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Michael Tanner rss

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

Did the Proms' Billy Budd turn a mystery into a mess?

14 September 2013
Billy Budd Proms
Inside Wagner’s Head Linbury

The many opera performances at the Proms this year have all been so successful, especially the Wagner series, that I hope it doesn’t require a centenary to include them in… Read more

Alan Oke as Peter Grimes in the production on Aldeburgh beach

Do I wish I’d gone to see Peter Grimes on the beach at Aldeburgh? No

7 September 2013
Peter Grimes on the beach Selected cinemas

With a tidal wave of Peter Grimeses about to engulf us — performances in London, Birmingham and Leeds in September alone — there is also, from 5 September, the film… Read more

Mark Elder and the Hallé surpassed any other account of Parsifal that Michael Tanner has heard

31 August 2013
Parsifal Prom
Paul Bunyan Welsh National Opera Youth Opera, Cardiff

The Proms season of Wagner operas — pity they didn’t do them all; Die Meistersinger would have been specially welcome, since no one else is doing it either — concluded… Read more

Tippett’s Midsummer Marriage is an opera of exuberant genius — but forget about the text

24 August 2013
The Midsummer Marriage The Proms

Whenever Michael Tippett’s first opera, The Midsummer Marriage, is revived, there is a chorus of voices, including mine, complaining that it should be done much more often, for it is… Read more

Wagner at the Proms

17 August 2013
Tristan und Isolde; Tannhäuser Proms
Carmen Sydney Harbour

It would be interesting to know why Tristan und Isolde was placed in the Proms programme in between Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. You might as well programme Othello between acts four… Read more

Is this the best Ring ever?

10 August 2013
The Ring The Proms

The first complete performance of Wagner’s Ring cycle at the Proms is already, less than a week after its conclusion, being hailed as historic and will soon be mythic, an… Read more