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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Polyeucte, UC Opera, Theatre Royal, Stratford East, March 2018

Every year UCL produces a little known operatic gem and this time it was the turn of Gounod’s Polyeucte, not previously staged in the UK. The story, based on a play of the same name by the 17th century playwright Pierre Corneille, was the basis for Donizetti’s Poliuto, later turned into a French opera as …

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La Traviata, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, March 2018

Mirrors and bright lights in the party scenes contrast with the tranquillity of a country garden in early Act II and the bleak feeling of a cemetery where Violetta digs her own grave in Act III. With designs ranging from fin de siècle Paris to the glitter of modern Las Vegas, Daniel Kramer in his …

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From the House of the Dead, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, March 2018

Is the Royal Opera losing the plot? The recent staging of Carmen included narrative not in the libretto, and was very badly received. Now they have done it again. Janáček’s final opera on Dostoyevsky’s novel about convicts in a Siberian prison camp is a marvellous work. The composer was a genius at reworking theatrical and …

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Midsummer Night’s Dream, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, March 2018

Christopher Alden’s previous production, dragged down by its undertow of sexual abuse, has been abandoned and English National Opera has put the fairy magic back into Britten’s opera by returning to the earlier Robert Carson staging, last seen here in 2004. The result brings joy to the heart as the blundering Puck of Miltos Yerolemou …

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Iolanthe, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2018

“A group of bombastic fairies going into battle with all these silly old buggers from the House of Lords” says director Cal McCrystal “… joyful and fun, with a hint of satirical steel”. McCrystal has a knack, a brilliant knack, of knowing what makes an audience laugh, never more so than in the Act II …

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La Forza del destino, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, February 2018

Fate, personified by a tall, elegant, funereal character, strikes the stage with a staff at the very start of this production, and after the Marquis of Calatrava’s accidental death the blood on the wall is a constant reminder to his daughter Leonora and her lover Don Alvaro of their inability to be reconciled with him …

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Carmen, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, February 2018

Carmen as a musical is what the first part (Acts 1 and 2) felt like, but a musical needs better dance sequences, and the choreography was ineffective. Yet Barrie Kosky, whose production of Shostakovich’s Nose appeared at Covent Garden in late 2016, is ever a theatrical innovator. The orchestra starts without warning as the proscenium …

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