Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera at Buxton

A magnificent performance and production of Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera. The director, a name hitherto unknown to me, Harry Fehr, caught exactly the right balance between comedy, which was at times even broad, and a poignant commentary on the difficulty…

Stephen Oliver/Stravinsky double bill at Buxton Festival

–The performances of Stephen Oliver’s Exposition of a Picture and Stravinsky’s Renard should have been an interesting part of the Buxton Festival’s newly established Young Artists programme, but it was not. Those mounting 20th century operatic works the libretto of…

Ariadne auf Naxos at Glyndebourne

Opera productions which update the setting to a period different from that of the original are very common these days. But some of the updatings are much more successful than others and it is worth looking for reasons why this…

Two Verdi Operas in Frankfurt

An excursion to Frankfurt, one of my favourite European cities for opera, enabled me to see two of their Verdi productions during a short season of celebrating the bicentenary of his birth.  Un Ballo in Maschera was the first of…

LaBute’s Mercy Seat in York

The Mercy Seat by Neil LaBute is a brilliant piece and in its current production at the York Theatre Royal, superbly interpreted. To use 9/11 as the context for a penetrating  dramatic investiagtion of human identity and morality was inspired….

The Tobacco Factory in Two Gentlemen of Verona

Two Gentlemen of Verona has not a great reputation as a Shakespearian comedy. Someone once remarked that by the time you get to the second half, you realise that there are no longer any gentlemen in Verona. And, in truth,…

Paul Hudson in Don Pasquale

Some singers, including famous ones, go on far too long. Ignoring common sense intuition of “use by” dates, they are relegated to minor parts for which a croaky “characterisation” serves as a substitute for vocal quality. But this is not…

Götterdämmerung at the New York Met

The New York Met is an exciting place to visit at all times. You know that you will hear there the greatest voices in the world, though whether what you see on the stage will be music drama at the…

The Sacconi Quartet

There is something extraordinary about the Sacconi Quartet. I have heard them in York, Aysgarth, Ilkley, Ripon, Leeds; and now Huddersfield, in the concert of 8th April, broadcast on Radio 3. The story has always been the same. For the…

Telemann’s Geduldene Sokrates in Halle

I confess that I have become fond of Halle. It is a town with a distinguished cultural and intellectual history and possesses a dignity which one does not always associate with cities of the former DDR. For lovers of Handel…

Handel’s Serse in Düsseldorf

I was expecting great things from Stefan Herheim’s production of Xerxes at Düsseldorf – his Parsifal at Bayreuth had been both intellectually powerful and aesthetically pleasing. His Handel was a huge disappointment, simply because he would not take the opera…