Tag Archives: ENO

Pirates of Penzance, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2017

What a pleasure to welcome back Mike Leigh’s Pirates, which played to packed houses on its first run two years ago. Leigh, the director of that 1999 film Topsy-Turvy about Gilbert and Sullivan’s collaboration, retains the hard edge of Gilbert’s genius while not stinting on the colour. Indeed the bold colours and central circle of …

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Rigoletto, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2017

Now that Christopher Alden’s stale and pretentious North American production has been aborted after a single run, we are back with Jonathan Miller’s gangland setting, looking as fresh as ever. Wonderful. This superb production well matches the tragedy that unfolds in what became a turning point in Verdi’s operatic career. Before its premiere in Venice …

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Jenufa, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, June 2016

This is exactly what the ENO should be doing, presenting a straightforward staging with fine singers and a conductor capable of fully realising the drama. Mark Wigglesworth, who resigned as music director three months ago, allowed Janáček’s score to express the emotional power it embodies and the second act, where the drama makes its turning …

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Tristan and Isolde, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, June 2016

This new production by incoming artistic director Daniel Kramer is his first full-length opera for the ENO — he previously directed a fine Bluebeard’s Castle as part of a double bill in 2009 — so it was intriguing to see the result. There was a plethora of ideas, too many for my liking, and greater …

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Madam Butterfly, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2016

Anthony Minghella’s hugely successful Butterfly production, which the Metropolitan Opera in New York has broadcast to cinemas around the world, could hardly come at a better time for the ENO. Cinema screenings are one thing, but live in the London Coliseum is an experience not to be missed, and this revival under the superb baton …

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Akhnaten, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, March 2016

This final opera in Philip Glass’s trilogy on men who changed history — Einstein, Gandhi, Akhnaten — last seen here in 1987, well deserves Phelim McDermott’s spectacular new production. Akhnaten may not be a household name like the other two, but this eighteenth dynasty Egyptian king who temporarily overturned the Egyptian religion with his monotheistic …

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Norma, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2016

Of all operas in the first half of the nineteenth century, Bellini’s Norma was one of the greatest, widely admired by composers and having a profound effect on Wagner. Yet the ENO has never before put it on stage, for one simple reason. It requires an extraordinary soprano who can combine enormous power with vocal …

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The Magic Flute, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2016.

English National Opera’s outreach to a younger and wider audience is well served by Simon McBurney’s (Complicite Theatre) production, first shown in 2013. Purists may object to the numerous theatrical innovations, but on the other hand this opera was originally conceived as a Singspiel, in other words a play with music, and its librettist Emanuel …

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The Force of Destiny, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, November 2015

The unusually abstract title of this mature yet seldom-performed Verdi opera could be rephrased as ‘the force of anger’. The Marquis of Calatrava’s ferocity at his daughter Leonora’s choice of husband leads to his accidental death, and his son Don Carlo’s furiously determined revenge leads to his own death and that of his sister. “Vengeance …

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La Bohème, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2015

Bohemia in Murger’s Scènes de la vie de bohème is a state of mind, rather than a Central European province, so setting it in modern times rather than mid-nineteenth century Paris could work very well. But Benedict Andrews, who made his name as a theatre and film director, has created a staging that seems to …

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The Barber of Seville, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, September 2015

That this charmingly witty Jonathan Miller production is now in its twelfth revival speaks to its huge success, and once again we had the inimitable Andrew Shore as Dr Bartolo. His mixture of firm authority and bumbling over-enthusiasm, as when he gets his pince-nez caught in the harpsichord, was brilliantly conveyed, and this beautifully revived …

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Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, September 2015

A woman trapped in comfortable domestic surroundings, while her husband’s busy world goes on all around, takes a lover. Her actions and emotions spiral out of control, her once luxurious bedroom vanishes and she ends up in a prison cell — such is the setting well realised by director Dmitri Tcherniakov … apart from the …

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Queen of Spades, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, June 2015

The moment the orchestra plunged into Tchaikovsky’s overture they promised a superb reading of the score under the baton of Ed Gardner, and we were treated to a musical performance full of energy, tension and passion. One only regrets that this was Gardner’s last opera as music director for the ENO before taking over as …

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Carmen, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2015

The energy and insight of Richard Armstrong’s conducting carries all before it in this revival of Calixto Bieito’s production, first seen two and a half years ago. That and the excellent portrayal of Don José by American tenor Eric Cutler, whose voice and stage presence carry a nobility at odds with the rough machismo of …

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Pirates of Penzance, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2015

On opening night the Coliseum was packed to the rafters for this new production, with the ENO already having scheduled two extra performances. The pre-performance enthusiasm was well judged because director Mike Leigh, who made that wonderful film Topsy-Turvy about Gilbert and Sullivan, has given us a production that is fun without sentimentality or camp …

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Between Worlds, English National Opera, ENO, Barbican, April 2015

This opera, ostensibly about the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, is really about what happens when people are suddenly caught between life and death, with only a tenuous connection to their loved ones in the world outside. This is reflected in Michael Levine’s set design for Deborah Warner’s production. The …

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The Indian Queen, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2015

This opera, or rather semi-opera (entertainment combining acting, singing and dance), was not really complete when Purcell died in 1695. Though it had already been performed, the loss of the Company’s main dramaturge and many of its singers compromised the result. Not therefore in the state that the composer would wish, and rather than attempt …

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La Traviata, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2015

hooAt the start of this production there is nothing on stage but a plain chair, and in the final scene, isolated from Annina, Dr. Grenvil, Germont, and even Alfredo, who leaves the stage to join the others in the auditorium, Violetta sits on it, alone. Finally she recedes into darkness beyond the back of the …

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The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2015

Although one of the greatest operas ever written, it is not unknown for directors and conductors to make a mess of it, even at Wagner’s own temple in Bayreuth, but not at the ENO, thank God! This resounding success throws down the gauntlet to those Beckmessers in the Arts Council who not only mark down …

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The Gospel According to the Other Mary, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, November 2014

The ‘Other Mary’ in John Adams’ new work is Mary Magdalene, along with her sister Martha and their brother Lazarus, who work to help the poor and disenfranchised in mid-1970s America. To many in an English audience the name César Chávez, co-founder of what became the United Farm Workers Union, may not be well known. Beloved …

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La Bohème, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2014

This excellent Jonathan Miller production with its bifurcated set, easily manoeuvred into three different sets, was graced with the beautiful voice of Angel Blue as Mimi. More on her later, but in the meantime the rest of the cast produced fine singing and for the most part vivid portrayals of their roles. George von Bergen …

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The Marriage of Figaro, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2014

The revival of this ENO production had its first night on the 221st anniversary of the death of Marie-Antoinette, the first queen to perform in the original play by Beaumarchais. This was at her private house in Versailles, and the king then banned public performances, until in 1784 it opened at the Comédie Française in …

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The Girl of the Golden West, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2014

The ENO deserve to score a big hit with this new Richard Jones production of Fanciulla. Three acts, each with its own gloriously simple set by Miriam Buether, along with costumes by Nicky Gillibrand, evoked the quintessential clarity of the American far west. Jones drew superb acting from the large cast, and Canadian conductor Keri-Lynn …

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Xerxes, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, September 2014

This sixth ENO revival of Handel’s late opera Xerxes (aka Serse) is a testament to the huge charms of Nicholas Hytner’s 1985 production, which presents the complex story of amorous intrigues in a Persian court with glorious clarity. Elegant, even stunning, costumes for the main characters contrast with drab for the courtiers and striking black …

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Otello, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, September 2014

After the end of a terrific performance, director David Alden was presented with two gifts to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his work with the ENO, whom he extolled as his favourite opera company in the world. That they work so well together is amply illustrated in this production whose huge enclosing set allows the stage …

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The Pearl Fishers, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, June 2014

Penny Woolcock’s stunning production of Pearl Fishers, with its gloriously ramshackle sets, blaze of South Indian colour, and views of pearl divers sweeping through the clear blue waters, first appeared four years ago. She has now returned to direct this revival, which is superior to the original in terms of vocal performances. This time Sophie …

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Benvenuto Cellini, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, June 2014

What fun this was! Terry Gilliam has done it again, following his opera directing debut with The Damnation of Faust in 2011. Mr. Gilliam’s earlier success was with a later Berlioz opera, and he has now turned to the composer’s first with a story involving the mad genius Benvenuto Cellini, Pope Clement VII and his …

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Così fan tutte, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2014

In this new co-production with the Met in New York, English National Opera has a winner. During the overture a dozen circus performers (strongman, bearded lady, sword swallower, dwarves et al) emerge from a chest and are a continuous background presence, reminding me of the Commedia del Arte figures in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. Each …

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Thebans, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2014

For his first opera, composer Julian Anderson demonstrates huge chutzpah in combining Sophocles’ three Theban plays (Oedipus the King/ Oedipus at Colonus/ Antigone) into a single evening of opera. The plays were not written in the chronological order of their events, and nor does Anderson take them in that order, ending with Colonus, written shortly …

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Kings of the Dance, London Coliseum, March 2014

This feast of male dancing, brought to the London Coliseum by impresario Sergei Danilian, is carried off by five of the World’s finest, including the extraordinary Ivan Vasiliev. His solo performance in Labyrinth of Solitude, with fabulous leaps and spins in the air, inspired a standing ovation, and was immediately followed by the evening’s finale, …

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Rodelinda, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, March 2014

First performed in 1725 this Handel opera, set in seventh century Milan, boasted the famous castrato Senesino as Berterido, husband of Rodelinda. He has lost his throne, is now presumed dead, and his position has been usurped by Grimoaldo, who has fallen in love with Rodelinda, despite being betrothed to Berterido’s sister Eduige. Tastes have …

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Rigoletto, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2014

The original Victor Hugo play (Le roi s’amuse) that underlies Verdi’s Rigoletto takes place in the sixteenth century French court of François I. This touch of lèse majesté made the censors reject it, and the action was eventually transferred to Mantua with the King as a Duke, but the main point is that he has …

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Peter Grimes, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, January 2014

My lingering impression from this unusual David Alden production is of Grimes as one of the few sane people in the town. In Act III the choreographed actions of the townspeople make them look like a mad Greek chorus celebrating some Dionysian rite, and when they sing Peter Grimes! at the tops of their voices …

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Satyagraha, English National Opera, London Coliseum, December 2013

The performance on 6th December 2013 was a special occasion, quite unplanned. Philip Glass’s paean to the peaceful revolution embodied by Mahatma Gandhi, with its allusions to Martin Luther King, whose back-view we see in Act III, speaking on a podium, was preceded by a commemoration for Nelson Mandela, who had died just 24 hours …

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Magic Flute, English National Opera, London Coliseum, November 2013

A new production of Mozart’s Magic Flute should be judged largely by how well it illuminates this extraordinary story. But that aside, Simon McBurney’s production is full of theatrical innovations. On stage right there is a small booth for a production assistant to write on a chalk-board, and arrange books in a way that is …

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Madam Butterfly, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2013

Puccini’s Madam Butterfly may not be my favourite opera, but this Anthony Minghella production is magical. The silent pulling of a rope to raise a screen before the start, and then the mime that pre-signifies the trapped Butterfly at the end, opens us to a world different from our own. In Act I the extraordinarily …

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Die Fledermaus, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2013

This new production is by Christopher Alden, twin brother of David Alden whose many successful ENO works include the present, very successful Peter Grimes production, being revived in Jan/Feb 2014. By contrast, Christopher’s Fledermaus production, which I was not able to see on the first night, attracted very negative reviews and during the interval I …

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Fidelio, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, September 2013

Fidelio is far from my favourite opera, so for me the novelty of this new staging was a welcome departure from the usual dreary prison. Catalan director Calixto Bieito has instead placed the events in a modern setting of steel and glass, the prisoners being so-to-speak trapped in offices where they spend most of their …

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The Perfect American, English National Opera, London Coliseum, June 2013

The scenes in this new Philip Glass opera are set mainly in Southern California where Walt Disney lived, worked and died, but there is an early scene in Marceline, Missouri where he spent his childhood. Or did he? Certainly he looked back on his four or five years in Marceline as giving him everything, but …

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Wozzeck, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2013

In Georg Büchner’s original play Woyzeck the eponymous character is a poor man discombobulated by his superiors, the Captain and the Doctor. They mock his inability to keep his common law wife Marie away from the amorous attentions of the Drum Major, and his poverty compels his participation in the Doctor’s experiments. He cannot compete …

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English National Opera, 2013/14 Season Preview

The list of operas for the ENO 2013/14 Season provides an eclectic array of work including ten new productions. Fidelio: opens 25 September 2013 for 7 performances. New production by Calixto Bieito (co-production with Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich), conducted by Edward Gardner. Bieito produced ENO’s recent Carmen, and his idea for Fidelio puts the performers in …

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The Sunken Garden, English National Opera, Barbican, April 2013

This new musical work by Michel van der Aa, combines film narrative and a 3D visual world behind a screen, to a libretto by novelist David Mitchell. Novels are very different from opera librettos, which must develop the characters and story in relatively few words, and part of the problem with this one is that …

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The Barber of Seville, English National Opera, London Coliseum, February 2013

This witty Jonathan Miller production, under the baton of Jaime Martín who is making his British operatic debut, is full of lively energy. Revival director Peter Relton has produced excellent team work, with exemplary diction, led by that great singing actor Andrew Shore as Dr. Bartolo. He was a hoot, and the whole cast was …

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Medea, English National Opera, London Coliseum, February 2013

Spectacular success for the ENO gives audiences the British premiere of this baroque jewel that has lain in the shadows for about 300 years. With an excellent libretto by Thomas Corneille, well translated by Christopher Cowell, this terrific production by David McVicar makes compelling theatre. Excellent choreography by Lynne Page suits both music and drama, Paule Constable’s lighting gives …

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La Traviata, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2013

Four scenes with no intermission and no sets, except for multiple curtains and a chair — but it works! This is Traviata cut to its essentials, concentrating on Violetta, and to a lesser extent Germont père. Corinne Winters was a phenomenal Violetta, and as the opera ends she stands alone on stage facing Germont, Alfredo and Annina in the auditorium. …

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The Mikado, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, December 2012

The Mikado himself in this fantasia of English eccentricity was gloriously played by Richard Angas, with Robert Murray excellent as Nanki-Poo, and Richard Suart giving a brilliant performance of Ko-Ko in his 25thanniversary of the role. This vintage production continues to sparkle with bounce and fizz, and is so extraordinarily up to date that Ko-Ko’s …

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Carmen, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, November 2012

The ENO’s new production of Carmen by Calixto Bieito is a stunner. No romantic gypsies here, but a bunch of nasty crooks who don’t bother to tie up Zuniga when he appears in Act II, but simply kick the hell out of him behind their Mercedes. And in Act III after Micaëla, beautifully sung by Elizabeth Llewellyn, …

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The Pilgrim’s Progress, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, November 2012

John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, was imprisoned in the early 1660s for abstaining from Anglican church services and preaching at unlawful meetings — such things being no longer the vogue they were round the campfires of Cromwell’s army — and this opera starts with him in prison. There he dreams, and we follow …

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Don Giovanni, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2012

The revival of this production by Rufus Norris has a cast very similar to its opening run in 2010 and works rather well this time. Paul Anderson’s excellent lighting helps create a sense of dark forces at work, and is particularly effective in Act II for the scene featuring Donna Elvira, and again towards the end …

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Magic Flute, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, September 2012

This powerful and illuminating production by Nicholas Hytner may be seeing its last outing after twenty-five years in the repertoire, so don’t miss this ‘final’ revival. The new cast, with young conductor Nicholas Collon making his ENO debut, did a super job. For me the star of the show was Duncan Rock, who recently made …

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Peter Grimes, in concert, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, August 2012

For those who saw English National Opera’s new production of Peter Grimes in 2009, here was a chance to savour the full glory of Britten’s score. With the ENO orchestra and chorus in the vast expanse of the Albert Hall under brilliant direction by Edward Gardner, this was a musical treat. As Grimes himself, Stuart Skelton gave a …

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Il Viaggio a Reims, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, July 2012

This anniversary gala concert united Jette Parker Young Artists with several earlier performers from that programme who have since gone on to international careers, and Il Viaggio a Reims (The Journey to Rheims) was the perfect piece to bring them together. Written by Rossini to celebrate the coronation of Charles X in 1825, it all takes place at a spa hotel, where …

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Madam Butterfly, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2012

Anthony Minghella died four years ago, but his wonderful English National Opera production of Madam Butterfly lives on. Created in 2005 it attracted huge acclaim and won the Olivier Award for best new opera production. Those who attend live relays from the Metropolitan Opera in New York may have seen it in the cinema in 2009, but it’s better in …

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English National Opera, ENO, Season 2012/2013

The English National Opera have announced season 2012/13, which includes nine new productions. This puts them on track to continue the success that won the Olivier individual achievement Award in 2012. Among the new productions are two new commissions: The Sunken Garden by Dutch composer, film and stage director Michel van der Aa (an “occult mystery film opera”, exploring “hoax …

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Jakob Lenz, English National Opera, ENO, Hampstead Theatre, April 2012

It’s not often you see the main performer in an opera fall into deep water on stage. In fact I’m sure I’ve never seen such a thing before, and this was not metaphorical water. It was the real thing, and Andrew Shore gave a remarkable performance as the eponymous character. Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz was …

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The Death of Klinghoffer, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2012

This opera has sparked controversy at its first staging in London. Why? The essential story is that in 1985 an Italian cruise ship at dock in Alexandria was hijacked by four Palestinian terrorists, who seem to have had a confused idea about freeing prisoners in Israeli jails. Many of the people on the cruise were away …

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Tales of Hoffmann — a second view, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2012

This was a second visit to the English National Opera’s new production of Hoffmann, a joint venture with the Bavarian State Opera. The cast was identical — see my previous review for more details — and once again, Georgia Jarman gave a remarkable performance as all three lovers: Olympia, Antonia, and Giulietta, along with the silent role of Stella …

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Der Rosenkavalier, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, January 2012

For those who love this Strauss/Hofmannsthal collaboration, the programme booklet contains an interesting essay by Mike Reynolds, describing the vital contributions by Hofmannsthal’s collaborator, Count Harry Kessler. This well-connected and talented man, who was brought up in France, England and Germany, chose the plot and had a huge influence on its structure and realisation. The …

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Castor and Pollux, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2011

Originally composed in 1737 this opera was revised in 1754 and subsequently became Rameau’s most popular. Castor and Pollux are brothers, the former mortal, the latter immortal, and the start of the story is roughly that Castor is adored by Phoebe and her sister Telaira, who is betrothed to Pollux. He gives her up so …

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The Marriage of Figaro, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2011

Roland Wood acted the part as if he were Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey with a wonderful singing voice and hormones running riot, even tearing a doll to pieces in Act III. Forget the TV series — go to the opera.

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The Passenger, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, September 2011

A ship bound for South America in the early 1960s is taking a German diplomat and his wife Liese to a post in Brazil. Steep stairways connect the upper deck of the ship to the hell of 1940s Auschwitz below. Nearly twenty years after the Second World War a guard and a prisoner of the …

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The Elixir of Love, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, September 2011

A revival of Jonathan Miller’s production of Elixir, set in a diner in small town America, is an excellent way to start the new season. Miller’s production first appeared in early 2010, and the two stars of those performances returned to give us their best: Sarah Tynan as the saucy, sassy Adina, and Andrew Shore as …

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Simon Boccanegra, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, June 2011

At the end of this opera, Boccanegra is finally reconciled with his arch-enemy Jacopo Fiesco, and blesses the marriage of his long lost daughter Amelia with the young Gabriele Adorno, a previously sworn enemy. Now, dying of a slow poison, administered by his right hand man Paolo, he asks Fiesco to make Adorno his successor …

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2011

…if you’re willing to accept a representation of mysterious forces in the otherwise mundane world of human beings, then this is strongly recommended as an intriguing take on Britten’s opera.

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The Damnation of Faust, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2011

This is ostensibly a French opera sung in English, though it’s not really an opera but a légende dramatique by Hector Berlioz — a musical and vocal canvas on which a clever director can paint his own picture. And this is exactly what Terry Gilliam does by turning the whole thing into a history about the rise …

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The Return of Ulysses, English National Opera, ENO, at the Young Vic, March 2011

The return of Odysseus to Ithaca and his faithful wife, Penelope forms the end of the Odyssey, that magnificent epic by Homer. The Latinised version of Odysseus is Ulysses, and this opera by Monteverdi tells of Penelope’s anguish, the shenanigans of her suitors, and the unruly behaviour of some servants. Ulysses returns after twenty years away, …

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Parsifal, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2011

Easter comes late this year but Parsifal is early, and stepping into the warmth of the London Coliseum from a washed-out winter’s day was a treat. As the first bars came out of the orchestra, Mark Wigglesworth’s conducting showed the clarity and quality Wagner’s music demands, and sent tingles down my spine.

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Lucrezia Borgia, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2011

A mother’s anger leads unintentionally to the death of her adored illegitimate son. Shades of Verdi’s Rigoletto here, where a father’s anger leads to the death of his beloved daughter, but there are strong differences. Where Rigoletto is a physically ugly man with a hunchback, Lucrezia Borgia is a beautiful woman, now in her early forties. …

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A Dog’s Heart, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, November 2010

The production by Simon McBurney is riveting. There is perpetual action and movement without in any way detracting or distracting from the music, and the puppetry by the Blind Summit Theatre is excellent.

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Don Giovanni, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, November 2010

This production by Rufus Norris with sets by Ian MacNeil had some nice aspects … but the plethora of good ideas was all a bit too much for me.

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La Bohème, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, October 2010

… Mimi herself was the star of the show, gloriously sung by Elizabeth Llewellyn, making her ENO debut.

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Radamisto, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, October 2010

On 27th April 1720, a month before his sixtieth birthday, King George I attended the opera with his son the Prince of Wales. They’d only recently reunited after not speaking to another for three years, so this was just the right opera to see.

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The Makropulos Case, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, September 2010

Emilia Marty, Ellian MacGregor, Eugenia Montez, Elsa Müller, Ekatěrina Myškin, all E.M., just like her original name Elina Makropulos. This beautiful woman, born in Crete to Hieronymos Makropulos, is now 339 years old but has not aged since she was 39.

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Faust, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, September 2010

Overall some lovely singing from Toby Spence and Melody Moore, but I left feeling underwhelmed.

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Idomeneo, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, June 2010

… The music is wonderfully expressive of the conflicting emotions, and was superbly conducted by Edward Gardner …

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The Pearl Fishers, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, June 2010

Penny Woolcock’s fine production, with sets and costumes by Dick Bird and Kevin Pollard, gave a beautiful context for the story. As soon as the first bars of the prelude come from the orchestra we are treated to pearl divers sweeping down to the seabed through clear blue waters …

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Tosca, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, May 2010

this production by Catherine Malfitano is, if I can put it this way, a singers’ production. It’s produced by a singer who fully understands the nuances of the characters and their interactions, and it allows the performers to give their best, which they certainly do.

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Katya Kabanova, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, March 2010

… this dark and theatrically powerful opera is a must-see, and you would have to go a long way to find better singing or conducting — they were both virtually unbeatable.

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Satyagraha, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, February 2010

The production … has a rather ethereal quality, and as a friend of mine said, “I was left humming peaceful thoughts all the way home”.

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The Elixir of Love, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, February 2010

… Sarah Tynan singing beautifully as a charmingly shrewd Adina …

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Lucia di Lammermoor, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, February 2010

Altogether, David Alden has created a particularly malicious take on the story, and it works.

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Bluebeard’s Castle, and Rite of Spring, ENO, London Coliseum, November 2009

Clive Bayley sang an autistic and threatening Bluebeard, with Michaela Martens as a powerful Judith.

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The Turn of the Screw, ENO, English National Opera, October 2009

With thirteen musicians in the pit, under the direction of Charles Makerras, the musical rendering could not be better

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Rigoletto, ENO, English National Opera, September 2009

The jester, named Triboulet in Hugo’s play, becomes Rigoletto in the opera, and is surely one of Verdi’s great creations, sung here by Anthony Michaels-Moore, who played him with enormous sensitivity.

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Le Grand Macabre, ENO, English National Opera, September 2009

This musical work by Ligeti (1923–2006) is related to opera rather in the way a painting by Hieronymus Bosch is related to a landscape.

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Review — L’Amour de loin, English National Opera, London Coliseum, July 2009

…based on a love poem by a famous troubadour from 12th century Aquitaine … a period when troubadours sang in the Provençal language of amor de lonh (distant love),

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Peter Grimes, English National Opera, London Coliseum, May 2009

…what really drove Britten’s masterpiece home was Stuart Skelton [as Grimes], Felicity Palmer [as Mrs. Sedley], the chorus, and the conductor Edward Gardner.

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Magic Flute, English National Opera, January 2009

The star of the show was Roderick Williams as a wonderfully engaging Papageno in superb voice.

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