Tag Archives: Susan Bickley

Rodelinda, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2017

The libretto for Handel’s Rodelinda, regina de’ Longobardi (queen of the longbeards, or Lombards) was written by the remarkable Nicola Francesca Haym, musician, theatre manager, performer, and even numismatist who wrote the first work on the ancient coins in the British Museum. Its huge clarity, particularly in Amanda Holden’s excellent translation, brings to life a …

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The Winter’s Tale, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2017

Nearly three years ago the Royal Ballet put Winter’s Tale on the ballet stage, and now it’s the opera’s turn. In a remarkable compression of Shakespeare’s five acts to an hour and forty minutes of music and drama, composer Ryan Wigglesworth has created a score that moves from the sparest flicker of passing time to …

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Marriage of Figaro, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, February 2016

This second part of WNO’s Figaro triptych uses the same excellent design team of Ralph Koltai (sets), Sue Blane (costumes) and Linus Fellbom (lighting) as the Barber of Seville, with designs again featuring two huge walls. In this case they move apart to allow entrances, exits and a hint of deception between master and servant, …

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Between Worlds, English National Opera, ENO, Barbican, April 2015

This opera, ostensibly about the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, is really about what happens when people are suddenly caught between life and death, with only a tenuous connection to their loved ones in the world outside. This is reflected in Michael Levine’s set design for Deborah Warner’s production. The …

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Orfeo, Royal Opera, Roundhouse, January 2015

In Spring last year at the new Sam Wanamaker Theatre the Royal Opera put on Cavalli’s L’Ormindo, one of the earliest operas ever performed in a public opera house (the San Cassiano in Venice). This year they have reached further back to 1607, a time before public opera houses existed, performing Monteverdi’s Orfeo at Camden …

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Thebans, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2014

For his first opera, composer Julian Anderson demonstrates huge chutzpah in combining Sophocles’ three Theban plays (Oedipus the King/ Oedipus at Colonus/ Antigone) into a single evening of opera. The plays were not written in the chronological order of their events, and nor does Anderson take them in that order, ending with Colonus, written shortly …

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Rodelinda, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, March 2014

First performed in 1725 this Handel opera, set in seventh century Milan, boasted the famous castrato Senesino as Berterido, husband of Rodelinda. He has lost his throne, is now presumed dead, and his position has been usurped by Grimoaldo, who has fallen in love with Rodelinda, despite being betrothed to Berterido’s sister Eduige. Tastes have …

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Lohengrin, Welsh National Opera, Cardiff, May 2013

At the end of this illuminating new production by the WNO, Elsa’s younger brother Gottfried assumes the symbols of power left for him by Lohengrin, causing the assembled forces of the army, except the King and Herald, to cower away. He then raises his hand against Ortrud in her glorious red dress, and she crumples, …

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Julietta, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, September 2012

Dreams or Reality? For Michel, a bookseller from Paris, there is something addictive about dreams, but in the first two acts the auditorium lights slowly come on at the end, as if he is waking up. When the third act nears its conclusion the lighting shows some promise of doing the same again, but it …

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The Turn of the Screw, Glyndebourne, August 2011

The clarity of this production, and this performance, was exceptional. From the first words of the Prologue to the last words of the drama when the Governess asks the limp body of Miles, “What have we done between us?”, the whole story was laid bare. The scene with the governess travelling by train to the big …

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Two Boys, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, June 2011

This is great theatre. But it’s also more than that. This is a wonderful opera — a co-production with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, who put together composer Nico Muhly and librettist Craig Lucas.

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Anna Nicole, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, February 2011

This is an opera for today’s celebrity culture, where parts of the media, eager for salacious details, are happy to pick on anyone available. But Anna Nicole Smith was not just anyone — she worked as a stripper and snagged an 89 year-old billionaire, J. Howard Marshall I, though it’s said they never lived together. He …

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Katya Kabanova, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, March 2010

… this dark and theatrically powerful opera is a must-see, and you would have to go a long way to find better singing or conducting — they were both virtually unbeatable.

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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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Le Grand Macabre, ENO, English National Opera, September 2009

This musical work by Ligeti (1923–2006) is related to opera rather in the way a painting by Hieronymus Bosch is related to a landscape.

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