Michael Tanner rss

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

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