Alexandra Coghlan

This is how you reimagine Bach’s St John Passion

22 April 2017 9:00 am

‘The dripping blood our only drink/ The bloody flesh our only food…/ Again, in spite of that, we call this…

How Min Kym’s life became unstrung

8 April 2017 9:00 am

Min Kym is a violinist, but if you Google her name you won’t find sound-clips or concert reviews, touring schedules…

Unbearable (in a good way): Opera Holland Park's La voix humaine reviewed

1 April 2017 9:00 am

Opera is littered with the bodies of abandoned women. Step over Dido and Gilda, and you’ll still stumble into Donna…

Slyly surreal: Christopher Alden’s Partenope at ENO

Denial has rarely looked so good: ENO’s Partenope reviewed

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Ceci n’est pas une Partenope. Forget the warring classical kingdoms of Naples and Cumae: this is surrealist Paris in the…

‘Portrait of a Musician’, thought to be Claudio Monteverdi, c.1590, by a Cremonese artist

The true radical genius of Monteverdi is not in the operas but in the madrigals

18 February 2017 9:00 am

On his 450th anniversary, Alexandra Coghlan celebrates the composer’s remarkable musical prescience

The thrills are in the visuals: Philip Glass’s Les Enfants Terribles reviewed

4 February 2017 9:00 am

Kids: who’d have them? Certainly no one who has ever been to the opera. If they’re not murdering you, they’re…

Soldiers on the Western Front celebrating Christmas Day in a shell hole partly occupied by the grave of a comrade

The muddy, bloody origins of a treasured Christmas Eve ritual

10 December 2016 9:00 am

Alexandra Coghlan reveals the muddy, bloody origins of a treasured Christmas Eve ritual

All at sea: Rachel Kelly as Donna Elvira and Henk Neven as Don Giovanni in Northern Ireland Opera’s ‘Don Giovanni’

Oliver Mears’s limp Don Giovanni doesn’t bode well for the Royal Opera

26 November 2016 9:00 am

The last ten minutes of any Don Giovanni tell you more about a director than the previous two hours. Mozart’s…

Best left in ear and imagination: Wexford Festival Opera’s Herculanem reviewed

5 November 2016 9:00 am

Wexford is to opera-goers what casinos are to gamblers. The uncertainty, the hope, the exhilaration — they’re all a crucial…

Carry on camping: English Touring Opera’s ‘La Calisto’

Three ways not to do tragicomedy: English Touring Opera reviewed

22 October 2016 9:00 am

‘Besides feeble writing, there is a mixture of tragic-comedy and buffoonery in it, which Apostolo Zeno and Metastasio had banished…

Ben Baur’s stylish designs for ‘Così fan tutte’ at the Royal Opera House

Stylish designs undermined by elderly tempi: Royal Opera’s Così fan tutte reviewed

1 October 2016 9:00 am

The subtitle for Mozart’s Così fan tutte may be ‘The School For Lovers’, but it’s as a school for directors…

Vocal authority: Mandla Mndebele as Mandela and Siphamandla Yakupa as Winnie in ‘Mandela Trilogy’

For a good man, Nelson Mandela has inspired a lot of really bad art – here’s some more

10 September 2016 9:00 am

They say that the devil gets all the best tunes, and on the basis of this week’s opera-going it would…

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…

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…

Britten and Pears, photographed by Cecil Beaton

The Britten-Pears relationship: no longer an (open) secret

2 July 2016 9:00 am

‘You are the most adorable man and artist, intelligent, gifted, simple, loving and noble… I am really very, very lucky…

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…

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…

Out of time and harsh: the historical treatment of the female composer

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Just a few weeks ago, Germany’s VAN magazine published an interview with the composer Olga Neuwirth. In it she describes…

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.…

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?…

Anna Devin as Alcina and Nick Pritchard as Ruggiero in ‘La Liberazione di Ruggiero’ at Brighton Early Music Festival

Has there ever been a better time to be a lover of Baroque opera?

28 November 2015 9:00 am

Time was when early music was a 6 p.m. concert, Baroque began with Bach and ended with Corelli’s Christmas Concerto,…

Wild-eyed mezzo Annunziata Vestri as mad Margherita in ‘Guglielmo Ratcliff’

Mascagni’s Guglielmo Ratcliff deserves to become a classic

29 October 2015 9:00 am

It’s Halloween, and right on lightning-flash cue enters an operatic ghost story exhumed from the grave of long-since-buried works. You…

I doubt Goethe intended Werther's sorrows to be as unremitting as this

24 October 2015 9:00 am

There are some things the French do better than everyone else. Cheese, military defeats and extra-marital affairs are a given,…

Detail of the bridge of the kora, a harp made from calabash and cow hide, with strings aligned in a perpendicular plane

The polyphonous Babel of global music

17 October 2015 8:00 am

‘Following custom, when the Siamese conquered the Khmer they carried off much of the population, including most of their musicians,…

Erwin Schrott as Figaro and Anita Hartig as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro

McVicar’s Figaro looks increasingly fossilised. Time for the Royal Opera to ditch it

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Is there a more extraordinary, more heart-stilling moment in all opera than the finale of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro?…