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Michael Tanner rss

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

The Voice of Firestone (Photo: NBC/NBCU)

Your best YouTube operatic experience ever

1 February 2014

Anyone who frequents the internet will have come across YouTube and soon learned that what may have been planned as a quick information-seeking visit turns into several happy hours, as… Read more

Elektra at the Royal Opera House (Photo: Clive Barda/Arena Pal

Overrated Strauss vs underrated Gluck

11 January 2014

This is the first of my more-or-less monthly columns, the idea of which is to report on operatic events other than those that take place at the two major London… Read more

Ben Johnson and Devon Guthrie in The Magic Flute (Photo: Robbie Jack)

The state of opera today (it's not good)

4 January 2014

I’ve been hoping that in this, the last of my weekly columns on opera, I would be able to strike a positive, even cheerful note on the present and future… Read more

Parsifal, Royal Opera House

Parsifal has anxiety, rage, near-madness — unfortunately the Royal Opera's version doesn't

14 December 2013
Parsifal Royal Opera House

Debussy’s description of the music of Parsifal as being ‘lit up from behind’ is famous; less so is Wagner’s own remark to Cosima that in his last music drama he… Read more

Daniel Harding Photo: Andrew Siddons

Should we watch the second act of Tristan und Isolde (without the first or the third)?

7 December 2013
Tristan und Isolde Act II Barbican

There aren’t many operas from which you can extract a single act and make a concert of it, in fact I can’t think of any except ones by Wagner. I’ve… Read more

Puccini's "Tosca" at the Metropolitan Opera House Photo: Getty

Opera review: The Barbican's Albert Herring was a perfect evening

30 November 2013
Albert Herring Barbican
Tosca Live from the Met

Of this year’s three musical birthday boys, Wagner has fared, in England, surprisingly well, Verdi inexplicably badly, and Britten, as was to be expected, has received the royal treatment. No… Read more

Agrippina, English Touring Opera

Baroque opera shows vicious people can sometimes be happy — and we're glad they are

23 November 2013
Jason, The Coronation of Poppea, Agrippina English Touring Opera

Visits by English Touring Opera are always to be looked forward to, but this autumn it has surpassed itself with three baroque works, two of them masterpieces and the third… Read more

Ben Johnson and Devon Guthrie (Photo: Robbie Jack)

The ENO's Magic Flute ignores everything that makes Mozart's opera great

16 November 2013
The Magic Flute English National Opera
L’enfant prodigue Guildhall School of Music and Drama

A new production of The Magic Flute is something to look forward to, if with apprehension. How many aspects of this protean masterpiece will it encompass, and how many will… Read more

Simon Keenlyside and John Tomlinson in ‘Wozzeck’

Keith Warner's Wozzeck doesn't make me as angry as it used to

9 November 2013
Wozzeck Royal Opera House
The Nose Live from the Met

When Keith Warner’s production of Berg’s Wozzeck was first produced at the Royal Opera, nine years ago, it made me more angry than any that I had ever seen. At… Read more

Outstanding portrayal: 
Alan Oke as
Aschenbach in
Opera North’s
production of
‘Death in Venice’

If 'Greek' is playing within 200 miles of where you live — watch it

2 November 2013
Death in Venice Opera North, Leeds, then touring
Greek Linbury Studio

This week chanced to give me a fascinating study in contrasts and comparisons: Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek at the Linbury Studio, Britten’s Death in Venice at the Grand Theatre Leeds. Two… Read more

Lianna Haroutounian as Helene

I hope you spotted the epic 'existential struggle' in Les vêpres siciliennes — I didn't

26 October 2013
Les vêpres siciliennes Royal Opera
El gato con botas Linbury

Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes is his least performed mature opera, even in its more familiar version as I vespri siciliani. So mounting it with a top-ranking cast and an interesting… Read more

Fight to the death: Onegin (Mariusz Kwiecien) and Lenski (Piotr Beczala)

Michael Tanner: With seven scenes, Eugene Onegin really doesn't need any more pauses

19 October 2013
Eugene Onegin Met Opera Live
Two Caravans King’s Head, Islington, until 20 October

This year’s live relays of New York Met performances have a markedly Slav flavour, with Shostakovich’s rare The Nose next up, and later Dvorak’s Rusalka and, most interestingly, Borodin’s Prince… Read more

Die Fledermaus: dramatically not a success, but musically enjoyable

A Fledermaus worth seeing for all its inadequacies

12 October 2013
Die Fledermaus ENO

Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (but if it’s given in English, why not The Bat? Does that somehow sound too unglamorous?) is not only the greatest operetta ever composed, as everyone… Read more

Michaela Schuster (Klytämnestra) and Christine Goerke (Elektra)

A sensational week for opera: sensationally good and sensationally bad

5 October 2013
Elektra Royal Opera House
Fidelio English National Opera

It’s been a sensational week for opera in London, with a sensationally good performance of Strauss’s Elektra at the Royal Opera, and a sensationally terrible production of Fidelio at English… Read more

Beguiling: Lucy Crowe as Susanna

Why do people talk such nonsense when describing opera? American Lulu and Le Nozze di Figaro reviewed

28 September 2013
American Lulu Young Vic
Le Nozze di Figaro Royal Opera House

Why would anyone want to adapt Berg’s Lulu, a masterpiece even if a problematic one? According to John Fulljames, who is the producer of the version of Lulu that Olga… Read more

Winningly diminutive: Eri Nakamura as Liù

Turandot is a disgusting opera that is beyond redemption

21 September 2013
Turandot Royal Opera House

It’s a cynical start to the Royal Opera’s season to have this 1984 production of Puccini’s last opera Turandot. Not that a new production would improve things, whatever it was… Read more