Le nozze di Figaro, Nevill Holt Opera, NHO, June 2018

Nevill Holt has finally come of age with its new opera house, following Oliver Mears’ revelatoryTosca last year in the now-vanished temporary structure. Mears is now artistic director of Covent Garden, and Nevill Holt a substantial presence on the country house opera scene. The outside of the new 400-seat theatre exhibits a substantial, almost church-like presence …

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Der fliegende Holländer, Longborough Festival Opera, LFO, June 2018

This was musically terrific, and what a refreshing change to see a simple staging of Wagner that stays true to the essence of the story without fancy directorial accoutrements. As the overture ends slow moving figures pass across the stage carrying model houses and a lighthouse, like the chorus in a Greek drama, reminding us …

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Agrippina, The Grange Festival, June 2018

Agrippina, wife of the emperor Claudius (Claudio), is bent on securing the throne for Nero (Nerone), her son by a previous marriage. A scheming woman who manipulates her spiritually weak husband and everyone around her, she finds herself out-manoeuvred by the pretty Poppea, desired by Claudio and Nerone, to say nothing of her beloved Ottone …

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Lohengrin, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, June 2018

Opening night of this new production under the baton of Andris Nelsons was musical perfection. Covent Garden even managed to bring in Klaus Florian Vogt, arguably the top Lohengrin in the world, who has sung the role numerous times at Bayreuth. For English audiences unused to hearing him, his heavenly voice carries the full power …

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Der Rosenkavalier, Glyndebourne, GFO, May 2018

When Strauss and von Hofmannsthal first imagined this opera its working title was Ochs von Lerchenau, and in this performance Brindley Sherratt gave a superb account of that role. Not the buffoon of some portrayals, he exhibited a style of his own, with stockings that didn’t reach his breeches in Act I — a country …

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Madama Butterfly, Glyndebourne, May 2018

Before the curtain rose on opening night, Executive Chairman Gus Christie came on stage to welcome “this auspicious day” when we now have a Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Future Patrons of Glyndebourne perhaps? Auspicious too to open with Annilese Miskimmon’s wonderful production of Butterfly, new to the tour last season. Act I is set …

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Swan Lake, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, May 2018

Bravo! Liam Scarlett has put the magic back into Swan Lake. Short tutus for the swans have returned, and the ever-changing patterns they make on stage give life and strength to the white acts. From the stalls you may not be able to appreciate them — I was in the Amphi — but with 26 …

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Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2018

Lady Macbethis an opera that needs to be seen in the theatre, and its powerful dramatic impact is beautifully illuminated by this 2004 production by Richard Jones — the first at the Royal Opera House. Based on an 1865 novella by Nikolai Leskov the opera, but omitting the third murder, committed for purely mercenary reasons, …

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Marriage of Figaro, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, March 2018

This is exactly what the English National Opera should be doing: staging operas in comprehensible productions with a strong cast of mainly British singers. Sadly their bad press in recent years is partly due to productions that say more about the director than the opera, and singers from abroad who do not measure up to …

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Macbeth, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, March 2018

This third revival of Phyllida Lloyd’s 2002 Macbeth is the perfect antidote to the Royal Opera’s poorly-received, recent productions of Carmen and House of the Dead. With a fantastic cast, this is absolutely not to be missed. Casting was a problem for Verdi, who produced Macbeth at the same time as I masnadieri (based on …

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