Anna Bolena at Amsterdam

With astute management, imaginative programming and employment of first-rate artists, the Netherlands Opera has in recent years been steadily moving up the Premier League of European opera companies. It has largely avoided the bel canto repertory; so, it was interesting…

Meyerbeer’s Feldlager in Schlesien resurrected in Bonn

  Quite an event at the Bonn Oper: the first performance since the 19th century of an early work by Meyerbeer, written to celebrate the reopening of the Berlin opera house following its destruction by fire, but also to honour…

Fedora in Frankfurt

Umberto Giordano will for ever be associated with the popular opera Andrea Chenier but in recent years Fedora has been performed in some of the leading houses, if primarily because the title role offers histrionic opportunities for famous sopranos. Based…

Figaro at Manchester’s RNCM

The Marriage of Figaro is such a familiar piece and so well loved that the difficulties of successfully performing Mozart’s masterpiece are often overlooked. For a start, the plot is surprisingly complicated and a clear narrative must be presented. Then,…

Shostakovich’s The Nose in Basel

Shostakovich’s comic satirical opera The Nose, is a radical piece, cocking a snook at not only Russian communal life and bureaucracy (in Tsarist times) but also traditional operatic form. It was composed at a time when “revolutionary art” was still…

Don Carlos in Basel

For my sixteenth Don Carlos, performed in Basel, the original French libretto was used. As conductor Michele Spotti observes in the programme, this version has the advantage that it links the work to the tradition of grand opéra français, as…

Ritorno d’Ulisse in Basel without Ulysses

You arrive in the theatre for the Opera Basel’s performance of one of your favourite operas, Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse, and you read in the programme that Krystian Lada, the director, has decided to dispense with the role of Ulysses. …

My Operatic Highlights 2021

LIVE PERFORMANCES All-round performance: L’Italiana in Londra, Frankfurt Conductor: Speranza Scappucini, Eugene Onegin, Liège Stage director: R.B.Schlather, L’Italiana in Londra, Frankfurt Singers: Chrystal E. Williams, Carmen, Opera North Jorge Novarro Colorado, Damon (Acis & Galatea), Buxton Gordon Bintner, Don Polidoro…

Strauss/Menotti Double Bill at RNCM

For their first full-scale post-pandemic operatic venture, the Royal Northern College of Music offered an intriguing double-bill of the Prologue to Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos and Menotti’s The Medium. The Strauss was indeed an ambitious undertaking; not so much because…

Cimarosa’s Italiana in Londra at Frankfurt

With the possible exception of Il Matrimonio Segreto, Cimarosa’s operas are not widely known, and that is strange, given their musical qualities and theatrically comic content. As the performance at Frankfurt confirmed, that is particularly the case with L’Italiana in…

Pacini’s Medea in Hildesheim

You know the works of Puccini. Some of you, perhaps enthusiasts of baroque music, may have heard compositions by Piccinni, but who amongst you has come across Pacini? A Sicilian, he had a reasonably successful career in the mid-19th century,…

Eugene Onegin in Liège

My first operatic performance abroad since March 2020! Tchaikovsky’s full-blooded romantic piece Eugene Onegin seemed, after months of deprivation, to be a good choice but what about the venue, Liège’s Opéra Royal de Wallonie which in the past has provided…

Holst Triple Bill at the Leeds Opera Festival

Gustav Holst may be well known for The Planets and even the choral piece Hymn of Jesus, but his operas have not been widely performed.  Obsessed by Wagner in his early career, he eventually came to acquire a personal voice…

Malcolm Arnold’s Dancing Master at the Buxton Opera Festival

As a composer, Malcolm Arnold did not have an easy time. Although his vast output of works found favour with audiences for their tonal tuneful content, he was treated mainly with disdain by the musical establishment. He had particular misfortune…

Acis and Galatea at the Buxton Opera Festival

My first opera in a theatre since March 2020 and – you might have thought – a splendid choice for the occasion: Handel’s zestful, melodic and touching piece, Acis and Galatea, in Buxton’s lovely Opera House. The performance was sold…

The Mariinsky in Shchedrin’s Dead Souls

Late 20th century Russian opera has not been much noticed in the West. While striking pieces by Schnittke and Weinberg have made an impact, these can in no sense be regarded as emanating from the Soviet Russian mainstream. The Grove…

Haydn’s Orlando Paladino at the Berlin Staatsoper

Joseph Haydn is, without doubt, one of my favourite composers; I relish his freshness, inventiveness and humour but also, when in a serious mood, his sensibility and compassion. Although, for concert managers, he has tended to be overshadowed by Mozart…

My Operatic Highlights 2020

LIVE PERFORMANCES All-round performance: Orfeo, Nederlands Reisopera Conductor: Pinchas Steinberg,  Violanta, Turin Stage director: Monique Wagemakers, Orfeo, Nederlands Reisopera Singer: Anne Sophie Duprels, Risurrezione, Florence Opera house: Teatru Manoel, Valletta   STREAMED PERFORMANCES All-round performance: La Gazza Ladra, Milan, La…

Arne’s Thomas and Sally at the Leeds Opera Festival

My thirst for live opera has, after over five months of deprivation, at last been assuaged. As part of the Northern Opera Group’s enterprising Leeds Opera Festival, Thomas Arne’s little piece Thomas and Sally was performed, bravely complying with the…

Meyerbeer’s Etoile du Nord from Kokkola

Performances of Meyerbeer’s L’Étoile du Nord are rare. Experiencing a video of a performance given by the West Coast Opera Kokkola, not a well-known group, even in Finland, I can understand why. Although it was relayed with English subtitles and…