Dances at a Gathering/ The Cellist, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, February 2020

Dances at a Gathering with its wonderfully imaginative choreography by Jerome Robbins was sheer delight, followed by The Cellist, a new ballet by Cathy Marston on the life and loves of Jacqueline du Pré, based mainly on three dancers representing: her, the conductor (Barenboim) and a personification of the cello by a male dancer — …

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Luisa Miller, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2020

Wonderful performances of this Verdi opera despite a heavily psychological production involving dancers, a chorus dressed as clowns, Rodolfo and Luisa as young children, and avoiding one death on the basis that evil will always survive. My review in The Article.

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Les Vêpres Siciliennes, Welsh National Opera, Cardiff, February 2020

Following his hat trick of Il Trovatore, Rigoletto and La Traviata, Verdi satisfied a Paris commission with this work about the Sicilian uprising in 1282. French grand opera did not really suit Verdi, and the libretto by Eugène Scribe was a hack job, but the music is largely wonderful — my review in The Article.

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Onegin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, January 2020

Tchaikovsky’s opera on Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin inspired John Cranko to create this ballet, which uses excerpts from other Tchaikovsky works put together by Kurt-Heinz Stolze. It makes a welcome return to Covent Garden with fine performances by Reece Clarke in the title role, Natalia Osipova as Olga, and Gary Avis as Prince Gremin — see my review in The …

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Otello, Royal Opera, December 2019

This first revival of Keith Warner’s dark 2017 production, once again under the baton of music director Antonio Pappano, was musically thrilling, with Ermonela Jaho as Desdemona, Gregory Kunde as Otello, and Carlos Álvarez as Iago — see my review in The Article.

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Peter Grimes, in concert at the Royal Festival Hall

Wow, this semi-staged concert performance under the direction of Edward Gardner with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra was sensational — see my review in The Article.

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Sleeping Beauty and Coppélia, Royal Ballet, November 2019

This year over December and January the Royal Ballet presents Sleeping Beauty and Coppélia, the first a wistful hope for a reawakening of the French monarchy after a hundred-year sleep, the second a merry spoof on romanticism — see my review in The Article.

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Death in Venice, Royal Opera, ROH, November 2019

This new production of Britten’s final opera is a sell-out. With Mark Padmore as the ageing writer Gustav von Aschenbach, and Gerald Finley in multiple roles (Traveller, Elderly fop, Gondolier, Barber, Hotel Manager, etc.) this was an outstanding performance, and the whole run was a sell-out before it opened — see my review in The …

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Orphée by Philip Glass, English National Opera, ENO, November 2019

Glass’s opera, based on a film by Jean Cocteau, is the final one in ENO’s Orpheus quartet, and Netia Jones intriguing production reveals Orphée’s mysterious wanderings on the edges of death and immortality. Terrific performances by Jennifer France as The Princess and Nicky Spence as her chauffeur — my review in The Article.

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The Mask of Orpheus, English National Opera, ENO, October 2019

Harrison Birtwistle’s Mask of Orpheus is a complex, multi-layered composition, more symphony than opera, but high camp is not the right way to stage it. This was director Daniel Kramer’s swan song after his ill-starred role as artistic director, and confirms that the ENO did the right thing in dispensing with his services. My review …

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