Opera

Why we should revel in the empty virtuosity of Handel's pasticcios

28 March 2015 9:00 am

Before the jukebox musical, back when Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys and Viva Forever! were still dollar-shaped glints in an as-yet-unborn…

Left to right: Peter Hoare (Fatty), Anne Sofie von Otter (Leocadia Begbick), Willard White (Trinity Moses)

Royal Opera's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny review: far too well behaved

21 March 2015 9:00 am

Brecht/Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny was premièred in 1930, Auden/Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress in 1951. Twenty-one…

Identity crisis: Rachele Gilmore as Alice

Alice in Wonderland at the Barbican reviewed: too much miaowing

14 March 2015 9:00 am

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson loved little girls. He loved to tell them stories, he loved to feed them jam, he loved…

Opera North's Gianni Schicchi and La vida breve reviewed: a flawless double helping of verismo

28 February 2015 9:00 am

Is there a more beautiful aria than ‘O mio babbino caro’ from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi? There are more overwhelming moments…

La Donna del Lago, Metropolitan Opera, review: Colm Toibin on a night of masterful singing

21 February 2015 9:00 am

La Donna del Lago, based on a poem by Sir Walter Scott, is one of the nine serious, dramatic operas…

Starry night: Iain Patterson as Sachs and Andrew Shore as Beckmesser in a triumphant ‘Mastersingers of Nuremberg’

Mastersingers of Nuremberg, ENO, review: ‘a triumph’

14 February 2015 9:00 am

ENO’s new production of Wagner’s The Mastersingers of Nuremberg is a triumph about which only the most niggling of reservations…

Why we should say farewell to the ENO

7 February 2015 9:00 am

It’s easy to forget what a mess of an art form opera once was. For its first 100 years it…

An artistic crime is committed at the Royal Festival Hall

31 January 2015 9:00 am

In one of the more peculiar concerts that I have been to at the Royal Festival Hall, Vladimir Jurowski conducted…

Andrea Chénier, Royal Opera House, review: like a Carry On - but without the jokes

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Who on earth could have predicted that a hoary old operatic melodrama set in revolutionary France would find resonance in…

Royal Opera’s Orfeo, Roundhouse: shouts its agenda so loudly the music struggles to be heard

17 January 2015 9:00 am

What a week to stage an opera about art’s power to challenge institutional authority, oppression — even death itself. Orfeo’s…

Royal Opera's Un ballo in maschera: limp, careless and scrappy

10 January 2015 9:00 am

Whether by chance or bold design, the Royal Opera’s two Christmas shows were written at precisely the same moment, between…

Magnificent: Nina Stemme as Isolde and Stephen Gould as Tristan

Royal Opera’s Tristan und Isolde: an absurd production - but still a magnificent night

3 January 2015 9:00 am

Any adequate performance of Tristan und Isolde, and the first night of the Royal Opera’s production was at least that,…

Does anyone have the balls to bring back castrati?

3 January 2015 9:00 am

One of the most complete bars to the authentic performance of both baroque opera and some renaissance polyphony is the…

Penelope Lively’s notebook: Coal holes and pub opera

13 December 2014 9:00 am

I have been having my vault done over. Not, as you might think, the family strong room, but the place…

Agents will be queuing up to sign this 26-year-old baritone from Sichuan

13 December 2014 9:00 am

The Royal Academy of Music’s end-of-term opera can always be looked forward to because it never disappoints: the repertoire is…

Forget the Germans. It’s the French who made classical music what it is

6 December 2014 9:00 am

The poor French. When we think of classical music, we always think of the Germans. It’s understandable. Instinctive. Ingrained. But…

Too worthy? Peter Sellars’s staging of John Adams’s ‘Gospel’

ENO’s Gospel According to the Other Mary: great music weighed down by a worthy staging

29 November 2014 9:00 am

Terrorism; East-West diplomacy; nuclear war: John Adams’s operas have poured music into the faultlines of 21st-century global politics, and the…

The erotic Mary, left, by Gregor Erhart (c.1515–20) and the penitent Mary, right, by El Greco (c.1577)

No one in the Bible has been as elaborately misrepresented as Mary Magdalene

22 November 2014 9:00 am

How would the real Mary Magdalene have reacted to her posthumous reputation? Not very kindly, one suspects. Our only historical…

Mariinsky’s Boris Godunov - a revelation

8 November 2014 9:00 am

Anyone who thinks opera singers and orchestral players are overworked should spare a thought for the Mariinsky Opera on its…

Anna Netrebko as Lady in Verdi’s ‘Macbeth’, Metropolitan Opera

Met Opera Live's Macbeth: Netrebko's singing stirred almost as much as her décolletage

1 November 2014 9:00 am

This season of live Met relays got off to a most impressive start, with an electrifying account of Verdi’s tenth…

Wear a veil if you like – but don’t treat women like that

25 October 2014 9:00 am

What sort of clothing do you wear when you go to the opera? I assume some of you do go…

Plisetskaya in ‘Romeo and Juliet’, 1964. She was one of the supreme trophies in the Soviet display case, the most garlanded, the most suspected

Maya Plisetskaya and Rodion Shchedrin: ‘The KGB put a microphone in our marriage bed'

25 October 2014 9:00 am

‘People in the West don’t understand nothing. Even the new Russian generation don’t understand anything at all. You don’t know,…

Spectator letters: St Augustine and Louise Mensch, war votes and flannel

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Faith and flexibility Sir: What a contrast in your two articles on religion last week: one liberal atheist parent (Claire…

ENO’s The Girl of the Golden West is irresistibly seductive

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Puccini’s La fanciulla del West is, one suspects, one of those works that modern audiences struggle to keep a straight…

Alice Coote and Sarah Tynan in ‘Xerxes’ at ENO

Royal Opera's Rigoletto: your disbelief may wobble but your excitement won't

4 October 2014 9:00 am

One of the greatest tests of how an opera house is functioning is the quality of its revivals. Both the…