Opera

The Queen of Spades

A thrilling production: Opera Holland Park’s Queen of Spades reviewed

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades is probably his greatest opera, certainly the one in which his characteristic strengths are on…

Macbeth at the Dorest Opera Festival (Photo: Fritz Curzon)

Michael Tanner won't forget Dorset Opera's thrilling Macbeth

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Dorset Opera seems to receive far less coverage than the rest of the country-house summer shows, although it is in…

Salzburg Festival's production of The Exterminating Angel, a new opera by Thomas Adès

Thomas Adès bottles it in his new opera: The Exterminating Angel reviewed

6 August 2016 9:00 am

In Luis Buñuel’s 1962 film, the ‘exterminating angel’ of the title is a mystery illness. A debilitating virus — much…

Thinking inside the box: Stéphanie d’Oustrac (Béatrice) and the chorus in ‘Béatrice et Bénédict’ at Glyndebourne

Are Glyndebourne taking le piss? Béatrice et Bénédict reviewed

30 July 2016 9:00 am

It takes a particularly wilful wit to alight on Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict as the perfect operatic nod to a…

Jenufa (Photo: Matthew Williams Ellis)

The opera for opera sceptics: Jenufa at Longborough reviewed

23 July 2016 9:00 am

What’s the best first opera for a sceptical adult first timer? It’s a favourite topic among opera buffs, and once…

Beethoven's Leonore (Photo: Robert Workman)

Memo to directors: it’s not all about you: Beethoven’s Leonore reviewed

16 July 2016 9:00 am

Leonore is the first version of Beethoven’s Fidelio, and Stephen Medcalf thinks it’s better. ‘What Leonore gives us is more…

Brutality, brutalism and barbed wire: Maurizio Muraro as Ferrando in David Bösch’s ‘Il trovatore’

Placido Domingo was on vintage form in Royal Opera’s Nabucco

9 July 2016 9:00 am

Grey men in grey overcoats walking through grey architecture. If you had to pick an image to reflect the current…

Grant Doyle as Figaro, Beate Mordal as Susanna (Photo: Matthew Williams-Ellis)

A beautiful meditation on the Shakespearean-rich Idomeneo at Garsington Opera

2 July 2016 9:00 am

Comedy and tragedy sit close beside one another in Mozart’s operas. Whether it’s the grinning horror of the Così finale…

Fantastic Ms Fox: Elena Tsallagova as Vixen Sharp-Ears in ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’

Garsington Opera understands Eugene Onegin better than Tchaikovsky did

25 June 2016 9:00 am

Tchaikovsky knew what he thought of the title character of his Eugene Onegin. ‘I loved Tatyana, and was furiously indignant…

Stuart Skelton (Tristan) and Heidi Melton (Isolde) in Anish Kapoor’s volcano

A lethally perverse production: ENO's Tristan and Isolde reviewed

18 June 2016 9:00 am

It is at the Coliseum that I have seen the most wonderful Tristan and Isoldes of my life, both of…

Visual whipped cream and cheoreographic sprinkles at Garsington fail to disguise the festering horror underneath Rossini’s ‘L’italiana in Algeri’

Why are Rossini’s comedies so hard to pull off?

11 June 2016 9:00 am

Rossini is the meat-and-two-inappropriately-shaped-veg of summer opera; he’s the wag in the novelty bow tie, the two satyrs shagging enthusiastically…

Das Rheingold (Photo: Clive Barda)

The conducting is as potent as Furtwängler’s: Opera North’s Ring reviewed

4 June 2016 9:00 am

When I interviewed Richard Farnes in Leeds six years ago about Opera North’s project of performing the complete Ring, he…

OEDIPE, Royal Opera House (Photo: Clive Barda)

Not a repertory piece but in its dignity it earns respect: Royal Opera’s Oedipe reviewed

28 May 2016 9:00 am

For years I have been telling people that they should listen to, in the absence of staged performances, Enescu’s opera…

Pleasure, Opera North

This new opera had the audience in tears

21 May 2016 9:00 am

‘So you’re going to see the gay sex opera?’ exclaimed my friend, open-mouthed. People certainly seem to have had some…

Richard Suart as Ko-Ko and Stephen Richardson as The Mikado (Photo:  James Glossop)

Scottish Opera could have a hit on its hands with this new Mikado

14 May 2016 9:00 am

You have to be quite silly to take Gilbert and Sullivan seriously. But even sillier not to. G&S is still…

Tannhauser, Royal Opera House (Photo: Clive Barda)

Royal Opera’s Tannhäuser is one of the ugliest stagings I have set eyes on

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Cursed, or perhaps blessed, with almost no visual memory at all, I had almost completely forgotten what the Royal Opera’s…

Adriana Kohutkova & Karita Mattila, Jenufa (Photo: Petr Kadlec)

Shattering - despite the lack of staging: Czech Phil’s Jenufa reviewed

30 April 2016 9:00 am

Janacek’s Jenufa, his first great opera, had a one-night stand at the Royal Festival Hall last Monday, courtesy of the…

Goose of Cairo soloists (Photo: Jenny Brady)

A Handel opera that isn't by Handel, and a Mozart opera composed in 1990, reviewed

23 April 2016 9:00 am

Disguises and mistaken identities are a staple of opera, but usually as part of the onstage, not the offstage, action.…

Drowning in detail: Vicki Mortimer’s sets for Royal Opera’s production of ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’

Tame and drowning in detail: Royal Opera’s Lucia di Lammermoor reviewed

16 April 2016 9:00 am

Lucia di Lammermoor is one of the two or three Donizetti operas that have never fallen out of the repertoire,…

The Importance of Being Earnest (Photo: ROH/Stephen Cummiskey)

Is there a funnier opera than Gerald Barry’s Importance of Being Earnest?

9 April 2016 9:00 am

Comic opera is no laughing matter. Seriously, when was the last time you laughed out loud in the opera house?…

May Night at the Royal Academy of Music (Photo: Robert Workman)

The greatest British opera after Dido and Grimes? Vaughan Williams’s Riders to the Sea

2 April 2016 9:00 am

In a remote fishing village a lone figure confronts an unexplained death, standing tormented but unbroken against fate, the community…

Pepper Commetti as the goddess Diana in ETO's Iphigenie en Tauride. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

The singing made me seasick: ETO’s Don Giovanni reviewed

26 March 2016 9:00 am

One of these days I will probably see a production of Don Giovanni set in a research station in the…

Boris Godunov (Photo: Catherine Ashmore)

An unqualified triumph: Boris Godunov at the Royal Opera reviewed

19 March 2016 9:00 am

The Royal Opera has bitten the bullet so far as Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov goes, and opted to stage the original…

Naked ambition: Anthony Roth Costanzo in Philip Glass’s ‘Akhnaten’

In a world full of zombie new operas, thank god for Philip Glass’s Akhnaten

12 March 2016 9:00 am

A mixed year so far for new opera. A few really dismal things have appeared from people who should know…

The Marriage of Figaro (Photo: Richard Hubert Smith)

WNO reminds us Figaro's a comedy – which is no bad thing

5 March 2016 9:00 am

Near the end of Elena Langer’s new opera Figaro Gets a Divorce, as the Almaviva household — now emigrés in…