Tag Archives: Alan Oke

From the House of the Dead, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, October 2017

Hugely powerful and strangely life affirming. Janáček’s opera on Dostoyevsky’s novel about convicts in a Siberian prison camp might seem unpromising material, but the composer was a master at turning stories into dramatic masterpieces and this — his final opera — is extraordinary. Composed on hand written staves that did not always extend to a …

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Oedipe, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, May 2016

After a gestation period of over twenty years, Enescu’s only opera saw its first performance in 1936. Since then it has been a rarity, and despite this interesting production, originally created in 2011 for La Monnaie in Brussels, one sees why. Enescu’s inspiration was Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King, considered one of the finest dramas …

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Figaro’s Divorce, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, February 2016

Beaumarchais wrote a sequel to his two plays underlying the Barber of Seville and Marriage of Figaro. In La Mère coupable a brief affair between the Countess and Cherubino results in a child, brought up as the Count’s son, and this opera, to David Pountney’s libretto based on a play by Ödön von Horváth (1901–1938), …

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Marriage of Figaro, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, February 2016

This second part of WNO’s Figaro triptych uses the same excellent design team of Ralph Koltai (sets), Sue Blane (costumes) and Linus Fellbom (lighting) as the Barber of Seville, with designs again featuring two huge walls. In this case they move apart to allow entrances, exits and a hint of deception between master and servant, …

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Dialogues des Carmélites, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, May 2014

Premiered at the Netherlands Opera in 1997, Robert Carsen’s award winning production has done the rounds before making its London debut as the first Carmélites at the ROH since 1983. Aesthetically abstract, it uses clever lighting on an open stage, and the vast number of chorus and extras emphasise the mass psychology underpinning the reign …

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Satyagraha, English National Opera, London Coliseum, December 2013

The performance on 6th December 2013 was a special occasion, quite unplanned. Philip Glass’s paean to the peaceful revolution embodied by Mahatma Gandhi, with its allusions to Martin Luther King, whose back-view we see in Act III, speaking on a podium, was preceded by a commemoration for Nelson Mandela, who had died just 24 hours …

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Grimes on the Beach, Aldeburgh, June 2013

It all started with a Spitfire, flying low across the sea, first one way then the other, before looping the loop and vanishing into the distance. This reminder of 1945 fitted the costumes and ostensibly precarious sets by Leslie Travers in Tim Albery’s excellent production. Watching Britten’s Grimes on a set that ran along the …

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Cunning Little Vixen, WNO, Cardiff, February 2013

This opera pits the timeless amorality of the natural world against the emotions and melancholy of human beings. The former is represented by the Vixen, her family, and other forest animals, the latter by Forester, Schoolmaster, Priest and Poacher. In the original story by Rudolf Těsnohlídek, based on drawings by Stanislav Lolek, the Vixen lives …

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Lulu, Welsh National Opera, Cardiff, February 2013

Alban Berg’s Lulu, mostly written in 1934, was only performed in a complete version for the first time in 1979. Berg died in 1935, and after his widow could not get Schoenberg, nor Webern or Zemlinsky, to write an orchestration of Act III she refused any attempt at completion, and so it remained until she died …

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The Minotaur, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, January 2013

The opening night of this revival ended with a tribute to John Tomlinson for 35 years of wonderful service to the ROH — highly appropriate since composer Harrison Birtwistle has said Tomlinson was the key to writing this opera, which had been brewing in his mind for many years. The first scene shows Christine Rice as Ariadne on …

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The Tempest, Metropolitan Opera live cinema relay, November 2012

This remarkable opera by Thomas Adès, to a libretto by Meredith Oakes, dares turn Shakespeare’s play into an opera, and succeeds. First performed in 2004 at Covent Garden in an intriguing production by Tom Cairns, it was originally co-produced with the Copenhagen Opera House and the Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg. This production at …

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Le Nozze di Figaro, Glyndebourne, June 2012

If you demand this opera in eighteenth century costume — and I overheard some in the audience who did — then forget it. But if you are happy to see a more up to date interpretation, then this is a winner. It’s the 1960s and Almaviva is one of the nouveau riche, possibly a pop star, …

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Heart of Darkness, Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, November 2011

Wow! This was a remarkable achievement by 33 year old composer Tarik O’Regan, along with a libretto by artist Tom Phillips. They have packed Joseph Conrad’s novella into 75 minutes of gripping musical narrative, starting in London with the old sea captain, Marlow — beautifully sung by Alan Oke — in a moment of recollection, “He was …

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Il Trittico, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, September 2011

Suor Angelica knocked Tabarro right off the stage because of one person — Ermonela Jaho. She was . . . words fail me . . . sublime . . . ethereal.

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Anna Nicole, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, February 2011

This is an opera for today’s celebrity culture, where parts of the media, eager for salacious details, are happy to pick on anyone available. But Anna Nicole Smith was not just anyone — she worked as a stripper and snagged an 89 year-old billionaire, J. Howard Marshall I, though it’s said they never lived together. He …

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Satyagraha, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, February 2010

The production … has a rather ethereal quality, and as a friend of mine said, “I was left humming peaceful thoughts all the way home”.

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