Werther, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, September 2019

A terrific revival, fully expressing the enormous subtlety of this Massenet opera under Edward Gardner’s musical direction. Superbly cast with Juan Diego Flórez as Werther and Isabel Leonard as Charlotte giving beautifully nuanced performances — my review in The Article.

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Double Bill: Il Segreto di Susanna/ Iolanta, Opera Holland Park, July 2019

Wolf-Ferrari’s delightful comedy, Il Segreto di Susanna under the baton of John Andrews formed a delightful prelude to Tchaikovsky’s final opera Iolanta, conducted by Sian Edwards. This was a revelation in Olivia Fuchs’ excellent production and Sian Edwards’ sensitive conducting that really drew forth the emotional pull of the music that Tchaikovsky created to embody the …

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Tannhäuser, Bayreuth Festival, July 2019

In Wagner’s Tannhäuser the representation of the Venusberg scene, compounded by its subsequent appeal within Tannhäuser’s mind, is a perennial problem. But in Tobias Kratzer’s new production the nineteenth century image of a den of debauchery is replaced by an exhilarating, wildly modern approach with four misfits: Venus, a dwarf, a black drag queen, and …

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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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Turn of the Screw, Garsington Opera, July 2019

A hauntingly memorable interpretation of Britten’s masterpiece based on the Henry James story, with Sophie Bevan expressing the naïve yet fevered emotions of the Governess. Wonderful singing from all the cast, including Ed Lyon as Quint — see my review in The Article.

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Rusalka, Glyndebourne, June 2019

Wonderful revival of Rusalka under the baton of Robin Ticciati reminds us how forces of destiny defy human agency in this Dvořák opera. Beautiful phrasing and clarity of tone by Sally Matthews in the title role brings out the purity of this water creature that can never quite become warm flesh and blood — my review …

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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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