Mixed messages

28 January 2012 11:00 am

The Enchanted Island is a baroque concoction at the New York Met which has been widely touted and last Saturday…

Look at life

21 January 2012 11:00 am

Giulio Cesare was the first of Handel’s operas to return to general favour after more than a century and a…

The opera of all operas

14 January 2012 12:00 pm

As I’m not the first person to have pointed out, the Royal Opera has indulged in a truly phenomenal number…

Special relationships

7 January 2012 11:00 am

‘It is impossible that you should not have sensed,’ wrote Wagner to Ludwig II shortly before the first performance of…

Beyond compare

31 December 2011 11:00 am

Bernard Levin once wrote an article in the Times called ‘But seriously, how can anyone compare Verdi with Wagner?’ (or…

On top form

17 December 2011 9:00 pm

Having seen and been most impressed by two New York Met relays of Wagner operas on the big screen, I…

Highs and lows

10 December 2011 11:00 am

This year’s Christmas offering at the Royal Opera is yet a further revival of Richard Eyre’s production of La Traviata,…

Ticking boxes

3 December 2011 12:00 pm

Dante didn’t have the foresight to create or depict a circle of the Inferno designed expressly for opera critics, with…

A night at the opera

26 November 2011 12:00 pm

Thanks to the generosity of friends, Mrs Spencer and I went to the opera the other week, an exceptionally rare…

Concealed passion

26 November 2011 12:00 pm

ENO’s new production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin has created something of a stir by departing from the house almost-tradition of…

Continuous fun

19 November 2011 11:45 am

The time of year is approaching when Nutcrackers take over from opera, and then a further round of Traviatas gets…

Skirting the sensational

12 November 2011 12:00 am

I only very recently began going to live Met relays in the cinema, but if you can get in it’s…

Heaven and hell

5 November 2011 2:00 pm

Rameau is the great baroque master who has yet to be properly rediscovered, at any rate in the UK. It…

Going solo in Ireland

29 October 2011 12:00 pm

Wexford’s remarkable opera house is as good a symbol as any of the Irish financial meltdown. The auditorium is fabulous,…

Der fliegende Holländer

29 October 2011 12:00 pm

Compelling, succinct, elemental, The Flying Dutchman, Wagner’s first indisputable masterwork, wouldn’t seem to present any great problems for an opera…


22 October 2011 2:00 pm

English Touring Opera, under the inspiring directorship of James Conway, is the most energetic and enterprising operatic company in the…

Cause for alarm

15 October 2011 2:00 pm

Whereas Don Giovanni seems, for assorted reasons, to be unfloatable at present, The Marriage of Figaro is virtually unsinkable, with…

Beguiled by Weill

8 October 2011 4:00 pm


Great expectations

1 October 2011 12:00 am

Talent, said Laurence Olivier, was plentiful; skill much rarer. Genius in a performing artist is rarer still, but Olivier had…

Chance encounter

1 October 2011 12:00 am

Is it possible to write a great opera, or a great work of art of any kind, about Auschwitz? One…

Painful triangle

24 September 2011 12:00 am

The Royal Opera’s season isn’t awash with new productions, in fact until Christmas only has two thirds of one, but…

North star

17 September 2011 12:00 am

Das Rheingold used to have the reputation of being a difficult opera, in that it not only lasts for two…

But is it any good?

10 September 2011 12:00 am

Writing to his friend and fellow-author William Dean Howells in 1907 about the Prefaces to the New York edition of…

Short and sweet

3 September 2011 12:00 am

During August the only opera-going possibility used to be a festival, of a fairly grand kind, but in recent years the small, ‘alternative’ opera companies that are proliferating have sensibly taken either to continuing throughout the summer, as the big opera houses don’t, or to having their own festivals.

Love in the Alps

20 August 2011 12:00 am

Opera Holland Park has as its speciality little-known Italian operas from the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th.