Tag Archives: James Conway

Ulysses’ Homecoming, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, October 2016

The text for this 1640 opera was written specially to attract the 73-year old Monteverdi to Venice, where opera had gone public for the first time just three years earlier. It is a remarkable work based on the second half of Homer’s Odyssey, starting with the Phaecians taking the hero back to Ithaca after 20 …

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Pia de’ Tolomei, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, March 2016

While working on the Siege of Calais, performed by the ETO this time last year, Donizetti and his librettist wanted to duplicate their great success with Lucia di Lammermoor. Casting around for another gentle and loving heroine, whose death would evoke huge pathos, they settled on Pia de’ Tolomei from Dante’s Purgatorio, and in James …

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Iphigénie en Tauride, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, March 2016

In Greek tradition, Iphigenia was sacrificed so the gods would supply her father King Agamemnon with a wind to sail his becalmed fleet against Troy. Euripides tackled the subject in Iphigenia at Aulis, followed later by Iphigenia in Tauris, the basis for this Gluck opera in which Artemis — here called Diana — has already …

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La Bohème, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, March 2015

This new ETO production boasts a terrific Rodolfo in David Butt Philip, who sang the same role to critical acclaim for the English National Opera last autumn. This time his more relaxed attitude allowed a fine interaction with the excellent Mimi of Russian soprano Ilona Domnich, and in their Act I meeting the eloquent message …

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King Priam, English Touring Opera, ETO, Linbury Studio, ROH, February 2014

This opera is all over in two and half hours including an interval, which is extraordinary because the story is HUGE. This is the Trojan War, told from the perspective of Troy. Act I gives us the background, starting with King Priam’s dilemma on whether to let his baby son Paris live, or have him …

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The Siege of Calais, English Touring Opera, Hackney Empire, March 2013

This is stirring stuff. Although Donizetti’s L’assedio di Calais (The Siege of Calais) with its unsatisfactory third act is rarely performed, James Conway’s production, which eliminates Act III and its happy ending, is a revelation. This opera, which immediately followed Lucia di Lammermoor, deals with real historical events. In 1346, towards the start of the …

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The Emperor of Atlantis, English Touring Opera, ETO, Linbury Studio, October 2012

This extraordinary one-act opera was composed in the Nazi concentration camp Terezin (Theresienstadt), located in what is now the Czech Republic near the German border. Its composer Viktor Ullmann (1898–1944), born in a small town near the meeting point of what is now the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, was a serious musician who had …

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Eugene Onegin, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, March 2012

Having seen Onegin performed on a large stage by major opera companies, with glamorous ball scenes and spacious settings for the Larin country estate, I approached this smaller stage production with some trepidation. But it was a revelation. The simple sets provide the perfect atmosphere, and the performance gives a wonderful insight into Tchaikovsky’s representation of Pushkin’s drama. The solo …

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Xerxes, English Touring Opera, ETO, Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, October 2011

Power and youthful passion are grist to the mill of Handel’s plots, and James Conway’s production is set on a World War II air base with Xerxes as the new ruler, whose enthusiasm for the Spitfire is matched by his infatuation for the lovely wartime nurse and singer Romilda. His brother, fighter pilot Arsamenes, is also …

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La Clemenza di Tito, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, London, March 2011

Redemption for all guilty parties has to wait for the second and final act, which shows in stark detail the magnanimity of Titus.

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Promised End, English Touring Opera, Royal Opera House Linbury Studio, October 2010

One might expect an operatic treatment of King Lear to be of Wagnerian proportions, yet Alexander Goehr’s version lasts only one and three quarter hours, including an interval.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, English Touring Opera, Sadler’s Wells, London, March 2010

While much of the music and action is on a rather ethereal level, an excellent contrast was created in this production by the interaction between Tytania and Bottom as a priapic ass.

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