Brothers by Daníel Bjarnason in Reykjavik

Daníel Bjarnason’s Brothers was given its premiere at Aarhus in 2017. The production by Kasper Holten, designed by Steffen Aarfing, has with some changes been given a single performance in the composer’s homeland, Iceland. It is a bleak piece relating…

Luisa Miller in Zurich

Luisa Miller is an intense tragedy focusing on family intrigue and feudal oppression. It has only one hit number- the tenor aria “Quando le sere al placido“- but contains a series of vocal encounters that bring out the best of…

Maria Stuarda in Zurich

Maria Stuarda tells the story of the relationship between two great regal characters and Donizetti’s opera revolves around the confrontation of two great sopranos, with the Earl of Leicester little more than a foil for each of them. Elizabeth is…

La Cenerentola in Basel

La Cenerentola is unquestionably my favourite Rossini opera. The music is exhilarating, the ensembles brilliantly devised between the different voices and the witty libretto not eclipsing a certain sentimental poignancy. I have never seen an unconventional staging of the piece…

Rossini’s Donna del lago in Lausanne

Rossini’s Donna del lago contains some fine bel canto music but, notwithstanding its basis in Walter Scott’s poem, has a creaking plot and a prosaic, inconsequential libretto. Understandably, stage directors have been tempted to read it into its story of…

The Ten Operas I would Most Like to See

Bellini, Beatrice di Tenda Boito, Nerone Boughton, The Immortal Hour Busoni, Die Brautwahl Faure, Pénélope Massenet, La Navarraise Rimsky-Korsakov, The Legend of the Invisble City of Kitezh Spontini, La Vestale Strauss, Die Aegyptische Helena Wolf, Der Corregidor

Richard Löwenherz by Handel and Telemann at Magdeburg

When Handel’s Riccardo Primo was performed in Hamburg in 1729 it was given in a version prepared by Telemann then active there and it was his version which was the leading event in this year’s Telemann festival at Magdeburg. Richard…

Zeller’s Der Obersteiger in Annaberg

A trip to Annaberg-Buchholz for Carl Zeller’s Der Obersteiger. The former silver mining town is in a relatively remote part of East Germany near to the Czech border. Though small, it boasts a permanent opera company whose programme features much…

Auber’s Domino Noir in Liège

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber was a highly successful composer of opéra-comique in the first half of the 19th century but today, outside francophone countries, his works are rarely performed. The current staging of Le domino noir at the Opéra Royal de Liège…

Olivier Py’s Dialogues des Carmélites in Caen

Word had got around that Olivier Py’s production of Dialogues des Carmélites originally mounted at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in 2013, preserved for posterity on a DVD and recently revived, was not to be missed. Rumours of this kind are…

Gounod’s Philémon et Baucis in Tours

Gounod’s Philémon et Baucis is an enjoyable comic opera featuring the encounters between a Darby and Joan aged couple and Jupiter. While he is out to punish mortals for their bad behaviour he is treated by the couple with warm…

Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar in Frankfurt

It is not easy to find performances of works by Glinka, father of Russian opera though he may be. So, I was pleased to have a chance to get to A Life for the Tsar, given in its original title…

A Dallapiccola-Rihm Double Bill in Brussels

Luigi Dallapiccola, a predominantly serialist composer who died in 1975, is no longer familiar to concert- and opera-going audiences but in the 1950s and 1960s his compositions were regularly performed, most notably his one act opera Il prigioniero, the subject…

Götterdämmerung in Leipzig

With Götterdämmerung, the Leipzig Ring came to an end, and it is time to reflect not only on this performance but also on the cycle as a whole. As regards Ulf Schirmer and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, there is not…

Siegfried in Leipzig

About to experience the third episode in the Leipzig Ring, I was a little apprehensive. The First Act of Siegfried is my least favourite in the whole of the cycle primarily because of its racist content but also because I…

Die Walküre in Leipzig

Evening Two of the Leipzig Ring – or, if one is to be pedantic, in Wagnerian terms the First Evening, following the Prologue (Rheingold). Die Walküre is certainly the most popular part of the cycle, perhaps because of its glorious…

Das Rheingold in Leipzig

Leipzig has strong associations with Wagner and a landmark centenary production of the Ring was given there by Joachim Herz, one of the then formidable East German directors. This was understandably a radical anti-capitalist, Marxist interpretation. For its more recent…

My Theatre Highlights 2017

The Goat by Edward Albee at Haymarket Theatre London By brilliantly using the audience’s discomfiture with bestiality to explore the ambiguity between comedy and tragedy the play forces us to examine ourselves and our own set of values, moral and…

My Operatic Highlights 2017

DIRECTORS Ivo van Hove: Salome, Amsterdam David Radok: Arsilda, Bratislava   DESIGNERS Christophe Ouvrard: Der Freischütz, Münster Falko Herold: Die Frau ohn Schatten, Linz   CONDUCTORS Markus Poschner: Die Frau ohn Schatten, Linz Lawrence Cummings, Lucio Silla, Buxton   SINGERS…

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….