Massenet’s Cendrillon at the RNCM

Because it is a comic, light piece, Cendrillon may not contain Massenet’s greatest music, but it has considerable charm, wit and warm lyricism; and it is surprising that it is does not have a regular place in the standard repertory….

Donizetti’s Il Burgomastro di Saardam in Bergamo

The Fondazione Donizetti rightly considers it an important part of the function of its annual festival to unearth the composer’s rarities. But since he wrote over 70 operas, the chances are that some of these are not worth reviving and…

Donizetti/Mayr Double Bill in Bergamo

The annual festival in Bergamo organised by the Fondazione Donizetti has an interesting programme combining opera and concerts with other events. It focuses on unearthing unfamiliar works by the composer who was born in the town and those of his…

Die Frau ohne Schatten in Linz

In all but the major international opera houses, there must be some hesitancy before mounting performances of Die Frau ohne Schatten. The work by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal is long, complex and requires top class singers. Above all,…

Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex at Salzburg

Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex is a short work and it was a good idea of the Salzburg Landestheater to perform it alongside Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound and a ballet based on Medea in an evening of Greek drama, the different theatrical perspectives…

Lucio Silla in Brussels

When you have enjoyed an excellent performance of a work and circumstances enable you to see it again soon after in a different production, there is a risk that your second encounter will be disappointing. This summer I had been…

Schoeck’s Penthesilea in Bonn

Othmar Schoeck is not a familiar name. The Swiss composer is perhaps best known today for his lieder but he also wrote several operas. His career spanning the two world wars never projected him into the international limelight, perhaps because…

Arabella in Dortmund

On the face of it Arabella is conventional operatic stuff. Drawing on the success of Der Rosenkavalier, Strauss combines a luscious, lyrical score with another exploration of love, in this case one which triumphs over parental manipulation and frivolity, both…

Jenůfa in Stockholm

Jenůfa is, musically and dramatically, such a powerful work that it almost never fails to make a huge impact. Yet during the first act of the performance at Stockholm’s Royal Opera, I sensed that the audience was not fully engaged….

Manon Lescaut in Stockholm

Musically, the quality of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut should not be underestimated. George Bernard Shaw, on hearing its first British performance, considered that it heralded a new development in Italian opera, moving it to something more symphonic and underpinning the dramatic…

Arne’s Alfred at the Leeds Left Bank Opera Festival

Thomas Arne’s Alfred is described by the Northern Opera Group, which is currently performing it at the Leeds Left Bank Opera Festival, as “one of the greatest and most thrilling British operas of all-time”. Well, even allowing for the hype…

Un Ballo in Maschera at the West Green House Opera

The tone for the West Green House Opera is set by the admonition on its website that “the consistent dress code for all evening performances is Black Tie.” Back to the notion of opera for the elite? Or instead a…

Salieri’s Scuola de’ gelosi at Bampton

After years of neglect, some of Antonio Salieri’s forty or so operas are beginning to find their way onto the modern stage. Fascination with the composer’s historical character, sparked off by Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, may be largely responsible for this,…

Lucio Silla at the Buxton Festival

Seeing Mozart’s Lucio Silla at Buxton within a week of La Finta Giardiniera at the Ryedale Festival (see my blog of 16th July) confirmed what an extraordinary musical-dramatist the composer was as a teenager. It is not merely the brilliance…

Mozart’s Finta Giardiniera at the Ryedale Festival

Hardly necessary to say, but Mozart’s Finta Giardiniera is a remarkable work.  Written at the age of eighteen, it looks forward to Nozze di Figaro not just in the facility of tuneful writing and its boisterous ensembles but, more importantly,…

Carmen at the Grange Opera

Plus ça change …? The Grange Park Opera Festival has moved premises. At The Grange, near Alresford in Hampshire, a new entity has arrived, called confusingly the Grange Opera Festival. Some alterations to the auditorium and its surrounds have taken…

Salome in Amsterdam

Until yesterday evening I had not experienced a wholly satisfying performance of Salome. The problem is, I think, that directors and designers have tended to take too literal an approach to the setting of the opera: Herod portrayed as a…

A Weinberg Korngold Double Bill in Heidelberg

The idea of the Heidelberg Theatre to bring together in a double bill two short operas by Mieczyslaw Weinberg (Mazel Tov) and Erich Korngold (Der Ring des Polykrates) seemed to be a good one. Both were written by Jewish composers…

Schnittke’s Life with an Idiot in Giessen

First performed in 1992, Schnittke’s opera Life with an Idiot initially achieved some notoriety and success across Europe but recently seems to have fallen out of favour. That is a pity because unquestionably it is a masterpiece. It is remarkable…

José Cura’s Peter Grimes in Bonn

  Suppose that you were the artistic director of a medium-sized German opera company. A very famous Argentinian tenor, in the autumn of his career, has wanted for some years to sing the title role in Peter Grimes, and says…