Opera

Why imperfect operas like Don Carlo are more interesting than perfect ones

8 August 2020 9:00 am

In the 62 years since I first heard and saw Don Carlo, in the famous and long-lasting production by Visconti…

After weeks of silence, Royal Opera reopened with a whimper

20 June 2020 9:00 am

It was the fourth time, or maybe the fifth, that I found myself reaching for the tissues that I began…

The best recordings of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges

6 June 2020 9:00 am

‘I don’t want to do my work. I want to go for a walk. I want to eat all the…

Swanky, stale and sullen, the summer music festival has had its day

23 May 2020 9:00 am

The summer music festival has had its day, says Norman Lebrecht

Drunk singers, Ravel on film and prime Viennese operetta: the addictive joys of classical YouTube

23 May 2020 9:00 am

The full addictive potential of classical YouTube needs to be experienced to be understood. And let’s be honest, there are…

No one understood the ennui of lockdown better than Louis XIV and his courtiers

9 May 2020 9:00 am

A few years ago I interviewed an eminent baroque conductor. Prickly and professorial, tired after a day of rehearsals, he…

It costs a lot of money to look this cheap: Metropolitan Opera’s At-Home Gala reviewed

2 May 2020 9:00 am

Desperate times call for desperate measures. With the world’s opera houses currently dark, the New York Metropolitan Opera tackled the…

Michael Tanner remembers the greatest musical experience of his life

25 April 2020 9:00 am

No surprise: the greatest musical experience of my life was Parsifal at Bayreuth in 1962. I thought at the time…

Bleak humour, resourcefulness and wit: Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Quarantine Soirées reviewed

28 March 2020 9:00 am

There’s a certain merit in bluntness. ‘Quarantine Soirées’ was what the Budapest Festival Orchestra called its response to the crisis,…

Bigamists, lunatics and adventurers: the raucous world of 19th century British music

21 March 2020 9:00 am

The world of 19th-century British music was raucous, but are there any masterpieces waiting to be rediscovered? wonders Richard Bratby

Letters: We need career detectives, not fast-tracked officers

7 March 2020 9:00 am

We need career detectives Sir: Your lead article (Trial and error, 29 February) rightly condemns Tom Watson for pressurising police…

If your instinct is to undermine Beethoven, you’re directing the wrong opera: Fidelio reviewed

7 March 2020 9:00 am

‘People may say I can’t sing,’ said the soprano Florence Foster Jenkins, ‘but no one can ever say I didn’t…

Antonio Pappano on diversity, a new Ring cycle and defending Verdi from dodgy directors

29 February 2020 9:00 am

After a record 18 years – and counting – as music director, Antonio Pappano talks to Norman Lebrecht about life after Covent Garden and how opera is beyond younger audiences

Eurotrash Verdi: ENO’s Luisa Miller reviewed

29 February 2020 9:00 am

Verdi’s Luisa Miller is set in the Tyrol in the early 17th century, and for some opera directors that’s a…

Are we going to have to start taking Calixto Bieito seriously? ENO’s Carmen reviewed

15 February 2020 9:00 am

Calixto Bieito’s Carmen: three words to make an opera critic’s heart leap. Until quite recently, Bieito was the operatic provocateur…

The audience were in tears: Christian Gerhaher/Gerold Huber at the Wigmore Hall reviewed

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

‘Popular’ classical music is a relative term. Show me someone who thinks Beethoven is surefire box office, and I’ll show…

Sadistic and repellent and thrilling: Mascagni’s Iris reviewed

7 December 2019 9:00 am

If you’ve ever felt that poor Madama Butterfly had a bit of a raw deal, then you really, really don’t…

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…

Meet the unrivalled Sun King of early music, William Christie

23 November 2019 9:00 am

It’s morning in the garden of William Christie, and he’s talking about home improvements. ‘I planted three pines up there…

Ravishing and poignant: ENO’s Orphée reviewed

23 November 2019 9:00 am

Billy Wilder, asked for his opinion of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical version of his movie Sunset Boulevard, famously replied: ‘Those…

Why are Haydn’s operas so lousy? La fedelta premiata reviewed

16 November 2019 9:00 am

There’s a book about musicals that every opera lover should read. Not Since Carrie by Ken Mandelbaum is a history…

English National Opera's triumphant new production of Harrison Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus, directed by Daniel Kramer. [Photo: Alistair Muir]

A triumph: ENO’s Mask of Orpheus reviewed

26 October 2019 9:00 am

ENO’s Mask of Orpheus is a triumph. It’s also unintelligible. Even David Pountney, who produced the original ENO staging in…

More misogynistic than the original: ENO’s Orpheus in the Underworld reviewed

12 October 2019 9:00 am

It’s Act Three of Emma Rice’s new production of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, and Eurydice (Mary Bevan) is trapped…

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…

Why this première felt important: James MacMillan’s Fifth Symphony reviewed

24 August 2019 9:00 am

All symphonies were sacred symphonies, once. Haydn began each day’s composition with a prayer, and ended every score with the…