Tag Archives: Richard Strauss

Der Rosenkavalier, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, June 2017

The recent cinema screening of Robert Carsen’s Rosenkavalier production (London and NY) shows a subtle emphasis on the passing of time, and this production takes a similar viewpoint but in a more overt manner. Judging by most of the costumes, the setting is presumably about 1911 when the opera was written and the passing of …

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Die Frau ohne Schatten, Staatsoper Berlin, Festtage, Schiller Theater, April 2017

This marvellous Claus Guth production, first staged at La Scala in 2012, and at Covent Garden three years ago, has now found its way to Berlin under the baton of Zubin Mehta, who produced a terrific performance of Richard Strauss’s score, with its combination of gentle chamber episodes with mighty moments of emotional transformation. Despite …

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Der Rosenkavalier, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, December 2016

The essence of Robert Carsen’s powerful new production is time. By setting it in the period of its creation, the early twentieth century rather than the mid-eighteenth, he compresses time, giving those glorious late nineteenth century waltz melodies and the story itself the feel of a world about to be changed forever, as indeed it …

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Ariadne auf Naxos, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, October 2015

Wow! This riveting performance under the baton of Lothar Koenigs gave Strauss’s music just the cheery insouciance and serious emotional depth it needs. And with Karita Mattila, Ruxandra Donose and Jane Archibald repeating the roles of Ariadne, Composer and Zerbinetta from summer 2014 it was a vocal and theatrical treat. How absurd that there are …

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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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Ariadne auf Naxos, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, June 2014

Returning to direct this second revival of his 2002 production, Christof Loy gave us an Act I that presented the young composer in far better form than the first revival of 2008. Beautifully and strongly sung by Ruxandra Donose, he (she) showed fire in the belly, and frustration with the philistines around him. It was …

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Die Liebe der Danae, in concert, Frankfurt Opera, June 2014

Richard Strauss’s last major (three-act) opera, completed in 1940 was not given a public performance until 1952, three years after his death, though a private dress rehearsal was arranged in 1944. It is little performed — but why? The music is wonderful, particularly the remarkable Act III with its sublime orchestral interlude, “Jupiter’s Resignation”. And …

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Der Rosenkavalier, Glyndebourne, May 2014

Glyndebourne’s 80th anniversary festival, dedicated to the late Sir George Christie, son of the founder and the man who built the present opera house, opened just ten days after his death. His son Gus came onstage at the start to offer a tribute to his ‘dear old Dad’, and in honour of the 150th anniversary …

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Die Frau ohne Schatten, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, March 2014

Frau ohne Schatten is Richard Strauss’s Magic Flute, where two couples on different levels undergo severe trials before man and woman truly find one another. Like Flute there are tripartite divisions, but rather than analyse Hofmannsthal’s mysterious story, as modified by and interpreted in Strauss’s extraordinary score, let us turn to this production by German …

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Elektra, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, September 2013

For this revival of Elektra, in Charles Edwards blood soaked production (previously seen in 2003 and 2008), the orchestra produced terrific emotional power under the direction of Andris Nelsons. They played with huge conviction, and the cast sang superbly, none more so than Adrianne Pieczonka as Chrysothemis. From her first entrance to the final words …

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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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Ariadne auf Naxos, Glyndebourne, May 2013

The house of the richest man in Vienna, where Strauss and Hofmannsthal set the action, transfers seamlessly to an English country house in Act I with delightful set designs by Julia Müer. Wonderful lighting by Olaf Winter showed the gradual ending of a lovely summer’s day outside as preparations for the evening’s entertainment were underway, …

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Salome, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, May 2012

With superb vocal power and control from Angela Denoke as Salome, and thrilling sound from the orchestra under the direction of Andris Nelsons, it doesn’t get any better than this. This was the second revival of David McVicar’s production, first seen in 2008, and Angela Denoke’s second turn at the title role, since her earlier …

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Prom 66, with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, 4 September 2010

“Mahler’s 11th Symphony”, Rattle called the second half of this concert as he introduced it, requesting the audience not to interrupt with applause until all three works were over.

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Salome, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, July 2010

The evening belonged to Angela Denoke in the title role, and Hartmut Haenchen in the pit, who drew a mixture of gentle lyricism and immense power from the orchestra.

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Capriccio, Grange Park Opera, June 2010

… what really made the evening was the superb singing of Susan Gritton as the Countess. Her soliloquy towards the end was mesmerising. I was bowled over.

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Salome, by Oscar Wilde, Richmond Theatre, May 2010

Everything is played at top intensity, but I would have preferred the introspective moments to be taken more calmly.

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Elektra, in concert with Valery Gergiev and the LSO, Barbican, January 2010

The name Elektra means ‘shining’ — as in the alloy electrum — and Gergiev with the LSO gave us a shining performance.

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Der Rosenkavalier, Royal Opera, a second view, December 2009.

However the trio at the end was gloriously sung, and well worth waiting for.

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Review — Der Rosenkavalier, Royal Opera, December 2009

With Russian conductor Kirill Petrenko giving Strauss’s music more colour than I ever remember hearing, this was a musical feast.

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Collaboration, and Taking Sides, Chichester, and the Duchess Theatre London, May 2009

These two plays by Ronald Harwood, dealing with how Germany’s Nazi regime affected the lives of two of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century, were performed on the same day, with the same actors, and the experience was riveting.

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Der Rosenkavalier, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Feb 2009

Daniela Sindram was the best Octavian I’ve ever seen, singing and acting the part of a young man to perfection. … Kurt Rydl’s portrayal of Baron Ochs was superbly natural, without over-acting or stepping over the line into farce, as sometimes happens with this part, and his singing was thoroughly engaging.

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Die Ägyptische Helena, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Feb 2009

This little-performed opera by Richard Strauss received a wonderful staging by Marco Arturo Marelli and his team.

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Cassandra by Vittorio Gnecchi, and Elektra by Richard Strauss, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Feb 2009

Cassandra, by the Italian composer Gnecchi, was written four years before Stauss’s Elektra. It tells of Agamemnon’s return to his wife Klytemnestra, who intends to kill him as revenge for his sacrifice of their daughter Iphigenia …

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Salome, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Feb 2009

I felt sorry for Manuela Uhl as Salome, because she didn’t come over well until the final scene, and was given no dance.

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Salome, in a live cinema screening from the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Oct 2008

Karita Mattila gave an excellent performance of the title role, and Juha Uusitalo was superb as John the Baptist, drawing deep power from mysterious sources.

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