fri 03/02/2023

Royal Opera

Tannhäuser, Royal Opera review - true goodness triumphs in the end

It’s always a disappointment when the Venusberg orgy Wagner added in 1861 to his original, 1845 Tannhäuser to suit Parisian tastes gives way to foursquare operatic conventions. Especially so in this revival of Tim Albery’s 2010 production, where...

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Least Like the Other, Irish National Opera, Linbury Theatre review - the harrowing of Rosemary Kennedy

This multimedia horror revue gave me heart trouble, which is an odd kind of compliment. Not at first: the assault of abrasive music, the one singer having to leap all over the place vocally, competing with spoken word and information overload, can...

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Die Zauberflöte, Royal Opera review - classic show but disappointing conductor

“The great thing about this production,” Colin Davis observed in 2003, during rehearsals for its very first run, “is that the director [David McVicar] hasn’t attempted to shock anybody. He has tried to tell the story of The Magic Flute. And...

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Alcina, Royal Opera review - sharp stage magic, mist over the pit

Handel’s audiences must have taken a very long time to settle – at least an act, to judge from the mostly inconsequential music of Alcina’s first hour. Lovely: we’re on an enchanted isle where puritanical people have been transformed into animal-...

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Britten Weekend, Snape review - diverse songs to mostly great poetry overshadow a problem opera

In usual circumstances, a fully staged opera and every voice-and-piano song-cycle by a single genius in one weekend would be an embarrassment of riches. The only problem about Britten hitting the heights, above all in setting toweringly great poetry...

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Aida, Royal Opera review - dour but disciplined

No gods, ancient Egyptian or otherwise; no sinister priest along the lines of Russia’s antichrist Patriarch Kiriil, sending soldiers to their deaths with the promise of heaven. Military ritual under what looks like a Russian/Chinese flag prevails in...

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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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