The Nose, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, October 2016

They say it’s not over until the fat lady sings, but in this case the final moment is the sneeze, which for a man who lost his nose is the true test of recovery. It all starts with the sound of the wonderful John Tomlinson as the barber sharpening his razor on a leather strap. …

Read more >


Pearl Fishers, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2016

Penny Woolcock’s visually stunning production, seen at the Metropolitan Opera in New York within the past year and now on its second ENO revival, has seen changes since the 2010 premiere. Less emphasis is given to the influence of the modern world on ancient Hindu society in this traditional fishing village, where Dick Bird’s sets …

Read more >


Ulysses’ Homecoming, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, October 2016

The text for this 1640 opera was written specially to attract the 73-year old Monteverdi to Venice, where opera had gone public for the first time just three years earlier. It is a remarkable work based on the second half of Homer’s Odyssey, starting with the Phaecians taking the hero back to Ithaca after 20 …

Read more >


La Calisto, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, October 2016

This 1651 opera by Venetian composer Francesco Cavalli (1602–76), based on a story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, concerns a nymph called Calisto (‘most beautiful’ in Greek), lusted after by Jupiter who disguises himself as her mistress Diana in order to woo her. Diana herself is secretly drawn to one of her admirers, the youth Endymion, setting …

Read more >


Tosca, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2016

This second revival of Catherine Malfitano’s powerful production, with its massive sets for the first two acts and surreal night sky for the pre-dawn execution of Act III, makes the perfect follow-up to last Friday’s excellent season opening — Richard Jones’s intriguing take on Don Giovanni. This allows the blood and passion of Puccini’s masterpiece …

Read more >


Don Giovanni, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2016

The Don is dead. Long live the Don. Such is the message of this new ENO production by Richard Jones where the Don personifies a force of nature on which women can hang their fantasies. It all starts during the overture where we see Giovanni taking innumerable women through a door guarded by Leporello, and …

Read more >


Kiss Me Kate, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, September 2016

The musical performance, singing and choreography in this fizzing five-star production of Cole Porter’s great musical should have you clapping, laughing and cheering. First created for Opera North last year, the colourful staging by Jo Davies seamlessly unifies classical opera singers with musical theatre artists, and David Charles Abell’s superb recreation of the original music …

Read more >


La Fille mal gardée, with Morera and Muntagirov, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, September 2016

The setting of this ‘late-summer’ ballet with its wealthy farmer, hay bales and young peasants makes a great season opener, with Morera and Muntagirov repeating their excellent Lisa and Colas from April last year. As dawn breaks, Tristan Dyer’s cockerel and his hens opened the performance in fine style, before Morera and Muntagirov’s beautifully gentle …

Read more >


Così fan tutte, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, September 2016

This replacement for Jonathan Miller’s gloriously effective production of Così was a disappointment. The new director Jan Philipp Gloger, whose outré Flying Dutchman I saw at Bayreuth four years ago, was trying too hard to be clever, with a potpourri of ideas centred on the juxtaposition of life and theatre. This started during the overture …

Read more >


Demetrio, Opera Settecento, Cadogan Hall, September 2016

The libretto to Hasse’s Demetrio, by the famous Metastasio who was born and died a year before the composer, is based on real events in the mid-second century BC. In 150 BC Demetrius Soter of the Greek Seleucid dynasty, which controlled most of the Middle East north of Arabia, was defeated in battle by Alexander …

Read more >