My Opera Highlights 2023

All-round Performance

Rimsky-Korsakov, Fairy Tale of Tsar Sultan – Hanover

A production full of imagination and intelligence (Eva Maria Hockmayr/Julia Rösler) with modern stage technology and brilliant lighting effects. A conductor (James Hendry) alive to all the facets of the composer’s marvellous score, and some fine singers, notably Barno Ismatullaeva and José Simerilla Romero


Luc Bondy, Strauss, SalomeVienna Volksoper

A vindication of the value of reviving masterly productions of yesteryear. Luc Bondy’s 1992 Salzburg staging distances itself from the historical and social/political context, playing the piece essentially as a family drama and concentrating on the core moral content.


Rufus Didwiszus, Wagner, Das Rheingold London R.O.H.

Dominated by a fallen ash tree, combined with images of desolation and jagged structures, a remarkable framework for Kosky’s production


Ivan Fischer, Debussy, Pelléas et Mélisande – Vicenza Opera Festival

A superbly sensitive and evocative interpretation of Debussy’s masterly score.


Soyoon Lee, Reimann, Bernarda Albas Haus – Gelsenkirchen, Musiktheater im Revier

As Martirio in Reimann’s unrelenting version of Lorca, presenting a striking combination of pathos and hostile rebellion, and spewing out the high-lying notes with virtuosic venom.


Joanna Harries, Stradella, Forza dell’amor – Birmingham, Barber Opera

Her warm vocalisation captured perfectly the miseries of deprived love.


Duke Kim, Gounod, Faust – Dublin, Irish National Opera

In the title role, possessing a silvery tenor voice, he maintained a purity of tone throughout its range and, unlike many Fausts, projected an intense character study on the stage.


Tommi Hakala, Strauss, Salome – Vienna Volksoper

As John the Baptist, he impressed with the power, colour and conviction necessary for this demanding role, bringing back memories of his unexpected, but totally justified, triumph as BBC Cardiff Singer of the Year in 2003.


Alexander Roslavets, Shostakovich, Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk – Hamburg

A raw, genuinely Russian, bass whose identification with the heroine’s tyrannical father-in-law, was complete in terms both of character and vocalisation.


Faccio, Amleto – Verona Filharmonica

A sadly ineffective version of Hamlet, turning it into “grand opera” with large choral scenes, display arias for big voices and a sentimental love interest, thereby completely missing the inner drama of Shakespeare.