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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, and even Wallace and Gromit will feature in the two-month-long festival, which also places an emphasis on birthday tributes to several of our great composers. ... 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>
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>
Philadelphia PhilConcert Review: The Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall with Charles Dutoit and James Ehnes Almost exactly equidistant from Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center stands the building where Bela Bartok, Hungary's greatest national treasure – he was actually elected to Parliament in 1945 but was too ill to return home, spent his last years in rather humbled circumstances. He was not... more> Bronx OperaOpera Review: Vaughan Williams' The Poisoned Kiss at the Bronx Opera The Bronx Opera is one of New York's more admirable opera companies. In the past, the group has presented two Ralph Vaughan Williams operas, Hugh the Drover, and Sir John in Love. This time, they offered the the first performance in years of The Poisoned Kiss, an operetta composed by Vaughan... more>
Don GiovanniOpera Review: Cast B of Don Giovanni at Covent Garden Most modern productions of Don Giovanni unsurprisingly highlight the work’s moral messages, and Francesca Zambello’s production (the revival directed by Bárbara Lluch) is a champion of this directorial tendency. As the curtain rises on the monolithic wall that serves as the entire... more> Le nozze di FigaroOpera Review: David McVicar's Figaro returns to the ROH Genuine laughter dominated the house at Covent Garden during this recent performance of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, perhaps to the dismay of those who were searching for "undercurrents of unresolved class tensions." The undercurrents were surely there, but, for me, were overshadowed by performers... more>
La traviataOpera Review: A stunning La traviata at Welsh National Opera With Valentine's Day just around the corner, WNO's revival of director David McVicar's 2009 La traviata (revival directed by Marie Lambert) comes just in time. What better way to mark this most romantic point in the calendar than Verdi's devastating melodrama? Indeed, the candle-lit set... more> Phil Minton QuartetConcert Review: The Phil Minton Quartet at King's Place Phil Minton is a formidable, and feral, improvising vocalist. The range of projects in which he engages reflects the emotional and technical range of the voice; from composed pieces (Minton's performances of Hannes Loeschel's music come particularly recommended) to... more>
RomeroConcerts Review: Pepe Romero performs at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society Friday 20 January, Philadelphians gathered at the Perelman Theater to hear the illustrious guitarist Pepe Romero perform a recital of Spanish music. The selections, which covered five centuries of the instrument's history, were chosen from the familiar Segovia repertoire... 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>
Robin TicciatiConcerts Review: Robin Ticciati conducts the Scottish Chamber Orchestra This was an occasion when four stars ran the gamut from a transcendently beautiful, definitely-five-star opening movement of the Haydn, to a distinctly ropey, roundabout-three-stars opening movement of the Brahms, with an ebullient, four-star Ligeti sandwiched in between... more> Katarina KarneusInterview: Leading mezzo Katarina Karneus chats about the ROH's Don Giovanni One seldom meets as versatile a singer as Katarina Karnéus. Her repertoire is widely varied, and she has miraculously resisted being cast into any one fach: roles by Handel, Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Bizet, Mahler, Strauss, and Wagner are all in her back pocket, so to speak. It is Mozart (and da Ponte)... more>
John TomlinsonOpera Review: Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier returns with Sarah Connolly and John Tomlinson at ENO Although right from the start it was intended to be the text for Strauss's opera, Hofmannsthal's compact and witty libretto for Der Rosenkavalier could easily function as a highly entertaining stand-alone play. Delivery of the dramatic concept with all... more> CosiOpera Review: Jonathan Miller's Cosi fan tutte returns to Covent Garden Jonathan Miller's present-day production from 1995, once more in slightly updated revival at Covent Garden, rests on visual humour. Its repertoire of perfectly timed gestures, sartorial cross-referencing and delight in physical ... more>
ClancyConcert Review: The BCMG performs Clancy, Grisey, Barry and Weir This concert was centred on the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group's Apprentice Composer-in-Residence for 2010-12, Sean Clancy. Currently finishing a doctorate at the Birmingham Conservatoire, Clancy...more> KronosConcert Review: The Kronos Quartet in Awakenings: A Musical Meditation on the Anniversary of 9/11 The first section of the concert was dedicated to the performance of various traditional Middle-Eastern pieces, which were reorchestrated for Kronos and were largely... more>
La traviataOpera Review: Francesca Zambello's Don Giovanni returns to Covent Garden with Gerald Finley For this pair of ears, musicality at its best is the dominant feature of the Royal Opera House's current revival of Don Giovanni. Conductor Constantinos Carydis's knowledge of Mozart's score is highly impressive from every point...more> HarveyConcert Review: The Barbican's Jonathan Harvey Total Immersion weekend Harvey, now in his seventies and sadly in ill health, has over the years been something of an outsider figure on the UK classical music scene. Though celebrated abroad, in France, Germany, the US and elsewhere, he has never really garnered...more>
RihmConcert Review: London Sinfonietta celebrates Wolfgang Rihm at 60 The London Sinfonietta celebrated German composer Wolfgang Rihm's sixtieth birthday this evening at the Southbank Centre with a tight and punchy programme, which took in three recent chamber pieces from Rihm...more> La traviataOpera Review: Richard Eyre's La traviata returns to Covent Garden with a new cast Given the choice between Verdi's La traviata and, well, anything, most tenors would prefer to sing the latter rather than poor vocally deprived Alfredo. He has only one aria proper, and is unfortunately not a prime example of "Opera's Greatest Leading Men."... 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> MeistersingerOpera Review: Graham Vick's production Die Meistersinger returns to Covent Garden ‘Just what kind of a piece is Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg?’ asks one of the programme essays. Graham Vick’s production, first seen in 1993 and revived on this occasion by Elaine Kidd, suggests it is an out-and-out comedy, and not a great deal more. Yet, among the gaudily colourful costumes... more>
RameauConcert Review: The Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Rameau, Haydn and Brahms in Edinburgh Rameau had a long career as an opera composer even though he only got started once he'd reached the age of fifty. In the course of his remaining thirty years, he followed a path that we'd find familiar, the young radical becoming...more> HandelConcert Review: The Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Camilla Tilling in Handel and Rameau The new year brings an unusual conjunction to Scottish concert halls, with both the SCO and the RSNO performing suites from Rameau's operas. Interestingly, in both cases these performances visited... more>
GurreliederCD Review: Schoenberg's Gurrelieder with Salonen and the Philharmonia (Signum Classics) The South Bank’s 2009 series City of Dreams: Vienna 1900-1935 offered a great opportunity to hear two rarely performed large choral works: Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony and Schoenberg’s monumental Gurrelieder. Mahler’s eighth symphony, composed at around the same...more> Gillian KeithCD Review: Gillian Keith's Strauss recital disc (Champs Hill Records) With recordings devoted exclusively to Strauss's lieder pretty thin on the ground, Canadian soprano Gillian Keith's new release 'bei Strauss' should be welcomed by those who want to delve further into the Strauss repertoire than the Four Last Songs... more>
RodelindaOpera Review: Handel's Rodelinda at the Met with Renée Fleming, Stephanie Blythe and Andreas Scholl Retrofitting a Baroque opera such as Rodelinda into the 3,800-seat Metropolitan Opera House makes about as much sense as renting Yankee Stadium to stage My Dinner with Andre. Beyond the mismatch in venue, however...more> MSM CosìOpera Review: Così fan tutte at the Manhattan School of Music I have never been a great fan of Così fan tutte. I have always regretted that I was too young to attend the Alfred Lunt production at the Metropolitan in the 1950s, in English. I used to find this opera lacking in memorable numbers, compared to Le nozze di Figaro... more>
MoiseConcert Review - Perspectives: The Collegiate Chorale perform Rossini's Moïse et Pharaon at Carnegie Hall The Collegiate Chorale is famous for engaging with a wide-ranging repertoire – rarely performed pieces such as Kurt Weill's Knickerbocker Holiday (during the past season), and The Mikado. This November, they tackled Rossini's Moïse et Pharaon. The extensive choral singing was surely appealing to this company ...more> ToscaOpera Review: Catherine Malfitano's production of Tosca is revived by ENO Originally staged in May last year, Catherine Malfitano's production of Tosca has returned to ENO for its first revival. With rich, colourful sets and costumes, a fine cast, and a straightforward but in some ways suggestive interpretation of Puccini's classic... more>
MoiseConcert Review - Perspectives: The Collegiate Chorale perform Rossini's Moïse et Pharaon at Carnegie Hall Unlike European opera-lovers, Americans with an appetite for operatic 'rarities' face a dearth of opportunities for experiencing such works in a live setting.  Therefore, enterprising organizations like the Collegiate Chorale...more> ElderConcert Review: The Britten Sinfonia under Sir Mark Elder in Berlioz's L'Enfance du Christ As beginnings go, it wasn't auspicious: orchestra, chorus, soloists and even conductor drifted on stage casually, unmarked by applause; small clusters of string players stood around chatting...more>
UchidaConcert Review: Mitsuko Uchida at the Barbican in Beethoven Mitsuko Uchida is one of the most distinctive pianists out there. Uchida always brings a vivid sense of feeling to her performances, and her Beethoven Piano Concerto series with Colin Davis and the...more> AngelichConcert Review: The Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Debussy and Shostakovitch It is interesting to reflect that, while this season's Debussy series is tied to preparation for a recording engagement with Chandos, concert life for the RSNO continues and takes its own path. While CDs tend to be homogenous, single-composer single-form affairs... more>
LabequesOpera Review: Deborah Warner's new production of Eugene Onegin at the Coliseum Stage director Debora Warner and, in particular, her designer team provide a tasteful presentation of Tchaikovsky's opera or, to be more precise, Tchaikovsky's lyric scenes in three acts based on Pushkin's novel. Warner is clearly mindful of Tchaikovsky's score...more> AngelichConcert Review: The Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Nicholas Angelich The impresario Johann Peter Salomon is thought to be behind the naming of Mozart's final symphony the 'Jupiter'. These days it is concerts, rather than individual works, that impresarios give names to. Sometimes these names are... more>
LabequesConcert Review: 50 Years of minimalism at Kings Place: 'Dawn' Piano duo the Labèque Sisters are visiting King's Place this week to curate and perform in a celebration of what they are calling 'fifty years of minimalism'. The first concert took place tonight, and boy was it anything but minimal. The billing for the concerts obviously suggests...more> Jazz FestivalConcert Review: The Necks and Henry Threadgill at the London Jazz Festival The London Jazz Festival always boasts a strong line-up, but this year's seemed especially strong, with Ornette Coleman and Archie Shepp topping off a hugely engaging and eclectic bill. I caught two concerts on the final weekend, enjoying the trancing... more>
CargillConcert Review: The Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Karen Cargill in Schumann, Gluck, and Berlioz Though he was one of the most important composers of his era, it cannot be counted strange that Gluck's music is seldom heard in the concert hall since his output was largely directed to the stage...more> ChinaConcert Review: The China Project in Edinburgh with Emma Smith and the Silk Quartet Silk is the material traditionally used to make the strings of musical instruments in China. For the Silk Quartet, then, there is an elegant pun at the heart of their enterprise, drawing on Chinese tradition and fusing it... more>
GardinerConcert Review: Gardiner and the Orchestra Révolutionnaire et Romantique perform Beethoven In the 1930's Anton Webern was engaged to conduct a concert in Barcelona the program of which included the Symphony No. 5 of Beethoven. He had three days to prepare the orchestra. At the end of the second day a reporter for a local journal asked him how the rehearsals were progressing. "Good", the maestro... more> Vienna SymphonyConcert Review: The Vienna Symphony Orchestra perform Beethoven and Rachmaninoff About a month ago, there was good news and bad news emanating from Lincoln Center, and it was the same news. The Vienna Symphony had abandoned its plan to perform the Symphony No. 4 of Franz Schmidt and replaced it with the immortal and beloved 7th of Beethoven. Much as I wished to hear live the most... more>
GrahamOpera Review: An outstanding Xerses at the SF Opera The company premiere of Xerses at the San Francisco Opera was the highlight of this operatic season for this particular member of the audience – and, from what I have read and heard, also for many critics and opera lovers. Visual and musical elements all functioned together to create a truly entertaining and artistically solid work.... more> SpectrumConcert Review: The Spectrum XXI festival in London The name spectral music is usually associated with the group of French composers, among them Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail, who in the mid seventies in Paris spearheaded a compositional aesthetic based on the physics of sound and the performance of whose works centred on the ensemble ... more>
MitchellConcert Review: The Scottich Chamber Orchestra perform film music under Olari Elts Something a bit different from the usual orchestral outing: no symphony, no overture, but a selection of film music from composers whose reputations were made in the concert hall. Music written by composers who specialize in the medium occasionally reaches the stage... more> ChopinCD Review: Nikolai Lugansky's take on Chopin's Sonata No. 3 (Onyx) Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor represents for many the most perfect example of musical creativity and bold originality that can be found in Chopin's large-scale musical structures. The work holds together as one great, sweeping pianistic statement, but overflows with musical imagination... more>
AimardConcert Review: Pierre-Laurent Aimard's Liszt Project at the QEH Of the many anniversary events designed to bolster Liszt's credentials as a 'serious' composer, Pierre-Laurent Aimard's two-part Liszt Project at the Queen Elizabeth Hall looks set to be one of the most interesting and persuasive, on the evidence of the first concert last night... more> Nabucco TaconicOpera Review: A successful Nabucco at Taconic Opera Taconic Opera's Nabucco, performed in Yorktown Heights, New York, proved an unexpected treat. On the strength of this performance, there was no question that I would schlep to the next, at SUNY Purchase's Pepsico Theater, scheduled for October 29 (however, a freak snowstorm... more>
I dud FigaroOpera Review: Mercadante's I due Figaro at Amore Opera in New York Amore Opera rose from the ashes of New York's Amato Opera when its founder retired after sixty years. Despite an economy unfriendly to arts non-profits, Amore has blossomed, and this year offered a most unusual Fall Figaro Fest: Barbiere di Siviglia and Le Nozze di Figaro, of course ... more> SonnambulaOpera Review: Bellini's La Sonnambula returns to the Royal Opera House Bellini's sleepwalking heroine isn't nineteenth-century opera's most famous mad woman – that honour must surely go to his rival Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. But with two reputation- and even life-endangering... more>
FaustConcert Review: Schumann's Scenes from Goethe's Faust in Barcelona Although the Scenes we hear today premièred posthumously (1862), it is unquestionably one of Schumann’s greatest works; composed over the course of nearly ten years, it is a blend of lieder, grand opera, and oratorio. It is ... more> BBCSOConcert Review: The BBC SO in Stravinsky and Messiaen at the Barbican This entertaining concert conjoined two titans of twentieth century music. Though Stravinsky and Messiaen have both already been ushered through the door of canonicity into the repertoire, with Messiaen taking a seat in the corner and Stravinsky... more>
DisturbiaConcert Review: Disturbia at the Queen Elizabeth Hall The concert began with Francis Poulenc's La Voix Humaine. This one-act opera is based on a monologue written by Jean Cocteau in which a young woman has a telephone conversation with her ex-lover on the eve of his wedding. The gruelling call... more> Celso AlbeloOpera Interview: Tenor Celso Albelo on his Royal Opera debut in La Sonnambula Celso Albelo is dressed casually in a sweater and jeans, wearing glasses, and concealing little excitement as he sits down for our interview, fresh from rehearsals, in the little glass box that serves as Covent Garden's interview roomr... more>
LottConcert Review: Dame Felicity Lott at the Oxford Lieder Festival This concert, in which Dame Felicity Lott presented four sets of songs with guitar accompaniment by Christoph Denoth, should have succeeded for any number of reasons. To begin with, Dame Felicity is an effervescent singer who, into her seventh decade... more> LaviaInterview: Director Gabriele Lavia in conversation I met with director Gabriele Lavia on the day before the premiere of the San Francisco Opera's new production of Don Giovanni. One of the most important figures in Italian theatre, Lavia brought with him a team of long-term collaborators – set designer Alessandro Camera and costume designer Andrea Viotti – with... more>
LiederConcert Review: Royal Academy of Music Song Circle at the Oxford Lieder Festival The Oxford Lieder Festival is a pleasantly vertical affair. Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, it offers appearances by celebrated performers, thematically coherent mini-festivals, war-horse song cycles, completist sets of opus numbers... more> Castor and PolluxOpera Review: Rameau makes it to the Coliseum with Barry Kosky's Castor and Pollux The best thing about ENO's first ever Rameau production – certainly the one aspect that critics and audience are likely to agree on – was the orchestral performance. Under the spectacularly energetic direction of period-performance specialist Christian Curnyn... more>
SupersonicConcert Review: Supersonic Festival in Birmingham Supersonic festival brings together some of the biggest acts in the musical counterculture every October over a weekend in Birmingham. Previous years have featured Sunn O))), Coil, Merzbow, Battles, Psychic TV, and Wolf Eyes, to name just a few. Alongside the music... more> Don GiovanniOpera Review: Gabriele Lavia's new production of Don Giovanni at the SF Opera During act II of Don Giovanni, the unrepentant seducer escapes from an unwanted confrontation with an ex-lover, Donna Elvira, thanks to the help of his servant Leporello, who is wearing his master's clothes in disguise... more>
MullovaConcert Review: The SCO with Viktoria Mullova An unusually elegant programme note certainly raised expectations for the world premiere of Martin Suckling's Storm, rose, tiger. The composer explained—if that's the right word—how the work emerged from an engagement with the fiction of Jorge Luis Borges... more> RianConcert Review: Fabulous Beast and Liam Ó Maonlaí's Rian Rian takes its name and perhaps its cultural starting point from Liam Ó Maonlaí's 2005 eponymous album of traditional and original Irish songs, written partly in tribute to Seán Ó Riada, Irish composer and the leading figure of the Irish traditional music revival... more>
London Song FestivalCompetition: Win a pair of tickets to the opening concert of the 2011 London Song Festival For our new competition, we've teamed up with the London Song Festival to offer our readers the chance to hear distinguished singers and rising talent explore a repertoire of songs by English composers Now in its fifth year, the enterprising... more> HollanderOpera Review: Tim Albery's Der fliegende Holländer revived at the ROH Tim Albery's Olivier Award winning production of Der fliegende Holländer debuted at the Royal Opera House in the 2008/09 season, and returns here in its first revival. The production has lost its central star turn – Bryn Terfel – though Terfel's replacement, Latvian Egils Silins...more>
Ashley RichesConcert Review: The Crouch End Festival Chorus in Mozart (Barbican) Wolfgang Amadé Mozart will always be an enduring cultural icon; from his famed and prodigious childhood to his unfortunate early death (the similarly enduring subject of much academic hagiography, it should be noted), his music will forever remain a permanent fixture of the classical performance canon... more> FigaroOpera Review: Fiona Shaw's new production of The Marriage of Figaro at ENO Fiona Shaw's previous works for ENO, Riders to the Sea and Elegy for Young Lovers, both well-received by critics and the public, are rarely-staged operas, granting their director scope for interpretive license without entailing too much risk of controversy. This time Shaw has.. more>
Threepenny OperaOpera Review: The Berliner Ensemble perform The Threepenny Opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music There are many instances of permanent changes to an opera made to accommodate a particular singer. Perhaps the most famous is the line La commedia è finita, originally written for Tonio as a raisonneur's final... more> SupersonicPreview: Supersonic Festival 2011 October 21-23 in Birmingham Now enjoying its ninth year of existence, Supersonic presents a meeting of the musical counterculture: doom metal, dark dubstep, out-there electronica, and the interstitial residue lying between these and other generic categories... more>
Lucrezia BorgiaOpera Review: Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia with Renee Fleming at the SF Opera There are few doubts that Renee Fleming's Lucrezia does not correspond to what we would expect from a bel canto role. And yet, I think this Lucrezia Borgia at the War Memorial Opera House – the first time this work is ever staged at the War Memorial Opera House... more> La traviataOpera Review: Richard Eyre's La Traviata returns to Covent Garden 'All change, please!' may be the cry rising from the upper managerial echelons of the Royal Opera House this season (where Kasper Holten and John Fulljames settle in as Director and Associate Director of Opera), but those of more conservative... more>
GluzmanConcert Review: The LPO with Vadim Gluzman in Korngold's Violin Concerto Arguably it was an odd choice of programming to pair the Overture from Strauss's operetta Die Fledermaus with Korngold's Violin Concerto, and then to follow with Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony after the interval... more> LuganskyConcert Review: Nikolai Lugansky and the RSNO in Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 It is not a word that one reaches for readily—nor should it be—but since Nikolai Lugansky turned in a sensational performance of Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto in Edinburgh tonight, let's just come out and say so... more>
SCOConcert Review: The SCO and SCO Chorus in Schumann and Berlioz Last year, the SCO launched their season with a blockbuster performance of Don Giovanni. This year's programme, though on the face of it comfortably pitching familiar names and familiar repertoire, managed... more> Oxford PhilomusicaOpera Review: Fidelio with the Oxford Philomusica Like abridged editions of novels, semi-staged performances of opera are somewhat doomed enterprises. If not given a clear sense of direction, each of the singers will be left to interpret "semi-staged" in their own way, and the result can be a muddle of styles and levels of commitment to each other... more>
BBCSSOConcert Review: The BBC Scottish Sympohony Orchestra with soloist Michaela Kaune in Strauss's Four Last Songs The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra seldom visits Edinburgh. Tonight is the first of three scheduled for this season, but unlike the RSNO and the SCO's custom of performing the same programme in Edinburgh... more> UsherConcert Review: Stéphane Denève conducts the RSNO in Debussy at the Usher Hall Edinburgh Stéphane Denève's final season at the helm of the RSNO has been conceived as a celebration of the auld alliance, and it is a measure of how far the orchestra has come under his leadership that there was a strong sense of occasion... more>
BoulezConcert Review: Exquisite Labyrinth: The Music of Pierre Boulez, Part 1 Though looking every bit his eighty-six years of age as, whisp-haired and hunched over, he shuffled slowly across the stage to the venue's sustained applause, once Pierre Boulez opened his mouth to... more> BoulezConcert Review: Exquisite Labyrinth: The Music of Pierre Boulez, Part 2 A French luxuriance irradiates Boulez's compositions, luxuriance albeit varnished by a sense of the ineffable which glosses the music with a distinctive atmosphere of alienation. The work heard this evening in the culminating concert of... more>
FaustOpera Review: A starry revival for McVicar's Faust (ROH) The Royal Opera's new season continues on the highest level with this revival of David McVicar's 2004 production of Faust. On paper, it was always a mouth-watering prospect, but would the elements come together here to add up to more than ... more> Heart of a SoldierOpera Review: Heart of a Soldier, Theofanidis' opera commemorating 9/11, premieres at the SF Opera The artistic elaboration of the September 11 attacks is a complex process that involves issues of collective memory, ideological stances, and emotional engagement, from both the artists and the audience. To mark the 10th anniversary of the tragedy... more>
FenneszConcert Review: Fennesz and Emeralds at the Union Chapel Emeralds and Fennesz's joint-concert last night in the rather dramatic Union Chapel highlighted the coffee-table potentiality of the type of gently pulsing, pink noise ambient drone music these artists are wont to make. The rapt crowd of hipsters and... more> PassengerOpera Review: Weinberg's The Passenger comes to the London Coliseum Weinberg's first opera, The Passenger was written in 1968 but had to wait until 2010 to receive its stage premiere, when this production by David Poutney debuted to great acclaim at the Bregenz Festival... more>
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... more> Turandot SFOOpera Review: Luisotti conducts a successful Turandot at the SF Opera Since its premiere at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1926, under the baton of Arturo Toscanini, Turandot has existed in various versions and incarnations, some distinctly more "colourful" than others. Despite the occasional dramatic restaging, such as Christopher Alden's corrugated iron and Nazi conception... more>
St/ Luke's Das LiedConcert Review: St. Luke's Chamber Orchestra perform Das Lied von Erde Attempting to mitigate some of the darkness of the sixth symphony, Mahler eliminated one of the three hammerblows of Fate which he had inflicted upon his hero persona. But in his own life, he was struck mercilessly three times during... more> ElixirOpera Review: Jonathan Miller's production of The Elixir of Love revived at ENO Donizetti's 1832 rom-com – a tale of rustic lovesickness cured (perhaps) by the wares of a fast-talking witch doctor – has long established itself as one of the most popular and frequently performed of his operas. In Jonathan Miller's attractive production, revived here for... 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> 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>
Bamberg SOConcert Review: Aimard joins the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra in Edinburgh The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra is enjoying a burgeoning reputation under its British-born conductor Jonathan Nott. Critics have revelled in their recordings of Mahler in particular, so their appearance as the closing act of this year’s Festival...more> BudapestSpecial Report: Recent music in and around Budapest Musical events are not as numerous in Budapest during the summer as they are during the rest of the year, and publicity for them seems to be under strength. Nevertheless, although sadly I missed out on some under-publicised but probably high quality events... more>
DavisConcert Review: The Qatsi trilogy with Philip Glass Ensemble at the Edinburgh Festival For the monumentally industrious Philip Glass, the Qatsi trilogy figures as some of his most significant work, which makes it a highly appropriate vehicle for the Edinburgh International Festival to salute.... more> WeithaasConcert Review: The Philadelphia Orchestra and Charles Dutoit in Edinburgh Leaving their financial woes behind, the Philadelphia Orchestra were in holiday mood as they brought a shamelessly populist programme to the Edinburgh International Festival... more>
WeithaasConcert Review: The Philadelphia Orchestra and Charles Dutoit in Dublin The big news coming into this, the opening concert of the National Concert Hall's International Concert Series 2011/12, was that the evening's soloist, violinist Janine Jansen, had to cancel her appearance due to illness... 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>
WeithaasConcert Review: Kenneth MacMillan's Song of the Earth and a new Jorma Elo piece at the Edinburgh Festival For Scottish Ballet's outgoing artistic director, Ashley Page, this year's Edinburgh International Festival was a doubly moving experience, coupling a coup laced with personal nostalgia, in the revival of Kenneth ... more> Scottish OperaConcert Review: A wide selection of world music in Edinburgh While this year's Edinburgh International Festival east-meets-west theme primarily engages the metropolitan cultural consumer, there is a secondary agenda that involves audience development among... more>
WeithaasConcert Review: The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra impress at the Edinburgh Festival The unfolding story of the rise of Western classical music in Korea and China is in its early chapters as yet, but on tonight's evidence, it is turning out to be a thriller. Myung-Whun Chung and the Seoul Philharmonic ... more> DavisOpera Interview: Sir Andrew Davis on his return to Glyndebourne For twelve seasons, from 1989 to 2000, Sir Andrew Davis was Music Director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera, conducting and presiding over many memorable productions there: the three... 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> PhilharmoniaConcert Review: Salonen and the Philharmonia at the Edinburgh Festival Pair Stravinsky with Bartok, as the Concertgebouw did last year, and the debate can get fierce. Pair him with Scriabin, as the Philharmonia did tonight, and the exchange is intense in an altogether more collegiate way... more>
AxProm 47 Review: Emanuel Ax, Haitink, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in their first Brahms Prom Bernard Haitink's knowledge of Brahms symphonies is thorough, as shown – among others – in his recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra a few years ago. His humility and respect for the composer is exemplary. On this... 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>
AxProm 49 Review: Emanuel Ax, Haitink, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in their second Brahms Prom Brahms' Second Piano Concerto, while as symphonic as they come, nonetheless centres on sustained and sometimes extraordinarily intimate dialogue between piano and orchestra. Emanuel Ax, under the High-Definition scrutiny of BBC 2... more> PhilharmoniaConcert Review: Olli Mustonen at the Edinburgh Festival The recital began with Schumann's Kinderszenen, which, unfortunately, suffered under Mustonen's extreme heaviness of touch and overuse of the sustaining pedal, particularly in the vibrant scenes,... more>
WeithaasConcert Review: The Osborne Weithaas Tetzlaff Trio in Ravel at the Edinburgh Festival 'Alborado del gracioso', the most daunting of the five pieces, is also the most captivating. Through its vibrant and complex Spanish rhythms, the piece moves forward with vigour and a playful tenacity. Ending on a soft note with the sonorous harmonies of... more> LachenmannCD Reviews: Lachenmann string quartets and music from the Donaueschingen festival (Neos) Part of the compulsiveness of Lachenmann's three quartets, as Peter Becker mentions in his sleeve notes, is the sense of mystery that emerges from Lachenmann's virginal presentation of musical sound. As you become immersed in the sound world... 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> grittonConcert Review: A night of water with Tan Dun, Debussy, Beethoven, and Nagano in Edinburgh In this EIF concert Kent Nagano conducted the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in a performance that was truly worthy of high praise. The programme opened with a moving performance of Debussy's La Mer. From a dreamy seascape, to crashing.... more>
ReichProms 45 and 46 Review: Mullova and Barley with Volkov and others in Larcher, Bruckner, and Gypsy inspired chamber music An eclectic evening at the Proms tonight, with new orchestral music, a canonical romantic symphony, and a range of Gypsy inspired chamber music forming a rather interesting musical weave.... more> LachenmannConcert Review: Martha Argerich and Nelson Goerner at the Edinburgh Festival The programme began with Mozart's Sonata in D K381 for four hands, as an immense sense of calm permeated Usher Hall. Argerich and Goerner achieved a wonderful balance together; Goerner's light touch provided just enough pressure in the melodic primo... 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> grittonConcert Review: The 2011 Edinburgh Festival opens with Norrington A hybrid of opera and oratorio, the work follows Thomas Moore's epic poem Lalla Rookh, telling the story of a half-mortal, half-fallen angel, known as a Peri, who is desperately yearning to enter Paradise.... more>
ReichProm 37 Review: Dejan Lazic re-imagines Brahms Bridge, Brahms, Holst and Elgar might seem to be a highly conventional collection of composers for an evening at the Proms, but two curios hiding undercover of this headline belied such expectations of conventionality.... more> OlafssonCD Review: New recordings of Handel keyboard music, and Bach and Chopin on the piano Bridget Cunningham's first solo harpsichord album is her second disc on the young Rose Street Records label to explore early Irish themes, this time through Handel's stay in Ireland from 1741 to 1742. The programme is built around two... more>
ReichProm 36 Review: Steve Reich's 75th celebrated with Ensemble Modern This late-night Prom celebrated Steve Reich's 75th birthday with three of his most typical and popular pieces. Due to travel and cultural chaos I was unable to attend the Prom in person, so this review should be considered a response to the live broadcast on Radio 3. (Readers... more> KnussenProm 24 Review: Tasmin Little and the BBC SO in Elgar, with Grainger and Strauss If the BBC Proms are a National Treasure alongside Dame Judi Dench, imperial measurements and the cucumber sandwich, few composers are more closely associated with them – nor thought so terribly British – as Edward Elgar. Small wonder, then, that he apparently once said of... more>
KnussenProm 29 Review: The Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel There were many splendid musical moments in this performance of Mahler's 'Resurrection' symphony, given by the combined forces of the Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. Furthermore, conductor Gustavo Dudamel... more> KnussenProm 19 Review: Knussen with the BBC SO and Claire Booth in Berg, Debussy, and others It is a critical commonplace that the acoustic of the Albert Hall blurs orchestral distinctions. This commonplace was bucked by the BBC SO under Knussen's baton. Throughout the evening a bright contrast was maintained between... more>
BavouzetProm 15 Review: Bartók, Liszt, and Kodály with the LPO and Jurowski Kodály spent only eight years of his life in Galánta. His family moved there from his native Kecskemét in 1884, that is when he was two, and moved on to Nagyszombat when he was ten. Yet Galánta remained deep-seated in Kodály's memory. In 1941... more> PartCD Review: Two recent releases of music by Arvo Pärt This ECM release presents a live recording of the Fourth Symphony's premiere in LA. Commissioned by Esa-Pekka Salonen for the LA Philharmonic, the Symphony bears the subtitle 'Los Angeles', an allusion both to the site of its premiere and to the subject of its music – a sacred... more>
PoplavskayaProms 13 & 14 Review: Verdi's Requiem and Mahler's Symphony No.9 These two Proms both featured one great work, each delivered in a concentrated interval-less span. However, while the massed forces assembled for Verdi's Requiem were marshalled by Semyon Bychkov to shattering effect, Roger Norrington's unapologetically Spartan approach to Mahler... more> SchiffProm 9 Review: The Hallé and András Schiff In Bartók, Sibelius, and Janácek All three of these composers were considerably inspired by their national heritage and, in a manner of speaking, they were related. For some thousand or so years Hungarians and Finns were thought to be closely related – lately this theory has been challenged... 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>
BrucknerConcert Review: The Cleveland Orchestra performs Bruckner's Symphony No.8 The deNazification of the Bruckner symphonies – including excising all of the Wagner references from the "Wagner" symphony – and the subsequent counter-reformation to restore the "purity" of the original texts were all hashed out long after the death of the composer... 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>
PappanoProm 5 Review: Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France with Braley and the Capuçons After a strong opening weekend, the 2011 Proms is now settling into itself with a variety of semi-themed and non-themed events. Tonight's Prom, with Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, appropriately enough focuses on French music for its... 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>
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> PappanoConcert Review: The Opening Night of the 2011 Proms After last year's grand entrée of Mahler 8, the Opening Night of the 2011 Proms restored to the occasion a flavour of Last Night miscellany, whilst also preserving a sense of the grandiloquent ambition that worked so well with the Mahler. The miscellany was... 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>
LangCD Reviews: New releases by Lang and Dufourt on Kairos The Vienna-based Kairos label has dedicated two previous releases to the music of the Austrian composer Bernhard Lang. Now comes a third one, featuring two works composed by Lang in the past four years. Lang's music is concerned with... more> Nicholas CollonInterview: Young conductor Nicholas Collon talks about his Aurora Orchestra Amid the general gloom over arts funding, cutbacks, the reported slow but inexorable decline of classical music in general, it is refreshing to come across a confident, fresh, articulate and exciting new talent, in the form of the fast-rising young British conductor Nicholas Collon. In a break between rehearsals at... 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>
RattleConcert Review: Simon Rattle and the CBSO in Messiaen and Mahler The real meat of the evening came in the second half, with Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. In a clever and communicative move, Rattle had warned his audience even before the Messiaen began that his wife Magdalena Kozena was suffering, and might have to be replaced even... more> CockerConcert Review: The BBC Concert Orchestra explore electronica with host Jarvis Cocker The third and final concert took place last week at the Southbank Centre. It was hosted by the amiable Jarvis Cocker, who also took on the role of performer (a wayward but charismatic singer) for Anne Dudley's gorgeous, brittle, and expansive arrangement... 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>
Stephen CostelloOpera Interview: Tenor Stephen Costello on his Glyndebourne debut The young American tenor Stephen Costello has had somewhat of a dream start to his operatic career, having appeared already on the stages of the Met, the Vienna Staatsoper and the Royal Opera House, among a string of other elite venues... more> ToscaOpera 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>
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> SchoendorffCD Review: Cinquecento performs Schoendorff (Hyperion) Cinquecento are once again brilliant, sensitive and convincing. And yet their sixth album poses a delightful problem: that they appear to have the Midas touch with renaissance vocal polyphony somewhat complicates the ease with which we can form an opinion about the quality... 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>
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> Frank WildhornCD Review: Frank Wildhorn's Wonderland and Linda Eder's Now Composer Frank Wildhorn (born 1959) is, like Andrew Lloyd Webber in his day, loved by the public and hated by the critics. In spite of the huge success of Jekyll and Hyde (1990) on its four-year Broadway run, and his generally prolific output (in 1999 he was the first composer in 22 years to have three shows running on Broadway: Jekyll, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil War), he has never gained... 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>
GaffiganConcert Review: The SCO bring their season to a close with Mozart When the season's programme was first announced last year, there was much excitement at the alpha and omega of Ticciati's Don Giovanni for the opening concert, and Mackerras's valedictory programme featuring the Requiem for the closing. A near-full... more> XenakisCD Review: Xenakis's Collected Orchestral Works (Timpani) Xenakis's first mature work, 1954's Métastaséis, unusally for a composer at the outset of his career, is a work not for chamber ensemble or soloist but for orchestra: the reason being the idiosyncrasy of Xenakis's compositional approach, which envisages the fusing together of.... more>
wishartConcert Review: Trevor Wishart's Encounters in the Republic of Heaven Trevor Wishart's Encounters in the Republic of Heaven ~~All the colours of speech~~ — heard this past Monday at King's Place as part of their wonderful Out Hear series — is Herzogian in its spotlighting of strange stories and richly felt anecdotes, but purely of its composer in its inventive and colourful exploration.... more> KronosConcert Review: Kronos Quartet in Reich, Riley and more Currently touring the debut of Steve Reich's WTC 9/11, the Kronos Quartet landed in Glasgow for an exciting weekend of innovative music-making as part of Glasgow Concert Halls' continuing Minimal series. Tonight, they were joined in two recent works for quartet and choir by the National Youth Choir.... more>
Gerald FinleyOpera Interview: Gerald Finley in Glyndebourne's first Meistersinger In a few days time, on Saturday 21 May, the 2011 Glyndebourne season gets under way with an historic first: the biggest production it has ever mounted, Wagner's very own festival opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. And leading the cast, in his own first Wagnerian role in costume onstage, is Canadian bass baritone Gerald Finley. With orchestral rehearsals... 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>
Jean-Michael LavoieConcert Review: The RSNO draw their season to a close with Adams and Beethoven On the Transmigration of Souls was commissioned from John Adams by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to mark the first anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001. Now, ten years on from that event, it features as the last of the.... more> LintuConcert Review: The RTE SO perform Haydn, Sibelius, and Nielsen in Dublin Last Friday the Orchestra was under the baton of Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu. In 2010 Lintu became Principal Guest Conductor of the RTE SO, taking on the position at the same time as Alan Buribayev became the Orchestra's Principal Conductor.... more>
Jean-Michael LavoieInterview: French-Canadian conductor Jean-Michael Lavoie Born in Quebec in 1982, Jean-Michael Lavoie has begun to establish himself on the international circuit as a young conductor to watch and, say some on the inside track, to tip for great things. After two years as assistant conductor of the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris.... more> guerreroConcert Review: Nico Muhly profiled at King's Place Such an exposition has been present in this week's series, entitled Seeing is Believing after the work at its centre, which focuses on the American composer Nico Muhly, friend of the pop world as much as he is darling of the classical. The second concert in the series... 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>
TinneyConcert Review: The final concert in Hugh Tinney's European Piano Masterworks series A higher public profile occasioned this concert than had the previous two. Hugh Tinney, performer and series director, appeared on television last week on RTE's flagship arts programme The View, performing Jardins sous la pluie from Debussy's Estampes... more> KarttunenConcert Review: Bach's St. John Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music and the King's College Choir In Easter week the Academy of Ancient Music and King's College Choir gave two performances of the St John Passion: one in King's College Chapel in Cambridge and one, on the following evening, in Cadogan Hall - the first appearance together in London of this particular choir and orchestra.... more>
GluzmanConcert Review: Ryoji Ikeda's datamatics This is curious for a work that purports, in its content and its form, to tell through the audio-visual medium a sort of history of technology, of computer aided design, and (to a much lesser extent) of electronic music. Thus datamatics obliquely and non-linearly stages... more> KarttunenConcert Review: The Philharmonia and Lorin Maazel in Mahler 6 Given as the third concert in a cycle of Mahler symphonies that is shaping up to be one of the events of the concert season in London - judging by the packed crowd and the high level of musical achievement - this was a devastating presentation that teetered (engagingly) on the brink of... more>
GluzmanConcert Review: Vadim Gluzman and the LSO at the Barbican I wonder whether the purpose of public concerts should only be entertainment or whether education too should be counted in. I for my part (in my capacity as an audience member) believe in preparation as well as active participation inasmuch as is practical. To be more precise, before a concert I usually... more> KarttunenConcert Review: The SCO and Oliver Knussen in Glasgow Oliver Knussen opened the programme with his own arrangements of two Mussorgsky works. Knussen breathed new life into the original short and sweet piano works. The SCO enlivened the works with great colour – from the imitation of the spinning wheel in La Couturière... more>
WinnarettaBook Review: A new biography of music patron Winnaretta Singer This is a wonderful book, in every respect. It wears its (considerable) scholarship lightly. It tells a fascinating narrative. It brings to vivid life a galère of twentieth century musical greats whose need for practical help, encouragement... more> BudapestConcert and Opera Review: Report from Budapest, including operas and works by Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Bartok, and others Musical offerings in Budapest are plentiful and usually of good standard. Thus I opted to attend nine events during my eleven-day stay there. Significantly, some of the performances were given by companies... 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> FidelioConcert Review: The Scottish Chamber Orchestra play Mozart and Beethoven Pianist Robert Levin wasted no time in diving into this complex work. In fact, even between movements, there was little pause, resulting in an overall feeling that it was a bit rushed. Levin seemed to approach the work with Beethovenian-like drama... more>
SampsonConcert Review: The Colin Currie Group in Steve Reich's Drumming Steve Reich's Drumming works so well because, in line with Reich's famous goal of making audible in music – indeed making the one indistinguishable from the other –the 'gradual processes' that define his and others’ minimalist compositional techniques, it takes... more> FidelioNews: The Edinburgh International Festival announces its 2011 programme The theme for this year's Edinburgh International Festival is a 'journey of discovery', affording Scottish audiences a rich variety of encounters with the diverse cultures of Asia. It promises to be a vintage year, featuring, among other musical highlights, a performance by the... more>
SampsonConcert Review: Ensemble Exposé in Xenakis, Finnissy, Redgate, and Kittos As part of this year's ongoing Ether Festival the Southbank Centre and the Centre for Contemporary Music Cultures of Goldsmith's College presented the Xenakis International Symposium, a weekend-long series of events that included a substantial programme of scholarly research presentations,... more> SampsonConcert Review: The SCO stunning in Fauré's Requiem with Carolyn Sampson Thursday night's Scottish Chamber Orchestra programme opened with Wagner's Siegfried Idyll, a highly personal symphonic poem written shortly after the birth of Cosima and Richard's son, Siegfried, in 1869. The work shares some melodic material with Wagner's opera... more>
SinfoniettaConcert Review: The London Sinfonietta in Xenakis at the QEH Saturday evening on London's Southbank saw the first of a couple of Xenakis concerts taking place in the capital over the weekend. These concerts were part of the ongoing Ether festival, the rubric of which takes in everything from the techno of the Cologne-based dance music label Kompakt to a screening of... 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>
JarviConcert Review: The RSNO with Neeme Järvi in Shostakovich If truth is the first casualty of war, what are we to say about a symphony that is freighted with meaning like perhaps no other, a symphony that—between impassioned performance and rapturous reception—evidently retains a compelling grasp on the public... more> TinneyNews: The RSNO announces details of its 2011/12 season After six staggeringly successful years as Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Stéphane Denève is moving on to a fresh opportunity, and a fresh challenge, with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra—but not before he delivers a final... 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> TinneyConcert Review: Hugh Tinney continues his survey of European Piano Masterworks (Dublin) Hugh Tinney's European Piano Masterworks series continued at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on Wednesday evening. Whereas last month's concert was based around Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata, this month's concert was based around Liszt's B Minor Sonata... more>
Trio MediaevalCD Review: A Worcester Ladymass from Trio Mediaeval (ECM) This new album from Trio Mediaveal is surely one of the most eagerly awaited of their career. Following their highly successful Folk Songs (2007), A Worcester Ladymass returns to the mediaeval sacred music with which these talented sopranos first made their name. After wooing us with... 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>
capuconConcert Review: The SCO and Capuçon in concert in Ediburgh The same composer and the same orchestra, under different direction, in a different venue, performing different symphonies in different rhetorical contexts: tonight's Haydn made for an interesting contrast with the other month's Cl@six outing.... 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>
MikadoConcert Review: Agnes Kory and 20 school children enjoy Vadim Gluzman at the Wigmore Hall Publicity material for Vadim Gluzman's Wigmore Hall debut stated that 'Vadim Gluzman harkens back to the Golden Age of violinists of the 19th and 20th centuries in technique and sensibility, while possessing the passion and energy of the... more> Trio MediaevalConcert Review: The London Sinfonietta in Barry, Adès, and Nørgård Feldman's Sixpenny Editions, for chamber orchestra with Huw Watkins featuring prominently on piano and celeste, commemorates the trash heritage of the music scores that were sold under that rubric, scores that consisted largely of popular tunes or of tacky and irreverent arrangements of classical... 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> Michael FabianoConcert Review: A night of solo Ferneyhough with Elision For their last concert in these parts until, I'm told, November of this year, Australian new music ensemble Elision focussed entirely on solo works by Brian Ferneyhough, a composer whose recent ubiquity - I'm thinking of the Barbican's Total Immersion, the symposium at the IMR, the Arditti's performance of his ... more>
PoulencOpera Review: Poulenc's Dialogues des carmélites at the Guildhall The Guildhall School of Music and Drama has long been know for their enterprising and ambitious operatic productions. In staging Poulenc's three act opera Dialogues des carmélites the college upholds this reputation. The opera explores the events that lead to 16 Carmelite nuns being beheaded during the Reign of Terror.... more> TinneyConcert Review: Hugh Tinney performs Beethoven's Hammerklavier in Dublin Over the past twenty years Tinney has had a strong impact on Irish musical life. Born in Dublin in 1958, he launched his career by winning a couple of first prizes in international piano competitions. He has subsequently played across the world, most frequently on the island immediately proximate... more>
MetConcert Review: Kafka Fragments at the Wigmore Hall Hungarian composer György Kurtág's 85th birthday (on 19th February) appears to have passed unnoticed in London's musical life. Although the Wigmore Hall presented an exceptional Kurtág concert on the eve of this arguably important day, it is not clear how many of the audience were aware... more> RattleConcert Review: Rattle and the Berlin Phil in Mahler 3 (RFH) It's all about the sound. That, at least, is what are constantly told by the publicity machine that whirs smoothly around the Berlin Philharmonic, one of Germany's great cultural institutions. And this concert was even preceded by a talk, which unfortunately I was unable to attend, in which one of the Berlin Philharmonic's... more>
LemieuxConcert Review: Sibelius and Shostakovich with the RSNO Shostakovich seems to have become a regular fixture in concert halls lately. Perhaps the passage of time is beginning to erase the ideologically-charged positions taken by listeners and critics of a generation ago, allowing the music to speak for itself. In that respect,... 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> MetNews: The Met announces 2011-12 season On February 16, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City held a multi-media press conference to announce the details of the 2011-2012 season of performances.  General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine announced plans for twenty-six operas, including seven new productions, two of which will be Met... 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> PolliniConcert Review: Maurizio Pollini in Beethoven's final trilogy of sonatas No interval, no encore, no bullshit. That is how the latest instalment of the so-called Pollini Project, a run of five concerts taking place this season at the Royal Festival Hall where Maurizio Pollini visits pillars of the piano repertoire, from Boulez... more>
LemieuxCD Review: Marie-Nicole Lemieux: Ne me refuse pas (Naive) Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux has assembled a small, but impressive discography of mostly 'niche' titles over the last half-dozen years.  In addition to discs of French mélodies and Schumann lieder, she has made strong contributions to several complete operas by Vivaldi – all under an... 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>
formentiConcert Review: Marino Formenti and Kurtag's Ghosts Live Kurtag's Ghosts sees pianist and Klangforum Wien member Marino Formenti attempting a bold performance-compositional synthesis: to stage musical history as if spoken by one voice (the piano), conceived by one mind (the Hungarian composer Kurtag's), and transcribed and performed by another (Formenti's). The project... more> ParedesConcert Review: The Arditti Quartet at the Wigmore Hall This was a wilfully abrasive concert, as consistently challenging to complacency in its audience as it was hostile to compromise in its programming. You'd expect nothing less from the Ardittis, though, and as such the Wigmore Hall must have known what it was letting itself... more><
Traviata MetOpera News: All-Italian Season for Opera Holland Park in 2011 London-based summer festival company Opera Holland Park has announced an all-Italian programme for summer 2011. It includes a rare outing for Catalani's rarely-performed La Wally, continuing the company's series of verismo rarities which has included Francesca da Rimini and L'amore dei tre Re... more> FluteOpera Review: David McVicar's Magic Flute returns to Covent Garden In the Royal Opera's ever-growing stable of David McVicar productions, this Magic Flute, first seen in 2003 and now on its third revival, is among the most immediately and reliably appealing. Grandly theatrical and packed full of sumptuous, painterly tableaux, it is both seductive and evocative.... more>
Traviata MetOpera Review: Decker's Traviata at the Met The Metropolitan Opera had a guaranteed 'big seller' in Willy Decker's production of Verdi's much-loved La Traviata well before opening night arrived on New Year's Eve: there were a number of good reasons for excitement.  First and foremost, a glass of champagne should be raised in honor of the trashing of the recent Zeffirelli... more> Michael FabianoInterview: Rising tenor Michael Fabiano stars in ENO's new production of Lucrezia Borgia The end of January brings an exciting new production to English National Opera: a staging of Donizetti's much underrated Lucrezia Borgia, directed by Mike Figgis. The line-up is impressive for the production: former ENO Music Director Paul Daniel returns to conduct leading... more>
Carnegie HallConcert News: Carnegie Hall announces the 2011-12 season Carnegie Hall in New York City has released the details of their 2011-12 season. As always, the programming is rich with diversity, and special attention is being paid to the 120th anniversary of the very first concert. Tchaikovsky was present to conduct on the original 'opening night'... more> KurzakInterview: Aleksandra Kurzak returns to Covent Garden in Il barbiere Covent Garden has a reputation for nurturing young talent, and the Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak is an excellent example. Spotted by the ROH's casting director, Peter Katona, when she was a young singer performing at the Placido Domingo competition many years ago, Kurzak was subsequently invited to step into an ailing singer's... more>
FlorezConcert Review: Juan Diego Flórez charms in recital (RFH) The Rosenblatt Recitals have being bringing some of the world's great singers, predominantly in the early stages of their careers, to London for just over a decade now. When Juan Diego Flórez made his debut with them in their 2001 season, he already had a formidable reputation as a singer whose voice... more> FurrerConcert Review: Beat Furrer showcase in London Beat Furrer (b. 54) is a Swiss-Austrian composer whose music participates in the spectral paradigm (where harmony, tone-colour and form are constructed in terms of the minutiae of the harmonic spectrum as opposed to in terms of any tonal or non-tonal plan), without being limited to its environs.... more>
HolanderDVD Review: Ioan Holander honoured with a Viennnese Gala (DG) In order to celebrate his retirement after nineteen years as general director of the Vienna State Opera, Ioan Holender organized the glittering parade of star singers and conductors preserved on these highly entertaining DVDs. Opera is a very serious business in Vienna... more> FanciullaConcert Review: Ticciati leads the SCO in Britten, Berlioz, Schumann While the Schumann was getting its second Edinburgh outing in less than a year, both the Berlioz and Britten enjoy less frequent exposure. Funnily enough, though, the Berlioz seemed familiar on account of its being characteristic Berlioz. There is the usual virtuosity of orchestration, the usual shortness... 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>
Javier PerianesInterview: Pianist Javier Perianes on his Barbican debut tonight A rising star both in his native Spain and, more recently, much further afield, the young pianist Javier Perianes is in London for his debut concert with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican. The repertoire is a piece Perianes knows well and is in the process of recording for Harmonia Mundi, Falla’s... more> Nikolai LuganskyConcert Review: Nikolai Lugansky in Brahms, Chopin and Liszt (QEH) There was something of the 'Piano Favourites' about this recital, mixing shorter works by Chopin, Brahms and Liszt. In the remarkably athletic hands of Nikolai Lugansky, however, there was little about it that was predictable or run-of-the-mill. And to describe the Russian virtuoso as a cool... more>
FischerConcert Review: Stephen Hough joins the Budapest Festival Orchestra in Liszt Timed to celebrate both Hungary taking over the EU presidency and the start of the officially sanctioned celebrations of the Liszt anniversary, there was certainly a sense of occasion at this concert by the Budapest Festival Orchestra. It's easy to be jaded about those two events: the current... more> MozartConcert Review: The LSO, Douglas, and Roth in Liszt and Berlioz Mazeppa is a relative stranger to the concert hall nowadays. It has the standard Liszt symphonic poem structure, a narrative of a hero against the odds, and it is a great orchestral warm-up piece, with brass and woodwind coming into their own almost from the outset. First... more>
VogtConcert Review: Mr McFall's Chamber in Clapperton and Grieg If they have some way to go to match the 37 years' longevity of the fabled Kronos Quartet, Mr McFall's Chamber has been going for a good long time now. Over some fifteen years, the ensemble has fashioned a distinctive niche in Scotland's musical life, one that bears certain valuable similarities with the... more> Pelleas et MelisandeOpera Review: Simon Rattle debuts at the Met with Pelléas et Mélisande featuring Finley and Kozen?/a> 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. Indeed, for the current revival, the cast was close to ideal... 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>
adogsheartConcert Review: ELISION at King's Place The ensemble are regular visitors to King's Place, bringing to the venue an avant-garde pedigree that is vital to its curriculum. ELISION shift perspective just a little each concert in their focus on a core group of composers centred around Richard Barrett, Liza Lim, and, perhaps, Aaron Cassidy, though if their gene pool is... more> MantraConcert Preview: Mr McFall's Chamber and James Clapperton The acclaimed Edinburgh ensemble Mr McFall's Chamber makes its first outings of the 2010/11 season on Thursday December 16th (St Bride's Church, Hyndland Road, Glasgow) and Friday 17th (St Mark?s Unitarian Church, Castle Terrace, Edinburgh). Both performances begin at 7.30, and are preceded at 6.30 by a ... more>
crashConcert Review: The Crash Ensemble brings its Stranger Folk tour to Dublin Under the confident baton of Alan Pierson, artistic director of Alarm Will Sound, Crash gave steady readings of music that on the whole wasn't hugely challenging, either for the performers or for the ears. Considering, though, that this series of concerts wraps up... more> Jean-Phillipe CollardConcert Review: The SCO in Ravel, Beethoven, and Takemitsu With Edinburgh snowbound, it was a minor miracle to find the Queen's Hall open, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra fully assembled and ready to perform. And, having had occasion to whimper on a couple of occasions recently about half-empty concert halls, this was definitely a case of the hall being half-full. One has ... more>>
adogsheartOpera Interview: Johan Botha sings his first Tannhäuser at Covent Garden South African tenor Johan Botha is known the world over for his special interpretations of the German romantic repertoire, so Covent Garden audiences are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to witness his first performances of the title role in Tannhäuser next.... 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>
adogsheartConcert Review: ELISION at King's Place The ensemble are regular visitors to King's Place, bringing to the venue an avant-garde pedigree that is vital to its curriculum. ELISION shift perspective just a little each concert in their focus on a core group of composers centred around Richard Barrett, Liza Lim, and, perhaps, Aaron Cassidy, though if their gene pool is... more> David Campbell on BroadwayCD Review: David Campbell On Broadway and What Makes Sammy Run? from Masterworks Broadway Masterworks Broadway continues its virtual monopoly amongst the major labels of the Broadway repertoire with these three contrasting releases. First up is On Broadway, the fourth solo album from Australian musical theatre performer... 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 Cos?Fan Tutte is no exception: here too modest means create an entirely credible atmosphere which is often lacking in lavish... more> Cos? width=Opera Review: William Christie's Cos?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 déj?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 essay, describes as 'Russian-doll... more> Imogen CooperConcert Review: Imogen Cooper with the RSNO One of the perks of this reviewing business is that we generally get issued a programme. Off-duty, more than likely, I'll go commando; on this occasion I was quasi-commando, having forgotten to bring my reading glasses. Hence the question: what does the programme bring to the concert experience?.... more>
VogtConcert Review: Lars Vogt and the SCO in Mozart, Brahms, and Webern This was an unusually resonant programme, showcasing the Viennese style over two centuries, from a master of the original 'Viennese style', to a (comparatively) seldom-heard master of the so-called 'Second Viennese School', via Brahms ... more> UpshawConcert Review: Peter Sellars' staging of Kafka Fragments at the Barbican Like the music and the text on which that music is based, Peter Sellars staging of Kurtag's Kafka Fragments emphasises the humour, sadness, anger, and, most inspiringly, the enigma of everyday existence. Unlike the music, however, the staging has something of a problematic relationship.... 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> UpshawConcert Review: John Storgårds leads the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in William Schuman, Schnelzer and Beethoven The UK premiere of Albert Schnelzer's Oboe Concerto, 'The Enchanter,' was successfully brought off. Soloist François Leleux took the oboe to new heights of expression. The concerto began with a menacingly mysterious introduction as Leleux's playing showcased his ability as an .... more>
ApolloConcert Review: Brian Eno's Apollo performed in Dublin Brian Eno's Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks was released in 1983. An ambient album stylistically in keeping with his earlier ambient innovations, as found on the seminal Ambient 1: Music for Airports and the peak Ambient 4: On Land, Apollo came about via a commission to produce the soundtrack for the film... more> ScordaturaCD Review: Trio Scordatura with works by young Irish composers As its name suggests, Trio Scordatura is mainly interested in work branching off somewhat from the norm, perhaps in a like fashion to scoratura tuning's wayward wandering from standard tuning. Scanning the names in the ensemble's repertoire we find such composers as Scelsi, Radulescu, Grisey, Niblock... more>
Dess? width=Opera Review: Butterfly at the SF Opera with Daniela Dess?/a> 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>
BryarsConcert Review: Bryars and Mertens at The London Festival of Exploratory Music Despite its broad and vague remit, the London International Festival of Exploratory Music ? held at King's Place and now in its second year ? has managed in each of its iterations to provide coherent and artistically interesting programmes. I managed to catch two of this year's 7 concerts, and I'm still rueful over missing what from all accounts was a.... 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>
LazicConcert Review: Rachmaninov, Saariaho and Nielsen with the RSNO The news of the week is that Simon Woods is moving on from his post as chief executive of the RSNO, to become executive director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. While Stéphan Denève has been the face of the RSNO's remarkable transformation over the last five years, Woods deserves enormous credit for successfully matching the... more> PapeOpera Broadcast Review: Boris Godunov with Pap?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>
DomingoFeature: Plácido Domingo in conversation with David Gockley and the press in San Francisco Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac is opening in a few hours at the War Memorial Opera House, and Plácido Domingo is in town. Busy as he notoriously is – he had just arrived from LA, where he is Neruda.. 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>
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> NymanConcert Review: Minimalism Festival in Glasgow with the Smith Quartet, Michael Nyman and others Most of the time, musical highlights that reach Glasgow also reach Edinburgh and vice versa, but every now and again one simply has to jump on the train. Svend Brown and his team at Glasgow's Concert Halls have assembled a diverse and exciting programme under the broad heading... more>
Upshaw by MichalekConcert Preview: Peter Sellars' Kafka Fragments at the Barbican Consisting of forty independent settings of short epigrams taken from Kafka's letters, diaries and notebooks, the seventy minute piece is scored for soprano and violin and will be performed at the Barbican by Dawn Upshaw, one of the most celebrated sopranos of our time and fresh from... more> Alfie BoeOpera Interview: Alfie Boe on Romeo and Juliet at the ROH and Les Miserables How should one categorise Alfie Boe? The word 'tenor' doesn't quite seem to cover it, because, even though he's only 33 years old, his career has already included appearing in a hit Broadway show (for which he won a Tony Award as Best Actor), recording a string of phenomenally popular albums, and starring in major productions... 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> John LillConcert Review: John Lill and the RSNO in Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Dvorák I had some mixed feelings about Friday night's RSNO programme of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Dvorák under conductor Krzysztof Urbanski.Beethoven's Coriolan Overture opened the concert with little fuss. The Beethovenian dynamic contrasts were evident but the softer passages were left feeling... 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>
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> StokkeConcert Review: Hits from the 1950s, '60s and '70s with the RSNO There is nothing like an evening of classic lounge and easy-listening hits, reminiscent of both old Hollywood glamour and such well known variety shows as The Lawrence Welk Show, to start off the weekend. All that was missing was the dance floor, as the RSNO along with singers Lisa Stokke and Peter Grant transformed ...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> NiobeConcert Review: Songs of war with the London Sinfonietta and Exaudi War. That was the subject of this, the opening concert of what looks to be a highly promising 2010/2011 season for the London Sinfonietta. Across three highly charged and variously arranged musical scores by, respectively and in order, Iannis Xenakis, Michael Finnissy, and Rolf Wallin...more>
Lawrence ZazzoOpera Interview: Lawrence Zazzo on ENO's new production of Radamisto The next new production in English National Opera's autumn season brings Handel's Radamisto to the house for the first time. David Alden, whose work with ENO has resulted in a string of successes for the company, will direct a cast that includes Lawrence Zazzo, Ailish Tynan, Sophie Bevan and Christine Rice... more> Sondheim on MusicBook Feature: Mark Eden Horowitz on his book of interviews, Sondheim on Music I had come to know Sondheim slightly while working on a production of Merrily We Roll Along at Arena Stage in Washington, DC in 1991. The following year I started at the Library; the year after that I read in the paper that Sondheim would be returning to DC to accept a special tribute at the upcoming...more>
LevinConcert Review: The Crash Ensemble with Dawn Upshaw in Dublin Upshaw is known to many in her native USA and internationally as a soprano of outstanding talent and a warm temperament. Through her regular opera appearances at the Met and in the major opera houses of Europe, she has performed, on the one hand, in all the major Mozart roles and, on the other hand... 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>
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> LevinConcert Review: The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Robert Levin perform Mozart If it seems a bit finicky to withhold the last half-star in grading this otherwise nearly flawless concert, I do so only to make the following point: that Robert Levin does not need to try so hard to connect with his audiences. It was a stunning opener for the Philharmonia Baroque's... more>
Sir Richard ArmstrongOpera Interview: Janacek specialist Sir Richard Armstrong discusses ENO's revival of The Makropulos Case One might expect as experienced and distinguished a conductor as Richard Armstrong to be a formidable person to interview, but he turns out to be extremely modest and chatty. Of course, the man is formidably intelligent, but in a human and generous way. When I ask him if he's enjoying... more> leaConcert Review: Radius at the Purcell Room in Poulenc and Tim Benjamin I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know Poulenc's La voix humaine before this evening, but Rebecca Lea's quite stunning performance has made me desperate to see it again as soon as possible. Jean Cocteau's play, pegged to a 1930s experience of unreliable technology but scored by Poulenc ... 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>
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> leaConcert Review: Radius at the Purcell Room in Poulenc and Tim Benjamin I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know Poulenc's La voix humaine before this evening, but Rebecca Lea's quite stunning performance has made me desperate to see it again as soon as possible. Jean Cocteau's play, pegged to a 1930s experience of unreliable technology but scored by Poulenc ... 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> Last Night of the PromsConcert Review: Renee Fleming and Maxim Rysanov in the Last Night of the Proms 2010 In many years of attending the BBC Proms, I've never before been to one of the legendary Last Nights. So with the enticement of seeing one of my favourite singers, Renée Fleming, I couldn't resist the opportunity to... 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>
BoesmansConcert Review: Philippe Boesmans portrait concert at La Monnaie Concurrent with their staging of his opera Yvonne, La Monnaie in Brussels hosted a portrait concert this evening of perhaps Belgium's leading composer, and their composer in residence, Philippe Boesmans (b. 1936). Given by Musique Nouvelles under the astute and generous direction of... 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>
Toby SpenceOpera Interview: Toby Spence discusses ENO's new production of Gounod's Faust It's three years since I first interviewed Toby Spence, the English tenor who is firmly placed as one of the finest opera singers of his generation. The occasion was a revival of Katya Kabanova at Covent Garden, and he confesses with enthusiasm that 'I've had a good time since then, and have got to a good place recently... more> Royal Albert Hall2010 Proms Penultimate Weekend: Berliner Philhamoniker, Arditti Quartet, BBC Concert Orchestra and more The 2010 Proms have been nothing if not eclectic, and its penultimate weekend has been no exception: A concert of contemporary British chamber works based in varying ways on Early Music models, and the second concert of the most anticipated visiting ensemble this season, Berlin Philharmonic, took up the Saturday... more>
Tansy DaviesConcert Review: BBC SO in Bruckner and Tansy Davies, and the Penguin Cafe Another eclectic evening at the Proms tonight, with a highly engaging BBC Symphony Orchestra concert being followed by a very well attended and fondly received Proms debut for the reincarnation of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra (with the last term absent), now led by Arthur Jeffes, in.... more> FluteCD Review: René Jacobs' new Magic Flute is released on Harmonia Mundi After the three Da Ponte operas, La Clemenza di Tito and, most recently, Idomeneo, Ren?Jacobs has finally reached Die Zauberflöte, and his approach is typically invigorating, iconoclastic and vividly realised. Unusually, perhaps, it is what he does with the dialogue that ... 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> JansonsProm 65: The Berliner Philharmoniker's First Night There is always that special air of anticipation in the arena of the Albert Hall when the Berliner Philharmoniker comes into town, and that was entirely in evidence at the first of their two Proms appearances this year. British audiences have almost adopted the Berlin Phil... 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> Petra LangConcert Review: Petra Lang and Sakari Oramo at the Edinburgh Festival After this blistering performance of Nielsen's triumphantly affirmative masterpiece, the question goes out to Edinburgh: where were you? It is a long time since I was last at such a poorly attended Usher Hall performance, and inevitably one meditates—with little to go on—about the thoughts of those people who stayed away. So, I... more>
Brodsky QuartetCD Competition: Win signed copies of the Brodsky Quartet's latest CD The Brodsky Quartet are at the forefront of the international chamber-music scene. Their love and mastery of the traditional string quartet repertoire is evident from their highly acclaimed performances, as well as from their extensive, award-winning discography. Four signed copies of their latest album... more> JansonsEdinburgh Festival Concert Review: The Royal Concertgebouw and Mariss Jansons 'His audience expected cocktails and jazz? Cold water and a sermon for them.' So wrote Constant Lambert about the emergence of Stravinsky's neoclassical style in the 1920s. Though he wasn't primarily thinking of Symphonies of Winds, seeing the ensemble take the stage as a single choir-like bloc instead of their accustomed seating arrangements... more>
MackerrasEIF Concert Review: A tribute to Sir Charles Mackerras with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra It came as a shock when the death of Sir Charles Mackerras was announced recently. Even though the venerable maestro was well into his eighties, the concerts he had planned for the forthcoming season with the SCO and others were keenly anticipated. As a longstanding friend of Edinburgh and the Festival, it was... 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 or worse than the rest of... more>
Royal Albert HallProm 49 Review: A Celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein Following on from the phenomenal success of last year's Prom devoted to the MGM musicals ? recently released on DVD ? conductor John Wilson returned to lead another evening of musical theatre music. This time, it was the turn of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, five of whose musicals were sampled in this two-hour concert. Perhaps oddly, Wilson... more> Magdalena Ko?en? ?Mathias Bothor/ Deutsche GrammophonConcert Review: Magdalena Ko?en?and Private Musicke at the Edinburgh Festival Something a little bit different from the regular Queen's Hall morning at the Festival: a stunning performance of renaissance and early modern song, with the charming sonorities of plucked and fretted strings (plucked, strummed, caressed) supporting charismatic vocal artistry in a style perhaps more familiar in its informality among the various oral... 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> Kronos QuartetEdinburgh Festival Concert Review: The Kronos Quartet The Kronos Quartet has always been about the music of our times, but Saturday's spellbinding performance at the Edinburgh International Festival turned that on its head. As the sheer magnetic intensity of the music and its rapturous reception began to dissipate, reflection set in... more>
Promises, PromisesCD Feature Review: Sony's Masterworks Broadway series celebrates the best of Broadway with Promises, Promises, City of Angels, Regina and more At one time, the Broadway cast album industry was an important part of the music business. Within a few years of its original release, the original recording of My Fair Lady had sold over 3 million copies, and it stayed in the charts for months. Admittedly, this was the show... more> The Chocolate SoldierOpera Review: Oscar Straus's The Chocolate Soldier at the Bard Music Festival Oscar Straus?s Der tapfere Soldat, which had its première at the Theater an der Wien in November, 1908, has never been a tremendous hit in the German-speaking operetta world. Perhaps the satire directed at militarism was a bit too potent for the Kaiser?s subjects. (One of its few revivals in Vienna was after... more>
Petra LangConcert Review: Petra Lang and Sakari Oramo at the Edinburgh Festival After this blistering performance of Nielsen's triumphantly affirmative masterpiece, the question goes out to Edinburgh: where were you? It is a long time since I was last at such a poorly attended Usher Hall performance, and inevitably one meditates—with little to go on—about the thoughts of those people who stayed away. So, I... more> NozzeConcert Review: Stephanie d?Oustrac in recital in Dordogne One of the joys of the French countryside during the long summer break is the plethora of music festivals that are centred on chateau courtyards, bastides, churches: everything from staged opera to instrumental recitals, often late at night and under the stars, can be found, with music to suit all tastes. The forces are often local and the standard varies enormously ? but every so often... more>
HanselDVD Review: A classic Hansel and Gretel from the Met (DG) Three important new productions of Humperdinck's re-telling of Hansel and Gretel have recently made it onto DVD in quick succession. They each represent very different takes on a familiar tale, ranging from Laurent Pelly's scathing critique of consumerism at Glyndebourne... more> BissConcert Review: Jonathan Biss in recital at the Edinburgh Festival Actually it is quite a challenge to find the right word for a recital that started with Mozart's Adagio. As a statement of intent it signalled seriousness and at the same time a refreshing inquisitiveness, for this is a curious work. Although the programme note's description 'profoundly tragic'... 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 new Don Giovanni looked like the must-see production of 2010 and was, indeed, an absolute... 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>
UrmanaConcert Review: Valery Gergiev leads the World Orchestra for Peace at the Proms Around forty countries are represented in the orchestra; players from Berlin and Vienna Phiharmonics, from the Royal Concertgebouw, from London, Chicago and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, Mariinsky, Rotterdam, China, Buenos Aires, Dublin, New York, Budapest, Melbourne and more share the stage without. ... more> InventionenFestival Review: Inventionen 2010 in Berlin Since the early 1980s, the Inventionen festival in Berlin has been dedicated to airing what is current in electroacoustic and acousmatic music and sound art, presenting the listening public and the electroacoustic music community with the fruits of recent work in the area. A scene exists for electroacoustic... more>
Elder by DoddConcert Review: Paul Lewis and the Hall?in Beethoven, Foulds and Strauss at the 2010 Proms If turn-of-the-century British composer John Foulds (1880-1939) had been alive today, he would surely have been delighted to behold the Hallé Orchestra giving the Proms premiere of his tone poem April ? England. He himself had joined the Mancunian ensemble as a 'cellist in 1900, and... 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>
UrmanaConcert Review: Simon Rattle and the OAE in Wagner, and Aimard and Nott in Mozart and Benjamin, at the Proms In order for a festival season of 76 concerts to retain any sense of vitality for itself it seems necessary that it play around with traditional concert form. So far the Proms have shown themselves very willing in that respect, bending programmes to suit works. ... 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>
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>
gubanovaConcert Review: Mark Elder leads The Australian Youth Orchestra at the Proms In recent years the Proms has played host to a number of captivating performances from visiting youth orchestras. To a role call that features amongst others the Mahler and the Simón Bolívar can now be added The Australian Youth Orchestra, whose performance this evening with Mark... more> JosefowiczConcert Review: Oliver Knussen leads the BBC SO in a contemporary programme at the Proms Despite these complaints, I rather enjoyed much of the concert. As I have said, the programme, selected by conductor Olly Knussen, was strangely organised. A sixteen minute Stockhausen lead to an early interval; three British pieces formed the middle; whilst... more>
ToradzeConcert Review: Thierry Fischer leads the BBC NOW in Shostakovich at the 2010 Proms I recently heard a critic on Newsnight Review complaining that he was expecting John Adams to have used dissonant music for the villainous characters and more consonant music for the goodies in his latest opera Doctor Atomic, and was disappointed that he hadn't. I take the opposite view: I want to hear... more> PromsConcert Review: Domingo's Simon Boccanegra at the 2010 BBC Proms Plácido Domingo's now famous Simon Boccanegra arrived to London's Royal Opera House only a few weeks ago. The cast involved in this Covent Garden revival of Elijah Moshinsky's production came to the Royal Albert Hall for the 2010 Proms, offering a semi-staged performance, with... more>
Paul LewisConcert Review: Paul Lewis and the BBC SO in Beethoven at the Proms There is little point any longer in referring to Lewis as a 'rising star' of British music-making, as his place in the pianistic stratosphere is firmly established. An acclaimed proponent of Beethoven and Schubert, his stage manner is self-effacing whilst retaining a distinctly authoritative air ? not dissimilar to that of his... more> PromsConcert Review: Bryn Terfel and Christopher Purves in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the 2010 BBC Proms Marketed by the BBC as The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, Wagner's opera was delivered as a semi-staged concert performance in the original German language by the excellent forces of the Welsh National Opera. There were no English surtitles provided, so... more>
PromsConcert Review: WDR Symphony under Semyon Bychkov at the 2010 BBC Proms On paper, this looked like a cleverly put together programme. It would start with the prelude to Lohengrin, which is meant to be a musical depiction of a flight of angels descending to earth with the Grail, and their ascent back to heaven. The end, meanwhile, was to be Strauss's very earthly evocation... 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>
PromsConcert Review: The Opening Night of the 2010 BBC Proms Amongst the undisputed masterpieces that comprise Mahler's run of symphonies from No. 5 to No. 9, there is this oddball, the 8th, which still continues to provoke debate. It was certainly an impressive way of getting the Proms season underway: eight vocal soloists, six choirs, an organ and an orchestra... 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>
UrmanaConcert Review: The Danish National Symphony Orchestra under Thomas Dausgaard at the 2010 Proms in Tchaikovsky, Ligeti, Langgaard and Sibelius A concert in three parts from the Danish National Symphony Orchestra under principal conductor and fellow Dane Thomas Dausgaard, offered one of the most imaginatively programmed Proms of the season thus far. Both first and second parts began with Ligeti, his choral bagatelles Night and Morning... more> Monteverdi and GardinerConcert Review: John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in Bach's B Minor The immediate sell-out event in this year's Aldeburgh Festival was the B minor Mass with these rather special forces, and so an air of expectation was in the jam-packed Maltings on the last Friday night before even a note had been sounded. And... 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>
McFall's TangoConcert Review: Mr McFall's Chamber and special guests play Astor Piazzolla After a few pore-splittingly hot days, how very Edinburgh to cool down just in time for Tango Night! Actually it was a lovely, sunny evening?inside the hall, one might say, as well as outside in the street. The perfect sort of an evening to spend with the music of Astor Piazzolla, in this latest... more> Christophe RoussetInterview: Christophe Rousset on Les Talens Lyriques at 20 and conducting Semele at the Barbican and in Paris One of the most versatile musicians of today, Christophe Rousset divides his time between such varied activities as conducting, researching new scores to perform and playing the harpsichord. A... more>