Nutcracker, Royal Ballet, November 2021

The genesis of Tchaikovsky’s ballet Nutcracker is due to Ivan Vsevolozhsky, director of the Imperial Russian Theatres, who persuaded Marius Petipa to create a scenario. The composer had reservations, since it could not fully represent the magical realism of the E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story, but the Royal Ballet’s version cleverly frames it in a way that respects …

Read more >


The Valkyrie (Die Walküre), English National Opera, November 2021

The first glimpse of what will be Richard Jones’ new production of Wagner’s Ring, for the English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, shows some intriguing imagery. Rheingold will appear in the 2021/22 season, with Siegfried and Götterämmerung in 2024 and 2025. See my review of Valkyrie in The Article.

Read more >


Macbeth, Royal Opera, November 2021

This latest revival of Verdi’s Macbeth is superb, with Anna Pirozzi as a hugely powerful and mendacious Lady Macbeth. The golden cage in which Macbeth and his wife live after murdering King Duncan is physically represented on stage, and Macbeth finds himself impaled on its bars at the end. See my review in The Article.

Read more >


Ring without Words (Wagner), Four Last Songs (R. Strauss), RFH, November 2021

In 1987 conductor Lorin Maazel created a 70-minute orchestral arrangement of music from Wagner’s Ring, beautifully played here by the Philharmonia Orchestra under their new young principal conductor Santtu. It was preceded by the Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss, sung by Miah Persson — see my review in The Article.

Read more >


HMS Pinafore, ENO, October 2021

Gilbert and Sullivan work their magic, encouraging us to laugh at pomposity and mock the system that allows inadequate fools to ascend the heights of power and respect. This production by Cal McCrystal was a lively affair, despite underwhelming singing. My review in The Article.

Read more >


Jenufa, Royal Opera, September 2021

This new production by Claus Guth abstracts the story from its village setting, draws you in, and by Act 3 packs a terrific emotional punch under the excellent baton of Henrik Nánási. In the earlier production last seen twenty years ago, Karita Mattila was Jenufa herself but is now a superb Kostelnička, with Asmik Grigorian …

Read more >


Rigoletto, Royal Opera, September 2021

A magnificent start to the new season and full reopening of the Royal Opera after the Covid closure. This new production by Artistic Director Oliver Mears really hits the nail on the head, and portrays the Duke as a very nasty piece of work, rather than a mere libertine. Superb conducting by Antonio Pappano, and …

Read more >


Alcina, Grimeborn, August 2021

This is the last of three operas Handel took from the Italian poet Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. It involves a sorceress named Alcina who, like Circe in Homer’s Odyssey, transforms any visiting man into a wild beast or even a force of nature. He composed it for his first season at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden,  and …

Read more >


Tristan und Isolde, Glyndebourne, August 2021

A superb musical rendering of Wagner’s most intense opera under the baton of Robin Ticciati. This was semi-staged and therefore avoided any egregious directorial interpretations, and allowed the music speak for itself. Excellent singing by a very fine cast headed by Simon O’Neill as Tristan. See my review in The Article.

Read more >


Luisa Miller, Glyndebourne, August 2021

Based on Schiller’s play Kabale und Liebe (Intrigue and Love) this opera deals with the machinations of a local aristocracy on a father and his daughter. The Count seeks to thwart the marriage of his son to the honest Luisa since he has a better match for him. The Count himself got his position though …

Read more >