Don Quichotte, Festival Theatre, Bregenz, July 2019

This production by Mariam Clément of Massenet’s final opera set all five acts differently, and the overall effect was tremendous. She deals with modern concerns about male role models and masculinity, and the overall effect at the end of a stage within a stage within a stage was hugely moving. Wonderful performances by Gábor Bretz …

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Rigoletto, Bregenz Festival Lake Stage, July 2019

This production by Philipp Stölzl boasted a superbly engineered set with a giant moving head, two hands, and a balloon that rose more than 30 metres into the air. Mechanically a great achievement, but the staging was too busy by half, with singers and acrobats appearing all over the place, including inside and on top …

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Georgiana, Buxton Festival, July 2019

A new opera pastiche on the unusual life of the glamorous and politically active Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. It uses eighteenth century music by Mozart and others, including some from popular songs of the day, put together by Mark Tatlow with a libretto by Michael Williams, the new CEO of the Buxton Festival. See my …

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Eugene Onegin, Buxton Festival, July 2019

A simple production by using images of future events as a clever device to inject an element of fatalism. Conducted by the new artistic director Adrian Kelly it boasted luxury casting with Joshua Bloom as Prince Gremin, along with George Humphreys as an Onegin who acquired sympathetic gravitas as the opera progressed, plus fine performances …

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Anna Bolena, Longborough Festival Opera, June 2019

This opera about Anne Boleyn was Donizetti’s first big success in 1830, and under the excellent baton of Jeremy Silver singers and orchestra came together to bring it fully to life. During the overture we see a silent mime where a queen removes her crown and her jewels, observed by a noble lady in a green …

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Belshazzar, The Grange Festival, June 2019

A terrific home run for the Grange Festival in Hampshire, where since taking over in 2017 counter-tenor Michael Chance has encouraged superb productions of opera from the baroque period. This year was the turn of Handel’s oratorio Belshazzar, never before professionally staged in this country. See my review in The Article.

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Boris Godunov, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, June 2019

This production uses Musorgsky’s vibrant, original version, with several singers returning to the roles they performed when this production was new in 2016. Again Bryn Terfel was magnificent as a powerfully sympathetic and well-nuanced Boris, with David Butt Philip giving a mean performance as the novice Grigory (Dmitri the pretender). New to the role of …

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Der Ring des Nibelungen, Budapest Wagner Days, June 2019

This was a revelation: first the acoustic, where singers can be heard clearly wherever they stand on stage; second the wonderfully subtle conducting of Ádám Fischer, who produced a funeral march in Götterdämmerung that sang with unforgettable emotion, helped by a well-controlled brass section; and third the semi-staging. See my review in The Daily Telegraph, which …

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Das Rheingold, Longborough, June 2019

The first year of preparation for Longborough’s new Ring has started with a very effective production of Das Rheingold.The excellent use of video designs by Tim Baxter shows Valhalla peeping through the clouds, and the approach to the rainbow bridge at the end adds a cosmic touch to Wotan’s dream palace. Musically wonderful under the baton …

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Manon Lescaut, Opera Holland Park, June 2019

This opening of the Opera Holland Park season saw a production of Puccini’s first masterpiece by young director Karolina Sofulak, who updated this story of a girl torn between the student Des Grieux and the elderly aristocrat Geronte from its natural place in the eighteenth century to the swinging sixties. It didn’t work, and the …

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