Litvinenko, Grange Park Opera, July 2021

Congratulations to Grange Park Opera for this remarkable opera on the life and death of Alexander Litvinenko, murdered in London by the Russian regime using Polonium (which attacks vital parts of the body). He died in hospital, and this infamous story has been converted into an opera with a libretto by Kit Hesketh-Harvey and music …

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King Lear, Grange Festival, July 2021

This was a Lear of extraordinary power and depth, performed not by Shakespearean actors but opera singers. With Emma Bell as Lear’s daughter Regan, Kim Begley as the Fool, Thomas Allen as Gloucester, and John Tomlinson as Lear it delves deeply into what lies behind the surface of power. See my review in The Article.

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The Enchanted Pig, Buxton Festival, July 2021

This Jonathan Dove opera is based on a fairy tale. A young woman named Flora must use the power of love to break a spell on the husband chosen for her by fate. He has been turned into a pig, and the antidote to this enchantment is true love. But it involves a journey via …

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The Dancing Master, Buxton Festival, July 2021

Matthew Arnold was a highly talented composer let down by his mental health and a predilection for drink. This opera followed a previously abandoned collaboration on a great opera to rival both Boris Godunov and Otello, with the same librettist, but this time they went to the opposite extreme, turning a Restoration comedy into a …

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Ivan the Terrible, Grange Park Opera, June 2021

Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera, often called The Maid of Pskov, gives a human insight to Ivan IV (the ‘Terrible’) who encounters a young woman in Pskov (near the Latvian-Estonian border) he realises is his own daughter. She has no idea he is her real father, and will never find out as she is shot in the confusion …

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Eugene Onegin, Garsington, June 2021

Terrific performances by Moldovan soprano Natalia Tanasii as Tatyana and British-Singaporean mezzo Fleur Barron as Olga in an excellent production by Michael Boyd. They headed a fine cast under the baton of Douglas Boyd (no relation), who fully brought out the emotional intensity of Tchaikovsky’s music. My review in The Article.

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Il Turco in Italia, Glyndebourne, May 2021

This charming Rossini opera deals with a writer who finds the characters for a story, and helps them interact with one another to create a happy ending. Glyndebourne’s new production by Mariame Clément is far too complex in Act I, as the writer’s notes and drafts keep appearing on the back of the stage, to …

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Katya Kabanova, Glyndebourne, May 2021

The opening night of Glyndebourne’s season featured a vibrant production of Janaček’s dramatic opera Katya Kabanova with the wonderful Czech soprano Kateřina Kněžíková in the title role. A superb performance under the baton of Robin Ticciati in a new production by Damiano Michieletto. My review in The Article.

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La Clemenza di Tito, Royal Opera, May 2021

In these days of recovery from Covid-19, with social distancing still in force, the Royal Opera decided to reopen full scale live operas on stage with Mozart’s late opera La Clemenza di Tito, which has only an off-stage chorus. This new production by Richard Jones did not entirely work. See my review in The Article.

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Nutcracker, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2020

What a treat to be back at the Royal Opera House to watch The Nutcracker, despite the social distancing for dancers and audience. My review in The Article.

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