Tag Archives: #bbcproms

Roméo et Juliette, Berlioz, BBC Proms, Prom 20, Royal Albert Hall, 30 July 2016.

This remarkable choral symphony is a broader and deeper work than the composer’s earlier and oft-played Symphonie fantastique. Based on David Garrick’s mid-eighteenth century version of Shakespeare’s play, which held the stage for some hundred years, its seven parts start with an overview of the heady emotions involved, and end with reconciliation between Montagues and …

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Abduction from the Seraglio, BBC Proms, Prom 38, Albert Hall, RAH, 14 August 2015

When the performance began I wondered whether Glyndebourne had made the right decision in bringing Seraglio to the Proms, as opposed to one of their other new productions such as Donizetti’s Poliuto or Handel’s Saul, which would have sounded well in the Albert Hall. Mozart’s Seraglio, performed in Glyndebourne under its original title Die Entführung …

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Firebird, Boulez, Ravel, Prom 36, BBC Proms, Albert Hall, 12 August 2015

Programming at the Proms can be outstanding, and this was a case in point. Starting with Boulez’ Figures – Doubles – Prismes for an evening whose climax is Firebird was an inspired choice. An article in the programme describes this piece for three ensembles — appearing on stage as a single orchestra — as a …

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Orfeo, BBC Proms, Prom 25, August 2015

Monteverdi’s Orfeo is a triumph of harmony, both musically and in the Classical lines of its dramatic construction. This Proms performance too was a triumph, sidelining the artless production put on by the Royal Opera at the Roundhouse in January. First composed in 1607 for the Gonzaga court at Mantua where Monteverdi was director of …

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Elektra, BBC Prom 59, Royal Albert Hall, RAH, 31 August 2014

Who needs an opera house for Elektra? Justin Way’s staging allowed plenty of space for interactions between the singers, and there was none of that dark lighting and seediness so beloved by directors of this opera. On the contrary, the house lights brightened suddenly on the first bar of music, and again at the end …

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Salome, BBC Prom 58, Royal Albert Hall, RAH, 30 August 2014

How many people know that London and Berlin are twin cities? I didn’t, but it helps explain why Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle came to the Proms with the Ring last year, and Runnicles and Berlin’s Deutsche Opera with Salome this year. Yet it was more than just the city of Berlin that was common …

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Der Rosenkavalier, BBC Proms, Albert Hall, RAH, July 2014

After all that kerfuffle about Octavian at the opening night of Glyndebourne’s new Rosenkavalier it was a pleasure to see this concert performance and confirm two things. Glyndebourne was absolutely right to choose Tara Erraught for the role, and while I blamed director Richard Jones for the ill-fitting clothing on opening night (see my review) …

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Joseph Calleja sings Verdi, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, September 2013

Glorious singing from Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja in Prom 72 with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi under their chief conductor Xian Zhang. The theme of the concert was anguish and despair, well suiting Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony in the second half. Manfred, based on Byron’s poem of the same name, bears a burden of …

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Billy Budd, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, August 2013

This concert version of the Glyndebourne production, using the same singers, conductor, chorus and orchestra, added one glorious extra touch. At the end of the Epilogue, after Captain Vere has recalled his inaction that led to the hanging of Billy Budd in 1797, he walked slowly off the stage, and the only sound in the …

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Parsifal, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, August 2013

The Albert Hall was the first venue for a concert performance of Parsifal, at least in England, just two years after the Bayreuth premiere of 1882. At that time copyright protection restricted staged performances to Bayreuth, but who needs a full staging? This 2013 performance with powerful musical direction by Mark Elder, and subtle stage …

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Tannhäuser, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, August 2013

This was an intriguing performance of Tannhäuser, with Donald Runnicles conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, as chief conductor of the first and music director of the second. After the long overture, there floated down from high in the gallery the lovely voices of several chorus ladies …

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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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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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