Schahrazade by Bernhard Sekles in Halle

It is gratifying that a number of German opera houses are keen to explore the works of Jewish composers that were banned by the Nazis. Schreker and Korngold being two prominent examples. I confess that the name of Bernhard Sekles…

Der Freischütz in Mannheim

Be wary of any performance in a German theatre publicised  as “nach” an author or composer. To be best translated as “based on”, this normally implies that the performers have taken great liberties with the original work. Now the  Mannheim…

A Village Romeo and Juliet in Frankfurt

The Frankfurt Opera is one of my favourite venues and I have attended there many impressive performances, but I had not originally intended to see their revival of A Village Romeo and Juliet. Rather my plan was to see Cavalli’s…

Opera North’s Semi-Staged Götterdämmerung

Why, I ask myself, did the Opera North semi-staged performance of Götterdämmerung in the Leeds Town Hall make such an impact? To begin with, we in the audience were much closer to the singers than in a conventional theatre. More…

A starry Faust at Covent Garden

We were going to be in London for the Easter weekend and I had seen  the extraordinary cast (Netrebko, Calleja, Terfel, Keenlyside) which the Royal Opera House had announced for the revival of David McVicar’s Faust. So, though I do…

Britten’s Paul Bunyan staged by the ETO

Coming to Britten’s Paul Bunyan for the first time, I was unsure what to expect. A musical? An operetta? A juvenile opera score? What I saw and heard with English Touring Opera’s current production was certainly an agreeable surprise. The…

Cavalli’s Elena in Lille

Lucky Lille, to have the possibility of importing, for three performances, last year’s Aix Festival’s production of Cavalli’s Elena. In apparently its first revival since its creation in 1659, this piece demonstrated again Cavalli’s prowess as a lively reinterpreter of…

WNO’s production of Henze’s Boulevard Solitude

I had been waiting for over thirty years to find a performance of Henze’s Boulevard Solitude and when eventually it turned up, as part of Welsh National Opera’s current season of Fallen Women, I was not disappointed. Far from it….

Bellini’s Straniera in Essen

Bellini’s La Straniera (The Stranger) is indeed strange. Some important aspects of the plot and the motivations of the characters are difficult to understand and confusing. For his production at the Essen Opera, Christof Loy communicated in an interview published…

Cav and Pag at the Deutsche Oper Berlin

To add spice to a revival of David Pountney’s 2005 production of Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci, the Deutsche Oper Berlin invited two famous Wagnerians, Waltraud Meier and Stephen Gould, to have a few nights off the more serious stuff…

Shiva for Anna at the Berlin Festival for Contemporary Music

Shiva for Anna, given in Berlin as part of the March Festival for Contemporary Music, is a striking piece of musical theatre. The composer Mela Meierhans wanted to pay tribute to her long-standing collaborator, the English poet Anne Blonstein who…

Two Lohengrins at Coburg: Wagner & Sciarrino

The Landestheater Coburg had the bright idea of bringing together in a single weekend Wagner’s Lohengrin and Sciarrino’s modernistic monodrama on the same theme, an exploration of Elsa’s psychological state as she is denied consummation on the wedding night. The…

Brecht/Weill Mahagonny in Hof

The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny is undoubtedly a masterpiece of music theatre. Kurt Weill’s musical idiom and Berthold Brecht’s text capture so well the spirit of the Weimar Republic with its mixture of cynicism, pessimism and…

Verdi’s Macbeth in Leeds

Yes, we know that Verdi’s version of Macbeth is, simple, even simplistic, compared with the original. Yet with its directness, vigour and musical inventiveness, it carries a definite punch. The cast which Opera North had assembled for this revival had…

Lakmé at the Opéra Comique

Lakmé is one of those operas which are famous – everyone has heard of, if not actually heard, the “bell” aria” – but are rarely performed. So its appearance at the Paris Opéra Comique justified a visit. Now if you…

Rossini’s Pietra del Paragone at Paris Châtelet

I have always resisted the use of video and other projections in theatrical productions. Typically they are a distraction from the action on stage, or coordinate insufficiently with its physicality, or add too little to it. But the current presentation…

L’elisir d’amore at the RNCM

The RNCM have another future star on their hands. At their winter production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, the Chinese tenor Kang Wang won the hearts of all. Not only does he have a golden voice and idiomatic Italianate phrasing; he also…

Donizetti’s Anna Bolegna staged by WNO

After all the television series and films on the Tudors, and with Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell books fresh in our memory, how should Donizetti’s operas on the same theme be staged? With plenty of pageant and historically appropriate costumes and…

Opera North’s Staging of Death in Venice

Yes, I did see the original production of Britten’s Death in Venice in 1975 and I can assure you that Opera North’s current staging (shared with Bregenz, Lille and Prague) is much superior. It gets closer to the heart of…

Gluck’s Ezio in Frankfurt

I have always argued that the best way to present baroque opera is by simplifying stage design and restricting stage business. Rarely have I encountered such a good example of this as in the first half of Vincent Boussard’s current…