Michael Tanner rss

Daphne at Grimeborn

As with so many Strauss operas, Daphne's one redeeming feature is its end

29 August 2015
Daphne Grimeborn Arcola Theatre

Richard Strauss’s Daphne is one of the operas he wrote during the excruciatingly long Indian summer of his composing life, where he seems, in one work after another, to be… Read more

Animal magic: François Piolino as the Frog in ‘L’enfant et les sortilèges’

Glyndebourne’s Ravel double bill comes close to perfection

15 August 2015
L’heure espagnole/L’enfant et les sortilèges Glyndebourne

When I saw the first performance of this production of Ravel’s two operas at Glyndebourne three years ago, I thought it was the nearest thing to operatic perfection I had… Read more

Rachel Nicholls and Peter Wedd in Tristan und Isolde

The finest Tristan since Siegfried Jerusalem

27 June 2015
Tristan und Isolde Longborough Festival Opera
Swept Away: Hindemith, Toch, Weill Kings Place

Which of Wagner’s mature dramas is the most challenging, for performers and spectators? The one you’re seeing at the moment, seems to be the answer for me. The better I… Read more


The Heckler: my decades-long campaign against Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

13 June 2015

For anyone who has been interested in classical vocal music since the middle of the last century, whether choral, operatic or solo, there has been one inescapable name and voice:… Read more

Stéphanie d’Oustrac (Carmen) and Pavel Cernoch (Don José) in ‘Carmen’ at Glyndebourne

Was Glyndebourne right to revive Donizetti's Poliuto? No, says Michael Tanner

30 May 2015
Poliuto; Carmen Glyndebourne
Carmen ENO

It’s been a busy operatic week, with a nearly great concert performance of Parsifal in Birmingham on Sunday (reviewed by Anna Picard in last week’s Spectator), Carmen at the Coliseum… Read more

Prudence Sanders (Adina) & Caroline Kennedy (Gianetta) in OperaUpClose's production of Donizetti's The Elixir of Love. Photo: Christopher Tribble

OperaUpClose’s production of Elixir of Love is by far the best update of an opera Michael Tanner has ever seen

2 May 2015
The Elixir of Love OperaUpClose
Cavalleria Rusticana; Pagliacci Met Opera Live

Three staples of the Italian repertoire, performed and seen in very different circumstances, have confirmed my view that they deserve their place in the repertoire, however many other works by… Read more

Graham Vick's production of Tippett's The Ice Break

Tippett’s triumphant failure: Birmingham Opera Company’s The Ice Break reviewed

11 April 2015
The Ice Break Birmingham Opera Company
Madama Butterfly Royal Opera House

The Ice Break is Michael Tippett’s fourth opera, first produced at Covent Garden in 1977 and rarely produced anywhere since, though there is an excellent recording of it. Its brevity… Read more

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
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny Royal Opera
The Rake’s Progress Royal Academy of Music

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 years separate them, but it seems, as one looks back,… Read more

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
The Mastersingers of Nuremberg ENO
Der fliegende Holländer Royal Opera

ENO’s new production of Wagner’s The Mastersingers of Nuremberg is a triumph about which only the most niggling of reservations can be set. Every aspect — orchestral, vocal, production —… Read more

The Marriage of Figaro Photo: Clive Barda

An artistic crime is committed at the Royal Festival Hall

31 January 2015
Das Rheingold (excerpts); The Miserly Knight Royal Festival Hall
The Marriage of Figaro Opera North

In one of the more peculiar concerts that I have been to at the Royal Festival Hall, Vladimir Jurowski conducted excerpts from Das Rheingold in the first half of the… Read more

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
Tristan und Isolde Royal Opera House

Any adequate performance of Tristan und Isolde, and the first night of the Royal Opera’s production was at least that, leaves you wondering what to do with the rest of… Read more

Gianni Schicchi Photo: Hana Zushi-Rhodes, Royal Academy of Music

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

13 December 2014
Suor Angelica; Gianni Schicchi Royal Academy of Music
Die Zauberflöte Royal College of Music

The Royal Academy of Music’s end-of-term opera can always be looked forward to because it never disappoints: the repertoire is enterprising, the musical performance is invariably on a high level,… Read more

Franco Fagioli: a controversial Idamante in ‘Idomeneo’ at the Royal Opera House

Royal Opera’s Idomeneo: get seats but make sure they’re facing away from the stage

15 November 2014
Idomeneo Royal Opera House
Les Martyrs Royal Festival Hall

Mozart’s first great opera, Idomeneo, is not often performed, and perhaps it’s better that way. It should be seen as a festival work, celebrating qualities that we rarely reflect on,… Read more

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
Macbeth Met Opera Live
Le nozze di Figaro Met Opera Live
The Marriage of Figaro English National Opera

This season of live Met relays got off to a most impressive start, with an electrifying account of Verdi’s tenth opera and first really great, though uneven piece, Macbetto (as… Read more

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
Rigoletto Royal Opera
Xerxes English National Opera

One of the greatest tests of how an opera house is functioning is the quality of its revivals. Both the Royal Opera and the English National Opera score highly in… Read more

Lucia di Lammermoor, Winslow Hall Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

Michael Tanner: Why I prefer Donizetti to Strauss

13 September 2014
Salome; Elektra BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall
Lucia di Lammermoor Winslow Hall, Buckinghamshire

Three operas this week, each of them named after its (anti-)heroine: one of the heroines (the most sympathetic) murders her husband, one of them spends her time successfully plotting the… Read more

Composer Giacomo Puccini; scenes from performances of Tosca in 1956 and 2010 Photo: Getty

In defence of Puccini

23 August 2014

During my opera-going lifetime the most sensational change in the repertoire has, of course, been the immense expansion of the baroque repertoire, with Monteverdi, Rameau and above all Handel being… Read more

© simon fowler/decca

I think I’ve found the new Maria Callas

2 August 2014

Some of my most enjoyable evenings, when I reviewed opera weekly for The Spectator, were spent at the Royal College of Music, in the tiny but elegant and comfortable Britten… Read more

Theater Freiburg present Tannhauser1

In Norwich, a director is caught trying to murder Wagner’s Tannhäuser

2 August 2014
Tannhäuser Theater Freiburg, Norwich

Seventeen years ago the Norwegian National Opera staged two cycles of the Ring in Norwich’s Theatre Royal, performances that have remained vividly in the minds of anyone who saw them.… Read more

Mats Almgren as Hagen, Eric Greene as Gunther and Orla Boylan as Gutrune Photo: Clive Barda

Opera North's Götterdämerung is astounding (nearly)

5 July 2014
Götterdämmerung Opera North

It seems a very short time since I interviewed Richard Farnes about Opera North’s planned Ring cycle, the dramas to be done one a year, semi-staged in an idiosyncratic way.… Read more

DIALOGUES DES CARMELITES - Royal Opera, Main Stage, 2014

Dialogues des Carmélites brings out the best in Poulenc – and the Royal Opera House

7 June 2014
Dialogues des Carmélites Royal Opera House
La Cenerentola Live from the Met

Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites is an audacious work, much more so than many others that advertise their audacity. It deals with Love and Death, the central topics of opera, but… Read more

Memorable: Joseph Guyton as Andrei Khovansky in ‘Khovanskygate’

Khovanskygate is about the dreadfulness and possible glory of being Russian

3 May 2014
Khovanskygate: A National Enquiry Birmingham Opera Company
Così fan tutte Met Opera Live

Within the space of a few weeks we have had the rare chance of seeing the two great torsos of Russian opera, Borodin’s Prince Igor, unfinished because the composer was… Read more

Emily Magee as Empress; Johan Botha as Emperor © ROH / Clive Barda

The snobbery and sweaty brows of watching opera in the cinema

5 April 2014
Met Opera Live: Werther
Die Frau ohne Schatten Royal Opera House

I remain puzzled that, so far as I know, no daily or weekly paper carries reviews of the New York Met opera relays (I’m not a denizen of the blogosphere,… Read more

Kelly Cae Hogan (Lady Macbeth) and Béla Perencz (Macbeth)

ENO's Rodelinda: near-perfect singing, perfectly gimmicky direction

8 March 2014
Rodelinda ENO
La fanciulla del West; Macbeth Opera North

I wasn’t going to write about Handel’s Rodelinda, wasn’t even intending to go, but thanks to the kindness of the press office at ENO I did, and it was so… Read more

Hell is other people: Mariusz Kwiecienas Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni at his unsexiest

8 February 2014
Don Giovanni Royal Opera House

Every time there’s a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni I have to ask the same question: why is this opera, which 50 years ago was considered an unqualified masterpiece… Read more