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Karita MattilaOpera review: A triumphant Ariadne auf Naxos at the Royal Opera House Christof Loy’s 2002 production, as well as its current revival, is imaginative, tasteful and highly entertaining. Loy’s interpretation of both plots (those of the Prologue and the opera) and his characterisation of the roles are fully in accord with Hofmannstahl’s witty libretto and Strauss’s splendid score. There is not a single movement on stage which does not correspond to the music; the choreographic direction...more>





QuartettOpera review: An unmissable Quartett at the Linbury Studio at ROH After opening with Ben Frost's critically mauled adaptation of Iain Banks' The Wasp Factory, the ROH brings its 2013/14 season of operas in the Linbury Theatre to a triumphant close. Luca Francesconi's Quartett is a triumph, an intricately crafted work whichmore> ButterflyOpera review: An incredible Madama Butterfly at the San Francisco Opera Together with La bohème, Madama Butterfly is the opera that is most performed at the War Memorial Opera House. This particular run is not to be missed, thanks to the captivating production by Jun Kaneko (new to the SF Opera), the intensity of the acting, and the masterful...more>
TraviataOpera review: La traviata at the San Francisco Opera with Nicole Cabell  I start this review with a confession: La traviata has been my favorite opera since the first time I heard it. Over the years, I learned all the parts by heart, I have sang “E' strano... sempre libera” for my students when I taught them about the Italian Risorgimento, and.....more> GrimesOpera review: Peter Grimes at Grange Park Peter Grimes is not the first Britten opera to have been scheduled by Grange Park—that honour goes to The Turn of the Screw, which made its appearance in 2002. But Peter Grimes is the first grand opera by Britten, with full orchestra and chorus, to have filled Grange Park's comparatively small...more>
OneginOpera review: Vert Vert at Garsington The theme of a gauche adolescent boy, who is taken in charge by a glamorous older woman, tutored in the arts of love, before then finding a suitable girl of his own age and circumstances to marry, is a favourite on the opera and operetta stage. Offenbach's 1869 Vert Vert, written not for his own beloved Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens but for the slightly more...more> CelliniOpera review: An outstanding Benvenuto Cellini at ENO Some modern productions have difficulty trusting the work they are trying to present. Usually, the distrust stems from the director's lack of understanding about the work or the "modern spin" they attempt to impose on it in an attempt to make it more relevant. Such was the case with Terry Gilliam's...more>
OneginOpera review: A vintage Eugene Onegin at Glyndebourne Twenty years ago director Graham Vick caused a minor sensation with his ground-breaking new production of Eugene Onegin in the brand new Glyndebourne Opera House. Vick gave us bare, sometimes bleak stage vistas, bathed in pastel colours, interspersed with sudden bursts of interior warmth--notably in the...more> CarmelitesOpera review: a stunning Dialogues des Carmélites at ROH  Revolution, faith, and martyrdom: Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites tackles some weighty themes. The Royal Opera House certainly did them justice in a powerful production that balanced intensity and turmoil with moments of warmth and humour...more>
DeviaConcert review: Mariella Devia shines in Roberto Devereux at Carnegie Hall  Nearly fifteen years after her last appearance at Carnegie Hall – also with the Opera Orchestra of New York in Donizetti’s rarely performed Adelia – Mariella Devia made a thrilling, triumphant return in the same composer’s richly dramatic Roberto Devereux last Thursday...more> RosenkavalierOpera review: a four-star Rosenkavalier at Glyndebourne Der Rosenkavalier is a favourite opera for many people, and for many different reasons. Some love the moments of pathos--the glimpses of personal suffering behind the social...more>
CosiOpera review: a new Cosi at ENO While we've had Figaro in a car showroom and Don Giovanni in Spanish Harlem, the last of Mozart's Da Ponte operas has proved more resistant to such updatings and transpositions; and even when they have been attempted...more> FigaroOpera Review: A disappointing Figaro at the Royal Opera HouseI like my Mozart the way I like my darts: precise. There are undoubtedly some operas in which the singers and conductor can get away with being ever-so-slightly sloppy; you know, the way a poorly filled Sloppy-Joe might be at a mediocre American diner. Le nozze di Figaro is decidedly not one of those operas. The masterpiece...more>
Robert GouletCD Feature: Welcome first CD issues of Cowardy Custard, A Little Night Music film soundtrack and TV versions of Brigadoon and Kiss Me, Kate The musical heritage of the “Great American Songbook” and the Hollywood and Broadway musical is one of America’s artistic treasures. Yet with the fast-changing and troubled face of the contemporary recording industry, much of this great music is left forgotten or undiscovered....more> RigolettoOpera Review: A welcome return to Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden The 150th anniversary of Richard Strauss's birth is marked and celebrated by the Royal Opera with a new production of Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow). Strauss completed the opera during World War I, and it received its premiere in 1919. This new production...more>
RodelindaOpera Review: A dazzling Rodelinda from English National Opera The recent, highly successful run of Handel's Rodelinda at the English National Opera seemed to have two opposing forces at play which, nevertheless, blended into a very enjoyable experience. On one hand we had Handel's serious opera; on the other hand, the theatrical experience was not only entertaining but often comic...more> Sigismund KuijkenConcert Review: Sigiswald Kuijken and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment The publicity surrounding Sigiswald Kuijken’s introduction of the violoncello da spalla (shoulder cello) to London audiences was impressive. For instance, Kuijken’s appearance on BBC 2’s ‘Newsnight’ programme and an Evening Standard article drew considerable attention...more>
FilleOpera Review: A well sung but tired Fille at ROH This production of Donizetti's opera comique is as uninspired as Pelly's previous outings at the Royal Opera recently: a mishmash of World War II costumes with dark brown and tan maps that occasionally swing across the stage and date from (one assumes) the 1840s. The closest we get to realism is a cleverly tilted set that acts as la maison de Berkenfeld...more> ManonOpera Review: A starry revival of Manon at Covent Garden The table has a special place in western cultural practice. It is a place to perform one of life's critical functions as well as trivial ones; to entertain friends and family; to remember. In modern times its relevance as a bond holding people together is slowly lessening, but as an cultural image...more>
RigolettoOpera Review: An outstanding Rigoletto at ENOVerdi's Rigoletto is arguably all about a curse. Before it became the opera we know today, its working title for several months was in fact la maledizione (the curse). The curse as a motif replays for the duration of the opera musically: Rigoletto sings the same words over the same music five separate times to convey the importance Monterone's curse and it is of course, the curse that literally...more> Gratta SakantalaOpera Review: A rare outing for Alfano's Sakuntala in New York The relatively lucky few New Yorkers who are "in the know" about Teatro Grattacielo's existence eagerly anticipate their annual one-off concert performance of a rare verismo or post-verismo Italian opera. Last October's thrilling revival of Montemezzi's 1918 La Nave (its first since 1938) set the bar high for this resurrection of Franco Alfano's 1921 Sakùntala...more>
CarmenOpera Review: A brand new Carmen for Royal Opera In the programme for Bizet's Carmen, Kasper Holten remarks that the title character is a mysterious figure, and that "we can never really know who she is". This seemed ironic: even at the end of the opera, I was not left with a clear idea...more> The Magic FluteOpera Review: A brand new Magic Flute for English National Opera First and foremost, English National Opera’s new production of The Magic Flute is an extra-ordinary theatrical event. Regular theatre goers might already have seen at least some of the technical...more>
Die FledermausOpera Review: A disappointing new Die Fledermaus at ENO The Coliseum curtain was already up; a large and luxurious bed to one side of the vast, empty stage, a giant pocket watch suspended ominously over the other. The overture began and Rosalinde was revealed, alone in bed, writhing about in the throes...more> Sophie BevanConcert Review: Sophie Bevan and friends perform Goethe Lieder at the Oxford Lieder Festival This concert marked a milestone event: the end of a three year undertaking to record the first complete set of Hugo Wolf’s songs (including twenty-two premiere recordings). The project was brought to a close with the Festival’s third and final instalment of the composer’s Goethe-Lieder (performed over the space of five days). Many of the final...more>
WozzeckOpera Review: A starry revival of Wozzeck at Covent Garden It’s not hard to imagine Berg being captivated by Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck when he saw one of its first performances in Vienna in 1914; written in 1836, and left unfinished at its author’s premature death, it’s a play out of time, a bizarre, fragmentary artefact that meshed so perfectly with the modernist aesthetic...more> Madam ButterflyOpera Review: The beloved English National Opera Production of Madam Butterfly returns Now in its fifth revival at ENO, Anthony Minghella's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly seems only to get stronger as time passes. It is certainly one of the best things ENO does, and its strength rests not only in its spectacular beauty...more>
ImbrailoOpera Review: Beethoven's Fidelio at ENO Six years ago, in 2007, we interviewed a promising young South African baritone called Jacques Imbrailo and chatted to him about his forthcoming appearance in Britten’s Owen Wingrave at the Linbury in the ROH...more> FigaroOpera Review: Le nozze di Figaro at Covent Garden Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro is exceedingly difficult to perform well. The opera is unlike any other: short and snappy arias, recitatives packed with information and witticisms, and music that at moments reaches right into the soul of the listener and, just as often, deep into the belly to provoke raucous laughter. It is not without its flaws but nevertheless it...more>
ElektraOpera Review: The ROH's revival of Elektra After a low-octane Turandot (Lise Lindstrom’s titular performance aside) to open the season, it was nice to return to Covent Garden and find that the emotional temperature considerably raised. Richard Strauss’s first collaboration with his star librettist Hugo von Hofmannstahl remains one of the most searing operatic works of the 20th century, and on a...more> TurandotOpera Review: The Royal Opera's season opens with Turandot The Royal Opera began its new season with Andrei Serban‘s seasoned production of Puccini’s Turandot. With epic sets designed by Sally Jacobs and lighting by F. Mitchell Dana, the traditional yet highly stylized production perfectly evokes a China long since dead whilst also perfectly complementing...more>
GlyndebourneOpera Review: Opera Holland Park's new production of L'elisir d'amore Opera buffa doesn’t get good PR. Amongst scholars, the genre is often overshadowed by the grandiose or serious (read: academically legitimate) themes so well communicated by its looming cousin opera seria--even after a renewed interest in some of the... more> SzentbakkallaConcert Review: Music in Szentbakkalla, Hungary Surrounded by the low but beautiful scenic mountains of the Balaton-Highland, Szentbékkálla is a picturesque village in Káli-basin, Hungary. The entire population of the village consists of two hundred residents although visitors seeking a peaceful rest or scenic mountain-walks swell...more>
GlyndebourneOpera Review: Glyndebourne's Hippolyte et Aricie It has taken Rameau’s five act opera Hippolyte et Aricie a mere 280 years to travel from Paris to its first production at Glyndebourne: was it worth the wait? Well, not only was this the first Hippolyte at Glyndebourne, it was the first ever... more> Hansel and GretelOpera Review: Garsington Opera's Hansel and Gretel The more I experience opera in the new steel and glass pavilion built for Garsington Opera at Wormsley, the more I like it. The space is vaguely reminiscent of the old structure in the grounds of Garsington Manor, but the acoustics are better, the sight lines generous... more>
Grange Park OperaOpera Review: Grange Parks's production of Messanger's Fortunio ull marks and four stars to Grange Park Opera for rounding off their 2013 season with a delightful French operetta of 1907 – the slight, elegant, cynical tale of an aristocratic French lady Jaqueline who sleeps not with her husband, the elderly notary Maitre Andre, but with first one lover, the... more> La rondineOpera Review: The Royal Opera's La rondine One of the great tragedies of Puccini’s music is that, for much of its lifetime, it has been measured with a Germanic yardstick, often being reduced to suffer humiliation at the hands of Wagner’s most devoted followers—those who listen for cold, emotionless nuances. Of course, in academia it’s not quite as overtly bleak... more>
Masterworks BroadwayCD Review: Sony releases Bye Bye Birdie, Seventeen, Kinky Boots, Chaplin and many others Broadway musicals don’t come more charming than Seventeen. Musical theatre in 1951 had much more challenging fare on offer, including Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I and Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls, as well as zippy shows like Irving Berlin’s Call Me Madam and the satirical Jule Styne revue Two on the Aisle, so it’s understandable that in such a context this chocolate-box musical comedy... more> Simon BoccanegraOpera Review: Thomas Hampson in the Royal Opera's Simon Boccanegra Written after his not-so-successful first attempt at grand opera Les vêpes siciliennes, Simon Boccanegra still reflects Verdi’s two years in Paris and is one of his darkest operas, with musical characteristics common to the city’s grandest form of art: orchestral colors that have deep hues, long flowing melodic lines... more>
ImbrailoOpera Interview: Baritone Jacques Imbrailo chats about Glyndebourne's Billy Budd and future plans Six years ago, in 2007, we interviewed a promising young South African baritone called Jacques Imbrailo and chatted to him about his forthcoming appearance in Britten’s Owen Wingrave at the Linbury in the ROH...more> TurandotOpera Review: The Royal Opera's season opens with Turandot The Royal Opera began its new season with Andrei Serban‘s seasoned production of Puccini’s Turandot. With epic sets designed by Sally Jacobs and lighting by F. Mitchell Dana, the traditional yet highly stylized production perfectly evokes a China long since dead whilst also perfectly complementing...more>
GlyndebourneOpera Review: Opera Holland Park's new production of L'elisir d'amore Opera buffa doesn’t get good PR. Amongst scholars, the genre is often overshadowed by the grandiose or serious (read: academically legitimate) themes so well communicated by its looming cousin opera seria--even after a renewed interest in some of the... more> GioielliOpera Review: Wolf-Ferrari's I gioielli della Madonna at Opera Holland Park Opera Holland Park have carved out a valuable niche in reviving neglected examples of late-19th/early-20th century Italian repertoire; recent years have seen welcome stagings of, for example, Zandonai’s oddly beguiling Francesca di Rimini, Mascagni’s hugely likeable... more>
Sir Mark ElderConcert Review: Versatile Britten brings the Aldeburgh Festival to an end The five performances of Peter Grimes at the heart of this year’s Aldeburgh Festival (two in concert, three on the beach) may have overshadowed some of the other musical offerings, but Britten’s versatility as a composer was illustrated in different ways as the Festival drew to a close. Of huge interest was an evening called Britten Dances, given by the Royal...more> Ailyn PerezOpera Interview: Soprano Ailyn Perez chats about Glyndebourne's Falstaff One of the undoubted highlights of the 2013 Glyndebourne season is the joyful revival of the Richard Jones production of Falstaff that first saw the light of day in 2009. And one of the undoubted highlights in that revival is the triumphant assertion of the role of Alice Ford by Glyndebourne debutante Ailyn Pérez. Four weeks into the run, we caught up with the young, prizewinning soprano between ...more>
The Pearl FishersOpera Review: A welcome revival of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers at Opera Holland Park Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de perles is not an opera that usually adapts well when staged by smaller opera companies. Topically it is in the same camp as Halévy’s Jaguarita L’Indienne for the primacy of dramatic impetus given to the female role but also for what are termed its “literary” qualities: a substantial focus on historical or geographical exploration coupled with...more> Peter Grimes on the beachOpera Review: Peter Grimes on the beach at the Aldeburgh Festival No production of Peter Grimes can ever have started with two low-flying passes over stage setting and audience by a Spitfire, but that is what happened at 20.32 on the opening night (of three) of this year's major event at the Aldeburgh Festival--Grimes on the Beach. "Glastonbury comes to Aldeburgh" was one of the muttered comments that greeted me, and the speaker had a point: on a cold, blustery June evening, in the teeth of a north easterly wind, with the sea crashing on the shingle...more>
Death in VeniceOpera Review: Britten's Death in Venice at ENO Benjamin Britten's centenary year is celebrated with an outstanding production of Death in Venice by the English National Opera. The high quality event, ENO's revival of Deborah Warner's 2007 production, serves not only as a worthy tribute to Britten...more> Madama ButterflyOpera Review: Opera Holland Park presents Madama Butterfly There is a gentle breeze, with only the slightest chill, as the warm sun sets whilst Puccini's "Vogliatemi bene" hits with full force those enjoying one of Opera Holland Park's new productions. This one is, of course, Madama Butterfly, and..more>
Benjamin BrittenOpera Review: Britten's Peter Grimes at the Aldeburgh Festival It is 13 years since the Snape Maltings Concert Hall last resounded to a full-scale, semi-staged concert performance of Peter Grimes. And now, as then, it seemed on occasion during the second performance of the opera as the big opener for the 2013 Aldeburgh Festival that the storm music conjured up...more> Garsington OperaOpera Review: Garsington Opera presents Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serai The 2013 Garsington Opera season opened its third year at its new home on the Wormsley Estate with a propitious omen: for once, the weather was balmy and the beautiful steel and glass structure that encloses the performance space was..more>
GlorianaOpera Review: The Royal Opera stages a new production of Britten's Gloriana A cursory glance at the programme inset gives one brief pause for thought: on Monday 24 June 2013 (a performance that was relayed live to cinemas all over the UK) the Royal Opera gave their 16th performance of Gloriana. Sixteen performances in sixty years – hardly a runaway box office success. And the more I watched the quirky, stylish but...more> Garsington OperaOpera Review: Garsington Opera presents Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serai The 2013 Garsington Opera season opened its third year at its new home on the Wormsley Estate with a propitious omen: for once, the weather was balmy and the beautiful steel and glass structure that encloses the performance space was..more>
Monteverdi ChoirConcerts Review: The Monteverdi Choir under Sir John Eliot Gardiner at the Aldeburgh Festival For his first appearance at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, John Eliot Gardiner chose a well-balanced programme of choral and instrumental music by Bach to showcase the talents of his choir and of two fine violinists with whom he has long made music – Kati Debretzeni played the A minor concerto in the first half...more> The Perfect AmericanOpera Review: English National Opera premieres The Perfect American Philip Glass and Rudy Wurlitzer's The Perfect American, which uses the last few months of Walt Disney's life as a lens to explore Disney's personal character and wider themes related to wider American culture, doesn't really work as an opera, at least for much of its running time. Based on Peter Stephan Jungk's eponymous book and produced by Improbable in collaboration...more>
Opera HOlland ParkOpera Review: OHP presents Cav and Pag Opera Holland Park opened its 2013 season with Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, presented as a traditional double-bill. Both are new productions for a company that in the past has proven itself as an innovative, stylish, and resourceful producer of opera...more> Interview: Joshua HopkinsInterview: Joshua Hopkins about Glyndebourne's revival of Le nozze di Figaro For the 2013 revival of director Michael Grandage's Le Nozze di Figaro at Glyndebourne (running from 8 June to 2 August), the role of Count Almaviva--one of opera's great comic/dramatic baritone roles--has gone to young Canadian baritone Joshua Hopkins...more>
FalstaffOpera Review: Verdi's Falstaff returns to Glyndebourne When Glyndebourne asked Richard Jones to direct a new Falstaff for the Festival four years ago, they must have hoped he would come up with a production worth reviving. And four years later, that is precisely what they have done, in this Verdi anniversary year. I reviewed the original production, which I loved, and described it as a Falstaff that looked wonderful, played absolutely naturally and dazzled musically. If I withhold half a star on this occasion – the opening night... more> Ariadne auf NaxosOpera Review: Glyndebourne presents Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos For their first new production of a Richard Strauss opera since the house was rebuilt in 1994, Glyndebourne - or more specifically, Glyndebourne's outgoing musical director Vladimir Jurowski - chose to open the 2013 season by mounting the 1916 version of the perennially fascinating...more>
Garsington OperaOpera Preview: Garsington Opera Preview 2013 There were those who wondered how long Garsington Opera would be able to continue and to survive when it finally had to depart Garsington Manor, a few years after the death of Garsington founder Leonard Ingrams in 2005, but they reckoned without the extraordinary loyalty – and fund-raising ability – of a core...more> Magic FluteOpera Preview: Wasfi Kani in Conversation and Grange Park Opera's 2013 Season Anniversaries are in the air this year, with worldwide exposure of the greater (and lesser) operatic works of Britten, Verdi and Wagner everywhere, but at the Grange in Northington, a few miles north of Winchester where Grange Park Opera is preparing for its 16th annual opera festival...more>
HaroutounianOpera Interview: Lianna Haroutounian on the Royal Opera's Don Carlo Haroutounian prefers the five-act version of Don Carlo in Italian, but for an insightful dramatic reason: “The audience gets the complete experience of her story if there are five acts. In Fontainebleau, we see Elisabetta as a young, happy, brave girl; her main question in life is ‘will the prince love me?’ In an instant, she goes from this youthful euphoria, a representation of young love, to resignation as she embraces the gravity of her [public] role, her fate. The five-act version reveals the contrast between...more> Classical BarbraCD Review: Sony rereleases Classical Barbra with bonus tracks February 2013 saw the release of the newly remastered edition of Classical Barbra, a major cross-over album by pop star Barbra Streisand, including two previously unreleased tracks. Originally released in 1976, the album's production began three years earlier with Claus Ogerman at the helm in the roles of producer, arranger... more>
La bohemeOpera Review: Puccini's La bohème returns to ENO One of the greatest strengths of Puccini’s La bohème is its sentimentality. But this is no run-of-the-mill sentimental sap, this is twilight-of-the-nineteenth-century-Italian sap, which means that those feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia are exacerbated not only by the self-indulgence typical of “feeling... more> Magic FluteOpera Review: The Royal Opera honours Sir Colin Davis with The Magic Flute “Perchance to dream…” Hamlet’s soliloquy is difficult to forget whilst sitting through David McVicar’s production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte; not for its metaphorical fluidity but rather for its literal connotations: the production is like a dream, but one that continually vacillates between joy and nightmare as the opera progresses. Is this too gratuitous? For once, there is...more>
NabuccoOpera Review: A new Nabucco for Covent Garden in the Verdi bicentenary year What does Nabucco mean for the modern subject? Depending on the production, it’s safe to say that one of three major themes will be highlighted. In the near ubiquitous presence of the chorus, one finds the plight of exile in the face of extreme hardship or political brutality; a struggle for power and loyalty as illustrated by... more> MedeaOpera Review: Written on Skin at the Royal Opera House In a 2010 article, the composer Christopher Fox suggested that successful models for the composition of opera--for the operatic marriage of drama, words and music--'grew out of a radical re-thinking of theatrical convention; new subjects demanded new dramatic modes'. In other words, in answer to the common... more>
Madama ButterflyOpera Review: Roberto Alagna features in Madama Butterfly at the Liceu Having seen productions of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly that often verge on the overtly political, it was refreshing to see the Leiser and Caurier production at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, which essentially focuses on and fleshes out the dramatic tension inherent in the dénouement of the opera... more> MedeaOpera Review: Medea at ENO Operatically speaking, the myth of the wronged woman and child murderess Medea has largely been filtered through Cherubini’s dramatic 1797 setting, especially since Maria Callas’s celebrated assumption of the role (not to mention her amazing, non-singing... more>
CarmenOpera Review: Rossini's The Barber of Seville returns to ENO Is Rossini’s Barber of Seville the quintessential opera buffa? In terms of its musical structure, plot (old man battles young, aristocratic fop over pretty rich girl and loses), and witty dénouement, perhaps. But “quitessential,” like “definitive,” always raises eyebrows these days... more> Joyce DiDonatoOpera Review: Puccini's Tosca returns to Covent Garden In his magnum opus, À la recherche du temps perdu, Marcel Proust wrote that sadism is at the root of all melodrama. Although he was likely contemplating operatic tradition generally, was there a particular melodrama living in his memory as exemplar? Perhaps not, but his maxim aptly applies to one of the greatest melodramas of all... more>
Joyce DiDonatoConcert Review: Joyce DiDonato at the Barbican Joyce DiDonato is an international phenomenon. It is a status that owes much to an incredibly successful year. DiDonato won a Grammy in 2012; sped on in the early part of 2013 to a series of deeply committed performances of the rare Maria Stuarda at the Met; and recently embarked on a European tour compulsory after an international opera star records an album. The marketing department at Virgin Classics must... more> OneginOpera Review: Rigoletto Live from the Met There is an intriguing serendipity between the sharp dramatic irony of Verdi’s Rigoletto and Michael Mayer’s new, operatic debut production at the Met. Mayer’s transposition to 1960s Las Vegas, whilst not wholly original (Jonathan Miller did something similar at ENO in ... more>
King's SingersConcert Review: The King's Singers perform religious a cappella music and and pop songs in Ann Arbor While many young University of Michigan couples spent their Valentine’s evening on dinner dates, nearly one thousand Ann Arborites found themselves at a rather unexpected venue on such an amorous holiday — a church sanctuary. Perhaps returning to the holy origins of Saint Valentine’s Day... more> OneginReviews: Eugene Onegin at Covent Garden and La traviata at ENO "Triumph" and "Failure" are strong words to describe the impact of an opera performance. Both are bold and unambiguous; they leave little doubt about what "really happened" that night. Imaginations might easily run wild. But there is a problem in using words like these, adjectives that... more>
Maria StuardaOpera Review: The Met's's Maria Stuarda comes to the UK on the big screen Maria Stuarda had trouble getting off the ground between 1834-35, the period it had its two premiers in Naples and Milan respectively. In pre-unified Italy, depicting royalty on-stage--especially royals who even by today's standards insult each other... more> MinotaurOpera Review: Birtwistle's The Minotaur returns to Covent Garden The Minotaur premiered at the Royal Opera House in 2008 and here, for its first revival over four years later, the three central singers made welcome returns to their respective roles. Pride of place must go to Sir John Tomlinson, who produced an astonishing singing... more>
LuisottiInterview: Nicola Luisotti in conversation about his appointment as the new music director of the historic Teatro di San Carlo of Naples 'How do you say excited in Italian?' That is a question that came up during my conversation with maestro Nicola Luisotti. When speaking a language different than English, it is always difficult to find a term that implies what this one does – an emotional state, a high-level of energy... more> OtelloOpera Review: Opera North's new production of Verdi's Otello Verdi’s lifelong project to reconcile the extremes of the national and the personal, the grand and the intimate, come to a head in his penultimate opera, Otello. His well-known passion for Shakespeare cannot have been the only motivation for his decision to return to composition with this piece: the internal tensions surrounding... more>
CarmenCD Review Roundup: Sony's Masterworks Broadway series features A Christmas Story, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and more Two brand new studio recordings and three varied reissues highlight the full-on dedication of Sony's Masterworks Broadway wing to the preservation of musical theatre. Spanning over sixty years of recordings... more> Broadway RecordsCD Review Roundup: The new Broadway Records label offers Wildhorn, Osnes and Jonas Broadway Records is an exciting new record label with great potential. Launched last summer, the label is devoted to musical theatre repertoire and comprises cast albums from Broadway and Off-Broadway, new studio recordings and single-artist albums. In contrast to Sony's Masterworks Broadway... more>
Robert le diableOpera Review: The Royal Opera unveils a new production of Meyerbeer's Robert le diable When it premiered in 1831, Robert le diable was the world's first blockbuster; within five years of its first performance, Robert had already been mounted at the Paris Opera over 100 times and had traveled to London, Brussels, Berlin... more> BeatriceOpera Review: American Symphony Orchestra's concert performance of Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda For many years, the excellent Collegiate Chorale and their frequent collaborators, the American Symphony Orchestra, have done admirable work in performing operatic rarities that would not otherwise be heard in New York City.  Operaphiles wait eagerly for their annual offerings, and this year... more>
The MikadoOpera Review: ENO revives Jonathan Miller's classic production of The Mikado The latest revival of Jonathan Miller's production of The Mikado for the English National Opera feels as fresh now as on its first outing over twenty-six years ago. This is a timeless production which could continue to delight audiences for years or, indeed, for decades to come.... more> La NaveOpera Review: Montemezzi's La Nave receives a rare outing Fortune has been unkind to the opera Italo Montemezzi considered his masterpiece, the 1918 epic La Nave. At its successful prima in Milan, where Tullio Serafin conducted, critics gushed over it and audiences identified strongly with its nationalist... more>
CarmenOpera Review: A new Carmen from ENO There is no other opera in the canon--even one of Verdi's--that is quite as embedded in the collective imagination of Western culture as Bizet's Carmen. Everyone knows the habanera and Escamillo's anthem, and the idea of a femme fatale is still rehashed today in television and film. Much can be said (and much has been said).... more> The Pilgrim's ProgressOpera Review: Vaughan Williams's The Pilgrim's Progress revived by English National Opera From the grave hymn tune with which it opens to the final radiant fade-out with which it concludes nearly two and a half hours later, Vaughan Williams' final stage work, more oratorio than opera, remains a problematic piece, offering contemporary audiences a Marmite-like... more>
DonoseOpera interview: Ruxandra Donose discusses English National Opera's new Carmen Although she looks unassuming enough, Ruxandra Donose exudes a certain air that screams passion. Perhaps it is her fierce Romanian heritage or her well-spoken demeanor that shines through most intensely... more> Clemenza MetOpera Review: Live telecast of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito from the Met The Roman Emperor Titus was by all accounts a forgiving man.  At least when compared to the likes of Caligula, Nero and Commodus.  But even Titus (or Tito, as he’s known in this opera) would have been hard-pressed to find anything in need of a pardon at the Met’s handsomely... more>
TempestOpera Review: Live telecast of Adès' The Tempest from the Met In a 1963 episode of the expressionist television series The Twilight Zone, a desperate screenwriter uses black magic to summon Shakespeare to the present.  The Met's new production of Thomas Adès's The Tempest, broadcast live from Lincoln Center last Saturday, brings the Bard and expressionism together once again — only the "dark arts".... more> GergievConcert Review: The Mariinsky Orchestra, Gergiev and Matsuev perform in Ann Arbor Exactly two years ago this month, Maestro Valery Gergiev introduced Ann Arbor to his compatriot and protégé, the young pianist Denis Matsuev. The pianist's performance of Rachmaninov's Third Concerto with the Mariinsky Orchestra... more>
BelisarioConcert Review: Mark Elder conducts Donizetti's Belisario at the Barbican for Opera Rara Although it comes on the heels of his oft-performed Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti's Belisario is rarely performed in major venues outside of Italy despite its obvious strengths as a work bursting with musical and dramatic delights. This period of composition in Donizetti's oeuvre is... more> The Emperor of AtlantisOpera Review: Ullmann's The Emperor of Atlantis revived by English Touring Opera Bold, adventurous programming from ETO in their autumn tour this year saw two relative rareties on the operatic stage, The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies and The Emperor of Atlantis by Viktor Ullmann, coupled... more>
L'elisir d'amoreOpera Review: The ROH revives Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore with Roberto Alagna Like a host of other Italian libretti of the period, Romani's libretto for Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore was the result of an adaptation of a pre-existing French source – the rather slight text by Scribe for Auber's Le Philtre - to which it famously adds considerable pathos and... more> LCOConcert Review: Christopher Warren-Green leads the LCO in London The London Chamber Orchestra has a loyal following, a distinguished body of patrons and can be known to punch above its musical weight. For its second, and well-attended Cadogan Hall concert in the 2012/13 season, its charismatic conductor Christopher Warren-Green... more>
BychkovConcert Review: Bychkov and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra perform Wagner and Strauss at Carnegie Hall Richard Wagner, hiding out from the law (he had participated in a failed revolutionary coup) at the home of one of his benefactors, Otto Wesendonck, not only seduced the man's wife, the poetess Mathilde, but also romanced and eventually married his prominent... more> DiDonatoInterview: Joyce DiDonato on I capuleti, the opera industry and 'the Olympics of the art world' American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato returns to the San Francisco Opera this month as Romeo in I capuleti e i Montecchi. The SFO's audiences will remember her thrilling Rosina in the 2003-04 production of Il barbiere di Siviglia - a role she has... more>
GergievConcert Review: Gergiev conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in New York Extraordinary music was the feature of the two all-Brahms evenings by the London Symphony Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall this week. I happened to be in London when the announcement came that Valery Gergiev would be named as the new music director and shared the view... more> DOn GIovanniOpera Review: Don Giovanni returns to ENO After so many productions of Mozart's Don Giovanni last season, this space has played host to my annoyance at the lack of productions of the opera unconcerned with morality. Is it really so much to ask that after 200 years we begin defamiliarizing the familiar? Imagine my surprise, then, when all along there was... more>
CabellInterview: Nicole Cabell on San Francisco Opera’s I capuleti and the future of opera Californian-born soprano Nicole Cabell is fast becoming one of the most talked-about singers around. In 2005 she won the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, a success that launched her onto the international operatic circuit. Her most recent roles include Micaëla in Carmen... more> PerahiaConcert Review: Murray Perahia plays Haydn, Schubert, Chopin in Ann Arbor After witnessing the University of Michigan's 12-9 football victory over longtime rival Michigan State University on Saturday, Ann Arborites had a reason to celebrate. While sports fans crowded into local bars, another set of fans made their way... more>
ElschenbroichConcert Review: Leonard Elschenbroich plays the Elgar Cello Concert with the Wroclaw Philharmonic The uprush of the strings to the first triumphant E flat major full orchestral chords of Elgar’s concert overture In the South normally tell you what sort of performance is in store. Elgar dedicated the piece to his friend and wealthy... more> MutiConcert Review: Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Ann Arbor In May 1913, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra became the first ensemble to play in Ann Arbor's newly constructed Hill Auditorium. In honor of the concert hall's centennial season, the University Musical Society — Ann Arbor's premiere arts presenter — invited the CSO back to Hill to perform on Thursday... more>
Julius CaesarOpera Review: A new production of Handel's Julius Caesar at ENO Händel’s Julius Caesar at the English National Opera is exciting theatre – not least because of the magnificent dancing of the Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre – but the production may need some getting used to. I attended last week’s dress rehearsal and was deeply unhappy with the concept... more> BudapestReview Diary: Recent concert events in Budapest This concert formed part of a week of celebrations of Liszt in the Esztergom 'Vatican' – that is in the seat of the Archbishop of Esztergom – and it was organised for the fifth year by the Liszt Society. Liszt is mainly known by music lovers for his piano pieces and by few of his orchestral compositions... more>
The Magic FluteOpera Review: The last-ever revival of Nicholas Hytner's The Magic Flute at ENO It is hard to argue with those who, from time to time, expect new productions of old masterpieces. New approaches to old works need to be considered to keep with the changing times and to keep great works alive. However, I for one find it shameful that Nicholas Hytner’s excellent production... more> JuliettaOpera Review: Mixed results from a new production of Martinu's Julietta at ENO Ah, reality. That oh-so-difficult-to-define concept that opera has never had a good relationship with, either in or out of the opera house (verismo being the case-in-point). Luckily, English National Opera has chosen an excellent production team to deal with the intricacies - and problems... more>
ZimmermannProms Review: Prom 57 featured the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester Currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, Claudio Abbado’s acclaimed Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester is now almost as old as its most senior members. With its players drawn annually from among Europe’s most musically gifted young people, the orchestra’s first quarter-... more> FigaroBBC Proms Review: Glyndebourne brings Le nozze di Figaro to the Proms It’s difficult to imagine a venue less like Glyndebourne’s warm, intimate opera house than the Royal Albert Hall. No singer-friendly wooden panelling here – just cavernous spaces and those aerial mushrooms. As we’ve seen time and time again, what suits a deluxe modern theatre doesn’t always transfer well elsewhere.... more>
PromsBBC Prom Review: The John Cage Centenary is marked by an ambitious Prom Whatever one might say about the stodginess of Proms programming, it is undeniable that giving over a full evening Prom to a celebration of John Cage in his centenary year was a brave and commendable move from the BBC and Roger Wright. Even more commendable than this basic fact - which may after all have been accomplished with hedging of bets and fallings... more> PromsBBC Prom Review: Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic in Prom 63 For the first of the Berlin Philharmonic’s two concerts at this year’s Proms, Simon Rattle put together a programme that erred very much on the side of substance as opposed to spectacle. Although composers such as Wagner, Ravel and Sibelius clearly have barnstormers and crowd-pleasers in their catalogues... more>
Andre de RidderProms Review: Proms 43 and 44 include the London Sinfonietta and Royal Philharmonic Despite the keyed up reception accorded the Royal Philharmonic and Charles Dutoit following their punchy but broad performance of Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony at the close, this Prom fell rather flat on the whole. The fault lay, chiefly, in the programming... more> Thierry FischerBBC Proms Review: Thierry Fischer conducts his final concert as the BBCNOW's Principal Conductor Berlioz’s 1837 Requiem is not for the musically faint-hearted. With its massive battery of percussion – in this performance at least 16 timpani were visible to the naked eye – and several pit bands’ worth of brass.... more>
GlyndebourneOpera Review: A sensational Ravel double bill from Glyndebourne For the final new production of the 2012 Festival, Glyndebourne opted for a relative rarety in the operatic canon – the double bill of Ravel’s two one act operas, written fifteen years apart from each other and separated by the First World War. And what an emotional distance there is between them, L’Heure Espagnole.... more> Mark ElderProms Review: Proms 35 and 36 feature Scandanavian music followed by Ivor Novello The tribute, which took the form of a condensed, musically illustrated biography, was led by a warm and commanding narrator, Simon Callow, whose humorous, well-observed and tonally pitch perfect script provided the backbone to the Hallé Orchestra and Mark Elder’s spirited renderings of many of Novello’s most enduring songs... more>
BarenboimBBC Proms Review: Thrilling results from Daniel Barenboim's Beethoven Cycle Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s Beethoven Proms marathon, in which the composer’s complete symphonies are being performed across five concerts, culminates on 27 July ... more> Semyon BychkovProms Review: Prom 34 features Semyon Bychkov with the BBCSO In the morning of 8th August 2012, on the day of this concert, the BBC Symphony Orchestra announced that Semyon Bychkov will join their roster of conductors with a position created especially for him by the orchestra. The title Günter Wand Conducting Chair was chosen in recognition of the affection... more>
Der RosenkavalierOpera Review: The Bavarian State Opera's Der Rosenkavalier with Renee Fleming Unlike Wagner's late operas, which pay ever increasing dividends for the time invested, the inadequacies of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier become ever more apparent on repeated exposure. Hofmannsthal's wordy libretto is partly to blame: everything seems to continue on long after the dramatic and musical point has already been made. And when this is combined... more> The Word Unspoken (Signum)CD Review: The Word Unspoken from Signum The extraordinary nature of William Byrd’s life and the impact that it had on his music has been well documented on disc since the late 60s when, amongst others, Sir David Willcocks and The Choir of King’s College Cambridge recorded motets by Byrd And His Contemporaries (EMI 1965) and Cantores In Ecclesia directed.... more>
Vadim GluzmanProms Review: Prom 15 brings together Smetana and Dvorak with the BBCSO It was back in 1940 that the Hungarian born conductor George Szell orchestrated Smetana’s String Quartet No. 1 in E minor, ‘From My Life’ and later, in 1944, he included the piece in his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra. Within two years Szell was asked to become the orchestra’s music director and he held the post until his death in 1970. Szell and the CO recorded his Smetana... more> FalstaffOpera Review: OHP's Falstaff Verdi’s Falstaff is quite a tricky work to produce well and Opera Holland Park’s production proved that beyond a measurable doubt. It’s delicate blend of music and poignant—though, certainly at times, irreverent—perspective of the human condition ("Tutto nel mondo é burla") are a hallmark of Verdi’s final stroke of genius.... more>
OtelloOpera Review: Otello at Covent Garden Most agree that opera experienced a golden age in the latter half of the 20th century. It was a time when one went to the opera to hear very difficult works performed at the highest quality: singers had no problems projecting over the largest orchestras in the world and reaching the very back of the house. ... more> TurandotOpera Review: The Bavarian State Opera's Turandot How do you solve a problem like Turandot? Perhaps by not trying to. Franco Alfano and more recently Luciano Berio have each attempted to complete the opera from the mass of sketches Puccini left at his death. But Alfano’s ending is felt by most to be too bombastic and Berio’s too out of keeping with the style of the rest. So, in Carlus Padrissa’s spectacular new production for Bavarian... more>
ArmideOpera Review: Lully's Armide at Glimmerglass Festival "It’s good to be the king," says a smug Mel Brooks famously while dressed as Louis XVI in the 1981 film comedy, History of the World, Part I.  But for listeners brought up on a steady diet of da capo and bel canto arias from 18th and 19th-century operas, the seemingly endless drone of récitatifs and airs endemic to 17th-century... more> Tales of HoffmannOpera Review: Rolando Villazon in the Bavarian State Opera's Tales of Hoffmann Richard Jones often likes to take a risk or two, which means when his productions work they can be exceptional (the edgy Hansel and Gretel for WNO); but when they fail they can be excruciating (the nervous-laughter inducing Macbeth for Glyndebourne). Tales of Hoffmann, though, could almost have been written with... more>
Antonio PappanoProms Review: Prom 11 showcases The Royal Opera's Les troyens There is no other opera that can legitimately match Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens for its sheer musical and dramatic ingenuity, creative prowess, and magnificent scale. Berlioz’s epic is genius: he wrote the libretto himself to create a truly unique work; an opera that is both loosely based on (Acts I and II and the end of V) and strictly conforming to (Acts III, IV, and V) Virgil’s... more> La bohemeOpera Review: Bryn Terfel in the Bavarian State Opera's Tosca Those beautiful Puccini arias that are the mainstay of opera compilation CDs are, of course, even better in the theatre. But it is the high stakes, life and death struggles, usually in the second act, usually between a bass and a soprano, where his operas earn their place in the repertory. He had an unerring gift for dramatic... more>
Laurence CummingsProms Review: Rare Handel from Laurence Cummings and the OAE in Prom 8 Composed in 1746 and revised in 1750, surprisingly this performance was the Prom debut of Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus. Performances of this oratorio tend to be few and far between, yet in Handel’s lifetime – and throughout the 19th century as well as into the 20th century – it was highly regarded... more> The Music ManMusical Theatre Review: The Music Man at Glimmerglass Festival Composer Meredith Willson was so worried his listeners might miss words during the briskly paced patter ("talk-song") sections of The Music Man, he rigged a string of microphones that spanned the entire front floor of the stage... more>
John Eliot GardinerProms Review: Contrasting performances of French music in Prom 3 and Chamber Prom 1 As operas go, Debussy’s fin-de-siècle masterpiece Pélléas et Mélisande is anything but action-packed. Ranking alongside Wagner’s Tristan (man and woman fall – or already are – in love; later one or both die) and Poulenc’s La Voix humaine (woman makes phone call) at... more> FurlanettoOpera Review: Mixed results from Glyndebourne's new Figaro Every new production of Figaro at Glyndebourne – and this is the ninth new production since 1934 – is a special event. Whether or not the spirit of la folle journée ... more>
Porgy and BessOpera Review: Cape Town Opera's Porgy and Bess at the London Coliseum Cape Town Opera is showing Porgy and Bess in triple cast at the London Coliseum. Their cast lists for their performances state that 'Cast subject to change without prior notice'. Having not seen or heard any of Cape Town Opera's singers prior to the performance which I am reporting on... more> La bohemeOpera Review: Angela Gheorghiu in the Bavarian State Opera's La boheme Puccini’s La bohème might be classed as verismo, but it has little to do with the political aims of the original naturalist movement. Rather than confronting its well-heeled audiences with the true horror of working class squalor, the poverty here provides an exotic ... more>
The Queen of SpadesOpera Review: The Queen of Spades at Grange Park Opera The ‘big’ opera mounted at Grange Park this year is a bold choice: if Eugene Onegin is a guaranteed box office hit, and is highly adaptable to the intimate spaces of summer opera venues like Iford and Stanley Hall Opera... more> Stanley Hall OperaOpera Review: Stanley Hall Opera offers an intriguing double bill of Mozart and Leoncavallo There may be something catching in the air, but like a number of other venues in 2012 such as Glyndebourne and Holland Park, Stanley Hall Opera opted in its twelfth season for a double bill... more>
FurlanettoOpera Review: Mixed results from Glyndebourne's new Figaro Every new production of Figaro at Glyndebourne – and this is the ninth new production since 1934 – is a special event. Whether or not the spirit of la folle journée ... more> FurlanettoInterview: Legendary bass Ferruccio Furlanetto in conversation about Verdi's Attila, operatic rarities, and his dream roles It is virtually impossible to summarize superstar bass Ferruccio Furlanetto's career: he is known to every opera lover for his signature roles of Verdi's Philip II, Fiesco, and Mozart's Leporello, among the countless characters... more>
BuddConcert Review: A showcase concert for London Sinfonietta's Blue Touch Paper programme Blue Touch gives early-career composers the chance to work on music with the ensemble, which also arranges consultations with established composers, who in the past have included Gerald Barry, Olga Neuwirth, and Michael van der Aa.... more> CerhaCD Review: Two Kairos releases of music by Friedrich Cerha and Unsuk Chin Last week Friedrich Cerha, who is now in his late eighties, was announced as the 2012 winner of the Ernst von Siemens music prize. Worth €200,000, the prize was awarded in recognition of... more>
BuddOpera Review: A new production of Britten's Billy Budd at ENO Britten’s Billy Budd tells such a tragic tale that it is harrowing to experience even if one just reads the libretto (by E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier, adapted from the story by Herman Melville). There is no light relief at all in the story, which centres around the destruction of young Billy by the sadistic Claggart but also portrays cruelty as... more> Nixon in ChinaInterview: We chat to the cast of Nixon in China at the SF Opera The summer season at the San Francisco Opera started a couple of weeks ago, and audience and critics agree that Nixon in China, the famous first opera by John Adams, represents one of the highlights of the operatic summer. The SF Opera presented a sober and subtle production from the Vancouver Opera... more>
AttilaOpera Review: Luisotti and Furlanetto make Verdi's Attila shine This production of Attila at the San Francisco Opera represented one of the most precious operatic experiences for this particular member of the audience. The singers displayed an exceptional level of harmony with one another and with the orchestra. Moreover, maestro Nicola Luisotti's passionate reading of the score revealed one surprise after another... more> The Schubert EnsembleCD review: The Schubert Ensemble performs Brahms and Schubert The Schubert Ensemble are highly regarded for their sensitive, musical performances of the piano plus strings repertoire – especially the Schubert and Brahms masterpieces. It is a real shame, then, that on these two discs they have been let down by poor recording.... more>
KnussenOpera Review: A Knussen double bill provides the perfect start to the Aldeburgh Festival The Artist in Residence at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, the 65th, is a composer/conductor who has long associations with Aldeburgh and indeed shaped its artistic programme for a decade – Oliver Knussen. Knussen is 60 this... more> Cosi fan tutteOpera review: Cosi fan tutte at Opera Holland Park All six principal singers were excellent. They sounded ideal in their roles even though Dorabella’s soprano part was taken by mezzo-soprano Julia Riley (whose looks and singing style reminded me, rightly or wrongly, of a young Felicity Lott). Tenor Andrew Staples... more>
Florian BoeschConcert Review: Florian Boesch at the Aldeburgh Festival The Austrian bass-baritone Florian Boesch has been making quite a name for himself in recent years, and when it was announced that he would step in at very short notice at the Aldeburgh Festival for an indisposed Matthias Goerne there were muffled whoops of... more> A Song of FarewellCD Review: Paul McCreesh presents an impressive album of A Song of Farewell A Song of Farewell: Music of Mourning and Consolation is, in many ways, an aural discussion of death. While this description may sound depressing or daunting, the album presents, as the subtitle suggests, a comfort that poignantly complements the sadness. Though famed in the world of ... more>
Nixon in ChinaOpera Review: Nixon in China successfully debuts at the San Francisco Opera On Friday 8 June, the San Francisco Opera presented the long-awaited Bay Area debut of Nixon in China, the first opera by one of the most acclaimed contemporary composers, John Adams. After twenty-five years since its premiere, this work by Adams with a libretto by Alice Goodman remains equally controversial and popular. At the end of the performance... more> SalomeOpera interview: British soprano Claire Rutter on Madama Butterfly at Grange Park Any regular operagoer in the UK over the last five years will have noticed the further ascent of that rare commodity - an English star soprano able to hold her own in almost any major role and in any major international company. Claire Rutter, now in the prime of her singing life (she is in her early forties) has garnered... more>
L'OlimpiadeReview: Garsington takes on Vivaldi's Olympian L'Olimpiade L’Olimpiade, Metastasio’s libretto of 1733 – written 1340 years after the last of the ancient Olympic games – provides the text for a pastoral opera with the background of the Olympic games. It is a play set in green outdoors with aristocratic characters, one of whom is disguised as a shepherdess. What better setting for such an opera than the new Wormsley... more> L'OlimpiadeCD Review: Naive releases L'Olimpiade by a range of composers As the 2012 Olympics approach, London is bedecked with nationalist symbolism not only for the games but for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which would appear to have provoked us, as a nation, to rejoice in a nostalgic revisiting of 1950s taste. Whereas coronation favourites such as teacakes and sponge... more>
Florestan TrioCD Review: The Florestan Trio records Beethoven's Piano Trios on Hyperion Just a few months ago, after sixteen successful years together the Florestan Trio gave their last concerts in London. Now Anthony Marwood (violin), Richard Lester (cello) and Susan Tomes (piano) are each off exploring fresh musical pastures. So this four-disc boxed set of the Beethoven Trios, each released individually... more> TeuzzoneCD Review: Vivaldi's Teuzzone features in a dazzling recording from Naive Teuzzone is the twelfth opera in naïve’s Vivaldi Edition’s series and, incidentally, the first new release by Jordi Savall (Farnace was first previously on Alia Vox). The opera belongs to a period of Venetian obsession with exoticism and chinoiseries influenced by the city’s trading links... more>
SalomeReview: David McVicar's production of Salome returns to Covent Garden It may not matter a great deal in the large scheme of things, but I am puzzled by an arguably small change between Richard Strauss' score of Salome and stage director David McVicar's realisation. In the score the executioner is not listed among the roles although he is referred to in the German stage directions... more> CaligulaOpera Review: Glanert's Caligula comes to ENO Detlev Glanert’s opera on Albert Camus’ 1944 play Caligula, with a libretto by Hans-Ulrich Treichel,premiered to great acclaim in Frankfurt in 2006. Caligula’s first UK production opened at the Coliseum last night in a new staging by much-admired theatre director Benedict Andrews... more>
San Diego OperaEditorial: San Diego Opera presents a benefit concert featuring Renée Fleming and announces 2012-13 season The global economic climate has been chilly for enough years now that the persistent financial struggle for arts organizations is no longer big news. Regional opera companies and symphony orchestras have folded all across the United States, with even long-established... more> SchmidtOpera Review: American Symphony Orchestra and Collegiate Chorale perform a rare Notre Dame by Schmidt Founded in 1962, the American Symphony Orchestra ranks as one of the most important contributors to the classical music scene in New York. Under the leadership of Leon Botstein, the ASO offers thematic series of concerts that highlight the connections between... more>
Opera Holland ParkEditorial: Opera Holland Park's new season offers rarities and favourites Opera Holland Park continues to surprise its diverse audience with eclectic offerings; indeed, the company’s egalitarian spirit and focus on both popular and obscure (mostly Italian and especially versimo) operas has certainly brought the genre to a larger, younger audience whilst still catering for aficionados. To successfully... more> Maria PadillaOpera Review: Nelly Miricioiu celebrates her 60th birthday with Donizetti's Maria Padilla Such was the display of vocal dexterity from Nelly Miricioiu as Maria and Marianne Cornetti as Ines in the Chelsea Opera Group’s performance of Maria Padilla that by the end, it almost felt like the Olympics had come early. This extraordinary but almost unknown opera from Donizetti’s maturity... more>
John WilsonEditorial: My Fair Lady and Les troyens amongst the rich pickings of the Olympic Proms season While the country's sportspeople prepare to gather for the London Olympics, there's also a sense of the "Best of British" about the BBC Proms season, announced today. Gilbert and Sullivan, Ivor Novello... more> FalstaffOpera Review: A new Falstaff for Covent Garden Verdi’s final opera is a consummate blend of comedy, shades of melodrama, and self-parody. It takes a truly disciplined production to manifest some of these associations, and Robert Carson’s crowd pleaser at the Royal Opera takes great strides toward this difficult goal. It helped, though, that the singers... more>
Jordi SavallConcert Review: Jordi Savall at the Lufthansa Festival With his ensemble Le Concert des Nations – named after Couperin’s unification of European styles in his innovative collection Les nations – the grand old man of baroque Jordi Savall emphasizes a variety of baroque styles within the communality of high quality music making... more> John ButtConcert Review: John Butt presents another riveting evening at the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music Some 24 hours after the British summer officially began the sunshine was streaming into St John’s Smith Square for an all-Bach program from much-loved Scottish baroque specialists, The Dunedin Consort and their charismatic director, John Butt. This year’s festival is titled... more>
Grange ParkEditorial: We talk to Wasfi Kani as she prepares to open Grange Park Opera's 15th season With three weeks to go, rehearsals in full swing and a plethora of tasks to complete and conundrums great and small to resolve before the curtain goes up for opening night of the 15th Grange Park Opera festival... more> Stephane DeneveConcert Review: Stephane Deneve says farewell to the RSNO So Scotland bids adieu to Stéphane Denève. After seven years of lighting up Scottish concert life, he bowed out in a blaze of glory, fêted by politicians, diplomats, business leaders, fellow artists, and the loyal audience that he has built during his... more>
Madam ButterflyOpera review: Madam Butterfly at ENO There are certain operas in the canon that mysteriously need nothing else except their music to successfully compel audiences. As one of the most consistently performed since its (fifth) revision, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly certainly ranks within this selection— however ironically since operas are by nature more than "just music."... more> Stephane DeneveConcert Review: Stephane Deneve with the RSNO Long after memories of this concert melt into the general filing system, people will remember the encore that the Canadian virtuoso James Ehnes performed tonight: Paganini's famous caprice no. 24. It is hard to think of another work that says ‘look upon my encore, o ye mortals... more>
SCOConcert review: The Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Jakub Hrusa Most of the buzz about Gramophone Magazine's 'ten conductors on the verge of greatness', published this time last year, seems to have been generated by Gramophone Magazine. Maybe that's because, being behind a paywall, their content doesn't get linked to – and links are what make internet ... more> SCOConcert Review: Beethoven with the SCO Although he met with little success in the opera house, there is quite a substantial body of work for the theatre in Beethoven’s catalogue. Most of the time, all we hear in the concert-hall are the overtures, but the SCO’s choral season finale presented a welcome opportunity to ... more>
BohemeOpera review: La boheme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Productions of Puccini’s works these days inevitably raise questions about operatic realism or, as it’s more commonly known, verismo. At first glance, operatic realism doesn’t appear to be a very complicated issue. As the nineteenth century drew to a close, composers and librettists (of the giovane scoula)... more> The Flying DutchmanOpera Review: Wagner's Flying Dutchman at ENO Oscar Wilde famously said of The Old Curiosity Shop: 'One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without dissolving into tears ... of laughter'. The same might be said of The Flying Dutchman where, in one of the... more>
Walt DisneyEditorial: Walt Disney becomes the subject of new opera for ENO English National Opera announced its 2012-2013 season this morning and, as one might expect, it is typical of the company: bold, innovative, and "risky." John Berry, the artistic director, additionally emphasized the family values (if you will) of the company, highlighting the many artists that will be returning to give a little back to the institution responsible for nurturing their careers... more> EinsteinOpera review: The London Premiere of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach at the Barbican As operas go, Einstein on the Beach is a rich and strange one. No real characters, no plot, no narrative, no climaxes, no arias, no dialogue, no comedy, no tragedy – and... more>
DeckerOpera review: Willy Decker's Traviata at the Met starring Dessay Willy Decker wasn't the first man to try and gain a better perspective of the courtesan Violetta by examining what lay beneath the iconic red dress.  But I have to wonder whether the German director's psychological undressing of the heroine in the present Met production has uncovered anything more revealing than his predecessors... more> Gotham Opera ScipioneOpera Review: A rare performance of Mozart's Il sogno di Scipione by Gotham Chamber Opera Il sogno di Scipione (The Dream of Scipio) was the fifth of Mozart's operas, composed (unbelievably) when he was 16. The libretto was written by Pietro Metastasio, after Cicero. It was presumably first performed... more>
BarryOpera review: The European Premiere of Gerald Barry's The Importance of Being Earnest at the Barbican There may be some who, on hearing that the new opera by Gerald Barry is an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's landmark comic play, would give it a wide berth. Barry's music can be notoriously spiky and unpredictable; Wilde's text on the other hand is... more> MikadoOpera Review: The Collegiate Chorale perform The Mikado The Mikado is possibly one of the most frequently-played operettas world-wide. This season there was a new production at the Gärtnerplatz in Munich, among other venues. The reasons for its enduring popularity are not difficult to fathom... more>
Der FreischutzOpera Review: Sir Colin Davis conducts Weber's Der Freischutz with the LSO Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz was sensational at its première in 1821 and quickly became an international phenomenon rivaled only by the operas of Rossini. Although Freischütz was in several respects anticipated by Louis Spohr’s Faust and E.T.A. Hoffman’s Undine... more> La fille du regimentOpera Review: La Fille du Regiment returns to Covent Garden with a new cast Laurent Pelly's 2007 production of La Fille Du Régiment, now at its second revival at the Royal Opera House, is delightful entertainment... more>
Nicola BenedettiConcert Review: Christian Curnyn leads the SCO and Nicola Benedetti in The Four Seasons For the Vivaldi concerto Curnyn was joined by Nicola Benedetti, a picture of elegance in an ooh-I-say vermilion silk gown on a classically Grecian theme. Undoubtedly her very attractive stage presence is part of her appeal. By all accounts... more> GlyndebourneInterview Feature: We chat to General Director of Glyndebourne, David Pickard, as the 2012 season gets underway We caught up with David Pickard, General Director at Glyndebourne, to ask for his take on the forthcoming season. He sees it as a season of old favourites... more>
Don GiovanniOpera Review: A gay reworking of Don Giovanni at London's Heaven nightclub Opera houses and nightclubs have more in common than one might think. In nineteenth-century Italy, it was common for Austrian authorities to take an interest in the programming of many houses, simply because a large part of the educated population congregated there and could be easily observed. Of course, these days systems of power are further decentralized and... more> John WilsonEditorial: My Fair Lady and Les troyens amongst the rich pickings of the Olympic Proms season While the country's sportspeople prepare to gather for the London Olympics, there's also a sense of the "Best of British" about the BBC Proms season, announced today. Gilbert and Sullivan, Ivor Novello... more>
Daniel BarenboimConcerts Review: Daniel Barenboim returns to the Festival Hall for his Bruckner cycle After Beethoven, and Beethoven and Schoenberg, Daniel Barenboim's latest project at the South Bank Centre features another 'B', albeit one whose centrality in the repertory is still not quite secure: Bruckner. In three concerts, he and his Staatskapealle Berlin are presenting his final three symphonies, and in this first one... more> Thomas SondergardConcert Review: Vadim Gluzman performs a rarity with the BBCSO Full marks to the BBC SO for programming Balys Dvarionas's Violin Concerto and thus facilitating its timely UK premiere. Statistics are not on hand but it is likely that, although composed in 1948, this unjustly neglected work still awaits its premiere... more>
Pipe DreamMusical Review: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Pipe Dream at the New York City Center Pipe Dream, which opened at the Shubert Theatre in the winter of 1955, is the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that preceded the TV spectacular, Cinderella, and Broadway's Flower Drum Song (1957). Based on the John Steinbeck story Sweet Thursday, the material, with its drifters... more> BronfmanConcert Review: Varga and the Philadelphia Orchestra with Bronfman perform Mendelssohn, Bartok and Stravinsky Georg Solti, a Hungarian who lived a good part of his life in London, once televised a demonstration that was quite revelatory. He sat at the piano and played the orchestral beginning of Duke Bluebeard's Castle, which sounded as we have become accustomed to hearing it... more>
Jakob LenzOpera Review: A rare outing for Jakob Lenz at ENO During ENO’s new production of Wolfgang Rihm’s chamber opera Jakob Lenz (1977-8), Andrew Shore, putting in an impressive turn in the title role, ends up getting dunked in an onstage pool of water no fewer than four times. New director on the block, Sam Brown, though, has good artistic reasons for this treatment of his more experienced leading man. The source for... more> BudapestEditorial: Musical diversity in Budapest Established in 1853, the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra is Hungary's oldest functioning orchestra. Drawn from musicians of the Hungarian State Opera, for many years it was Hungary's only professional orchestra. They worked with such distinguished composer-conductors... more>
Der RosenkavalierOpera Review: Soile Isokoski and Alice Coote in Der Rosenkavalier in Geneva Some forty years after its creation for the Bavarian State Opera, Otto Schenk's production of Der Rosenkavalier has found its way to Geneva Opera, where it will play in repertoire until 12 April. If there is relatively little new to say about a vintage production... more> GergievConcert Review: Olga Borodina joins Valery Gergiev for the Verdi Requiem Verdi's Messa da Requiem is undoubtedly a religious work, significantly different from his operas, notably in terms of structure, texture, and style. Written to commemorate the death of the Italian patriot Alessandro... more>
Gerald BarryOpera Interview: Gerald Barry talks about his latest opera, The Importance of Being Earnest On a sunny Friday morning in London I meet Gerald Barry to discuss his latest opera, The Importance of Being Earnest. Earnest has its UK premiere at the Barbican on 26 April, performed by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group conducted by Tom Adès... more> AldeburghEditorial: What does the pre-Britten centenary Aldeburgh Festival have on offer? Little acorns and mighty oaks… as the countdown to the 65th Aldeburgh Festival progresses, in the relative calm of 2012 before the storm of Benjamin Britten's music that will resonate all around the world in 2013, the centenary of Britten's birth... more>
SCOOpera Review: Rigoletto with John Eliot Gardiner in the pit at Covent Garden Since its première in 1851, Verdi’s Rigoletto has remained an audience favorite for its catchy tunes and poignant treatment of a captivating story, one that resonates strongly even today. Often hailed as a revolutionary step "forward" in Verdi’s oeuvre, Rigoletto weaves several... more> GlyndebourneInterview Feature: We chat to General Director of Glyndebourne, David Pickard, as the 2012 season gets underway We caught up with David Pickard, General Director at Glyndebourne, to ask for his take on the forthcoming season. He sees it as a season of old favourites... more>
SCOConcert Review: Joseph Swenson returns to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Making one of his welcome visits as conductor emeritus, the SCO’s former principal conductor Joseph Swensen brought his characteristically ebullient and passionate personality to this thoughtfully assembled programme with its dancing thread... more> AcanteOpera Review: Rameau's Acante et Céphise Operatic “special occasion” pieces usually die with their final curtain call, though the most notable exception is probably Rossini’s Il viaggo a Reims, which stubbornly persists to this day. Interestingly, University College Opera (which has a long history of performing rare or new works) mounted a production... more>
PerahiaConcert Review: Murray Perahia plays Bach, Schubert and Chopin at Avery Fisher Hall The 250 years since the death of Johann Sebastian Bach have been the most revolutionary in human history, so it is not that surprising to realize that the music that he composed is a considerable distance from that which we hear today. Even the best efforts... more> Royal Opera HouseOpera News: Covent Garden announces details of the 2012-13 season The Royal Opera announced its “revival focused” 2012/2013 season this morning, with six new productions, a star-studded roster, and some promising revelations. The ebullient Director of Opera Kasper Holten (with Associate Director John Fulljames) have planned quite... more>
Miss FortuneOpera Review: Judith Weir's disappointing new Miss Fortune Whenever I see a new opera, I play a game. I simply ignore entirely the programme notes and synopsis. Often, this little bit of fun allows me to recapture the excitement of audience members past. To witness a new work in all its glory, experience the plot twists and turns, the text, and the music in the... more> AdAdvertisement: Musical Criticism announces vacancies for contributing writers and opera editor The vacancies are open to applicants based in any geographical location where there are regular professional concerts to review. No particular geographical location has priority: whether you're based in Glasgow or Cardiff, San Diego or Shanghai...more>
A Midsummer Night's DreamOpera Review: The Guildhall's Midsummer Night's Dream The last outing of Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream on the London opera stage seemed to be more concerned with the composer's sexuality than with his witty masterpiece based on Shakespeare's play (May 2011, English National Opera). Once bitten twice shy, thus one could be forgiven for being slightly worried about other... more> Death of KlinghofferOpera Review: English National Opera's Death of Klinghoffer John Adams' and Alice Goodman's 1991 opera The Death of Klinghoffer has been trailed by controversy throughout its twenty-one year history. Scheduled performances at Glyndebourne and the Los Angeles Opera were cancelled after the stormy reception the opera received following its 1991 New York... more>
ErnaniOpera Review: Ernani live from the Met Undoubtedly for some, seeing opera live in cinemas is quite enjoyable. As I reclined in my large seat and munched on some popcorn at my nearest local cinema (Curzon Chelsea), I wondered if displaced opera was the way of the future. After all, there are serious advantages to watching opera in a cinema... more> The BBC's MaestroEditorial: The Maestro myth? The Royal Opera recently announced that it would be furthering its collaboration with the BBC by playing host to the television reality/contest show 'Maestro.' In contrast to the first season of the show, there will be only... more>
RattleConcert Review: Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic perform Mahler at Carnegie Hall In his three year tenure at Carnegie Hall, Mahler only selected from his own work his first two symphonies, even though he had seven (and later eight) from which to choose. He had been stung before by bad critical receptions and exhibited in New York a rather uncharacteristic timidity in choice... more> GenauxInterview: Vivica Genaux chats about her American tour and her new music ensemble Mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux maintains a schedule of performances that reflects a great deal of intellectual curiosity. Given her status as one of the most sought-after Baroque specialists, she has not chosen to remain content with a handful of roles, like many other singers tend to do once... more>
RusalkaOpera Review: Rusalka comes to Covent Garden for the first time Rusalka has finally made it to Covent Garden, but, in Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito's wilfully shabby production, it has arrived in inexpressive and unlovely form. The boos and countering cheers that greeted the directorial team at the curtain—even though this was branded a new production, it was first seen in Salzburg in 2008... more> ElderConcert Review: Mark Elder conducts Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet Hector Berlioz was not generally a reticent composer, least of all when it came to pronouncing on the value of his own music and the attention it deserved. Writing about his 1839 ‘symphonie dramatique’ Roméo et Juliette he insisted: “The work is enormously difficult to perform... more>
AidaOpera Review: Raymond Gubbay's Aida at the Royal Albert Hall Verdi's Aida is extremely intertextual. Conditioned by the historical events surrounding its première and, as an inevitable product of nineteenth-century Orientalism, scholars have fruitfully mined it for decades for both its historical and critical significance. The new production at the Royal Albert Hall... more> Tales of HoffmannOpera Review: A stellar cast introduces Richard Jones' new production of Tales of Hoffmann to ENO Co-produced with the Bavarian State Opera and recently performed by that company, English National Opera now stages Richard Jones's take on Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann. Without doubt, the staging is entertaining and also thought provoking. However, perhaps some of Jones's messages... more>
La bohemeOpera Review: Silent Opera performs La boheme in the Old Vic Tunnels Silent Opera present La Bohème in the series of linked rooms that form the complex of tunnels under the approach to Waterloo Station. Trains rumble and clatter overhead, the venue shakes and echoes but - or so runs the concept, as set out in the programme blurb - you "walk around with a... more> GenauxConcert Review: Vivica Genaux performs Vivaldi with Europa Galante Living in a city as rich in musical diversity as New York, it's easy to become slightly blasé about the wealth of opportunities for hearing classical music in live performance. Therefore, it was an uncommon thrill to be present when Fabio Biondi and his superb ensemble Europa Galante took the stage and... more>
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