Nabucco, Royal Opera, January 2022

The eponymous character in Verdi’s third opera Nabucco is Nebuchadnezzar II, mighty king of Babylon. The opera calls for a colourful production, but without the slightest nod to Byron’s imagery about the Babylonian ‘cohorts gleaming in purple and gold’, here was a mid-twentieth century, third-rate dictatorship, with bare-chested guards in braces toting AK-47s. See my review …

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Tosca, Royal Opera, December 2021

This performance by the Royal Opera’s ‘B Cast’, Anna Pirozzi (Tosca), Freddie de Tommaso (Cavaradossi) and Claudio Sgura (Scarpia), showed them to be a serious A Team, with singing at its finest, characterisation at its most convincing, and musical performance at its greatest intensity under the baton of Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv. See my review …

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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 …

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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