Heavenly Dialogues des Carmelites, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall

9th August 2023

**** There were two surprises for me at the beginning of Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites performed as a semi-staged concert as part of BBC Proms. The first was how many people had come to the still quite rarely performed opera. The second was the acoustics when Robin Ticciati conducting the […]

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Pedaloing the green dream, The Fairy Queen, Longborough Festival Opera

31st July 2023

Longborough Opera’s commitment to new and emerging talent takes the form of a fun and lively reimagining of Purcell’s Fairy Queen and a wider theme of renewal, regeneration, rejuvenation and rebirth. This fits in well with the youthful nature (no pun intended) of the players and other creatives for this multileveled fusion of musical and […]

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Grand designs, Le roi de Lahore, Dorset Opera Festival

28th July 2023

**** Theatrically voluptuous, picturesquely medieval Indian, director Ella Marchment’s take on the neglected Massenet work plays well to the strengths of Dorset Opera; a knock-out, strong chorus, fine young players and singers, with expert guidance. The opera’s fantastical story is another tale of the mercifuly gods allowing a betrayed dead lover return to his beloved […]

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Nothing sheepish about this dressing up box Il re pastore, Buxton International Festival

21st July 2023

**** When our singers started jigging along at the end of Il re pastore, having told us the Greek army is camped nearby and the shepherd king was tending his sheep, I half expected the Brecon Beacons National Park police to rush in and arrest them all. The connection between young Mozart’s take on Alexander […]

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Charming and clever La Sonnambula, Buxton International Festival

20th July 2023

***** Ellie Neate and cast of La Sonnambula As a newcomer to Buxton this was a joyful introduction to the International Festival and also the jewel of an opera house both of which demonstrated why this annual event has such a dedicated following and excellent reputation. Harry Fehr’s production of Bellini’s La Sonnambula is here […]

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Updated frivolity for L’Orfeo, Longborough Festival Opera

13th July 2023

*** The staging of Longborough Festival Opera’s contrasts the playing of Monteverdi’s 1607 score by the Venetian Baroque period musicians of La Serenissima with a show that takes its theme from Glastonbury-style festivals and modern hospitals. So, in Olivia Fuchs production our Orfeo swaps his lyre for an electric guitar (fortunately it makes no sound) […]

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The Flying Dutchman, but not as you know it, OperaUpClose, Bristol

6th July 2023

*** The cult quote: “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it”, may never have really featured in Star Trek. But “It’s Wagner, folks, but not as you know it” would certainly apply to Lucy Bradley’s reworking of The Flying Dutchman for OperaUpClose. Here performed at the probably too small Exhibition Hall, SS Great […]

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Queen of Spades wins hands down, Grange Festival

30th June 2023

Clear, unfussy direction, a versatile and attractive set, rich orchestral playing, and singers thrilling in their artistry and authenticity – this was the pleasure of Grange Festival’s Queen of Spades. At first it jars a little, having lots of patriotic Mother Russia sentiment expressed on stage at such a time of imperial warfare against Ukraine, […]

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A charming and clever double bill of Gluck and Purcell at Grange Festival

29th June 2023

This intelligent and extremely entertaining double bill of Gluck and Purcell at Grange Festival has three stars: the cast, the orchestra, and Robert Innes Hopkins. Why Hopkins? Because the set is pivotal to not only both dramas but enables this special opera festival to present two works with minimal production changes. Alexandra Oomens and Heather […]

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Dastardly dealings for Il Trovatore, Royal Opera

29th June 2023

*** This intriguing Adele Thomas direction of Verdi’s Il Trovatore has at its core the horrific damage done to the so-called witch Azucena and her quest to fulfil her mother’s demand at the stake for vengeance. Our eyes may be drawn to the quasi-Medieval teeth snarling stylised mask that opens and closes like the jaws […]

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