The ETO’s Poppea

It has to be admitted that Monteverdi’s Poppea is a masterpiece. The extraordinary music perfectly matches its principal themes of love and power. So rich is the musical characterisation that, in my experience, it can come across in a variety…

Aida in Seville

I have always eagerly anticipated a first visit to a foreign opera house, and understandably this was the case at Seville with its several operatic associations and standing, as it does, between Carmen’s tobacco factory and the bull ring. However,…

Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream by Opera North

Opera North’s current presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, part of their Festival of Britten, is so good. The piece is, of course, a marvellous and faithful musical evocation of Shakespeare’s original but is not easy to perform. Much trouble…

Opera in Wroclaw

Looking at the statistics section of the Operabase website, you find that there is more opera in Germany than in any other country, though if you count performances per head of population, then Austria and Estonia have a better score….

Tristan & Isolde at Antwerp

It has to be said that the Flemish Opera are very fortunate to have Dmitri Jurowski as Music Director. He is a member of a notable family of conductors (see pp.152-153 of my book Travels with My Opera Glasses http://bit.ly/15VFnbe)….

Korean Opera Singers

Why are there so many good Korean opera singers around today? Opera companies, particularly those in Germany and Austria, rely heavily, for soloists as well as chorus, on them. Look at the Operabase website under “artists” and you will find…

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…

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…

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…