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 >


Litvinenko, Grange Park Opera, July 2021

Congratulations to Grange Park Opera for this remarkable opera on the life and death of Alexander Litvinenko, murdered in London by the Russian regime using Polonium (which attacks vital parts of the body). He died in hospital, and this infamous story has been converted into an opera with a libretto by Kit Hesketh-Harvey and music …

Read more >


King Lear, Grange Festival, July 2021

This was a Lear of extraordinary power and depth, performed not by Shakespearean actors but opera singers. With Emma Bell as Lear’s daughter Regan, Kim Begley as the Fool, Thomas Allen as Gloucester, and John Tomlinson as Lear it delves deeply into what lies behind the surface of power. See my review in The Article.

Read more >


The Enchanted Pig, Buxton Festival, July 2021

This Jonathan Dove opera is based on a fairy tale. A young woman named Flora must use the power of love to break a spell on the husband chosen for her by fate. He has been turned into a pig, and the antidote to this enchantment is true love. But it involves a journey via …

Read more >


The Dancing Master, Buxton Festival, July 2021

Matthew Arnold was a highly talented composer let down by his mental health and a predilection for drink. This opera followed a previously abandoned collaboration on a great opera to rival both Boris Godunov and Otello, with the same librettist, but this time they went to the opposite extreme, turning a Restoration comedy into a …

Read more >


Ivan the Terrible, Grange Park Opera, June 2021

Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera, often called The Maid of Pskov, gives a human insight to Ivan IV (the ‘Terrible’) who encounters a young woman in Pskov (near the Latvian-Estonian border) he realises is his own daughter. She has no idea he is her real father, and will never find out as she is shot in the confusion …

Read more >