Tag Archives: Royal Opera House

Hansel and Gretel, Royal Ballet, ROH Linbury Studio, May 2013

Entering the Linbury Studio you go downstairs — the whole venue is underground, as is the witch’s kitchen in Liam Scarlett’s new dark version of Hansel and Gretel, where the children are tied up in a dungeon. Scarlett’s ballet is set in 1950s America, and by coincidence the big news story of the moment concerns …

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Bastien and Bastienne, Mozart and Salieri, Royal Opera House, Linbury Studio, October 2012

This double bill by the Jette Parker Young Artists was a delight. Bastien and Bastienne is a singspiel written by Mozart in 1768 when he was just 12 years old. It is based on a one-act opera Le devin du village by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and deals with two lovers who are brought together by the local devin (soothsayer). Rousseau’s work …

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The Lighthouse, English Touring Opera, ETO, Linbury Studio, Covent Garden, October 2012

Just after Christmas in the year 1900 a steamer went to the Flannan Islands Lighthouse bringing a keeper to relieve one of the three keepers already there. The Flannan Isles are a lonely spot beyond the Outer Hebrides, and when the steamer arrived the three keepers had vanished into thin air. What happened? This remarkable …

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Albert Herring, English Touring Opera, ETO, Linbury Studio, Covent Garden, October 2012

This delightful comic opera by Benjamin Britten creates a deftly woven musical tapestry performed by thirteen instrumentalists and roughly the same number of singers. Eric Crozier based his libretto on a tale by Guy de Maupassant, transferring it to a Suffolk town and creating a glorious critique of small town mentality, pomposity and sexual repression. …

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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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Placido Domingo Celebration, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, October 2011

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Domingo’s first appearance at the Royal Opera House (as Cavaradossi in Tosca), this was a three-part Verdi programme featuring the final acts of Otello, Rigoletto and Simon Boccanegra, and amply demonstrating his superb sense of drama. Domingo is a consummate artist — not just a wonderful singer, but a terrific actor. When I …

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The Metamorphosis, Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, September 2011

This is perhaps the most exceptional production in the Linbury Studio for 2011 — a retelling of Franz Kafka’s strange story Die Verwandlung.

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Seven Angels, Royal Opera House, Linbury Studio, July 2011

This is a story about the desecration of the environment, told in the form of gluttony and the abandonment of boundaries in the bringing up of a spoiled young prince.

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Clemency, Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, May 2011

In Genesis Chapter 18 three unknown men visit Abraham. He welcomes them warmly and gives them food. In return they tell him that his wife Sarah will have a child, though “it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women”. She laughs, but the Lord promises to return a year hence when she …

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Swan Lake, with Nuñez and Soares, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, March 2011

Marianela Nuñez was lovely as the white swan, and seductively assured as the black swan in Act III. Thiago Soares was excellent as her lover, …

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Giselle, Royal Ballet, live relay from Covent Garden, January 2011

This two-act ballet creates a wonderful dichotomy between daylight and night-time. Act I is set in the everyday world, but the second act takes place in world of the wilis, spirits of dead maidens who rise up and destroy any young man they encounter.

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Songs from a Hotel Bedroom, Linbury Studio, ROH, Covent Garden, November 2010

Kurt Weill is the composer of two operatic works that I like very much — The Threepenny Opera (Berlin, 1928) and Street Scene (New York, 1947) — along with lots of glorious songs from other stage works. I was delighted to hear many of those songs in this drama created by Kate Flatt and Peter Rowe, with …

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The Duenna, English Touring Opera [ETO], Royal Opera House Linbury Studio, October 2010

It’s a pleasure to see English Touring Opera in London, and know that they will be taking this delightful production to other cities. It deserves to be a sell-out everywhere.

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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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Onegin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, September 2010

John Cranko’s choreography is a delight . . . creative, always appropriate to the drama, and this fine ballet is worth seeing again and again.

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In the Penal Colony, Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House, September 2010

The music was rhythmically intense, as one would expect from Glass, and its energy carried the strange plot forward.

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Don Quixote, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, August 2010

This thrilling spectacle of classical dance was first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1869, choreographed by Marius Petipa, who had just become artistic director of the Maryinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg. More than twenty years earlier he’d spent three years in Spain and learned to love Spanish dance — much celebrated in …

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Le Corsaire, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, August 2010

After seeing an excellent Spartacus when the Bolshoi opened their London season, this was a let-down, but I look forward to a thrilling Don Quixote, which I have seen this company do before to great effect.

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Spartacus, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, July 2010

What really made it memorable, however, was Ivan Vasiliev as Spartacus. He was phenomenal. This is a ballet that gives us stage-devouring leaps and extraordinary lifts, performed to perfection by Vasiliev, with Nina Kaptsova as a captivating Phrygia, but there was also a musicality here that rendered their performance a sublime experience.

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La Traviata, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, May 2010

Mr. Hvorostovsky sang gloriously … it’s worth going to this brief run of five performances just to hear him. Both Ms. Jaho and Mr. Pirgu sang strongly after a rather nervous start …

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Cinderella, Royal Ballet, 17 April 2010

Yuhui Choe danced Cinderella with exceptional charm and refinement. Her elegant footwork and sympathetic body language marks her out as an exceptional future performer of this role.

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MacMillan Triple: Concerto, The Judas Tree, Elite Syncopations, a second view, Royal Ballet, March 2010

Marianela Nuñez was outstanding in the second female solo [of Elite Syncopations], so musical, and with enormous precision and attack.

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The Cunning Little Vixen, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, March 2010

But this is an opera to be seen as well as heard, and William Dudley’s designs, along with the movement directed by Stuart Hopps, have a wonderful charm. Magical realism is …

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La Fille mal gardée, Cojocaru and McRae, Royal Ballet, March 2010

McRae danced with precision and snap, and being still such a young member of the company he fitted the part perfectly.

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Tamerlano, Royal Opera, February 2010

Unfortunately [Domingo] was unavailable, but his replacement, Kurt Streit sang [Bazajet] superbly — one could not have asked for better.

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The Gambler, Royal Opera, February 2010

In the last two productions I’ve seen … the stage has been darkly lit, in keeping with the coldness and scheming inherent in the story, but this production by … is quite different.

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Triple Bill — Agon, Sphinx, and Limen, Royal Ballet, November 2009

The choreography [of Limen] fitted very well with the lovely music by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho

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Mayerling, Royal Ballet, 29th October 2009

As the programme noted, it was on this same day 17 years ago that he died back stage at the Royal Opera House — his creative talent is sadly missed.

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Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, October 2009

This lovely production by Monica Mason and Christopher Newton, using the old Oliver Messel designs with additions by Peter Farmer, is one of the company’s gems

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Mayerling, Royal Ballet, October 2009

his was the second night of the present run, with Johan Kobborg in the main role as the 30-year-old Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary.

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Goldberg, The Brandstrup-Rojo project, Royal Opera House, Linbury Studio, September 2009

This is definitely worth a visit to see the eclectic style of choreography, and the dancing of Rojo, McRae, and Franzen.

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Don Carlo, Royal Opera, September 2009

Imagine a Christian Taliban in Spain, putting men, women and children in Flanders — all heretics — to the sword.

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Linda di Chamounix, Royal Opera, September 2009

This was a concert performance, brilliantly conducted by Mark Elder, and the cast, headed by Elise Gutierrez as Linda, and Stephen Costello as gloriously voiced Carlo, was excellent.

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Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Visit to London, July/August 2009

This summer [the Mariinsky] brought to London the works of some great composers: Wagner’s Ring, and three great full-length ballets (two Tchaikovsky, one Prokofiev), along with a Balanchine triple bill.

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Review of Sleeping Beauty, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House, August 2009

The corps de ballet danced superbly, Igor Kolb made a very fine prince, and Maxim Zuzin danced delightfully as the bluebird. All might have been well if Pavel Bubelnikov could have done a decent job conducting

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Swan Lake, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House, August 2009

… the evening belonged to the corps de ballet, which danced magnificently …

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Romeo and Juliet, Maryinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House, August 2009

The music was excellently conducted by Covent Garden’s Boris Gruzin with the Maryinsky Theatre Orchestra, but that is not enough to compensate for staging that belongs in the dustbin of Soviet relics.

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The Ring, Maryinsky Opera, London, July/August 2009

Valery Gergiev unfolded the music beautifully … never rushing, but never flagging

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Review — Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Royal Opera, July 2009

Ferruccio Furlanetto and Alessandro Corbelli are terrific singing actors with perfect comic timing, but what really made the evening was Joyce DiDonato as Rosina.

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Tosca, Royal Opera, July 2009

What really made this evening terrific was the riveting performance of Bryn Terfel as Scarpia.

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Review — La Traviata, Royal Opera, June 2009

Renée Fleming gave a superbly sensitive performance as Violetta, brilliantly showing her fragility and death at the end, and Joseph Calleja sang like a god as Alfredo.

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Parthenogenesis, Royal Opera House, Linbury Studio, June 2009

The inspiration for this opera was far more striking than the result.

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Jewels, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, June 2009

… the ensemble work of the other dancers was superb, and this was altogether a terrific evening with a simply wonderful cast.

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Tribute to Diaghilev, Royal Opera House, June 2009

This was a delightful mixture of divertissements, very ably conducted by Valery Ovsianikov with the orchestra of the English National Ballet.

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Review — Lulu, Royal Opera, June 2009

At the end all three husbands reappear in different guises to help destroy Lulu, and Alwa and the Countess are killed in random violence involving Jack the Ripper.

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Les Sylphides, Sensorium, The Firebird, Royal Ballet, 21 May 2009, return visit

The cast seemed very much in tune with [Sensorium], and Melissa Hamilton was simply wonderful. It’s astonishing that she’s a mere 21 years old.

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Les Sylphides, Sensorium, The Firebird, Royal Ballet, May 2009

… a lovely triple bill, with a new ballet by Alastair Marriott sandwiched between two well-known works

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Lohengrin, Royal Opera, April 2009

Johan Botha’s Heldentenor voice gave us a superb Lohengrin, with Edith Haller as a beautifully voiced Elsa … very well complemented by the wonderful singing of Petra Lang as Ortrud, and Gerd Grochowski as Telramund

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Il Trovatore, Royal Opera, April 2009

This was a terrific performance, with Sondra Radvanovsky and Roberto Alagna in superb voice as Leonora and Manrico.

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Dido and Aeneas by Purcell, and Acis and Galatea by Handel, Royal Opera, April 2009

Acis and Galatea is a beautiful work, musically speaking … composed as a pastoral serenata, which means it would be sung without elaborate staging, though the performers would probably have worn costumes … This staging by Wayne McGregor was frightfully elaborate, which I think detracted from the beauty of the work

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The Beggar’s Opera by Benjamin Britten, Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House, Jan 2009

The failure of Britten’s composition might have been alleviated by the production team, led by Justin Way, but the deliberately ham acting and garish costumes were over the top, and the production did not fit the style of Britten’s music.

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