Hipermestra, Glyndebourne, May 2017

Fifty brides for fifty brothers, each to be murdered by his wife on their wedding night, is a story that emerges from Greek mythology — a rich source of material for the first opera composers, including Monteverdi’s student Cavalli who composed this work. Hipermestra is based on the myth of Danaus (Danao) and his twin …

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Royal Ballet Mixed Bill: The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude/ Tarantella/ Strapless/ Symphonic Dances, ROH, Covent Garden, May 2017

The main focus of this mixed bill is its final item, Liam Scarlett’s new work to Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances. The abundant melody of this 1940 composition allows ideas to emerge in and around each other, skilfully expressed in Scarlett’s choreography. For the forces of nature in this music, brilliantly conducted by Koen Kessels, Scarlett and …

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Don Carlo, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, May 2017

That great playwright Schiller did not let historical facts get in the way of a good story, and his Don Karlos is a gripping stage tragedy. Traducung the close and loving relationship between Philip II and his third wife Elizabeth de Valois, step-mother to Don Carlo, it was perfect for Verdi, who added elements of …

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Mayerling, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2017

In January 1889, fifty years into the reign of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, his son and heir Crown Prince Rudolf died in an apparent suicide pact at the Mayerling hunting lodge with his new mistress Mary Vetsera. In late 1916 Franz Joseph’s death after a reign of 68 years ended an era wonderfully brought to …

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The Exterminating Angel, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2017

Thomas Adès’ previous opera The Tempest, set on Prospero’s mysterious island, finds a counterpoint here in the ostensibly mundane setting of an elegant dinner party — but all is not as it seems. Both operas feature very high soprano roles, Ariel in the Tempest and three of the ladies in Angel, again with the idea of …

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Die Frau ohne Schatten, Staatsoper Berlin, Festtage, Schiller Theater, April 2017

This marvellous Claus Guth production, first staged at La Scala in 2012, and at Covent Garden three years ago, has now found its way to Berlin under the baton of Zubin Mehta, who produced a terrific performance of Richard Strauss’s score, with its combination of gentle chamber episodes with mighty moments of emotional transformation. Despite …

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Parsifal, Staatsoper Berlin, Festtage, Schiller Theater, April 2017

This year’s Festival opened with a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic under Barenboim: Mozart’s Haffner and Jupiter symphonies were given powerful lyricism, and Schönberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1 wonderful chromatic pulsation. To follow this, Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle fully brought out the emotional depths of Wagner’s Parsifal in Dmitri Tcherniakov’s intriguing production from the …

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Jewels, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2017

On the back of the cast list is an ad for jewellers Van Cleef and Arpels, who though failing to bankroll Balanchine’s original production, are delighted to have their name associated with the eventual result: Emeralds to Fauré’s incidental music for Pelleas and Melisande; Rubies to Stravinsky’s Capriccio for piano and orchestra; and Diamonds to …

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Aroldo, UC Opera, UCL, Theatre Royal Stratford East, March 2017

Verdi’s Aroldo is a later adaptation of his Stiffelio about a Protestant pastor who eventually forgives his wife’s adultery. This priest’s tale was not easy one for Italian audiences, and following the huge success of Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata, Verdi wanted to recreate the opera in a different setting. His librettist Piave turned …

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Royal Ballet Triple: The Human Seasons/ After the Rain/ Flight Pattern, ROH, March 2017

This wonderful triple bill of modern ballets sees revivals of two very successful works and a new ballet by Crystal Pite, all superbly conducted by Koen Kessels. First came David Dawson’s Human Seasons, inspired by Keats’s poem that refers to human life in terms of its spring, summer, autumn and winter. Dawson refers to a …

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