Opera

English National Opera's triumphant new production of Harrison Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus, directed by Daniel Kramer. [Photo: Alistair Muir]

A triumph: ENO's Mask of Orpheus reviewed

26 October 2019 9:00 am

ENO’s Mask of Orpheus is a triumph. It’s also unintelligible. Even David Pountney, who produced the original ENO staging in…

More misogynistic than the original: ENO's Orpheus in the Underworld reviewed

12 October 2019 9:00 am

It’s Act Three of Emma Rice’s new production of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, and Eurydice (Mary Bevan) is trapped…

More Grace Kelly than Grace Jones: Welsh National Opera’s Carmen reviewed

28 September 2019 9:00 am

How do you take your Carmen? Sun-drenched exotic fantasy with a side order of castanets, or cool and gritty, sour…

Why are so many operas by women adaptations of films by men?

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Opera’s line of corpses — bloodied, battered, dumped in a bag — is a long one. Now it can add…

Clare Presland as Susanna in Il segreto di Susanna at Opera Holland Park Image: © Ali Wright

It's not fair – I liked Il segreto di Susanna before it was cool: OHP's double bill reviewed

3 August 2019 9:00 am

Should a secret pleasure ever be shared? Spoiler alert: Susanna’s secret, unknown to her husband Gil, is that she smokes.…

An overcooked blowout: Glyndebourne’s Die Zauberflöte reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Think back to when you were 12, and the sensation of re-opening your favourite book. (This is The Spectator; I’m…

Leo Jemison (Miles), Elen Willmer (Flora) and Sophie Bevan (Governess) in The Turn of the Screw at Garsington Opera

Deft, elegant and genuinely chilling: Garsington’s Turn of the Screw reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Think of the children in opera. Not knowing sopranos and mezzos, pigtailed and pinafored or tightly trousered-up to look child-like,…

The chorus saves the day: Belshazzar at the Grange Festival reviewed

29 June 2019 9:00 am

We’ve cried wolf with Handel. Ever since the modern trend began for staging the composer’s oratorios we’ve hailed each one…

Can an Offenbach production be too silly? Garsington’s Fantasio reviewed

22 June 2019 9:00 am

The tears of a clown have often fallen on fertile operatic ground. Think of Rigoletto and I Pagliacci; or The…

The ideal summer opera: Garsington’s The Bartered Bride reviewed

8 June 2019 9:00 am

So it’s the start of the summer opera season at Wormsley and we’re sitting there in evening dress in the…

Sun & Sea (Marina), the Golden Lion-winning opera at the Venice Biennale. Photo: © Andrej Vasilenko

If opera survives, it’ll be thanks to artists and curators, not opera houses

25 May 2019 9:00 am

It was bucketing it down in Venice, yet the beach was heaving. Families, lovebirds, warring kids, a yappy mutt, all…

ENO's Jack the Ripper needs to decide if it wants to be a gore-fest or social history

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Is it possible to write a feminist opera about Jack the Ripper? Composer Iain Bell thinks it is, and his…

Jonas Kaufmann and Anna Netrebko in Royal Opera's La forza del destino. Photo: Bill Cooper

The most glorious singing anyone born after 1970 will ever have heard: La forza del destino reviewed

30 March 2019 9:00 am

To stage Verdi’s Il Trovatore, they say, is easy: you just need the four greatest singers in the world. The…

Fresh and wild: Chrystal E. Williams as Lady Macbeth and Brenden Gunnell as Seryozha in Graham Vick’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

Raw, frightening, overwhelming: Birmingham Opera’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk reviewed

23 March 2019 9:00 am

You can see Graham Vick’s work at La Scala or the New York Met. But if you want to be…

Deft humour and daft imagery: WNO’s Magic Flute reviewed

14 March 2019 9:00 am

Operas are like buses. Both are filled with pensioners and take ages to get anywhere, but more importantly they always…

The thrilling first part of Dmitri Tcherniakov's new production of Berlioz's Les Troyens for Opéra Bastille. Photo: Vincent Pontet / Opéra National de Paris

Dau is not just a pretentious fraud – it's rather disgusting

16 February 2019 9:00 am

The best booers, in my experience, are the Germans. There’s real purpose and thickness to their vocals. Italians hiss. The…

Miraculous: Amanda Majeski as Katya Kabanova in Richard Jones’s Royal Opera production

One of the greatest operatic experiences of my life: Royal Opera’s Katya Kabanova reviewed

9 February 2019 9:00 am

Janacek’s upsetting opera Katya Kabanova, which hasn’t been seen in the UK for some time, turned up in two different…

Kang Wang as Tamino in Opera North's new Magic Flute. Photo: Alastair Muir

Only adults struggle with The Magic Flute. Kids get it

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Spoiler alert: it’s all a dream. At least, I think that’s what we’re meant to take away from the business…

Gaelle Arquez as Carmen in Barrie Kosky's production at the Royal Opera. [Photo: ROH / Bill Cooper]

Kosky’s Carmen is still the smartest show in town – and the most fun

8 December 2018 9:00 am

It’s December, and while musical theatre is busy celebrating ‘warm woollen mittens’, opera, as usual, is far more interested in…

Hrachuhi Bassenz as Amelia Grimaldi in Elijah Moshinsky's Boccanegra for the Royal Opera. Photo: Clive Barda

This Boccanegra is not what you'd expect from UK's best-funded opera company

24 November 2018 9:00 am

Plus: the Royal Opera chorus aren't in the same league as the Welsh National Opera's, who were on top form in Prokofiev's War & Peace

Sarah Tynan's mesmerising Lucia in ENO's Lucia di Lammermoor. Photo: John Snelling

Real psychological horror and a mesmerising heroine: ENO’s Lucia di Lammermoor reviewed

3 November 2018 9:00 am

How do you solve a problem like Lucia? Murder, madness, abuse, possibly even incest, all set to a soundtrack of…

English Touring Opera's handsome production of Dido and Aeneas. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

In praise of the English Touring Opera — a minor miracle of the arts world

27 October 2018 9:00 am

Wolverhampton; Workington; Blackburn; Sheffield; Lancaster; Hackney. Every year English Touring Opera does what our national opera company doesn’t: packs up…

Thrilling, heartbreaking music drama — you need to see it: Sarah-Jane Lewis as Annie with the chorus in ENO’s Porgy and Bess

Thrilling, heartbreaking music drama – you need to see it: ENO’s Porgy and Bess reviewed

20 October 2018 9:00 am

Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess springs to life fully formed, and pulls you in before a word has been sung. A…

I genuinely liked Siegfried – which almost never happens: Royal Opera's Ring cycle reviewed

13 October 2018 9:00 am

‘On Brünnhilde’s rock I drew the breath that called your name; so swift was my journey here.’ It’s Act Two…

A woman-child of dangerous assurance: Allison Cook as Salome in Adena Jacobs’s new production for English National Opera. [Catherine Ashmore]

A fascinating failure, but a failure nonetheless: ENO’s Salome reviewed

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Yes, Oscar Wilde never wrote it. No, Strauss didn’t intend it. In fact, the composer famously demanded the Dance of…