Opera

Sarah Tynan, Nicholas Lester and Andrew Shore in ENO's new Merry Widow. Photo: Clive Barda

Cringingly vulgar, brainless and lacking heart: ENO’s Merry Widow reviewed

9 March 2019 9:00 am

Garrick Ohlsson is one of the finest pianists of his generation. Why, then, was the Wigmore Hall not much more…

Left: cartoon of Hector Berlioz published in the Wiener Theaterzeitung in 1846. Right: the composer in 1863, aged 59

David Cairns explains how we learned to love Berlioz

2 March 2019 9:00 am

According to his friend and fellow-composer Ernest Reyer, the last words Berlioz spoke on his deathbed were: ‘They are finally…

Opera North’s Rite of Spring shows the advantages of confining the music to the pit

2 March 2019 9:00 am

It was Stravinsky himself who suggested that, in order to preserve its difficulty, the opening bassoon solo of The Rite…

How good really was Berlioz?

23 February 2019 9:00 am

Hector Berlioz was born on 11 December 1803 in rural Isère. ‘During the months which preceded my birth my mother…

The thrilling first part of Dmitri Tcherniakov's new production of Berlioz's Les Troyens for Opéra Bastille. Photo: Vincent Pontet / Opéra National de Paris

Dau is not just a pretentious fraud – it’s rather disgusting

16 February 2019 9:00 am

The best booers, in my experience, are the Germans. There’s real purpose and thickness to their vocals. Italians hiss. The…

Miraculous: Amanda Majeski as Katya Kabanova in Richard Jones’s Royal Opera production

One of the greatest operatic experiences of my life: Royal Opera’s Katya Kabanova reviewed

9 February 2019 9:00 am

Janacek’s upsetting opera Katya Kabanova, which hasn’t been seen in the UK for some time, turned up in two different…

Kang Wang as Tamino in Opera North's new Magic Flute. Photo: Alastair Muir

Only adults struggle with The Magic Flute. Kids get it

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Spoiler alert: it’s all a dream. At least, I think that’s what we’re meant to take away from the business…

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…

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…

Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica performing performing Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Concertino for Violin and Strings in 2014. Photo: Hiroyuki Ito/ Getty Images

As a symphonist, Mieczyslaw Weinberg was a master: Weinberg Weekend reviewed

1 December 2018 9:00 am

It’s a strange compliment to pay a composer — that the most profound impression their music makes is of an…

The Gyorgy and Marta show: the nonagenarian couple have been an unlikely hit on YouTube

One of the last living avant-gardists speaks – Gyorgy Kurtag on his new Beckett opera

10 November 2018 9:00 am

Arriving in Budapest, I receive a summons I cannot refuse. Gyorgy Kurtag wants to see me. Famously elusive, the last…

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…

Thrilling, heartbreaking music drama — you need to see it: Sarah-Jane Lewis as Annie with the chorus in ENO’s Porgy and Bess

Thrilling, heartbreaking music drama – you need to see it: ENO’s Porgy and Bess reviewed

20 October 2018 9:00 am

Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess springs to life fully formed, and pulls you in before a word has been sung. A…

I genuinely liked Siegfried – which almost never happens: Royal Opera’s Ring cycle reviewed

13 October 2018 9:00 am

‘On Brünnhilde’s rock I drew the breath that called your name; so swift was my journey here.’ It’s Act Two…

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…

Letter signed by Wagner from an exhibition at the Saxon State and University Library in Dresden in 2013

As a writer, Richard Wagner was both sublime – and unreadable

22 September 2018 9:00 am

No one any longer denies the immense significance of Wagner’s musical-dramatic achievement, even if they find it repellent. But his…

An exalted experience even without a convincing central character: Siegfried in Edinburgh reviewed

18 August 2018 9:00 am

There’s one big problem with Wagner’s Siegfried, and the clue’s in the name. None of Wagner’s mature works hangs so…

Psycho thriller: Samuel Barber’s Vanessa at Glyndebourne Festival

Magnificent: Vanessa at Glyndebourne reviewed

11 August 2018 9:00 am

‘Outside this house the world has changed. Life is swifter than before; there is no time for idle gestures.’ Anatol,…

Thrilling energy & humour from Longborough Festival Opera: Ariadne auf Naxos reviewed

28 July 2018 9:00 am

‘They’ve dined well, they’ve drunk their fill, their brains are dull and slow. They’ll sit snoozing in the dark until…

An embarrassing and misshapen dud: Opera Holland Park’s Isabeau reviewed

21 July 2018 9:00 am

I’ve been trying to pinpoint the exact moment when it became impossible to take Mascagni’s Isabeau seriously. It wasn’t when…

Christina Gansch as Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande at Glyndebourne Festival

Vexing reading of a perplexing opera: Glyndebourne’s Pelléas et Mélisande reviewed

7 July 2018 9:00 am

The femme fatale was invented in France. A giddy, greedy child in her first incarnation, as the antiheroine of Abbé…

Sexy hints of affluence with top notes of fascism: Grange Park’s Roméo et Juliette reviewed

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Patrick Mason’s new production of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette reminded me of something, but it took a while to work…

OPERA
The ENO Chorus in Acis and Galatea. Photo: Dani Harvey

A fun evening that finished early enough for dinner – neither a given in Handel

23 June 2018 9:00 am

On a sward of AstroTurf somewhere off Silicon Roundabout, Mountain Media is hosting its summer party and, well, it’s the…