wed 10/08/2022

Royal Opera

Così fan tutte, Royal Opera review - vibrant youth and vocal beauty

Irish soprano Jennifer Davis, a stunning Elsa in this Royal Opera season's revival of Wagner’s Lohengrin, was the lure to sit through Jan Philipp Gloger's Mozart Così again (the title, by the way – "All Women Do It" – belies the complexity applied...

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Samson et Dalila, Royal Opera review - from austerity to excess, with visual rigour and aural beauty

Words and situations are one-dimensional, but the music is chameleonic, if not profound, and crafted with a master’s hand. What to do about Saint-Saëns’s Biblical hokum? In Richard Jones’s new production, the end justifies the means, with persecuted...

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'How that music was created remains to me a complete mystery': John Tomlinson on fellow Lancastrian Harrison Birtwistle

It has been a difficult couple of years for us in the world of opera, losing several of our most respected and admired colleagues who have inspired us over several decades. The names of Harry Kupfer, Graham Vick, Bernard Haitink come immediately to...

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Lohengrin, Royal Opera review - a timely return to warzone Brabant

David Alden’s Lohengrin is back at Covent Garden for a first revival. The defining image the first time round, in 2018, was of the ending, a political rally for King Henry’s regime, with Lohengrin and the swan as its icons. That felt crude – a two-...

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Peter Grimes, Royal Opera review - impressive, not quite devastating

"Why does he have to sentimentalise this piece?", Britten is reported by former Royal Opera director John Tooley to have said of Jon Vickers as Peter Grimes the tormented fisherman, so very different from the composer's life partner and creator of...

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Rigoletto, Royal Opera review - second time lucky

Two Royal Opera staples, Verdi's La traviata and Puccini’s Tosca, now come round with too much frequency for critical coverage. It looks like Director of Opera Oliver Mears’ Rigoletto will do the same. Yet the production’s September 2021 debut was...

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Theodora, Royal Opera review - God, love, sex, death - and terrorism

Some of Handel's late London oratorios, like the indestructible Semele, work well as fully staged operas. Others, usually the ones which swap mythology for the sacred, need dramatic help. Theodora is one of them, though Peter Sellars' now-legendary...

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Nabucco, Royal Opera review - high passion but low drama

This latest revival of the Royal Opera’s Nabucco production has suffered more than most from COVID disruptions. At the first night, on 20 December, the chorus were obliged to wear masks, news that was greeted by boos from the audience. Then the next...

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Le nozze di Figaro, Royal Opera review - New Year champagne

One of the galvanizing wonders of the operatic world happened when David McVicar’s production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro was new, back in 2006: the sight and sound of Royal Opera music director Antonio Pappano in seamless dual role as...

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Macbeth, Royal Opera review - bloody, bold, and resolute

Phyllida Lloyd’s production of Macbeth has been in rep at the Royal Opera since 2002, and it is a solid performer. The setting is slick and vaguely period, with lots of iron weaponry, smart, pony-tailed warriors, but not a kilt in sight. The set (...

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'Everyone who played for him always gave their very best': remembering Bernard Haitink (1929-2021)

Few musicians get to stage-manage a dignified departure from the world. Among his last compositions, Richard Strauss set a poem by Eichendorff depicting an old couple looking into the sunset and asking “is this perhaps death?”, and towards the end...

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Royal Opera House lullabies for Little Amal

“I want to tell her that people will be good,” Tewodros Aregawe of Phosphoros Theatre confided to us as Little Amal closed her eyes on the giant bed made up for her in the Paul Hamlyn Hall, “that all the people with kind eyes who have walked...

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