Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Madrid, April 2024

A performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with an international cast was enough to attract me to the Teatro Real in Madrid. With Gerald Finley at the top of his game as a sympathetic Hans Sachs of huge gravitas, and a memorable Beckmesser in Leigh Melrose this was a moving performance. See my review …

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Lucia di Lammermoor, Royal Opera, April 2024

Musically stunning. This was a great performance of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. The orchestra, the singers, the lighting, and the staging by Katie Mitchell with its split stage has been improved beyond measure since its unpopular inception in 2016. See my review in The Article.

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Carmen, Royal Opera, April 2023

A terrific opening of Covent Garden’s new Carmen. Olga Kulchynska made a seductive gypsy and Piotr Beczala a suitably weak but vocally strong and effortless Don José in this new production by Damiano Michieletto. The lighting beautifully conveyed the light and dark of Bizet’s opera — see my review in The Article.

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Bluebeard’s Castle, English National Opera, March 2024

Several years back the ENO produced Bartok’s wonderful one-act opera in a fine staging, but this semi-staging was more of a concert performance. The musical side was outstanding, and John Relyea gave a superb performance of the title character — see my review for The Article.

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Jenufa, English National Opera, March 2024

This opera marks the beginning of Janáček’s personal style, with a series of five operas in the standard repertoire. The ENO production is excellent, set in the grey times of post WW2 communism, and the orchestral performance was outstanding. See my review in The Article.

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Death in Venice, Welsh National Opera, WNO, March 2024

In Thomas Mann’s novella Der Tod in Venedig (Death in Venice) Gustav von Aschenbach, a great man of literature from Germany dies in the warmth of Southern Europe. Made into an extraordinary opera by Benjamin Britten, the 17 scenes create a sense of inevitability in what can be seen as a Greek tragedy — see …

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Magic Flute, English National Opera, February 2024

This production of Mozart’s Magic Flute really is rather magical. The opera is a Singspiel — meaning a light opera with dialogue — and having it performed in English makes complete sense. The difference between the world of Papageno with his flat working man’s accent and the more superior beings such as Sarastro comes through …

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Flying Dutchman, Royal Opera, March 2024

Wagner’s Flying Dutchman is the first opera in his canon of ten mature works. He claims it was based on a novella by Heinrich Heine, but there is more to the story than that, and this excellent production was made musically gripping under the baton of Hungarian conductor Henrik Nánási, with singers on top form. See …

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The Barber of Seville, English National Opera, February 2024

In her delightfully sung aria una voce poco fa the soprano Rosina shows herself attracted to the voice of a secret admirer. He later reveals himself as Count Almaviva in this wonderful Rossini comic opera. It is based on a plot by Pierre Beaumarchais, following the Italian tradition of Commedia dell’arte, and the ENO did …

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Elektra, Royal Opera, January 2023

Richard Strauss’s Salome is one of the greatest dramatic operas ever written, and in his final season as the Royal Opera’s music director, Antonio Pappano has decided to conduct it. In previous productions he has used it as a means to attract big name conductors, but this time he has decided to take it on …

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