Alexandra Coghlan

One hell of a concert: Opera North’s Bluebeard’s Castle reviewed

14 December 2019 9:00 am

Freud knew something about fear. Not the sudden shock of terror, but the creeping, sickening, slow-burn horror of the uncanny.…

Handsome and revivable but I wasn’t moved: Royal Opera’s Death in Venice reviewed

30 November 2019 9:00 am

Premièred within two years of each other, Luchino Visconti’s film and Benjamin Britten’s opera Death in Venice both take Thomas…

Joyce DiDonato seduces you within the first 10 minutes: Royal Opera’s Agrippina reviewed

5 October 2019 9:00 am

‘Laws bow down before the desire to rule…’ Centuries before ‘proroguing’ had entered British breakfast-table vocabulary there was Handel’s Agrippina,…

More Grace Kelly than Grace Jones: Welsh National Opera’s Carmen reviewed

28 September 2019 9:00 am

How do you take your Carmen? Sun-drenched exotic fantasy with a side order of castanets, or cool and gritty, sour…

Why are so many operas by women adaptations of films by men?

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Opera’s line of corpses — bloodied, battered, dumped in a bag — is a long one. Now it can add…

West Side Story’s flick-knife-to-the-guts thrill never landed its final blow

17 August 2019 9:00 am

It was as though Damien Hirst had confessed a secret passion for Victorian watercolours, or Lars von Trier had admitted…

Leo Jemison (Miles), Elen Willmer (Flora) and Sophie Bevan (Governess) in The Turn of the Screw at Garsington Opera

Deft, elegant and genuinely chilling: Garsington’s Turn of the Screw reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Think of the children in opera. Not knowing sopranos and mezzos, pigtailed and pinafored or tightly trousered-up to look child-like,…

Testosterone and passion: Royal Opera’s Marriage of Figaro reviewed

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Another turn around the block for David McVicar’s handsome 1830s Figaro at the Royal Opera — the sixth since the…

Saved by the chorus

29 June 2019 9:00 am

We’ve cried wolf with Handel. Ever since the modern trend began for staging the composer’s oratorios we’ve hailed each one…

Where was the sex? Opera Holland Park’s Manon Lescaut reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Where was the desire, the frisson, the flicker of attraction? Hell, where was the sex? I ask because a week…

Musical shapeshifters: I Faglioni performing Leonardo: Shaping the Invisible at Milton Court Concert Hall Credit: Mark Allan/Barbican

The Holy Grail of concert-going: I Fagiolini deliver serious musicianship that never takes itself too seriously

11 May 2019 9:00 am

We’ve all read the article. It does the rounds with the dispiriting regularity of an unwanted dish on a sushi…

Individual performers make their mark: Jacques Imbrailo as Billy Budd and Alasdair Elliott as Squeak

An abdication of interpretative responsibility: Royal Opera’s Billy Budd reviewed

4 May 2019 9:00 am

The climactic central scene of Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd ends unexpectedly. The naval court has reached a verdict of death,…

ENO’s Jack the Ripper needs to decide if it wants to be a gore-fest or social history

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Is it possible to write a feminist opera about Jack the Ripper? Composer Iain Bell thinks it is, and his…

Deft humour and daft imagery: WNO’s Magic Flute reviewed

16 March 2019 9:00 am

Operas are like buses. Both are filled with pensioners and take ages to get anywhere, but more importantly they always…

Philipp Fürhofer's handsome and often ingenious designs for the Royal Opera's overcomplicated new production of The Queen of Spades. Photo: ROH 2018 / Catherine Ashmore

Never quite pivots from thesis to drama: Royal Opera’s Queen of Spades reviewed

19 January 2019 9:00 am

We increasingly accept the collision between life and art. Whether we’re puzzling over the real identity of Elena Ferrante, choosing…

King’s College, Cambridge choir rehearse A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

Divulging the secret of the famous ‘King’s sound’?

15 December 2018 9:00 am

Earlier this year The Spectator published an article in celebration of Evensong — the nightly sung service of the Anglican…

Gaelle Arquez as Carmen in Barrie Kosky's production at the Royal Opera. [Photo: ROH / Bill Cooper]

Kosky’s Carmen is still the smartest show in town – and the most fun

8 December 2018 9:00 am

It’s December, and while musical theatre is busy celebrating ‘warm woollen mittens’, opera, as usual, is far more interested in…

Hrachuhi Bassenz as Amelia Grimaldi in Elijah Moshinsky's Boccanegra for the Royal Opera. Photo: Clive Barda

Real psychological horror and a mesmerising heroine: ENO’s Lucia di Lammermoor reviewed

3 November 2018 9:00 am

How do you solve a problem like Lucia? Murder, madness, abuse, possibly even incest, all set to a soundtrack of…

English Touring Opera's handsome production of Dido and Aeneas. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

In praise of the English Touring Opera — a minor miracle of the arts world

27 October 2018 9:00 am

Wolverhampton; Workington; Blackburn; Sheffield; Lancaster; Hackney. Every year English Touring Opera does what our national opera company doesn’t: packs up…

A woman-child of dangerous assurance: Allison Cook as Salome in Adena Jacobs’s new production for English National Opera. [Catherine Ashmore]

A fascinating failure, but a failure nonetheless: ENO’s Salome reviewed

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Yes, Oscar Wilde never wrote it. No, Strauss didn’t intend it. In fact, the composer famously demanded the Dance of…

Opera North’s Tosca will leave you quivering

29 September 2018 9:00 am

At the end of Act Two of Tosca there are some 30 bars of orchestral music — accompaniment to a…

Chorus of approval: the ENO chorus gives it the full Broadway, triple threats to a man, in Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan (Photo: Genevieve Girling)

Often baffling but ultimately entertaining: Britten’s Paul Bunyan reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

‘I feel I have learned lots about what not to write for the theatre…’ There’s a prevailing idea that the…

Currentzis’s Beethoven asked us to listen with our bodies rather than our minds

4 August 2018 9:00 am

Some conductors conduct from the fingers — think of Gergiev’s convulsive gestures, flickering up and down the keyboard of an…

What a wasted opportunity: Jonas Kaufmann’s Four Last Songs reviewed

26 May 2018 9:00 am

No wonder we have a problem with classical music in this country. The week started in celebration. The stats are…

A delicious operatic ragout of horror: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk reviewed

21 April 2018 9:00 am

There is famously no door into the late-night diner of Edward Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’. Its three silent patrons are trapped behind…