeOpera Review: Le nozze di Figaro at Glimmerglass Opera It doesn't take an expensive wedding to produce a successful marriage. Glimmerglass Opera's new production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, while perhaps not entirely faithful to the composer's and librettist's original vows, injects something new and exciting into a Marriage whose looks over the years has grown somewhat predictable. It may not have been made in heaven... more>
Angela MeadeOpera Review: Caramoor Festival's Norma and Maria di Rohan This year at Caramoor, the lovely, verdant summer festival in Westchester, New York at a former estate, the bel canto experience was what could be described as hot and hotter. I refer not only to the singing, which was on the whole sizzling, but to the...more> Francesca da RiminiOpera Review: Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini at Opera Holland Park For several years now, Opera Holland Park's raison d'etre has been to revive neglected rarities of the verismo school of Italian opera. As much as one appreciates their efforts in other repertoire, it's projects like Montemezzi's L'amore dei tre Re and Mascagni's Iris for which... more>
TomorrowOpera Review: Hotel Pro Forma and The Knife's Tomorrow, in a year at the Barbican Formed out of four awkwardly soldered parts, the work is based around the life and thought of Charles Darwin, specifically, as follows: Darwin's journey on The Beagle and the environmental observations he made; the death of his young daughter Annie, and the notion of complex... more> ToscaOpera Review: Puccini's Tosca at Grange Park Lindsay Posner's production of Tosca for Grange Park Opera is in many ways emblematic of just how far, and how fast, artistic standards have developed at the third, and newest of the 'three G' country opera houses. It looks handsome (striking sets and brilliant use of all the available space by designer... more>
Eugene OneginOpera Review: The Bolshoi Opera performs Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at Covent Garden On the strength of this week's run of Eugene Onegin, presented by the Bolshoi Opera, I conclude – although perhaps with the risk of sounding slightly chauvinistic – that Russian operas are surely best performed by Russians. Of course, I do not know if the particular performance which I witnessed was better... more> CapriccioOpera Review: Strauss's Capriccio (Grange Park Opera) Thought provoking. Uncomfortable. Fascinating. And nearly perfect! Those were my thoughts about Grange Park's production of Strauss?s last opera as I wandered into the Hampshire night air after the last performance of the run, and a few days' reflection have merely confirmed... more>
Angela GheorghiuOpera Review: Angela Gheorghiu returns in Covent Garden's La traviata Sixteen years after her triumphant appearance as Violetta in the original showing of Sir Richard Eyre's production of Verdi's La traviata, and fourteen years after her last Covent Garden appearance in the opera, Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu returned to the Royal Opera for her.. more> TolomeoOpera Review: Handel's Tolomeo at Glimmerglass Opera No one need explain the subtleties of tragedy and comedy to Mel Brooks, who famously proclaimed, 'Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.' Glimmerglass Opera's farcical production of Handel's opera seria, Tolomeo, which received its North American premiere Sunday... more>
BevanOpera Review: Le Nozze di Figaro at Garsington Opera For its final season in the garden of Lady Ottoline Morrell's enchanting Oxfordshire Manor house, the ever-enterprising Garsington Opera, established in 1989 by the late Leonard Ingrams, included the opera with which the whole venture kicked off: Figaro. In 1989 it was Opera 80... more> MalfiOpera Review: ENO team up with Punchdrunk for The Duchess of Malfi There's no denying the effectiveness of Punchdrunk's Duchess of Malfi as theatre or spectacle. It is staged across three floors of a disused (but not derelict) office building in London?s Docklands, around which the audience ? wearing Comedia dell'Arte-style masks ? are free to roam... more>
SalomeOpera Review: David McVicar's Salome returns to Covent Garden with Angela Denoke After a poorly received new Aida and a revival of Le Nozze di Figaro, this second outing for David McVicar's 2008 Salome is the third of the Scottish director's productions to cross the boards of the Royal Opera House in as many months. In the hands of revival director Justin Way, it once again proudly... more> Don GiovanniOpera Review: Mozart's Don Giovanni (Opera Holland Park) Stephen Barlow's new Don Giovanni for Opera Holland Park is a curious creature ? gloss and assured sophistication jostle with basic technical issues, insight with bizarre directorial choices. It's as though director and cast have caught sight of a great production, but only... more>
Don GiovanniOpera Review: Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne The line-up looks outstanding. Vladimir Jurowski, Glyndebourne's music director, conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Gerald Finley singing the Don. Kate Royal singing Donna Elvira. Jonathan Kent, following up his wonderfully imaginative staging of the Fairy Queen of 2009, directing. The Glyndebourne Festival's ... more> Placido DomingoReview: Placido Domingo returns to the ROH for Simon Boccanegra Celebrating his 225th performance at Covent Garden, and his first in a baritone role, the legendary tenor Placido Domingo took to the stage as the title character in Verdi's Simon Boccanegra. It's a part he's always wanted to play: for years he's said he'd end his career with this opera, and he has spent the past season taking it to Berlin, Milan... more>
ToscaOpera Review: Tosca at Glimmerglass Ever since its first performance some 110 years ago, Tosca has commanded the attention of the listener's eyes as well as ears. Who can forget the vivid images of the interior of the Church of Sant'Andrea della Valle, the iconic candles-and-crucifix ritual following Scarpia's murder and the eerie pre-dawn calm preceding Cavaradossi's execution atop Castel Sant'Angelo... more> NozzeOpera Review: Le nozze di Figaro at Glimmerglass Opera It doesn't take an expensive wedding to produce a successful marriage. Glimmerglass Opera's new production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, while perhaps not entirely faithful to the composer's and librettist's original vows, injects something new and exciting into a Marriage whose looks over the years has grown somewhat predictable. It may not have been made in heaven... more>
Angela MeadeOpera Review: Caramoor Festival's Norma and Maria di Rohan This year at Caramoor, the lovely, verdant summer festival in Westchester, New York at a former estate, the bel canto experience was what could be described as hot and hotter. I refer not only to the singing, which was on the whole sizzling, but to the...more> Francesca da RiminiOpera Review: Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini at Opera Holland Park For several years now, Opera Holland Park's raison d'etre has been to revive neglected rarities of the verismo school of Italian opera. As much as one appreciates their efforts in other repertoire, it's projects like Montemezzi's L'amore dei tre Re and Mascagni's Iris for which they're most important... more>
Billy BuddOpera Review: Britten's Billy Budd provides a highlight at Glyndebourne For their first ever production of Britten's 'other' grand opera about the sea, Billy Budd in its revised two act version of 1960, Glyndebourne have pulled out all the stops. The set, beautifully designed by Christopher Oram, takes us onboard an authentic-looking man o'war...more> IdomeneoOpera Review: Katie Mitchell's new Idomeneo opens at the Coliseum At the end of Act 2 of Mozart's Idomeneo, the people flee the Cretan port in terror at the storm that the God Poseidon has sent as a punishment. For me, that moment epitomises why Katie Mitchell's new production of the piece for English National.... more>
Double BillOpera Review: A Double Bill for the Aldeburgh Festival For his second season as Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival, Pierre-Laurent Aimard has stuck to his modernist guns and has programmed an adventurous collation of old and – mostly – new music. Getting us off with a bang was a double bill of one act operas – Recital 1... more> MacbethOpera Review: Paul Daniel leads a provocative new Macbeth at La Monnaie Two years after what from all reports seems to have been an equally divisive Médée (Cherubini's version that is, not Dusapin's), Krzysztof Karlikowski seeks with this Macbeth to create a disquisition on evil as a human phenomenon, specifically as it foreshadows, plays out in, and recalls... more>
Carmen ROHOpera Review: Carmen at the Royal Opera House You know it must be summer when three separate productions of Carmen are staged simultaneously in London. Alongside the all-singing, all-dancing, cast-of-thousands extravaganza at the O2 Arena, and Opera Holland Park's small-but-perfectly-formed offering, is another revival of Francesca Zambello's... more> Glyndebourne CosiOpera Review: Così fan tutte at Glyndebourne Nicholas Hytner's production for Glyndebourne of Mozart's third and last comic opera written by da Ponte, Cosi fan tutte, won high praise when it premiered in 2006. I saw it at the time and enjoyed the clean visual lines, the elegance of a set that converted easily, by human hand, from ante-room... more>
Billy BuddOpera Review: Britten's Billy Budd provides a highlight at Glyndebourne For their first ever production of Britten's 'other' grand opera about the sea, Billy Budd in its revised two act version of 1960, Glyndebourne have pulled out all the stops. The set, beautifully designed by Christopher Oram, takes us onboard an authentic-looking man o'war...more> FanciullaOpera Review: Luisotti's La fanciulla del West shines at the San Francisco Opera La fanciulla del West premiered in New York in 1910. One hundred years later, it remains a problematic work from many perspectives: its colonialist tinge, which embarrasses us sitting comfortably in the theatre; its exotic representation of the America of the far west; and – perhaps more seriously – a libretto full of... more>
StemmeOpera Review: A successful Walküre with Stemme and Westbroek at the SF Opera Those few seconds of expectant silence between the final chord and start of the applause could only have meant one thing: it was a triumph. Once the curtain fell for Die Walküre's first night, the audience at the War Memorial House needed a few moments to go back to reality and realize that what they experienced had...more> CarmenOpera Review: Rinat Shaham in Baden-Baden's Carmen Teodor Currentzis, the non-instrumentalist Greek conductor- composer, who during the last few years as Musical Director of the Novosibirks Opera, splendid but totally underfunded, brought it to internationally acceptable standards, where he even had Wozzeck performed...more>
LAO RingOpera Review: The LA Ring's Götterdämmerung The first two chords of Götterdämmerung—known to motive-o-philes as Brünnhilde's Awakening, or simply Awakening—are justly revered. When that bald Eb-minor chord, a heartstopping bellow in the brass, resolves to the most languid of Cb-major arpeggios, with its seemingly endless ascent into the stratosphere of the upper strings and winds...more> The Pearl FishersOpera Review: Alfie Boe in The Pearl Fishers at ENO Although possibly known by many opera lovers only for its famous duet 'Au fond du temple saint' ('Deep in the holy temple') of the male protagonists Nadir and Zurga – friends but rivals in their love for priestess Leila – Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers) is tuneful, easy on the ears and thus has endured...more>
Faust SFOOpera Review: Gounod's Faust at the SF Opera with Relyea and Racette Despite the absence of a definitive critical edition, Gounod's Faust remains one of the most performed operas from the French repertoire. As the inaugurating piece for the San Francisco Opera summer season, this Faust came across as a mixed experience. Contributing to its success were John Relyea and Patricia Racette, whose... more> LAO SiegfriedOpera Review: The LA Ring continues with Siegfried The Little Prince by way of…Hagrid? In director Achim Freyer's new Ring production for Los Angeles' first-ever complete run of the cycle, Siegfried looked like a Warhol-silkscreened, stereoid-inflated version of Saint-Exupéry’s hero, at least from the waist up; from the waist down, he could have been a refugee from Sendak's... more>
Martin BirdOpera Review: Scottish Opera's 5:15 in Glasgow Five operatic vignettes; roughly fifteen minutes a throw (and roughly fifteen musicians a show): that's the Five:15 deal from Scottish Opera that sold out both the Traverse run in Edinburgh, and the Òran Mór run in Glasgow. Since you'd expect a mixed bag with such a venture, pairing composers and writers in (for.... more> LAO WalkureOpera Review: The LA Ring continues with Die Walküre In one of the conferences that make up part of the gargantuan Los Angeles Ring Festival already underway as LA Opera moves through its first complete Ring cycle, a telling point of contrast was registered between this production and others more familiar to Continental audiences. David Levin... more>
LA RingOpera Review: The controversial LA Ring opens successfully with Das Rheingold In a word: dangerous. Los Angeles' first-ever complete staging of Wagner’s Ring cycle, directed by Bertolt Brecht protégé Achim Freyer, hangs on the edge of a knife—and the fiscal, cultural, and political, stakes for the West Coast are exceedingly high. The stage says it all. Chiefly composed of a...more> RheingoldOpera Review: Das Rheingold at La Scala with René Pape 2013 will be the bicentenary of Richard Wagner's (as well as Verdi's) birth. To celebrate the German composer, La Scala is staging a new production of the Ring which will span over four seasons, with the Tetralogy being performed in its entirety in June 2013. This is certainly something to look forward to, especially... more>
SchrottOpera Review: Erwin Schrott returns in Covent Garden's Le nozze di Figaro A young cast headed by Erwin Schrott came together for this second revival of David McVicar's production of Le nozze di Figaro at Covent Garden. And while the vocal elements aren't of the highest quality, the feeling of ensemble and the imagination of the direction make for a highly... more> RheingoldOpera Review: Vera Nemirova's Ring gets underway with Das Rheingold in Frankfurt Oper Frankfurt's new Ring gets off to a very promising start with this Rheingold, directed with effective and elegant economy by Vera Nemirova. The young Bulgarian director has been carving out an important career in several German houses. Nemirova attracted attention earlier in the season... more>
Don CarloOpera Review: David McVicar's Don Carlo at Oper Frankfurt This was the first night of a second run of revivals for David McVicar's 2007 Don Carlo at Oper Frankfurt, and it's easy to see why the house has been so keen to bring it back so often and quickly; it returns early next season, too. McVicar chooses to place all the action—which in the five-act version takes in a variety of locations in two countries... more> Billy BuddOpera Review: Richard Jones's Billy Budd at Oper Frankfurt Frankfurt is proving to be something of an outpost for British opera. The unveiling of Richard Jones's Billy Budd in 2007 was followed by The Rape of Lucretia in 2008, while 2010 has already seen new productions of Owen Wingrave and The Tempest. This apparent predisposition notwithstanding... more>
ToscaOpera Review: ENO's new production of Tosca English National Opera's last attempt to stage Puccini's Tosca was a rather gloomy production by none other than David McVicar back in 2002, and it hasn't been seen much since. So this new staging by Catherine Malfitano – the soprano who famously performed the role in a live telecast around the world filmed in the original Rome locations indicated... more> La fille du regimentOpera Review: La Fille du regiment returns to Covent Garden with Florez and Dessay This performance of Donizetti's Opéra Comique, La Fille du Régiment, was the first revival of the production at the Royal Opera House since it opened to great acclaim in 2007. However, by virtue of the fact that it is a co-production with the Vienna State Opera... more>
TraviataOpera Review: Jaho, Pirgu and Hvorostovsky in La Traviata at the Royal Opera House Now creeping towards its twentieth birthday, Richard Eyre's 1994 production of La Traviata has been a reliable fixture of recent seasons, playing host to some stellar performances. This season, the stars are fairly evenly distributed between two casts... more> A Midsummer Night's DreamOpera Review: ETO's A Midsummer Night's Dream James Conway created this production of Britten’s only Shakespeare opera in the spring of 2004 and I saw it at the time: it made a vivid impression. Six years later I can only say that it has matured magnificently into a convincing, thoughtful, clever piece of music theatre that brings... more>
Il GiasoneOpera Review: Cavalli's Il Giasone at the Royal Academy of Music The Venetian composer Francesco Cavalli was a colleague and friend – and earlier possibly also a student – of Monteverdi. This may explain why some of the love duets for Giasone and Medea in Cavalli's Il Giasone may remind audiences of those for Nero and Poppea in Monteverdi's Coronation of Poppea... more> Don PasqualeOpera Review: ETO performs Donizetti's Don Pasquale William Oldroyd's production of Donizetti's late and perfectly constructed comic masterpiece Don Pasquale is now well into its ETO tour and must be judged as properly run-in, with rough edges smoothed off. This being the case, it was surprising on its opening night at Snape Maltings to find so much about the evening that was... more>
don quichotteOpera Review: Massenet's Don Quichotte with Marc Minkowski in Brussels Massenet's work, in fact, bears only an indirect relation to Cervantes' novel. Here, Dulcinée not only appears, but takes a central role as inspiration behind the knight's exploits, and as mischievous central presence in her own right. Across just under... more> DomingoOpera Review: Domingo and Harteros in Simon Boccanegra at La Scala Plácido Domingo's Simon Boccanegra has arrived at Teatro Alla Scala in Milan. After debuting as the Doge in Berlin in 2009 and at the Met in New York earlier this year, the Spanish singer is currently singing the title role of Verdi's opera in a series of performances in Milan... more>
Elegy for Young LoversOpera Review: Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers at the Young Vic with ENO The combination of Henze's chamber opera, Fiona Shaw's staging and the venue itself make for a riveting theatrical event in this latest joint venture between the English National Opera and the Young Vic. The stage is not the usual conventional... more> AidaOpera Review: Verdi's Aida returns to Covent Garden in a new production The Royal Opera's new production of Verdi's Aida was a hotly-anticipated event, and the audience – which included Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall – was scarcely less starry than the cast. Unfortunately, though, David McVicar's staging is not the overwhelming... more>
Don PasqualeOpera Review: ETO performs Donizetti's Don Pasquale William Oldroyd's production of Donizetti's late and perfectly constructed comic masterpiece Don Pasquale is now well into its ETO tour and must be judged as properly run-in, with rough edges smoothed off. This being the case, it was surprising on its opening night at Snape Maltings to find so much about the evening that was... more> Il GiasoneOpera Review: Cavalli's Il Giasone at the Royal Academy of Music The Venetian composer Francesco Cavalli was a colleague and friend – and earlier possibly also a student – of Monteverdi. This may explain why some of the love duets for Giasone and Medea in Cavalli's Il Giasone may remind audiences of those for Nero and Poppea in Monteverdi's Coronation of Poppea... more>
don quichotteOpera Review: Massenet's Don Quichotte with Marc Minkowski in Brussels Massenet's work, in fact, bears only an indirect relation to Cervantes' novel. Here, Dulcinée not only appears, but takes a central role as inspiration behind the knight's exploits, and as mischievous central presence in her own right. Across just under... more> DomingoOpera Review: Domingo and Harteros in Simon Boccanegra at La Scala Plácido Domingo's Simon Boccanegra has arrived at Teatro Alla Scala in Milan. After debuting as the Doge in Berlin in 2009 and at the Met in New York earlier this year, the Spanish singer is currently singing the title role of Verdi's opera in a series of performances in Milan... more>
Elegy for Young LoversOpera Review: Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers at the Young Vic with ENO The combination of Henze's chamber opera, Fiona Shaw's staging and the venue itself make for a riveting theatrical event in this latest joint venture between the English National Opera and the Young Vic. The stage is not the usual conventional... more> AidaOpera Review: Verdi's Aida returns to Covent Garden in a new production The Royal Opera's new production of Verdi's Aida was a hotly-anticipated event, and the audience – which included Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall – was scarcely less starry than the cast. Unfortunately, though, David McVicar's staging is not the overwhelming... more>
bohemeOpera Review: Scottish Opera and Stewart Laing's La Bohème When Stuart Laing's production of Puccini's hugely popular masterpiece was first staged in 2004, the Scottish Executive had just told Scottish Opera: 'your tiny budget is frozen'. It was just before a performance of La Bohème–ten minutes before going on stage, according to contemporary... more> MedeaOpera Review: Sasha Waltz and Dusapin's Medea from La Monnaie Pascal Dusapin and the choreographer Sasha Waltz adapted the play in 1992 for dancers, coloratura soprano, vocal quartet, mixed chorus, and small string orchestra with harpsichord and organ. The resulting opera — really it's an oratorio for solo voice with important dance elements — is as strange and as interesting... more>
Graham-HallOpera Review: Scottish Opera and Opera North joint production of The Adventures of Mr Broucek There is much to admire in Scottish Opera's Adventures of Mr Broucek (mounted in collaboration with Opera North), a new production which completes a cycle of Janácek operas begun thirty years ago. Intelligently paired with Puccini's La Boheme, Mr Broucek (the name translates as 'beetle')... more> Budapest Opera HouseOpera Feature: Parsifal and Der Rosenkavalier at the Budapest Opera House Parsifal is performed in the Budapest Opera House each year on Good Friday and once or twice more within a few days. More often than not, the same cast and conductor appeared the year before (and many years before), ever since Parsifal was first staged in communist Hungary in... more>
National Theatre of MiskolcOpera Review: A rare production of The Land of Smiles in Hungary Although it is classed as an operetta, Franz Lehár's Das Land des Lächelns (The Land of Smiles) needs opera singers to do justice to its rich operatic score. The 1929 composition was a revision of the earlier Die gelbe Jacke (The Yellow Jacket), written in 1923, and it was a result of Lehár's... more> Colin LeeOpera Review: Il turco in Italia provides the perfect Easter fare at the Royal Opera House Not for nothing does Rossini quote Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte in Il turco in Italia: like Mozart's great comedies, the opera thrives on its moral ambiguity. Who's in the right? Certainly not Fiorilla, the flirtatious Italian girl, nor her grumpy, neglectful husband... more>
Vixen (Photo © Royal Opera/Johan Persson)Opera Review: Janácek's The Cunning Little Vixen returns to the Royal Opera House Although Bill Bryden's beautiful staging of The Cunning Little Vixen for the Royal Opera House is almost twenty years old, and the first night of the current production represented the opening of the third revival as well as the production's twenty-first performance... more> Anyone Can WhistleReview: Sondheim's Anyone Can Whistle at the Jermyn St Theatre Of all of Sondheim's Broadway musicals, Anyone Can Whistle is one of the most enigmatic. Closing after just nine performances, its original production in 1964 still managed to become the stuff of legend thanks to the original cast album, which documents the performances of that fine group of actors... more>
Gounod San DiegoOpera Review: Gounod's Roméo et Juliette at the San Diego Opera On March 13, San Diego Opera continued its 2010 season with the opening performance of Charles Gounod's Roméo et Juliette. Previously seen in 1973 and 1998, this is the third production of Gounod's tragic love story in the company's history. The big news this time around, was the double debut of husband and wife singers Stephen Costello... more> KatyaOpera Review: David Alden's new Katya Kabanova opens at ENO David Alden's production of Katya Kabanova at the English National Opera – co-produced with Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Lisbon and Teatr Wielki-Opera Narodowa, Warsaw – has been greatly anticipated and was enthusiastically received by the first night audience. The success was well deserved... more>
Terfel and Gheorghiu in ToscaOpera Review: Comic operas by Kunneke and Berlioz in Berlin and Paris Keeping the flame of comic opera burning is the responsibility of two theatres sharing the same name in Paris and Berlin. It is a great responsibility, and requires state and city subsidies, as aficionados of this limited genre today could hardly be expected to keep these two theatres open solely through ticket... more> IsmeneOpera Review: Marianne Pousseur stunning in Aperghis' Ismène The 2008 edition of the festival had seen the premiere of a remarkable collaborative work based on the left wing Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos' Ismène. The homonymous opera for solo voice and electronic score was 'created' by Marianne Pousseur and Enrico Bagnoli under the auspices of the theatre... more>
Albert HerringOpera Review: Britten's Albert Herring is stunning in John Copley's Royal Academy production With veteran stage director John Copley in charge, I expected high standards at the Royal Academy Opera's production of Albert Herring. However, I was astonished to find such a level of competence both on the stage and in the orchestra pit, which could be the envy of many.... more> RienziOpera Review: Wagner's Rienzi triumphs as Meistersinger disappoints in Berlin Wagner's Rienzi (1842) is seldom staged today. It is very long, lasting over five hours. It is not filled with Wagner's most distinguished music, despite the fact that the glorious Der fliegende Holländer followed just three months later at the same Dresden Court Theatre — now the Semper Oper. Some critics... more>
TamerlanoOpera Review: A Domingo-less Tamerlano fails to please at Covent Garden Emerging from the Royal Opera House after four and a half hours of the much-hyped, long-awaited Tamerlano, the absence of Domingo was the very least of many disappointments. Ill-conceived and poorly executed, Graham Vick's production is as monochrome as its colour scheme: a tragedy in all the wrong ways... more> AttilaOpera Review: Riccardo Muti makes an auspicious Met debut in Verdi's Attila New York's Metropolitan Opera is currently presenting Verdi's ninth opera, Attila, in a deluxe, only partially successful new production.  Originally premiered at the 'Teatro La Fenice' in Venice in 1846, it is a problematic work in many ways, and cannot compare with the composer's greatest scores... more>
Nelly MiricioiuOpera Review: Damrau and Flórez in the Met's La Fille du Régiment Laurent Pelly's revival of La Fille du Régiment returned to the Met for its 101st performance on 19 February. A boisterous tomboy, raised by a group of soldiers from the 21st Regiment, is forced to assume all the airs and graces of an aristocrat. Donizetti's humorous plot and delightful score has... more> SatyagrahaOpera Review: ENO's most successful contemporary opera production gets revived ENO and the Met's co-production of Philip Glass' 1980 semi-narrative opera on Mahatma Gandhi, Satyagraha, premiered to great acclaim in London in 2007 before travelling to New York for a similarly successful run in 2009. It returns with great fanfare to the Coliseum this month, announced... more>
The GamblerOpera Review: The Gambler opens at Covent Garden Without doubt, Richard Jones's production of Prokofiev's opera The Gambler makes for an exciting, even fascinating theatrical event. However, some of the story line of the libretto is problematic, and – although powerful – Prokofiev's score is not immediate. The libretto is based on Dostoevsky's novel, which is a dark... more> The Elixir of LoveOpera Review: The Elixir of Love opens at ENO It was interesting to return to ENO within a week of having seen their Lucia di Lammermoor for a new production of The Elixir of Love. Donizetti's two most famous works span the generic spectrum, with Lucia at the most melodramatic end and Elixir at the most comic. And yet, just as Lucia was paced too leadenly for the visceral... more>
Nelly MiricioiuOpera Review: Nelly Miricioiu and Alan Opie in La traviata (Queen Elizabeth Hall) It was a shame that legendary soprano Nelly Miricioiu was unwell, because this performance of Verdi’s La traviata was to be a celebration of her tenth anniversary of appearing with the Chelsea Opera Group. But not even the infection – which was clearly so bad that she was almost forced to pull out... more> DomingoOpera Review: Domingo in Simon Boccanegra at the Met "It's good to be the king," proclaims a pompous Louis XVI (a.k.a. Mel Brooks) in the 1981 comedy flick, History of the World, Part I. While few would argue the wisdom of Brooks' iconic catch-phrase, the Met's February 6 performance of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra suggests that it may be even better to be Plácido Domingo... more>
Cosi fan tutteOpera Review: Jonathan Miller's Cosi fan tutte returns to Covent Garden The term 'classic production', while it encompasses some of the operatic greats, nevertheless often brings with it a sense of rigidity, of works frozen in a heyday increasingly removed from contemporary sensibilities. Among those directors whose works tend towards the 'classic' Jonathan Miller currently... more> Anna ChristyOpera Review: Lucia di Lammermoor is revived at ENO There are many striking images and ideas in David Alden's production of Lucia di Lammermoor, currently being revived for the first time by English National Opera. Alden views the Lucia-Enrico relationship in an alarming light, with a mixture of paedophilia (in the depiction of Lucia as a young, innocent girl... more>
The GamblerOpera Review: The Gambler opens at Covent Garden Without doubt, Richard Jones's production of Prokofiev's opera The Gambler makes for an exciting, even fascinating theatrical event. However, some of the story line of the libretto is problematic, and – although powerful – Prokofiev's score is not immediate. The libretto is based on Dostoevsky's novel, which is a dark... more> The Elixir of LoveOpera Review: The Elixir of Love opens at ENO It was interesting to return to ENO within a week of having seen their Lucia di Lammermoor for a new production of The Elixir of Love. Donizetti's two most famous works span the generic spectrum, with Lucia at the most melodramatic end and Elixir at the most comic. And yet, just as Lucia was paced too leadenly for the visceral... more>
Anna ChristyOpera Review: Lucia di Lammermoor is revived at ENO There are many striking images and ideas in David Alden's production of Lucia di Lammermoor, currently being revived for the first time by English National Opera. Alden views the Lucia-Enrico relationship in an alarming light, with a mixture of paedophilia (in the depiction of Lucia as a young, innocent girl... more> DomingoOpera Review: Domingo in Simon Boccanegra at the Met "It's good to be the king," proclaims a pompous Louis XVI (a.k.a. Mel Brooks) in the 1981 comedy flick, History of the World, Part I. While few would argue the wisdom of Brooks' iconic catch-phrase, the Met's February 6 performance of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra suggests that it may be even better to be Plácido Domingo... more>
elektraOpera Review: A stunning Elektra from Brussels The production is set roughly in the forties — the servants wear army uniforms apposite to the period, whilst the opening scene takes place in a locker room used by the serving women — but the period and context are not shoved down the audience's throats. It is rather the complex psychological compulsions... more> Toby SpenceOpera Review: The Royal Opera revives The Rake's Progress Although I am familiar with Ninette de Valois' beautiful ballet – her 'Homage to Hogarth' – of the same title, I had not heard The Rake's Progress until the Royal Opera House's current revival (of their July 2008 production). I cannot make comparisons with past stagings of this... more>
RosenkavalierOpera Review: Renee Fleming and Susan Graham in the Met's Rosenkavalier 'What a drag it is getting old,' reads the opening line of The Rolling Stones' 1965 hit, Mother's Little Helper – a sentiment echoed, with greater subtlety perhaps, by the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. But Saturday's Metropolitan Opera performance of the Strauss masterpiece – led by a handsome pair of singer... more> Opera Review: Elina Garanca and Roberto Alagna in the Met's Carmen It is often said that we are the sum total of the decisions we make in our lives. Indeed, when Don José sheds his honor, his soul and even his mother for the beguiling gypsy, audiences generally hold him accountable for his poor choices even while dutifully mindful of the nature and power of his addiction... more>
The Tales of Hoffmann with Anna NetrebkoOpera Review: Anna Netrebko in the Met's new Les Contes d'Hoffmann Much of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann ('Tales of Hoffmann') remains shrouded in a fog of uncertainty. The same can be said, perhaps, of E.T.A. Hoffmann's bizarre tales upon which the opera is based. In this new Metropolitan Opera production, Director Bartlett Sher takes a cue from Stanley Kubrick and keeps the... more> ElektraOpera Review: Susan Bullock and Deborah Voigt in the Met's Elektra Richard Strauss' monumental Elektra returned to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on December 10. The production, designed by Otto Schenk, with sets and costumes by Jürgen Rose and lighting by Gil Wechsler, was originally unveiled in 1992, and featured the late Hildegard Behrens... more>
RosenkavalierOpera Review: Der Rosenkavalier revived at Covent Garden with Soile Isokoski A couple of years off its hundredth birthday, Der Rosenkavalier shows no signs of losing its iron grip on the standard repertory. Long a scourge of modernists, for whom it represents Richard Strauss's retreat from the advanced musical languages of Salome and Elektra, it is now grudgingly admired as a supremely... more> La bohemeOpera Review: John Copley's classic ROH staging of La boheme returns The sight of a sheepish member of an opera's production team on stage pre-show is a familiar fixture of cold and flu season. While any last minute casting changes usually provoke disappointed rustlings from the audience, to my mind the worst scenario to be faced with is a singer who is determined... more>
RosenkavalierOpera Review: Der Rosenkavalier revived at Covent Garden with Soile Isokoski A couple of years off its hundredth birthday, Der Rosenkavalier shows no signs of losing its iron grip on the standard repertory. Long a scourge of modernists, for whom it represents Richard Strauss's retreat from the advanced musical languages of Salome and Elektra, it is now grudgingly admired as a supremely... more> La bohemeOpera Review: John Copley's classic ROH staging of La boheme returns The sight of a sheepish member of an opera's production team on stage pre-show is a familiar fixture of cold and flu season. While any last minute casting changes usually provoke disappointed rustlings from the audience, to my mind the worst scenario to be faced with is a singer who is determined... more>
From the house of the deadOpera Review: From the House of the Dead at the New York Met The Met's current production of Janácek's From the House of the Dead enlists the work of none other than the amazing Patrice Chéreau (the buzzwords 1976, Ring cycle and Bayreuth are enough these days to send shivers of delight down any opera lover's spine) and Esa-Pekka Salonen on the podium... more> The Tsarina's SlippersOpera Review: The Tsarina's Slippers at Covent Garden Folk music pervades the whole of Tchaikovsky's score for Cherevichki, being performed by The Royal Opera for the first time this month under the title of The Tsarina's Slippers, so it's logical that Francesca Zambello's staging takes its cue from the iconography of Russian folklore. Mikahil Mokrov's backcloths show stylised... more>
SemeleOpera review: Semele with Sir Charles Mackerras The most impressive ingredient of the Royal Academy Opera's Semele is its musicality throughout the performance. Sir Charles Mackerras, surely the greatest Handelian of our time, utilised his immense knowledge and experience, and the young singers and instrumentalists of the Royal Academy of Music responded... more> AriodanteOpera review: Ariodante with English Touring Opera Exploiting its repertoire of Handel productions assembled over the last six years, ETO chose this year to give us a Handelfest. It was possible to see all five of Alcina, Ariodante, Flavio, Teseo and Tolomeo in London, Malvern, Exeter and Cambridge and that would have been a Fest indeed: over 14 hours of Handel’s... more>
NovemberOpera review: Bluebeard's Castle and The Rite of Spring at ENO The orchestra of the English National Opera plays magnificently for their double bill of Bartók's Duke Bluebeard's Castle and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. But stage director's Daniel Kramer's concept of Bartók's opera verges on the unacceptable. The problem is that Kramer did not direct either Béla Balázs's libretto or, indeed... more> TurandotOpera review: Turandot at the Met In the end, it was neither love nor the flames of passion that defrosted the Ice Princess, Turandot – it was Franco Zeffirelli's hot, opulent sets and glorious pageantry. Not that anyone's complaining, mind you. The Met's over-the-top production, which is rumored to have cost $1.5 million when this extravaganza first opened in 1987, must be seen to... more>
The Good CompanionsMusical Theatre Review: The BBC Concert Orchestra performs Johnny Mercer's The Good Companions As part of the celebrations for Johnny Mercer's centenary, the BBC Concert Orchestra mounted two semi-staged performances of his final stage musical, The Good Companions, at the Watford Colosseum. Conductor John Wilson – who led... more> WozzeckOpera Review: Wozzeck at WNO Wozzeck is not an opera for everyone, as the people who left after the first scene – a full twelve minutes into Thursday night's show – will testify. However you package it, it remains a bleak tale of madness, exploitation and infidelity that opens with despair and ends with death. Many of the most successful productions of recent years however (I'm thinking... more>
TristanOpera Review: Tristan und Isolde at Covent Garden The first new production of the current season, this Tristan und Isolde sees Royal Opera Music Director Antonio Pappano collaborate again with German director Christof Loy just months after their Lulu, premiered in May. There was some hope that this new staging would erase the memories of Herbert Wernicke's... more> La traviataOpera Review: Alfie Boe in WNO's La traviata Whether it's an audience survey of the best-loved operas or a statistical survey of the most-performed, over the years Verdi's La Traviata has proved a permanent fixture in the top ten – often even the top three. With ubiquity like this comes an additional pressure in production, particularly... more>
TeseoOpera Review: Teseo continues English Touring Opera's landmark Handelfest That a major company such as English Touring Opera would consider a season devoted entirely to Handel is a sign of just how far we have come in the past few decades. It was not so very long ago that even the Handelian warhorses – Rodelinda, Giulio Cesare, Orlando – were real rarities on the international... more> Gianni SchicchiOpera Review: The Royal Opera's Double Bill of L'Heure espagnole and Gianni Schicchi Entering the interior of the Royal Opera House on Saturday night my attention was immediately arrested. What had so struck me, leaving me shocked and amused in about equal measure, was not the familiar grandeur of the gold and red décor, nor even the varied attire... more>
AidaOpera Broadcast Review: Aida at the New York Met with Urmana, Botha and Zajick The Ethiopians weren't the only ones to go down during the October 24 Metropolitan Opera HD Live Simulcast of Aïda Saturday – a few actors joined the carnage as well. As high-tech cameras panned in on the (mostly unsuspecting) faces of principal singers, an audience completely... more> Damrau FlorezOpera Review: La fille du régiment at the SF Opera shines with Damrau and Flórez Laurent Pelly's famous production of La fille du régiment, first seen in Covent Garden in 2006, finally arrived in San Francisco. This made this occasion an important one for the West Coast opera world. But even more, what makes this production special is the presence of two... more>
Elizabeth WattsOpera Review: Elizabeth Watts stars in Arne's Artaxerxes There is always something slightly suspicious about musical works that have languished unperformed in the archives. Usually they have remained there for good reason; the work is not terribly good, or so unwieldy in its technical and practical demands as to render performance more of a mission than a masterpiece... more> TancrediOpera Review: Rebecca Evans returns with The Turn of the Screw under Sir Charles Mackerras Over half a century ago, Sir Charles Mackerras participated in the first performances of The Turn of the Screw, and now he's returning to English National Opera – the company of which he used to be Music Director – to lead a revival of David McVicar's production, first seen in the UK... more>
TancrediOpera Review: Tancredi at the Opera Boston with Ewa Podles The first performance of Tancredi in Venice's Teatro La Fenice in 1813 launched Rossini's career. The theatre, following a fire, was rebuilt toward the end of the eighteenth century—and burnt to the ground again in 1836. A third La Fenice, the phoenix, has stood ever since, the site... more> The Rake's ProgressOpera Review: Robert Lepage's production of The Rake's Progress in Brussels Robert Lepage's captivating production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress updates the scenario to an early-fifties America defined largely along two axes. Those axes mirror the dual moral worlds the characters inhabit; the innocent rural idyll frames Anne, Trulove, and Tom before-the-fall's decency on the on hand, and... more>
TolomeoOpera Review: Tolomeo launches ETO's Handelfest The 400-seat Britten Theatre of the Royal College of Music is an excellent venue for Handel's Tolomeo. There is no chorus in this opera; the five solo singers and orchestra have to convey the drama. Although the story itself is a bit of a let-down at the end – it is hard to see the reason for the forgiveness and happy ending all... more> SalomeOpera Review: San Francisco Opera's Salome It was a powerful performance that the San Francisco Opera brought on stage with Salome. Nicola Luisotti took up the challenge to give life to one of the most shocking Biblical stories as imagined by Oscar Wilde and Richard Strauss. And, if not consistent in all its elements, this Salome was an intense spectacle with many... more>
ToscaOpera Broadcast Review: Tosca at the Met It may be too early to argue the relative merits of experiencing opera live in the theater and watching it live via high-definition simulcast broadcast, but one thing's for certain: the more you see, the greater your vision. Luc Bondy and his production team have been maligned repeatedly in the media, partly over his remodeling of a beloved... more> AbductionOpera Review: The Abduction from the Seraglio at the San Francisco Opera When the curtain rose on Act II of San Francisco Opera’s current production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, and Anna Christy’s Blonde began to wrap Peter Rose’s Osmin — and his underlings, and the entire audience at the War Memorial Opera House — around her petite finger, the production suddenly came to life... more>
Carmen Opera Review: Elina Garanca and Roberto Alagna excel in Covent Garden's Carmen The Royal Opera opened its 2008-2009 season with a performance of Don Giovanni for which the tickets were made available through the Sun newspaper as a reader offer, heavily subsidised by The Helen Hamlyn Trust. Entitled 'the Paul Hamlyn First Night', the initiative, which was designed... more> TurandotOpera Review: Turandot at the ENO with Blanck and Echalaz There will be those who absolutely hate ENO's new production of Puccini's last opera, Turandot, and there will be those, like me, who will find some things to like, a few to admire even, and a great deal of stage cliché and kitsch over which to cast a weary eye. Let us start with the good bits. The ENO Chorus is on terrific form... more>
TritticoOpera Review: Puccini's Il trittico at San Francisco Opera Not since 1952 has the San Francisco audience had the chance to attend a performance of Puccini's three one-act operas. This Trittico, in a production originally presented at the New York City Opera, revealed itself to be a somewhat uneven achievement. Nonetheless, several moments of great dramatic and vocal mastery... more> Le grand macabreOpera Review: Ligeti's Le grand macabre at ENO Much hype has surrounded this new production of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre by Catalan outfit La Fura dels Baus. Running it jointly in a four-way partnership with opera houses in Brussels, Rome, London and Barcelona, ENO has chosen it as the spark to set off the 2009-10 season. And if fireworks are what you’re after... more>
KaufmannOpera Review: Don Carlo returns to the Royal Opera with Jonas Kaufmann Like Schubert's so-called 'Unfinished' Symphony, Verdi's Don Carlo never reached a definitive form, and we don't even know which language to perform it in or whether to call it Carlo or Carlos. Four acts or five acts? With or without the ballet? It’s anyone's guess. So I suppose it's also a matter of opinion... more> TrovatoreOpera Review: Il trovatore at the San Francisco Opera with Hvorostovsky and Blythe This year's opening of the season at the San Francisco Opera was a special occasion: the debut, no less, of the new Music Director, Nicola Luisotti. Luisotti specialises in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italian opera. Il trovatore, a work that has been in the repertoire... more>
TraviataOpera Review: Glimmerglass Opera's La traviata If Jonathan Miller's new production of La traviata proves anything, it's that if push comes to shove, a 'fallen woman' can stand on her own. Glimmerglass Opera's 2009 season-opening performance of the Verdi masterpiece was visually appealing and, on the whole, musically satisfying. The production will most likely be ... more> La CenerentolaOpera Review: Glimmerglass Opera's La Cenerentola Brother, can you spare a dime? Well, hold on to your change: Glimmerglass Opera's new production of Rossini's La Cenerentola, set here in Depression-era America circa 1933, creates a 'New Deal' of its own – forging a stimulus package that generates outstanding individual and ensemble singing, snappy stage... more>
IolantaSummer in Baden-Baden: Netrebko stars in a rare Iolanta It is no mean feat for a small provincial town to mount the first four European performances of Tchaikovsky's last opera, Iolanta, with a star cast, Rachmaninov's first opera Aleko, and crown it all with five brilliant evenings of Shostakovich symphonies with the Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. The logistic demands alone of moving... more> WozzeckOpera Review: Kent Nagano conducts Wozzeck in Munich Arguably the defining opera of the twentieth century, Berg's Wozzeck is far more than just a musical setting of the original Büchner play. The play itself is based on the true story of a soldier Woyzeck who, driven mad after suffering abuse from his superiors, stabs his girlfriend to death. Büchner was incensed by the injustice... more>
Kata KabanovaOpera Review: Kat'a Kabanova at Opera Holland Park Opera Holland Park's return to the music of Janáček with this Kát'a Kabanová has resulted in a triumph almost on the level of their Jenufa in 2007. Musical and dramatic standards are high, with detailed direction, outstanding playing and conducting, and a dazzling star turn from its leading lady coming together in an edge-of-the seat night... more> OneginOpera Review: Eugene Onegin at Iford Festival Opera This is an interesting and rewarding show. If you know Eugene Onegin already, the fascination will be to hear Tchaikovsky's score (in an effective orchestral reduction for 14 players by Richard Balcombe) laid bare in its melodic cells and rhythmical components, and thus reveal its intricate, subtle structure: if you do... more>
My Fair LadyMusical Theatre Review: Anthony Andrews in My Fair Lady with the Northern Sinfonia A stellar cast gathered at The Sage in Gateshead for a performance of Lerner and Loewe's most successful musical My Fair Lady. As well as the opportunity to witness star actors such as Antony Andrews and Nickolas Grace, the main draw of the concert was the chance to hear the complete... more> ToscaOpera Review: Nelly Miricioiu in Tosca at Covent Garden This final performance of the Royal Opera's 2008-09 season brought to the stage Nelly Miricioiu, the second of two Romanian sopranos to replace an ailing Deborah Voigt in the title role of Puccini's Tosca. Miricioiu's experience in this part speaks for itself: she appeared in the 1996, 2001 and 2004 revivals of the previous production.... more>
OklahomaMusical Theatre Review: Oklahoma! at the Chichester Festival It's been pointed out that the Chichester Festival production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's first complete show, Oklahoma!, has suffered by being staged while Trevor Nunn's staging at the National Theatre is still fresh in many people's memories (and on DVD). But for me, John Doyle's new version looks at the piece innovatively... more> RusalkaOpera Review: Dvorak's Rusalka opens at Glyndebourne Over the past century Rusalka has slowly emerged not only as the greatest of Dvořák’s ten operas, but also as one of the finest works in the Romantic operatic oeuvre. Yet, this surfacing continues to be a lingering and onerous process. Many still try to attach comparative labels to this 'Lyric Fairy Tale' – they say that it contains dollops... more>
KaufmannOpera Review: Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros in Lohengrin in Munich If we believe the programme booklet, the inspiration for this new Richard Jones production of Lohengrin is the work of architect Albert Speer. Anyone familiar with the British TV schedules, however, would immediately recognize a far more lowbrow influence. Yes, this is Wagner meets Ch4's Grand Designs... more> AriadneOpera Review: Diana Damrau and Adrianne Pieczonka star in Ariadne Strauss was not above judging the look of his leading ladies, complaining if they were too fat or too old. This 'male gaze', which according to some feminists sets up a relationship of power between watcher and watched, is what Canadian director Robert Carsen is looking to challenge. He does this by adapting... more>
PalestrinaOpera Review: A rare performance of Pfitzner's Palestrina in Munich Pfitzner's opera Palestrina tells the – completely untrue – story of how the sixteenth-century composer Palestrina, by writing his Missa Papae Marcelli, rescued polyphony for the church.  So far so uninteresting.  But it was composed in the turmoil of the First World War, and it is the contemporary political resonances... more> PoppeaOpera Review: The Early Opera Company's Poppea at Iford Fresh from dusting off some unknown Cavalli at Grange Park, the Early Opera Company have taken up residence – for the tenth consecutive season – in Iford's Cloisters with a production of Monteverdi's masterpiece, The Coronation of Poppea. Once again they have called upon the services of Martin Constantine, a director... more>
Angela GheorghiuOpera Review: Angela Gheorghiu dazzles as Tosca at Covent Garden In a series of high profile cancellations that have dogged the Royal Opera of late, the glamorous and controversial American soprano Deborah Voigt was forced to disappoint many by withdrawing from this revival of Puccini's Tosca with just a short time to go before the opening night... more> Vixen Grange ParkOpera Review: Janacek's Cunning Little Vixen at Grange Park Janacek's 1924 opera of life and death in the forest, written when he was nearly 70 (and just four years before his death) has long been regarded as one of his most accessible works, particularly in Germany, where the legendary Berlin production by Walter Felsenstein in 1956 put it on the world map. And yet in some ways... more>
FalstaffOpera Review: Glyndebourne's fabulous new Falstaff From the opening bars of Verdi's last opera, taken slightly more slowly than many a production I have seen, but phrased with exquisite care and balance by the LPO under Vladimir Jurowski, you know you are in for a special evening. And so it proves. This is quite simply a wonderful Falstaff, a subtly comic... more> Il barbiereOpera Review: Juan Diego Florez and Joyce DiDonato return in Il barbiere di Siviglia Neither the indisposition of Simon Keenlyside as Figaro, nor Joyce DiDonato's sprained ankle, nor even the momentary malfunction of the surtitles, could prevent this from being a magical evening. Outstanding singing from the principals, and most especially Peruvian tenor superstar Juan Diego Flórez... more>
Opera Holland ParkOpera Review: Orpheus in the Underworld at Opera Holland Park This was my second visit to Opera Holland Park and I liked the venue just as much as on the first occasion. I cannot think of a more pleasant surrounding for an opera performance. But OHP’s production of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld did not delight as much as their outstanding Hansel and Gretel... more> lamourOpera Review: Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de loin opens at ENO Although the spectacular new staging by Daniele Finzi Pasca (with sets by Jean Rabasse and costume design by Kevin Pollard) was prominent in the telling, and highly lavish in aspect, it was the music that took centre stage at the UK premiere of Kaija Saariaho's L'amour de loin at the Coliseum last night. Though the ... more>
Ramon VargasOpera Review: Ramón Vargas in the ROH's Un ballo in maschera Old-fashioned values ran through this revival of Un ballo in maschera at Covent Garden: it's a period staging, it's vigorously played by the orchestra and it's perfectly efficient. But Mario Martone's rather dull production remains a problem. It's difficult to tell from the way he handles the piece that this was Verdi's... more> Damn yankeesMusical Theatre Review: Damn Yankees at the Guildhall In the 1950s, the Broadway musical attained a cultural respectability it had never enjoyed before and would hold onto for only a short time. Part of this was a result of the association many of these works had with established plays or books – it's surely no coincidence that Shaw's Pygmalion gave birth to a great musical such as My Fair Lady... more>
Renee Fleming as Violetta in La traviataOpera Review: Renee Fleming returns as Violetta in The Royal Opera's La traviata Rapturous applause greeted the return of Renée Fleming to Covent Garden for a revival of Verdi's La traviata – and with good reason. The cast was unusually consistent from top to bottom, with strong leading performances by Thomas Hampson as Germont and Joseph Calleja as Alfredo, while... more> Opera Holland ParkOpera Review: Opera Holland Park's La boheme Stereotypically, outdoors summer Operas are a bit like summer affairs: pleasant, good fun and unlikely to leave a mark, especially when the bill features such a world-class charmer as La Bohème. But Opera Holland Park’s production of La Bohème was, if not flawless, graced with vocal performances of less-than-stereotypical depth... more>
Iford BarberOpera Review: Opera at Iford 2009 gets underway with The Barber of Seville Iford Arts' opera summer season has kicked off with a lively take on Rossini's ever-green comic masterpiece. In the so-called cloisters, tucked away in the manor's Peto gardens, Iford surely boasts one of the festival season's most magical venues, allowing a level of intimate communication... more> Iford BarberMusical Theatre Review: Kurt Weill's Lost in the Stars at the QEH Lost in the Stars ('49) was the last stage work Kurt Weill was to complete before his untimely death in 1950. Typically for the composer the piece is something of a curio in the context of Broadway musical theatre of the late 1940s. Subtitled 'a musical tragedy', it takes an extremely difficult subject, apartheid in... more>
The King and IMusical Review: The King and I opens at the Royal Albert Hall The sixth collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, The King and I marked something of a departure for Broadway's leading composer-lyricist team in dealing with non-American subject matter. By extension it's quite ambitious, because it has to accommodate a kind of 'Otherness' in its score, lyrics... more> Cosi fan tutte ENOOpera Review: New production of Così fan tutte opens at the ENO A lack of communication between stage and pit affected this new co-production of Così fan tutte at the London Coliseum. But if the musical performance suffered from some crucial uncertainties, other characteristics of Mozart's opera were beautifully delivered. Pushing the boundaries of theatrical fiction... more>
Grange Park Opera EliogabaloOpera Review: Grange Park Opera premieres Cavalli's Eliogabalo Grange Park Opera have shown courage. To mount the UK premiere of an opera written by Francesco Cavalli for the 1668 Venice carnival season, but never actually performed then, is brave at the best of times: to do so in the middle of a credit crunch is pushing box office loyalty to the limit. All the more heartening therefore... more> Hansel und Gretel OHPOpera Review: Opera Holland Park's successful Hänsel und Gretel Opera Holland Park's production of Hänsel und Gretel is stunning with its simplicity and musicality. After the first night I instructed all my students to go to see it and I urge everybody else to try to catch a performance during the current run. In spite of a very small stage and probable financial restrictions, the production... more>
Julian Gavin as Opera North's Don CarloOpera Review: Don Carlos shines at Opera North with Julian Gavin and Janice Watson Whilst there are a few small flaws in both the singing and Tim Albery's staging, this revival of Verdi's Don Carlos by Opera North is an unquestionable triumph for the company. Their performance at The Lowry in Salford was absorbing as only Don Carlos can, and indeed should, be. The sense of collective... more> MitridateOpera Review: A reconstructed Mitridate from Mozart specialist The Classical Opera Company It was not only an incoherent production, but also problematic vocal interpretation that fatally affected this latest Classical Opera Company project, which has its roots in a large-scale and significant philological project. This staging of Mitridate, re di Ponto was the first attempt ever... more>
De NieseOpera Review: McVicar's production of Giulio Cesare at Glyndebourne Festival Opera That this is the third outing for David McVicar's Giulio Cesare at Glyndebourne in just five seasons is emphatic testimony to the charm of this all-singing all-dancing fantasy of a production, proving once and for all that it is oh so much more than the sparkling sum of its novelty parts Jean-Marie Villegier's... more> Peter GrimesOpera Review: Stuart Skelton stars in ENO's new Peter Grimes Practically everyone is deranged in David Alden's new production of Britten's Peter Grimes for English National Opera. While it's hardly original to suggest that Grimes isn't quite there, mentally speaking, the weird behaviour of the rest of the Borough is something new, and here taken to an absolute extreme.... more>
L'elisir d'amoreOpera Review: Diana Damrau returns in L'elisir d'amore at Covent Garden This first Covent Garden revival of Laurent Pelly's production of L'elisir d'amore highlighted some of the weaknesses of this specific reading of Donizetti's fine melodramma giocoso. On the other hand, discrepancies in the invasive stage direction were compensated for by... more> LohengrinOpera Review: Johan Botha and Petra Lang star in Wagner's Lohengrin at Covent Garden Music and drama were not really at one in this sixth revival of Elijah Moshinsky's production of Wagner's Lohengrin at Covent Garden. In the pit, Semyon Bychkov achieved a level of refinement from orchestra and chorus which is too seldom heard in this or... more>
Katarina DalaymanOpera Review: Mark Elder conducts the Hallé Orchestra in Wagner's Götterdämmerung Although it was largely a musical triumph from start to finish, the Hallé’s concert performance of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung was perhaps more significant as a statement about the role of the orchestra in Manchester. The fifteen-minute standing ovation that greeted the conclusion... more> CenerentolaOpera Broadcast Review: La Cenerentola from the Met with Garanca Following their established and successful tradition of live broadcasts, the Met offered the last production of the 2008-09 season, Rossini's La Cenerentola, to a million-wide public, in the process underlining the fact that very concept of a 'live' stage event has over the few last years been notably stretched by.... more>
NormaOpera Review: Bellini's Norma at Cadogan Hall Concert performances of opera are always a delicate business. The English Touring Opera was faced with the challenges in their rendition of Bellini's Norma, presented at London's Cadogan Hall. Much of this opera's vocal realization and narrative is monopolised by Norma's wilful yet fragile personality and her relationship to the other characters... more> Roberto AlagnaOpera Review: Roberto Alagna and Dmitri Hvorostovsky in Il trovatore at Covent Garden While it's perhaps true that Il trovatore demands the four greatest singers in the world, in reality it rarely gets them. That means that the focus shifts to different characters depending on who the stronger performers happen to be. On this occasion it was all about the men, thanks... more>
Susan BickleyOpera Review: English National Opera's After Dido opens at the Young Vic A radio broadcast of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas given to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the composer's birth airs on a dreary night in London. Katie Mitchell has been exploring the use of live video in her work since The Waves in 2006, which was the production that inspired John Berry from ENO to approach her about working in opera... more> Emmanuelle HaimConcert Review: Handel's La Resurrezione with Emmanuelle Haim It has been said that if you combine the entire compositional output of Beethoven and J.S. Bach that you won't equal the volume of music produced by Handel. Whether or not this claim is strictly quantifiable the fact remains that Handel was one of the most prolific composers not just of his age, but of any age... more>
Danielle de NieseOpera Review: De Niese and Connolly make ROH debuts in Dido and Acis double bill A few months after the Royal Opera House reopened following the Second World War, the resident opera and ballet companies joined forces for a performance of Purcell's The Fairy Queen. So it's appropriate that in his anniversary year, the same composer's Dido & Aeneas has brought the Royal Ballet... more> Adam FischerFeature Review: Haydn Rarity and Wagner's Tannhäuser in a Week of Opera in Budapest Haydn's last opera, composed in 1791 for the King's Theatre in London, was not performed during Haydn's life. Indeed, the premiere did not take place until 1951. Although the current Haydn year resulted in sporadic performances of this opera in various parts of the world, few could have had... more>
RusalkaOpera Review: Renee Fleming in the Met's Rusalka Antonin Dvořák wrote ten operas, of which Rusalka is his ninth.  Written in 1900, it is regarded as something of a national treasure in the Czech Republic, but, until recently, it was really only the heroine's ravishing ‘Song to the Moon' that was widely known by international audiences.  This is a great shame, because it is an immensely rewarding work with... more> ErmioneOpera Review: Rossini's Ermione (Opera Rara) Those attending the premiere of Ermione on 27 March 1819, at Teatro San Carlo, Naples, seem not to have enjoyed Rossini's latest work. Withdrawn after only seven performances (of which the last two consisted of Act I only), this opera was reported as a memorable fiasco. And yet, a few revivals during recent years have demonstrated... more>
NMCOpera Review: Le nozze di Figaro at Welsh National Opera (Llandudno) This staging of Mozart's perennial favourite Le nozze di Figaro was notable for two reasons. First, it brought a new production of the piece to Welsh National Opera, by the Catalan director Lluis Pasqual, and second, it marked the role debut of Welsh diva Rebecca Evans as Countess Almaviva. In the event, the latter... more> Amanda RoocroftOpera Review: Amanda Roocroft in ENO's Jenufa According to various reviewers, David Alden’s 2006 production of Janáček’s Jenůfa – now successfully revived for the first but hopefully not for the last time - is supposed to be updated from 19th century Moravia to the communist era of a Central European country. Yet the beauty of Alden's production is that it is as... more>
HaydnOpera Review: Haydn's La fedelta premiata at the Royal Academy of Music The Royal Academy Opera's production of Haydn's La fedelta premiatà (Fidelity rewarded) was not only a worthwhile but also a truly uplifting experience. It is, therefore, such a shame that the programme notes - particularly important on this occasion – let down the otherwise excellent event... more> Netrebko and GarancaOpera Review: Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca in I Capuleti e i Montecchi at the ROH Regietheater has had such a grip on opera production in the last decade or so that it's almost refreshing to encounter something more traditional. Pier Luigi Pizzi's 1984 staging of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi – remounted for the dream combination of Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanca and Sir Mark Elder... more>
Dr AtomicOpera Review: John Adams' Doctor Atomic receives its UK Premiere at ENO John Adams' Dr. Atomic was finally given its long awaited UK premiere this week, almost four years after its debut in San Francisco. This run, a joint venture between ENO and the Met in New York where the production was housed late last year, presents a new staging by the British director Penny Woolcock... more> SalomeOpera Review: Erika Sunnegårdh stars in WNO's Salome (Cardiff) Lawrence Kramer once described the character of Salomé, who flitted seductively through the imagination of so many artists at the end of the Nineteenth Century, as 'everyone's favourite fin-de-siècle dragon lady'. The great achievement of André Engel's Welsh National Opera production of Richard Strauss's opera... more>
Flying DutchmanOpera Review: Bryn Terfel stars in Tim Albery's new Royal Opera Flying Dutchman Debate has long raged over exactly how to pin Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer down. It is a unique work that both looks forward to Wagner's later masterpieces and backwardds to the Romantic Schaueroper; some early critics even complained that it marked a regressive step after... more> Skin DeepOpera Review: David Sawer's Skin Deep comes to Sadler's Wells courtesy of Opera North David Sawer and Armando Iannucci's new operetta Skin Deep premiered to mixed reviews in Leeds in January, and thus came to Sadler's Wells in London last Tuesday with something of a point to prove. The piece satirizes society's fixation with physical beauty, and it ridicules the surgical lengths people... more>
Helena BlackmanMusical Theatre Review: UK Premiere of the revised version of Sondheim's Saturday Night (Jermyn St Theatre) We all have to start somewhere and in the case of Stephen Sondheim it was with Saturday Night, a show set in the year of the Wall Street crash. Though he had served an excellent apprenticeship under Oscar Hammerstein II, which included drafting a version of Mary Poppins... more> La bohème Opera Review: Jonathan Miller's new production of La bohème opens at the Coliseum Jonathan Miller has served the English National Opera well over the thirty years since his first work for the company. And this intelligent and understated Bohème looks set to be another invaluable asset in the company's repertoire. Part of what made Puccini's 1896 opera so modern was, as Roger Parker... more>
Transition_OperaOpera Review: Venus and Adonis with Transition_Opera (Wilton's Music Hall) The Transition_Opera company, who have only been active for just under two years, are becoming well-known for their innovative and thoroughly modern approach to concert performances, especially opera. Each of their productions involves the integration of live video and film into the work of the... more> Skin DeepOpera Review: David Sawer's Skin Deep comes to Sadler's Wells courtesy of Opera North David Sawer and Armando Iannucci's new operetta Skin Deep premiered to mixed reviews in Leeds in January, and thus came to Sadler's Wells in London last Tuesday with something of a point to prove. The piece satirizes society's fixation with physical beauty, and it ridicules the surgical lengths people... more>
Let 'em Eat CakeOpera Review: Gershwin's Let 'em Eat Cake at Sadler's Wells with Opera North Opera North deserved a bigger audience for this rare staging of Gershwin's Let 'em Eat Cake at London's Sadler's Wells. The company is playing the piece in tandem with Of Thee I Sing, which tells the first part of the story of John P Wintergreen and his rise to the presidency of America by appealing to the hearts... more> Adriana LecouvreurOpera Review: Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur at the Queen Elizabeth Hall The reputation of Francesco Cilea (1866-1950) would probably be somewhat less hazy were it not for the meteoric rise of his close contemporary, Giacomo Puccini, whose operas continue to have a stranglehold over the repertoire. Cilea's achievements as an opera composer are in fact scarcely less significant... more>
Paul McCreeshOpera Review: The Gabrieli Consort's day-long Handel Celebration (Wigmore Hall) Although the basic premise of comparing Handel's 1708 Aci, Galatea e Polifemo with his 1718 Acis and Galatea is somewhat flawed, the three-part Handel event presented by Paul McCreesh with his Gabrieli Consort & Players at the Wigmore Hall was informative and enjoyable. The problem with the ... more> Helena BlackmanMusical Theatre Review: UK Premiere of the revised version of Sondheim's Saturday Night (Jermyn St Theatre) We all have to start somewhere and in the case of Stephen Sondheim it was with Saturday Night, a show set in the year of the Wall Street crash. Though he had served an excellent apprenticeship under Oscar Hammerstein II, which included drafting a version of Mary Poppins... more>
RigolettoOpera Review: Rigoletto returns to Covent Garden with Leo Nucci in the title role This Rigoletto presented at the Royal Opera House during the 2008-09 season can be seen as work that is twice established within the tradition. This is both because of the status of Verdi's opera within the repertoire, and because of David McVicar's production: this being its third ROH revival from 2001... more> Die tote StadtOpera Review: Korngold's Die tote Stadt gets its UK stage premiere at Covent Garden Nearly ninety years after its glitzy double premiere in Hamburg and Cologne, Korngold's Die tote Stadt has finally made it to a British stage. Willy Decker's 2004 Salzburg production has already done the rounds, having been seen in Vienna, Amsterdam, Barcelona and San Francisco before arriving... more>
KirovOpera Review: Valery Gergiev leads the Mariinsky Theatre in a Barbican Residency Thanks in large part to Mariinsky Theatre Trust, the Mariinsky Theatre's tours to the UK have become fairly regular occurrences in recent years, allowing UK audiences to experience their high quality collective artistry not only in some traditional productions of famous war horses, but also many... more> Der RosenkavalierOpera Review: Renee Fleming in Der Rosenkavalier in Baden-Baden Der Rosenkavalier is only two years younger than me, and we both seem to approach our centenary with undiminished vigour. I never missed a performance of Rosenkavalier since the times when I also offered my Silver Roses to girls I tried to persuade to take an interest in me. It was during such... more>
Fra DiavoloOpera Review: Auber's Fra Diavolo opens with Sumi Jo at the Opera Comique (Paris) For his new production of Auber's light-hearted Fra Diavolo, the director of the sumptuously refurbished Opéra Comique, Jérome Deschamps, has opted for a simple approach. Elegantly conceived and faithful to a work that his house has somewhere in its bones – it was put on practically every season from... more> The Magic FluteOpera Review: Nicholas Hytner's production of The Magic Flute is revived by ENO After having announced that the production would be retired after its last outing, English National Opera has brought back Nicholas Hytner's staging of Mozart's The Magic Flute  for a thirteenth revival. Quite frankly, it looks so good and continues to work so well that there's no reason why it shouldn't last another... more>
Credit: Bill CooperOpera Review: Alice Coote and Ann Murray in Cast B of Hansel and Gretel (ROH) I could not praise Hansel (Alice Coote) and Gretel (Camilla Tilling) more than admitting that, in spite of being of a certain age, most of the time during the performance I forgot that I was watching two adult singers and not two children. I hasten to add that both singers delivered musically as well as vocally faultless performances... more> Sub RosaOpera Review: The Beggar's Opera at the Linbury Studio (Royal Opera House) Thomas Gay's The Beggar's Opera, was revived on 20 January at the Linbury Studio Theatre of the ROH in its 1948 realization by Benjamin Britten. Unfortunately, 'revived' is not the term best suited to this production directed by Justin Way. To put it bluntly, the satirical and meta-theatrical undertones of Gay's... more>
HoffmannOpera Review: Rolando Villazón returns in Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann One of the staples of the Royal Opera's repertory, John Schlesinger's production of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann is now twenty-eight years old. Last revived in 2004 for the ROH debut of Rolando Villazón, who caused a stir in the title role, the Mexican tenor remains one of the main reasons to see the current run of... more> Jose CuraOpera Review: José Cura stars in Turandot at the ROH for Puccini's 150th Anniversary There's something appropriate about the Royal Opera's 150th anniversary Puccini performance culminating in the theme of 'Nessun dorma', as it reappears in Franco Alfano's completion of Turandot, blasted out in a rousing tutti However, despite the crowd-pleasing appeal of both Andrei Serban's classic 1984... more>
Hansel and GretelOpera review: Sir Colin Davis conducts Covent Garden's new Hansel and Gretel Not staged at the Royal Opera House since 1937, Humperdinck's fairytale opera Hänsel und Gretel has finally returned in a warmly entertaining if slightly bland staging by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier. An all-star cast, headed by two of the world's leading singers, combine with outstanding conducting... more> Don CarloOpera Review: Don Carlo at La Scala Despite Milanese reports reassuring the public that the sacredness of La Scala's season-opening jamboree on the night of Sant'Ambrogio (7 December) was untarnished, the full-house standing ovation for this Don Carlo performance three nights earlier might tell a different story. The line-up was the same as that for the official first-night... more>
A Little Night MusicMusical Review: Sondheim's A Little Night Music at the Menier Chocolate Factory Like many a great romantic comedy before it, from A Midsummer Night's Dream to The Marriage of Figaro, the sexual entanglements in Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music work themselves out as the characters go out into the garden. And as the sun sets on Trevor Nunn's elegiac new production for... more> OtelloOpera Review: Verdi's Otello with Amanda Roocroft (WNO) WNO has pulled out all the stops with the look and feel of its new Otello, directed by Norwegian Opera's current Artistic Director Paul Curran.  In making his directorial choice, Curran has opted for old-fashioned stage spectacle, presenting Verdi's 1887 masterpiece in a series of visually stunning tableaux that – literally – fill all the... more>
Fra DiavoloOpera Review: A rare production of Auber's Fra Diavolo in Munich Daniel Francois Esprit Auber is a much neglected opera composer nowadays, certainly in the UK and to a lesser extent in his native France where no more than a handful of his 50-odd operas are currently revived. And yet he is credited with creation of the first grand opera, La Muette de Portici, which Wagner admired particularly... more> Il barbiere di SivigliaOpera Review: Colin Lee shines in WNO's Barbere of Seville Giles Havergal made a name and considerable reputation for himself in over thirty years' work at the Citizens' Theatre Glasgow and this revival of his 1986 production of The Barber of Seville for WNO is a very theatrical reading of the piece. The stage within a stage is a wooden construction consisting of several different levels. more>
La traviataOpera Review: David McVicar's new La traviata opens in Edinburgh A sense of foreboding is present right from the beginning of Scottish Opera's production of La traviata. Along with the tragic prelude music of Act I (which is later to return in Act III as Violetta lies on her death bed), Alfredo slowly walks across a path of leaves, pausing for a moment in front of Violetta's now deserted... more> The Secret MarriageOpera Review: Cimarosa's The Secret Marriage at Scottish Opera I'm sure many people won't have heard of Cimarosa's The Secret Marriage (Il matrimonio segreto). Despite its success in the 18th and 19th centuries, it now only lives through the occasional revival. The reasons for this are soon very obvious: the music sounds like Mozart at his worst and the libretto is lacking in any real subtlety... more>
JenufaOpera Review: Nuccia Focile stars in WNO's Jenufa There are moments in opera when you feel that a perfect fusion has been achieved between drama, character, expression and music. The character sings what he or she is undergoing at that moment and the orchestral palette expresses what words alone cannot. The sheer joy of this WNO performance of Janacek's grim, horrible but... more> Capuleti e i MontecchiOpera Review: Sarah Connolly stars in Opera North's new I Capuleti e i Montecchi Bellini's response to the Romeo and Juliet legend, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, owes little to Shakespeare yet has what one might call a Shakespearean grasp of the theatre. Whatever the flaws of Orpha Phelan's new production for Opera North, one really can appreciate how the Italian composer strove... more>
ElektraOpera Review: Susan Bullock sings Elektra at Covent Garden under Mark Elder (ROH) When Charles Edwards' 2003 production of Elektra opened at the Royal Opera House, it was to mixed reviews, and it is the director's vision that remains the most problematic element in its latest outing, whose musical standards are of the highest quality. This revival's principal asset comes in the Elektra of ... more> BorisOpera Review: Peter Rose stars as Boris Godunov at ENO Tim Albery's new production of Boris Godunov is an unremittingly bleak view of Musorgsky's masterpiece which provides a sombre, claustrophobic atmosphere for the troubled Tsar to nurture the inner demons that eventually destroy him. Those looking for lavish sets of cathedral steps and onion domes, gilt thrones... more>
David Parry Opera Review: The Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme in The Rape of Lucretia The centrepiece of this year's autumn Britten weekend in Snape, Aldeburgh and surrounding villages was a new production of Britten's third opera, The Rape of Lucretia. And what a production – by first time opera director Edward Dick – it was! Conducted by the experienced, warmly sensitive David... more> GrodnikaiteOpera Review: The Chelsea Opera Group performs Donizetti's La favorite (Cadogan Hall) A product of Donizetti's second sojourn in Paris, La favorite has long been neglected in its original French version of 1840. Yet as the Chelsea Opera Group showed in this spirited, if not exactly refined concert performance, the piece really benefits from being sung in French, rather than the Italian... more>
CarmenOpera Review: La Tragédie de Carmen with ETO (Snape Maltings) ETO has made an intelligent choice with its second touring production of the autumn 2008 season. Peter Brook's radical reworking of Carmen into a music drama, almost a chamber opera, for four singers and a few walk-on parts plays to all the company's strengths. This is Carmen stripped down to the bare essentials of the tale... more> RusalkaOpera review: English Touring Opera performs Dvorak's Rusalka English Touring Opera has been riding the crest of a self-generated wave in the past few years: under the leadership of James Conway the company has produced a string of excellent touring productions, with dramatic, scenic and musical values all well to the fore. But sooner or later the company is bound to come up against a piece... more>
Juan Diego FlorezOpera Review: Juan Diego Flórez returns to Covent Garden in Rossini's Matilde di Shabran Fulfilling all expectations and then going beyond them, Juan Diego Flórez's return to Covent Garden for the theatre's first production of Rossini's Matilde di Shabran since 1854 was a complete triumph. It was always going to be his evening, yet it's been a few years since I've heard Flórez... more> Of Thee I SingOpera review: Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing (Opera North) The connection between modern world events and Of Thee I Sing, George S Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind's 1931 Pulitzer Prize-winning play with music by the Gershwins, is not a mere tenuous marketing ploy by Opera North but rather a stark reality. The company has just mounted a new production of the piece and will also stage its sequel. more>
PartenopeOpera Review: ENO's new production of Handel's Partenope with Rosemary Joshua ENO has a high reputation for staging Handel's operas, and with this new production of his little-known 1730 comedy Partenope the line of succession continues: it's another show of glamorous sets and stylish singing. Nevertheless, neither Christopher Alden's direction nor Christian Curnyn's... more> La bohemeOpera review: La boheme (ROH) John Copley's production of Puccini's La boheme, now in its twenty-second revival at the Royal Opera House, is a bit like an old BBC costume drama. It's produced with care, it's directed with an eye for detail and it's a favourite with audiences, as the rapturous reception afforded to the first night of the current revival showed. And yet, it's very much a product of its time. more>
BarbiereOpera Review: The Met's production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia in Baden-Baden It was an odd coincidence that the 21st anniversary revival of Jonathan Miller's legendary production of The Barber of Seville, was presented in the ENO, virtually on the same day as Il barbiere di Siviglia, produced by a leading US director, arrived in Baden-Baden. There are worlds between these two... more> Calisto (Photo © Bill Cooper)Opera Review: David Alden makes his Covent Garden debut with Cavalli's La Calisto This new production of La Calisto is a double first. Never before has a work by Francesco Cavalli been performed at the Royal Opera and, by shipping over David Alden's 2005 Munich production, this also represents the American director's Covent Garden debut. It's a bold move in both regards but although Cavalli's work... more>
Don GiovanniOpera review: Cast B of Don Giovanni (ROH) Cast B of the present run of Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House had two changes shortly before their opening. Due to illness, Lorenzo Regazzo had to withdraw from the role of Leporello. Alex Esposito, who was due to sing Masetto but whose repertory included Leporello, was moved up to sing the role. Levente Molnar had never sung... more> CarouselMusical Review: Lesley Garrett opens in Carousel in Bromley ahead of the West End Since it was the composer's favourite amongst his many great shows, it's perhaps appropriate that Richard Rodgers emerges as the hero of this revival of Carousel. The score is in the hands of a master orchestrator – Larry Blank – whose skill in condensing Don Walker's original orchestration down to... more>
HoffmannOpera Review: James Edwards stars in The Tales of Hoffmann (Mid Wales Opera) This is a terrific production, the best I have seen by Mid Wales Opera (and I have seen quite a few). Director Tim Hopkins has plotted an intelligent path through the various versions of Offenbach's last opera and with his designer Anthony Baker has created a thoroughly workmanlike production... more> ENO Barber of SevilleOpera Review: Andrew Shore stars in The Barber of Seville (ENO) Though English National Opera's 2008-09 season is more notable for its large number of new productions than the revivals, a few old favourites are coming back, and this month it's the turn of Jonathan Miller's now-classic staging of The Barber of Seville.It remains a solid production that brings the claustrophobia of... more>
Jose CuraOpera Review: José Cura returns as Dick Johnson in La fanciulla del West (ROH) Puccini's interest with Wagner, Debussy and Richard Strauss is apparent on every page of the score of La fanciulla del West. The Royal Opera's latest revival of the opera reveals both its strengths and flaws. Antonio Pappano leads a highly-charged performance, and José Cura's multi-dimensional interpretation... more> Cav and PagOpera Review : Richard Jones' new ENO production of Cav & Pag opens at the Coliseum In a recent interview, Richard Jones made clear his views on the two works that constitute opera's best-loved double-bill, Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci: 'one's a conductor's piece and the other's a director's.' With this new production, Jones' attitude was all too apparent... more>
GigiReview: Lerner and Loewe's Gigi opens with Topol at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park Riding on the crest of a wave after the hands-down success of My Fair Lady (1956), Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe turned again to source material that portrayed the transformation of a young girl into a lady. Riding on the crest of a wave after the hands-down success of My Fair Lady... more> Don GiovanniOpera Review: The Royal Opera's 2008-09 season opens with Don Giovanni The 2008-09 Royal Opera House season started with a difference. The opening night, a performance of  Mozart's Don Giovanni, was meant to be available only for readers of the Sun newspaper who in turn specified availability only for those who were new to opera. Simon Keenlyside, Kyle Ketelsen and Joyce DiDonato star... more>
The Two WidowsOpera Review: Smetana's The Two Widows with Scottish Opera (Edinburgh Festival) Scottish Opera's new production of Smetana's underperformed opera The Two Widows has a lot going for it: delightful, relatively unfamiliar music, an attractive cast of principals, a sense of pace and occasion and a workmanlike, often amusing English translation that caused plenty of chuckles on the second night... more> Wizard of OzMusical review: The Wizard of Oz (Royal Festival Hall) Considering it opened to largely damning reviews earlier in the week, I was surprised to find how much I actually enjoyed the Royal Festival Hall's summer production of The Wizard of Oz. Whilst it's not the most profound or brilliant production of a musical I've ever seen, there was much to enjoy, not least the vibrant performances... more>
Hansel and GretelOpera Review: Hansel and Gretel receives its first-ever production at Glyndebourne It has been worth the wait. Glyndebourne's first ever staging of Humperdinck's Märchenoper or 'fairy tale' opera is a real feast for the ears and is not exactly a hardship to watch either. It has energy in abundance, a very attractive pair of principals and a clear enough view of what the piece is all... more> Giorno di RegnoOpera review: Verdi's Un giorno di regno at Iford Arts Performances of Verdi's second opera, Un giorno di regno, are few and far between. Although the Royal Opera put it on in concert in London in 1999, it's left to smaller, more adventurous companies to take the plunge and stage this supposedly second-rate work. Opera della Luna have done just that at Iford Manor... more>
GiocondaOpera Review: Iolanta & Pulcinella at Opera Holland Park For the closing bonanza of its 2008 season, Opera Holland Park has continued what feels like an emerging Tchaikovsky cycle – after truly excellent productions of Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades in recent years – with Iolanta, the composer's final opera. Originally designed as part of a double bill that also... more> GiocondaOpera Review: La Gioconda (Holland Park) Though Opera Holland Park's new production of La Gioconda is being sold as a novelty, in truth the piece has always been at the margins of the repertoire rather than outside it. It's only a couple of years since The Royal Opera opened their season with it; ENO did it as part of their Italian series; and the Met will produce it next year. more>
Rake's ProgressOpera Review: The Rake's Progress (ROH) Robert Lepage's new production of The Rake's Progress, unveiled in Brussels in April 2007 and now in London by way of Lyon and San Francisco, transforms the action to 1950s East-Coast America, where Stravinsky was living while writing his masterpiece. Tom Rakewell is seduced by the ultimate American Dream - Vegas and Hollywood... more> Jacques ImbrailoOpera Review: Jette Parker Young Artists' Summer Concert (ROH) Every summer, the Royal Opera's Jette Parker Young Artists close the season with a concert of staged extracts from a variety of operas. This year, the concert united three portions of operas featuring Counts and Countesses with a French theme thrown in.In theory, being given part of Tanya McCallin's handsome set... more>
Sinéad Campbell as Hypsipile (Photo © Rob Coles)Opera Review: Cavalli's Giasone with the Early Opera Company at Iford Manor The Early Opera Company and their director Christian Curnyn are regulars at Opera at Iford, the festival hosted in the grounds of Iford Manor, some 5 miles outside Bath. The opera season at Iford spreads itself leisurely over the summer months but 34 new productions over the last 13 seasons is no mean feat... more> Street SceneMusical Review: Kurt Weill's Street Scene (Young Vic) People like to look upon Kurt Weill as a cut above the average Broadway composer, almost as if the art form is distasteful. But although Weill himself described Street Scene as 'An American Opera' and wrote of his desire to create a new integrated form that would represent high art on the American stage, we know full... more>
La bohemeOpera review: La boheme opens at Covent Garden with Nicole Cabell as Musetta The indestructibility of La bohème is a double-edged sword. While the strength of Puccini's score – its pacing and melodic invention – can prevail in almost any circumstances, the work is such a sure-fire success in an opera house's repertory that there's not the same requirement to reinvigorate and reinvent it as there... more> Sail AwayMusical Review: Noel Coward's Sail Away is revived by Lost Musicals When Noel Coward's musical Sail Away hit Broadway in 1961, it was dismissed as old-fashioned compared to the other shows then playing (Camelot, Carnival and Milk and Honey, for instance). Inasmuch as the story is set on an ocean liner, one can see why critics might have seen Sail Away as a throwback to Anything Goes. more>
CandideOpera review: Robert Carsen's staging of Bernstein's Candide comes to London I can't think of a more brilliant or inventive way of presenting Bernstein's Candide than Robert Carsen's production for English National Opera. Instead of presenting Bernstein's musicalisation of the Voltaire novella in the age of the Enlightenment, Carsen plays it for what it is: a satire of 1950s America. more> FigaroOpera Review: Sir Charles Mackerras conducts Figaro at Covent Garden In the programme notes for his production of Le nozze di Figaro for The Royal Opera, director David McVicar writes: 'What guided my decision to set the action in the milieu of a French château in 1830? What has guided my direction of the singers away from traditional comedy to a more heartfelt reading of the text?' more>
Brian ConleyMusical Review: Brian Conley opens in The Music Man at Chichester Considering he was the main motivation behind it, it's sad that Brian Conley is the only serious weakness in the Chichester Festival's otherwise superb revival of Meredith Willson's The Music Man. The show receives a slick and brilliant production from director Rachel Kavanaugh and choreographer Stephen Mear. more> ToscaOpera Review: Amanda Echalez in Tosca at Opera Holland Park It's a cliché to wheel out Joseph Kerman's famous of description of Tosca as a 'shabby little shocker', but it's hard to imagine a production more shabby and, paradoxically, disappointingly unshocking, than Stephen Barlow's updated version for Opera Holland Park. And it's not the fact that the rickety set is prone to falling... more>
Simon CallowOpera Review: Simon Callow directs Mozart's Magic Flute at Opera Holland Park Simon Callow has a strong Mozartian pedigree having not only been the first to play the composer in Peter Schaffer's Amadeus but also having embodied Schikaneder, librettist of the Magic Flute, in Milos Forman's film of the play. The film, in particular, shaped a whole generation's view of Mozart as a divinely inspired... more> Scottish OperaOpera Review: Judith Weir's A Night at the Chinese Opera (Scottish Opera) Chinese opera, Scottish Opera, Chinese… this is most intriguing. Weir could have chosen a name like 'The Orphan Chao', or any number of others that do not include the word 'Chinese'. She immediately sets up a culturally-embedded expectation of strange-making, of things not being what they seem...more>
Ariadne auf Naxos at Covent GardenOpera Review: Ariadne auf Naxos at the ROH Christof Loy's 2002 production of Ariadne auf Naxos, one of the more problematic operas produced by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, still looks as stylish and sophisticated as ever. The Prologue begins with a dazzling coup de theâtre as the entrance hall of the house of 'the richest man in Vienna' is elevated to reveal the frenzied... more> FigaroOpera Review: Sir Charles Mackerras conducts Figaro at Covent Garden In the programme notes for his production of Le nozze di Figaro for The Royal Opera, director David McVicar writes: 'What guided my decision to set the action in the milieu of a French château in 1830? What has guided my direction of the singers away from traditional comedy to a more heartfelt reading of the text?' more>
Don CarloOpera Review: Don Carlo with Rolando Villazon (Royal Opera House) Since the Italian version has not been performed by the company since 1989, it's about time that Don Carlo returned to the repertory of the Royal Opera. Considered in some quarters to be Verdi's supreme achievement, the piece juxtaposes the inner turmoil of the heart with the external dual dominating forces of the Church... more> Hye-Youn LeeOpera Review: La fille du régiment (Opera Holland Park) It says a great deal for the quality and sheer exuberance of Opera Holland Park's new production of La fille du régiment that it suffers little from comparison with Covent Garden's big-budget, big-star production of last year. After the poor weather of the season's first night, the sun was shining and in William Kerley's... more>
RosenkavalierReview: Der Rosenkavalier at ENO Having now experienced David McVicar's production of Strauss and Hofmannsthal's Der Rosenkavalier at English National Opera, I have to wonder even more why the company has chosen to stage it in preference to their previous production by Jonathan Miller. Miller's staging was gorgeously designed and intelligently directed, and it had surely not been... more> TrovatoreOpera Review: Il trovatore (Opera Holland Park) Opera Holland Park's 2008 season opened with a bang with this lively performance of Verdi's Il trovatore. The cast had to struggle against the cold – it was chilly enough to be able to see the singers' breath – and the rain on the auditorium's canopy, but between them they managed to bring a good deal of warmth to this dank June evening. more>
Micaela Carosi as Tosca (Photo: Catherine Ashmore)Opera Review: Tosca at the ROH Jonathan Kent's production of Tosca has been treated to some luxurious casts in its brief, two-year history. In this latest revival, Antonio Pappano conducted two singers who have justifiably become Covent Garden favourites, Paolo Gavanelli and Jonas Kaufmann, alongside a Tosca, Micaela Carosi, who was making her Royal Opera debut. more> Abi Finley in Betwixt! The MusicalReview: Betwixt! The Musical at the King's Head Theatre If great things come in small packages, so too do great musicals sometimes play in little theatres. There's nothing quite like experiencing the honesty of a show performed in a fringe venue such as the King's Head, Islington, and Ian McFarlane's new musical, Betwixt!, certainly benefits from the intimacy of the space. more>
Patti LuPone in GypsyReview: Funny Girl at the Chichester Festival and Gypsy on BroadwayIt was instructive to see Gypsy (1959) and Funny Girl (1964) within the space of a couple of weeks. The two greatest Broadway musicals of Jule Styne – himself one of the finest but most underrated figures in the history of American musical theatre – have much in common. Both throw the optimism and the bright lights... more> IdomeneoConcert Review: Nono's Prometeo at the RFH Adorno, the great musicologist and philosopher famed for the postulation that music encodes social allegory in its internal details of composition, would have loved Luigi Nono's Prometeo. It is a work, perhaps it is an opera though taxonomy is secondary to effect here, that conveys solely through music and dramatics, and not through text... more>
Lucio Gallo (Simon Boccanegra) and Ferruccio Furlanetto (Fiesco) (Photo: Catherine Ashmore)Opera Review: John Eliot Gardiner conducts Simon Boccanegra at the ROH In a Royal Opera season that's had its share of withdrawals and replacements, this revival of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra hasn't escaped. Several months ago it was announced that Nina Stemme, who was to have played Amelia, had decided not to add the role to her repertoire and shortly before this... more> IdomeneoOpera Review: Ian Bostridge stars in Mozart's Idomeneo at the Barbican Although this concert performance of the Munich version of the piece was instigated at the behest of Ian Bostridge as part of his year-long Homeward Bound residency, the main reason for the evening's success was the stunning performance by the period-instrument orchestra Europa Galante under Biondi. more>
Lucio Gallo (Simon Boccanegra) and Ferruccio Furlanetto (Fiesco) (Photo: Catherine Ashmore)Opera Review: Claudio Abbado conducts Fidelio at Baden-Baden Only a conductor of great stature and integrity can afford to turn the essence of Beethoven's obsessional idealism in Fidelio into remorseless cruelty and brutality. The piece has often been hijacked by evil and despotic governments to serve as a fig leaf. Klemperer, long before old age and frailty reduced him to an obstinate... more> MacbethOpera Review: Opera North's new Macbeth in Leeds To be a strong company you need a strong leader; to be a strong opera company you need a titan conductor. Perhaps Richard Farnes is not a titan, but from the control, the deep-rooted understanding and the vitality he exhibited for Opera North's new production of Verdi's Macbeth, he has truly shone and shown his full potential. more>
Placido DomingoOpera Review: Placido Domingo in Tamerlano (Washington) More than forty years after his American debut, opera superstar Placido Domingo shows few signs of slowing down and just over a month ago in Madrid he added the role of Bajazet in Handel's Tamerlano to his repertoire, a rare foray into Baroque territory for him. Only a few weeks later, he has brought the work to Washington Opera. more> La clemenza di TitoOpera Review: Susan Graham excels in La clemenza di Tito (New York Met) There are many reasons to see the Met's current revival of La clemenza di Tito, but by far the best is Susan Graham's performance as Sesto. Returning to Mozart after a period dominated by French repertoire, Graham triumphed. Her rendition of 'Parto, parto' in the first act brought an electricity to the night... more>
John Tomlinson as the Minotaur (Photo: Bill Cooper)Opera Review: World Premiere of Birtwistle's The Minotaur at the Royal Opera House The premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's long awaited new opera The Minotaur, written in collaboration with the poet David Harsent, was given on Tuesday to a packed Royal Opera House where the sense of occasion and of expectation was palpable and potent. It was a pleasure to be in attendance and to... more> Maite BeaumontOpera Review: Christopher Hogwood conducts the AAM in Handel's Flavio (Barbican) The Academy of Ancient Music's one-off performance of Handel's opera Flavio at the Barbican was a complete sell out. Packed to the rafters, the audience buzzed with excitement, waiting for the slightly altered line-up; Sandrine Piau was replaced at the last minute by Karina Gauvin... more>
Punch and Judy (Photo: Catherine Ashmore/ENO)Opera Review: Birtwistle's Punch and Judy at the Young Vic (ENO) Harrison Birtwistle's first opera, Punch and Judy, is a music theatre work of utmost vitality, and violence. Written and premiered all of forty years ago, it is a piece that can still express the vigour of creative beginnings, that can still show the energy and brazenness of youth. Whereas Birtwistle's most recent work, The Minotaur, exhibited... more> The Merry Widow(Photo: Catherine Ashmore/ENO)Opera Review: Amanda Roocroft and Alfie Boe star in Lehár's The Merry Widow (ENO) With its new production of The Merry Widow, the English National Opera provides a rare treat. Artistic achievement at a very high level and joyous entertainment combine to satisfy mind and soul. And thanks to Franz Lehár's wonderful melodies, one leaves the opera house smiling and singing the tunes... more>
ErnaniOpera review: Thomas Hampson and Marcello Giordani in Ernani at the Met A standing ovation greeted the four principals on the closing night of this revival of Ernani, and apart from anything else it served to underline just how well the Met had served Verdi in casting the parts with big dramatic voices. And as a regular attendee of Covent Garden, it was interesting to see that the musical... more>> Angela Gheorghiu Opera review: Angela Gheorghiu and Ramon Vargas in La boheme at the Met The Met is at its best when showcasing one of its traditional, large-scale, lavish productions, as the professional sheen of this revival of La bohème proved. Franco Zeffirelli's production dates from 1981 but the three massive, realistic sets are still as eye-catching as ever and made for a sure-fire crowd-pleaser... more>
Nina StemmeOpera review: Nina Stemme in Der Rosenkavalier with Zurich Opera (RFH) A month and a half before David McVicar's new production of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier opens at the English National Opera, the forces of Zurich Opera under Franz Welser-Möst treated a packed Royal Festival Hall to a concert performance of the work of considerable refinement and quality... more> Nancy Fabiola HererraOpera review: Alvarez and Herrera in Carmen at the ROH For this revival of Francesca Zambello's lavish production of Carmen, the Royal Opera have imported two leads who just a few weeks ago were performing the same roles in New York's Metropolitan Opera. Spanish-raised Mezzo-Soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera and Covent Garden regular Marcelo Álvarez... more>
Cecilia BartoliOpera review: Cecilia Bartoli in La Sonnambula in Baden-Baden The fact that Cecilia Bartoli chose this concert performance of La Sonnambula as her debut in singing Amina, speaks highly for the accompanying Balthasar-Neumann Ensemble and its founder and director Thomas Hengelbrock. Both Bartoli and Hengelbrock, an eminent specialist in early opera... more> Ricahrd KindOpera review: Candide at New York City Opera Great musicals, so they say, are not written but rewritten. Yet in the case of Candide, all those revisions still left the world with a problematic work of art. On the one hand, elements of Leonard Bernstein's score suggest a masterpiece of satire, matching the Voltaire novella on which the musical is based. Just as the French Enlightenment philosopher... more>
Bryn Terfel as Falstaff at the MetOpera review: Bryn Terfel stars in Verdi's Falstaff at Welsh National Opera It's nothing short of a privilege for Welsh National Opera to be able to cast the title role in Verdi's Falstaff with Bryn Terfel. Throughout this performance at Llandudno's Venue Cymru, there was a sense of Terfel giving back to his home crowd in exchange for the loyalty they've shown him over the years, indeed his rapport... more> Nelly MiricioiuOpera review: Nelly Miricioiu stars in Macbeth If excitement rather than refinement was the order of the day in the Chelsea Opera Group's performance of Verdi's Macbeth, then that's probably in the spirit of the work itself. And as is usual for them, the company chose to perform something a little out of the ordinary, which in this case meant the original 1847 version of the opera. more>
EvansOpera review: Rebecca Evans stars in WNO's The Magic Flute Given the many excellent qualities of Welsh National Opera's current touring production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, one has to wonder why it was shunned by all but The Guardian in the national press. This Flute is a lot more absorbing than the ROH's most recent revival of the same work earlier this year. Rebecca Evans was luxury... more> Debbie Voigt as Isolde at the MetOpera review: Deborah Voigt in Tristan und Isolde at the New York Met This performance of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde was supposed to feature the dream team of Ben Heppner and Deborah Voigt in the title roles.  Heppner has performed in this production before at the Met, and is acclaimed around the world as a leading exponent of the role of Tristan.  Voigt made her role debut as Isolde in Vienna... more>
Natalie Dessay as Lucia at the MetOpera review: Natalie Dessay reprises Lucia di Lammermoor at the New York Met Mary Zimmerman's new production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor which opened the 2007-2008 Metropolitan Opera season has not been received with universal enthusiasm by the opera going public. But it was a fascinating evening in the theatre, and Dessay's electrifying performance of a... more> OneginOpera review: Gerald Finley in Eugene Onegin (ROH) As anyone who attended the matinee opening performance of the Royal Opera's new  production of Fidelio last May will know, opera in the afternoon can be a sleepy affair. The singers aren't quite at their vocal peak or properly relaxed; the orchestra doesn't play with such incision; even the audience seems to behave with less sense of occasion. more>
Nadja Michael as SalomeOpera review: Nadja Michael stars in the ROH's new Salome David McVicar's new production of Salome at the Royal Opera House sets itself an admirable challenge, that of updating Wilde and Strauss's retelling of the bible story into some time between the two World Wars. There are some striking stage pictures but ultimately it brings more in the way of inconsistencies than it does revelations... more> Lucia di Lammermoor at ENO - Opera ReviewOpera review: Lucia di Lammermoor (ENO) Although the bel canto repertoire has never been well represented in English National Opera's repertoire, it comes as something of a surprise that the company has not until now performed Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti's most familiar serious opera. This new production of the piece, then, is something of a landmark event, and it was... more>
Five: 15Opera review: Five:15 at Scottish Opera It's a risky business commissioning new works, but Scottish Opera has boldly pulled it off with five new short operas from composers and writers in Scotland who are new to the business. Each lasting 15 minutes, the works are complete in themselves. But, far from carrying the feeling of a one-act opera, each has the potential for expansion into full-length form. more> Kate RoyalOpera review: Kate Royal heads Cast B of Die Zauberflöte at ROH If Simon Keenlyside's Papageno was the great performance of the first cast of the Royal Opera's revival of Die Zauberflöte, Kate Royal's Pamina was the undoubted highlight of the second. She was supported by an ensemble which gelled far more convincingly to produce a properly life-enhancing performance... more>
ENO ButterflyOpera review: Judith Howarth stars in Madam Butterfly (ENO) It's only a couple of years old, but Anthony Minghella's production of Madam Butterfly is already on its second revival at English National Opera, where it opens the Sky Arts 2008 season in stylish form. The production remains extremely handsome and atmospheric. Minghella looks to the theatrical traditions of the East for inspiration... more> ROH Traviata - Opera ReviewOpera review: La traviata (ROH) By engaging Anna Netrebko as Violetta, Jonas Kaufmann as Alfredo and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Germont père, Covent Garden has certainly gone to town on the casting budget; this may be its tenth revival, but until now, Sir Richard Eyre's production of Verdi's La traviata for the Royal Opera hasn't been as lavishly cast since it was unveiled in 1994. more>
ROH Traviata - Cast BOpera review: Norah Amsellem leads Cast B of La traviata (ROH) After an 'A' cast which assembled three of the most sought after singers in the opera world in Anna Netrebko, Jonas Kaufmann and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, it was inevitable that the 'B' cast for the Royal Opera's La traviata would have less sparkle. In the event, Netrebko's well-publicised early departure due to bronchitis... more> ROH Flute - Opera ReviewOpera review: Die Zauberflöte (ROH) For this third revival of David McVicar's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, we were lucky to have two of the greatest Papagenos of recent years onstage. Simon Keenlyside – now indispensable to this production – took on the character with verve, but the other show-stealing performance came from Sir Thomas Allen as the Speaker of the Temple. more>
ENO The MikadoOpera review: Sarah Tynan stars in The Mikado (ENO) Slick, glossy and professional, English National Opera's revival of Jonathan Miller's production of The Mikado bears all the signs of a well-rehearsed show. The singing is mostly very good, with some excellent individual contributions, the ensemble is lively and everything fizzes along at a good pace. Yet throughout this performance... more> Opera Review: Opera North's Peter GrimesOpera review: Britten's Peter Grimes (Opera North) The award-winning production of Peter Grimes returns for a revival with most of the original cast from the 2006 season at Opera North and is full of all the elements of this great production of Grimes which made it special last time. Those who were fortunate enough to see last time should do so again and those that weren’t should... more>
Opera Review: Opera North's PinocchioOpera review: World Premiere of Jonathan Dove's Pinocchio (Opera North) Take a naughty wooden boy, a loving father and caring blue fairy godmother, add a sly and wicked cat and fox, a friendly cricket and snail, and you start to get an idea of what composer Jonathan Dove and librettist Alasdair Middleton had in mind for the world premiere of Pinocchio given by Opera North. more> ROH Cenerentola - Opera ReviewOpera review: La Cenerentola (ROH) The subtitle of La Cenerentola may be 'The triumph of goodness' but The Royal Opera's current revival of the work cannot be judged in quite such positive terms. Rossini's reworking of the Cinderella story is an absolute masterpiece and its musical and comic riches are such that only the most dire of performances (which this isn't) render... more>
Glyndebourne on Tour: Albert HerringOpera Review: Glyndebourne on Tour: Britten's Albert Herring Contemporary critical opinion of Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring suggests that what at first appears to be a comedy about the coming-of-age of a naïve village youth is actually a more ambitious moral tale about the rejection of the bourgeois social elite and their outdated sexual norms... more> Il barbiere di Siviglia - Opera ReviewOpera review: Il barbiere di Siviglia (Scottish Opera) Scottish Opera's Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) by Rossini is the best production I have seen this year. From the famous overture to the emancipation of love at the close, the company displayed an abundance of musicality, comedy and flair in the setting of Seville in Southern Spain. No doubt the director Sir Thomas Allen... more>
ROH Parsifal - Opera ReviewOpera review: Haitink returns: Wagner's Parsifal (ROH) While many will be delighted by the return of Bernard Haitink to The Royal Opera for the first time since he stepped down as Music Director in 2002, I find it difficult to be equally glad about the decision to celebrate it by reviving Klaus Michael Grüber's production of Parsifal. A co-production with Teatro Real, Madrid, it is based on... more> The Turn of the Screw - Opera ReviewOpera review: Britten's The Turn of the Screw (ENO) Quite simply the most riveting thing I've seen in months, English National Opera's new production of Britten's The Turn of the Screw is a haunting, compelling experience which should be seen by all who appreciate intelligent theatre.Turning its back on the critical doldrums of recent months, the company has the winning... more>
Maria Stuarda - Chelsea OperaOpera review: Maria Stuarda (Chelsea Opera Group) Donizetti's fascination with English history, and especially with the character of Elizabeth I, resulted in a number of operas, including Il castello di Kenilworth, Roberto Devereux and Maria Stuarda. The latter is the most famous and probably the greatest of the three, and was the well-deserved choice for the Chelsea Opera Group's autumn 2007... more> ROH Elisir: opera reviewOpera review: L'elisir d'amore with Stefano Secco (ROH) After last season's La Fille du régiment, Laurent Pelly returns to Covent Garden with L'elisir d'amore, a co-production with the Opéra National de Paris. This production was another victim of the Royal Opera's misfortune regarding high-profile withdrawals and in a performance dedicated to Luciano Pavarotti, it's particularly... more>
King Croesus: opera reviewOpera review: King Croesus (Opera North) In a year where Opera North has presented three early if not obscure works - Dido and Aeneas, Orfeo and now The Fortunes of King Croesus - the latter must be the pinnacle. Reinhard Keiser's work deserves to be placed alongside that of Handel and Purcell - he wrote over sixty operas of which now only eighteen survive - and should be given more attention. more> ROH Elisir: opera reviewOpera review: L'elisir d'amore with Dmitri Korchak (ROH) The unfortunate departure of Rolando Villazón from The Royal Opera's new production of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore left the company with a logistical headache. Russian tenor Dmitri Korchak took over for last night's performance and will appear again on 29 November. Korchak turned out to be one of the few impressive elements of... more>
Falstaff Opera North opera reviewsOpera review: Falstaff (Opera North) A strong ensemble cast and a classic production make the second offering of Opera North's autumn 2007 season, Verdi's Falstaff, a feast for the eyes and ears. Having been impressed with Matthew Warchus' production when it was new in 1997, I was delighted to find that not only has it retained its charm, but in the hands of a revival director (Peter Relton) it has... more> Madama Butterfly opera reviewsOpera review: Madama Butterfly (Opera North) The cornerstone of Opera North's autumn season is a new production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly by the ever-enterprising Tim Albery (who's also responsible for the new production of The Fortunes of King Croesus). But in the event, although the orchestra and singers gave of their all, it turned out to be more of an interesting experience... more>
Semele: Opera ReviewOpera review: Semele (Early Opera Company) 'Myself I shall adore' sang Elizabeth Watts in the title role at this concert performance of Handel's Semele, and one can't really blame her. The British soprano has the complete package: a ravishingly beautiful voice, the technique to negotiate even the most taxing of Handel showcase arias, great looks and a bubbly personality. more> Verdi's Aida: opera reviewOpera review: Aida (ENO) The fatal flaw of English National Opera's new production of Verdi's Aida is the way in which Jo Davies (director) and Edward Gardner (conductor) have decided to emphasise the work's intimate aspects at the expense of its grandeur. This approach is a complete miscalculation of the way the opera is constructed. A central Verdian aesthetic throughout his career was contrast. more>
Rita Royal Opera ROH Donizetti opera reviewsOpera review: Rita (ROH) In theory, it seemed like a good idea to stage Donizetti's rarely-performed one-act opera Rita for the Royal Opera's Young Artists as part of the annual 'Meet the Young Artists' week. But although I was delighted to have the opportunity to see the work in the theatre, neither the music nor the production quite lived up to its promise. Rita tells the story of a wife and her two husbands. more> La straniera: Opera ReviewOpera review: La straniera (Opera Rara) Opera Rara has a reputation for bringing largely forgotten works back to the public's attention and they did it yet again with this performance of Bellini's La straniera. Indeed, the accumulative power of the piece is so great that this excellent performance made me wonder why it ever left the repertoire in the first place. more>
Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea: opera reviewOpera review: The Coronation of Poppea English National Opera has assembled an excellent cast for their production of The Coronation of Poppea. But although some of the singers deliver truly remarkable performances, stage director Chen Shi-Zheng's production of Monteverdi's masterpiece is problematic. Maybe the director viewed the Coliseum's stage as too large for Monteverdi. more> Dido and Aeneas opera reviewsDido and Aeneas (OAE) In spite of several excellent performers on stage, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightement's production of Dido and Aeneas - so promising on paper - turned out to be a disappointment to many of the audience. The last few minutes of the performance - Sarah Connolly's magnificent rendering of Dido's farewell lament, followed by the beautifully sung final chorus... more>
The Magic Flute English National Opera Nick Hytner ENO opera reviewsThe Magic Flute (ENO) As Nicholas Hytner's 1988 staging of the Magic Flute is dusted off for the final time at the London Coliseum, it's easy to see why it's remained an audience favourite for so long. It still manages to strike the balance between the sublime and the earthy that is so important for this opera, and although some of the creaky sets show their age a little, the production retains... more> Gotterdammerung Royal Opera ROH Keith Warner opera reviewsGötterdämmerung (ROH) Yesterday's performance of Götterdämmerung, the end of the Royal Opera's first complete Ring Cycle in over a decade, was greeted with loud cheers and a standing ovation from some members of the audience. But while the production was as stimulating as before and sometimes faultless, the musical performance left much to be desired. Antonio Pappano looked... more>
Siegfried Royal Opera ROH opera reviewSiegfried (ROH) With Siegfried, the temperature has really turned up on Keith Warner's production of the Ring for Covent Garden. The musical performance far surpassed that for the curiously muted Walküre, and the sheer emotional devastation of Warner's handling of the drama - especially in Act 3 - made for an increasingly compelling experience. The treatment of the... more> Carmen English National Opera Sally Potter ENO opera reviewsCarmen (ENO) Thrilling, contemporary, thought-provoking: what more could be asked of an opera production? ENO have scored a major triumph with their season-opener, a new production of Bizet's Carmen by the film director Sally Potter. Far from seeming out of her depth in a medium unfamiliar to her, Potter brings considerable flair and cinematic deftness to her first opera production. more>
Das Rheingold Royal Opera ROH opera reviewDas Rheingold (ROH) It's almost comical to observe that as the reviews gradually pour in for the first performance of Keith Warner's Royal Opera production of Das Rheingold as part of a complete cycle, the critics who roundly dismissed it when it was new cannot help but award it four stars - albeit begrudgingly - and admit they were impressed. To those of us who admired it from the start... more> Die Walkure Royal Opera ROH opera reviewDie Walküre (ROH) The first three times I saw Keith Warner's spectacular production of Die Walküre back in 2005, I was both thrilled and moved to tears. The deftness of the handling of the narrative was extraordinary, but the emotional punch of the experience was what really made it special for me. Now performed as part of a cycle for the first time, I feel the production has lost some of its... more>
Iphigénie en Tauride opera reviewIphigénie en Tauride (ROH) Life is rarely black and white, especially in Ancient Greek drama. But Robert Carsen's new production of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride would have us believe otherwise. Carsen treats the drama as a black void into which no light spills until the gods' anger is quelled in the closing tableau of the opera, when the stage is suddenly illuminated. more> L'amore dei tre re opera reviewsL'amore dei tre re (OHP) In what was both the most impressive production ever staged by Opera Holland Park and the highlight of July's opera season in London, an ideal team of soloists, chorus, orchestra, conductor, designer and director came together in perfect union or this highly anticipated presentation of L'amore dei tre Re by Montemezzi. more>
On danseOn danse The latest On Danfe production is a surreal plunge into the world of modern dance. Against an interactive video backdrop of naked men and women, elephants walking on a tightrope and eighteenth-century ladies bouncing on clouds (to name but a few), dancers from all genres created a new and exciting expression of Jean-Philippe Rameau's music. more> Flowering Tree: opera reviewA Flowering Tree Although billed as an opera in two acts, A Flowering Tree is possibly better described as a dramatico-musical work, particularly when present in a semi-staging such as that at the Barbican Centre. The libretto for the work, written by composer John Adams and long-time collaborator Peter Sellars, is based on an old South-Indian folk-tale. more>
Traviata opera reviewLa traviata(OHP) La dame aux camélias was a mere five years old when it was transformed into the opera La traviata. And when the play version of Alexandre Dumas' novel received its premiere in 1852, Verdi almost immediately began setting it to music, completing it the following year. more> Cosi fan tutte opera reviewsCosi fan tutte(ROH) This revival of Mozart's Così fan tutte is the perfect way to end the Royal Opera's 2006-07 season. After a slightly dud Rigoletto last week, it's great to see musical and dramatic standards back on a high under an ideal conductor-director team and an excellent cast. Jonathan Miller's production is an absolute pleasure. more>
Lakme opera reviewLakmé Lively choreography, committed performances, sensitive conducting, great costumes: Opera Holland Park's new production of Delibes' Lakmé has everything going for it. Except the opera itself. Perhaps it's personal taste - I didn't much take to Massenet's Thaïs a couple of weeks ago, either... more> Tosca: opera reviewTosca After the damp squib of its unveiling last June, with a disappointing stage debut from Angela Gheorghiu in the title role, Jonathan Kent's production of Puccini's Tosca has really come into its own in this first revival. Gone is the unconvincingly virginal white gown, which resembled a wedding dress... more>
Il Barbiere di Siviglia opera reviewIl barbiere di Siviglia Take note: Opera Holland Park's new production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville does far more justice to the work than either of the most recent productions by The Royal Opera and English National Opera. This Barber is packed with razor sharp humour, and the musical standards are very high. more> Rigoletto opera reviewRigoletto Inspiration flowed from Verdi's pen like water from a tap when he was writing his seventeenth opera, Rigoletto. Although he spent a long time thinking about the project, and sketches for the aria 'Caro nome' suggest that he was originally intending to include the number in his previous work, Stiffelio... more>
Kismet opera reviewKismet Even if the prospect of the musical itself doesn't tempt you, it is worth catching English National Opera's new production of Wright and Forrest's Kismet to witness one of the nation's greatest musical stars rising to new heights in the most challenging role of his career. Michael Ball grabs every note... more> Benvenuto Cellini opera reviewBenvenuto Cellini When Sir Colin Davis conducts Berlioz, the result is a carnival of vibrant lights, colours and sounds. Appropriately so in the case of Benvenuto Cellini, which has the Shrove Tuesday Roman carnival as its background. Sir Colin led a cast of distinguished soloists and the London Symphony Orchestra.. more>
Sweeney Todd opera reviewSweeney Todd In spite of Bryn Terfel's towering presence and astounding vocal performance in the title role, this semi-staging of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd was mostly a dire mess. In truth, some of the problem lies in the work itself, which has no heart whatsoever... more> Thais opera reviewThais The climax of the Royal Opera's year-long French-themed season was this concert performance of Massenet's Thaïs (repeated on Friday 29 June) starring the American soprano Renée Fleming. The event revealed both the flaws and the innovations of the opera. Louis Gallet's libretto, based on Anatole France's novel, is unusual... more>
Lucia di Lammermoor opera reviewLucia di Lammermoor Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor is a psychologically gripping opera that exudes passion, tension and drama. Often marked as a showcase opera, it is a work favoured by sopranos for its dazzling bel canto arias. But Scottish Opera serves up much more than that: director John Doyle... more> Katya Kabanova opera reviewKatya Kabanova Janácek's Katya Kabanova at the Royal Opera House is memorable because of its extraordinary artistic excellence. But it is also deeply moving because of conductor Sir Charles Mackerras' connection to Janácek and, in particular, to Katya Kabanova. In 1951 Mackerras conducted the first performance... more>
Don Giovanni opera reviewDon Giovanni Mixture is at the heart of Don Giovanni. Even more than in the other two operas that Mozart wrote with Lorenzo da Ponte - Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte - the composer employs a wide range of musical styles that collide in a piece that is almost sui generis... more> Madama Butterfly opera reviewMadama Butterfly Scottish Opera's Madama Butterfly embraces the creativity of Puccini's writing and here produced a fine performance, with an accomplished cast and orchestra to match. Madama Butterfly is one of Puccini's best-loved operas. Taking its plot from David Belasco's drama, the piece is focused on the story of a Geisha... more>
La clemenza di Tito opera reviewLa clemenza di Tito Once again English National Opera has assembled a stellar cast, this time for Mozart's La clemenza di Tito. There was not one weak singer on stage and several of them were outstanding. Written in 1791 for the coronation of the Habsburg ruler Leopold II as King of Bohemia... more> Jenufa opera reviewJenufa Continuing its tradition of exploring an eclectic repertoire, the second production of Opera Holland Park's 2007 season takes them into Czech territory with Janácek's Jenufa. Once the sun had gone down on opening night, the performance overcame a slightly blurred first act and gave us scintillating intensity. more>
Nabucco reviewNabucco Last night's new production of Verdi's Nabucco signified the dawning of a new era for Opera Holland Park. After years of performing under the same canopy in their open air theatre in Kensington, the company has finally acquired a completely new performing space. more> Pelleas et Melisande opera reviewPélleas et Mélisande It's fourteen years since Pélleas et Mélisande was last performed at Covent Garden, so this new production - first seen at last year's Salzburg festival - was all the more highly anticipated. And with a cast including three of today's great opera singers, plus Sir Simon Rattle in the pit... more>
Death in Venice opera reviewDeath in Venice English National Opera's production of Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice is a unique meeting of truly great minds that also provides an outstanding cast and a most sensitive and fascinating staging. Myfanwy Piper's libretto is based on Der Tod in Venedig by the great German writer Thomas Mann. more> Orfeo opera reviewOrfeo This year's Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music concluded with a ravishing performance of Monteverdi's Orfeo. Though - according to the Festival's publicity booklet - it was supposed to be semi-staged, the presentation was nowhere short of a full operatic experience. more>
Fidelio opera reviewFidelio At the height of the Act Two finale of Beethoven's Fidelio, the main protagonist, Leonore, sings the line 'O welch' ein Augenblick!', which translates as 'O, what a moment!'. Yet in spite of some exquisite singing and playing, what this performance lacked was precisely what Leonore mentions... more> Stiffelio opera reviewStiffelio Almost everything about Verdi's Stiffelio is incredibly modern. For one thing, the play on which it is based (Le Pasteur by Souvestre and Bourgeois) was written not long before Verdi gave it the operatic treatment. As a result, the costumes and settings of the original production reflected the real-life experiences... more>
On the Town opera reviewOn the Town Two years after its initial sell-out run in 2005, English National Opera's production of Bernstein's On the Town has bounded back into the Coliseum with all the vitality and exuberance of Broadway at its best. The company has lent the piece its full resources... more> Giulio Cesare opera reviewGiulio Cesare Full marks to the Barbican management for presenting such excellent guest orchestras as, on this occasion, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. Seeing renowned baroque expert René Jacobs conduct is also a privilege to be thankful for. But, though in the event this concert - a semi-staged performance... more>
Owen Wingrave opera reviewOwen Wingrave Pacifism was one of the themes closest to Benjamin Britten's heart. He engaged with anti-war sentiments in works of various genres, from the War Requiem (which was written for the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral) to the Pacifist March... more> Double Bill opera reviewDouble Bill After producing Shostakovich's grisly and depressing Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk together in 2004, Royal Opera Music Director Antonio Pappano and director Richard Jones have reunited for a double bill of early twentieth-century comic operas by Ravel and Puccini. more>
Satyagraha opera reviewSatyagraha The English National Opera production of Philip Glass' Satyagraha is a stage spectacle well worth seeing. It is entertaining, fascinating and informative. However, it is debatable whether Glass' composition, described as his second opera, can be regarded as an opera. more> Orfeo opera reviewOrfeo Perhaps the most important feature of Philip Pickett's presentation of L'Orfeo is his thorough knowledge of the score and his unobtrusive direction of cast and instrumentalists. Pickett researched all aspects of Monteverdi's masterpiece in great detail and his painstaking work resulted in a historically authentic performance. more>
The Tempest opera reviewThe Tempest Whatever one thinks about Thomas Adès' 2004 take on Shakespeare's The Tempest, there is no doubt of the high quality and unstinting commitment of the cast. There are, indeed, five knock-out vocal performances... more> opera reviewBeatrice di Tenda When Bellini first sat down to write an opera for La Fenice in Venice with the renowned librettist Felice Romani in 1833, it was to have been based on a story by Alexandre Dumas the elder about Queen Christina of Sweden. But the tale just didn't capture Bellini's imagination. more>
cosiAgrippina ENO fielded an excellent cast for this new production of Agrippina. Indeed, not one singer let the side down in Handel's early masterpiece. With such team work ENO can look forward to further great things to come. The most innovative part of the production is director David McVicar's daring... more>