La Clemenza di Tito, BBC Prom 59, Royal Albert Hall, RAH, August 2017

Hearing the overture without the stage trickery of the Glyndebourne production allowed us to fully appreciate the glorious dramatic intensity and lightness of spirit given to Mozart’s music by Robin Ticciati and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The absence of efforts at contemporary relevance by a director — one of the joys of …

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The Damnation of Faust, BBC Prom 31, Royal Albert Hall, RAH, August 2017

Opera at the Proms is one of the glories of the summer season, allowing music and singers to communicate directly, with no director’s vision getting in the way. Two nights ago, Khovanshchina helped lay bare the soul of Russia, and now Berlioz’s magnificent musical evocation on the Faust myth, where the brilliant scholar veers into …

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Khovanshchina, BBC Prom 29, Royal Albert Hall, RAH, August 2017

As an old opera buff once told me, anyone confused by the story line in Khovanshchina should simply treat it as a series of tableaux — wise advice since Mussorgsky telescoped the history of three different uprisings onto a massive musical canvas painted with emotional confrontations, religious fundamentalism, human ambition and a struggle for the …

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Parsifal, Bayreuth Festival, July 2017

In Wagner’s final and most abstract opera, Uwe Eric Laufenberg’s superb production sets the mystical land of the Grail in the Middle East. The exact location appears fleetingly on a map during the Act 1 journey to the Grail ceremony where Gurnemanz explains that space and time become one, which they do at the speed …

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Tristan und Isolde, Bayreuth Festival, July 2017

At the end of Petra Lang’s beautifully sung Liebestod following her glorious performance of Isolde, a loud lonely boo broke the magic of this sublimely sung performance under the baton of Christian Thielemann. This was no criticism of Ms Lang nor Mr Thielemann, but a clearly premeditated, and hugely ill-mannered, expression of one person’s anger …

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Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Bayreuth Festival, July 2017

Wagner’s Nuremberg is a city of trials: Walther’s trial by the Mastersingers in Act 1, Beckmesser’s trial by Sachs as he delivers his serenade in Act 2, and their separate trials by the people in Act 3. Yet fifty years after Wagner’s death, Hitler took power and Nuremberg became the venue for those post-war Nazi …

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Mosè in Egitto, Bregenzer Festspiele, July 2017

This 1818 Rossini opera about the Hebrew Exodus involves a love affair between the Pharaoh’s son Osiride and a Hebrew girl called Elcia. Moses’ attempts to lead his people out of captivity are opposed by Osiride, who is unwilling to lose Elcia, and after numerous emotional conflicts the opera ends with the crossing of the …

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Carmen, Bregenz lake-stage, July 2017

The opening night of the Bregenz Festival saw a spectacular production of Carmen in the pouring rain. The performers got soaked, but no matter because Carmen escapes at the end of Act I by leaping into the lake, and in the final moments Don Jose drowns her — see my review in the Telegraph on …

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Don Pasquale, Glyndebourne, GFO, July 2017

What a pleasure to see Mariam Clément’s 2013 Festival production revived. On its revolving stage, split into three rooms, we see the charming Dr. Malatesta of Moldovan baritone Andrey Zhilikhovsky flitting like a spirit at the start of the performance. Malatesta is the soul of this opera, a Figaro-like character whose deceptions are the essence …

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Lucio Silla, Buxton Festival, BIF, July 2017

In true eighteenth century operatic fashion this presents a conflict between power and love, embodied in Lucio Silla (Lucius Cornelius Sulla) a Roman Consul and dictator during the early first century BC. The plot centres on the faithful love between Giunia and Cecilio, despite Silla’s attempts to win Giunia for himself. Lucio Cinna (Lucius Cornelius …

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