Monthly Archives: July 2013

Götterdämmerung, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, July 2013

At the end, Barenboim held his baton up, and five thousand people held their applause. As he let the baton drop the cheers started, and continued until he came on one last time to make a small speech, thanking the orchestra, singers, and indeed the audience for its wonderful silence and rapt attention. He also …

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Tristan und Isolde, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, July 2013

One of the great things about opera at the Proms, apart from the avoidance of strange fancies by the stage director, is being able to see the orchestra and instrumental soloists. This was particularly valuable towards the end of Act I as the chorus of sailors at the rear made their presence felt, and the …

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Siegfried, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, July 2013

A young man brought up in a foreign country encounters an old man who gets in his way, so he sweeps him aside with his sword, not knowing it is his grandfather. Shades of the Oedipus myth here, but the curse comes not from marrying his mother but taking the Ring. The old man, Wotan, …

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I Gioielli della Madonna, Opera Holland Park, OHP, July 2013

“There’s a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Kathmandu”, and the moral of the story is that if you steal jewels from a sacred idol, you will die, and the jewels will revert to their proper location. In that poem the jewel was stolen to satisfy the whim of a young woman, who rejected …

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Die Walküre, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, 23 July 2013

At both La Scala and the Berlin Staatsoper, I saw Daniel Barenboim conduct similar casts, in the same production by Guy Cassiers whose Walküre Act III is shown on the front cover of the BBC libretto. The Proms have brought over the Staatsoper orchestra from Berlin, which forms a terrific team with Barenboim conducting, and …

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Das Rheingold, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, 22 July 2013

What a terrific start to the Ring this was. Even before Daniel Barenboim entered the auditorium, to huge applause, there was a real buzz of anticipation and it all ended with a sustained ovation. I was not intending to write this up until the end of the cycle, particularly having heard the same conductor and …

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Don Pasquale, Glyndebourne, July 2013

Ultimately based on Ben Jonson’s play The Silent Woman, the main character is an elderly bachelor who suddenly takes it into his head to find a young wife and raise a family. This is partly to disinherit his nephew, who refuses to marry the woman chosen for him, and the solution to this problem is …

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Capriccio in Concert, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, July 2013

Though only a concert performance with orchestra on stage, the ample room in front allowed the singers to dramatise their feelings, none more so than Danish baritone Bo Skovhus as the Count. He injected huge life, lustiness and levity into the performance of this engaging philistine, a wonderful counterpoint to the artistic sensitivities of his …

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La Rondine, with Jaho and Ayan, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, July 2013

This Puccini opera, first produced at Monte Carlo in 1917, was not seen at the Royal Opera House at all during the twentieth century. Then in 2002 a co-production with the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse appeared at Covent Garden with its magnificently spacious sets by Ezio Frigerio and swirling Act I frescos à la Alphonse …

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Hippolyte et Aricie, Glyndebourne, July 2013

This is the third Rameau opera I have seen in as many years, and I understand the problem. Rameau’s delightful music — played here on original instruments by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the excellent baton of William Christie — is full of wonderful dance rhythms. The question is what to do …

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