Tag Archives: Christine Rice

The Exterminating Angel, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2017

Thomas Adès’ previous opera The Tempest, set on Prospero’s mysterious island, finds a counterpoint here in the ostensibly mundane setting of an elegant dinner party — but all is not as it seems. Both operas feature very high soprano roles, Ariel in the Tempest and three of the ladies in Angel, again with the idea of …

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Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, November 2016

This classic 1980 production by John Schlesinger, superbly revived by Daniel Dooner, provides the juxtaposition of magic and reality inherent in so many of E T A Hoffmann’s stories. The play by Barbier and Carré that underlies Offenbach’s opera is based on a selection of his tales that illuminate the dichotomy between life and art, …

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Don Giovanni, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2016

The Don is dead. Long live the Don. Such is the message of this new ENO production by Richard Jones where the Don personifies a force of nature on which women can hang their fantasies. It all starts during the overture where we see Giovanni taking innumerable women through a door guarded by Leporello, and …

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The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, March 2015.

This is not an easy work to stage, emerging as it does from two slightly incompatible attitudes, by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, as to its eventual form. Its genesis lay in a series of songs — the Mahagonny Gesänge — published by Brecht in April 1927, which inspired Weill to fulfil a commission he …

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Moses in Egypt, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, October 2014

Congratulations to WNO for staging a Rossini masterpiece that in its day “marked the final and complete emancipation of the bass singer … for the purposes of opera seria” (Francis Toye). Hitherto it had been conventional to restrict important bass roles to opera buffa, but here both Moses and Pharaoh are basses. The sacred theme …

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Così fan tutte, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2014

In this new co-production with the Met in New York, English National Opera has a winner. During the overture a dozen circus performers (strongman, bearded lady, sword swallower, dwarves et al) emerge from a chest and are a continuous background presence, reminding me of the Commedia del Arte figures in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. Each …

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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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Rigoletto, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, March 2012

In Act III of this opera, Rigoletto takes his daughter Gilda to Sparafucile’s tavern to show her the Duke’s real nature. She hears him singing La donna è mobile, sees him having fun with Maddalena, and is shocked and heartbroken. Her father takes her home, sends her off to Verona, but … being too busy arranging the …

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Tales of Hoffmann — a second view, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2012

This was a second visit to the English National Opera’s new production of Hoffmann, a joint venture with the Bavarian State Opera. The cast was identical — see my previous review for more details — and once again, Georgia Jarman gave a remarkable performance as all three lovers: Olympia, Antonia, and Giulietta, along with the silent role of Stella …

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The Tales of Hoffmann, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2012

E.T.A. Hoffmann was a jurist, composer, critic, cartoonist, and author of fantastic tales that form the basis for Nutcracker and Coppelia. His stories about a composer named Kreisler inspired Schumann to his Kreisleriana, and after his death this polymath became a character in a play by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, which Offenbach adopted, with a libretto by Barbier, for what is surely …

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The Damnation of Faust, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2011

This is ostensibly a French opera sung in English, though it’s not really an opera but a légende dramatique by Hector Berlioz — a musical and vocal canvas on which a clever director can paint his own picture. And this is exactly what Terry Gilliam does by turning the whole thing into a history about the rise …

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Radamisto, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, October 2010

On 27th April 1720, a month before his sixtieth birthday, King George I attended the opera with his son the Prince of Wales. They’d only recently reunited after not speaking to another for three years, so this was just the right opera to see.

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Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Royal Opera, November 2008

Olympia was sung and acted to perfection by Ekaterina Lekhina … and I shall always remember this as the highlight of the evening.

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