“Three Decembers is the finest modern opera that I have seen.” So wrote Chicago reviewer Tom Williams, having seen its premiere in 2008, and I can do no more than concur! Jake Heggie is an American composer, born in 1961, whose style is very approachable: romantic with broad, sweeping melodies: theatrical but never outstaying its welcome. Originally slated to be a commercial two-act “music theatre” production with lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, based on an unpublished play Some Christmas … [Read more...]
Reviews of Opera in London's West End and Off-West End
London puts on some fabulous opera, whether at iconic venues such as the Royal Opera House, London Coliseum or smaller, more intimate venues. Read one of the latest reviews or use the search button to find and view one of our previous reviews. We use a star rating system on our site.
Faust, Alberta – Opera by Simone Spagnolo
Faust Alberta is the second Time Zone production by Pamela Schermann at the Bridewell Theatre in the “Opera in the City” festival following the excellent Orfeo and Euridice. It is an original work by the composer Simone Spagnolo and this was its world premiere. A “Nameless Man” is in a remote cabin surrounded by frozen snowfields. He is not identified even to himself. The music is initially eerie – tonal and melodic but subtle and understated. The Man is indulging in self-analysis and a search for identity. He feels trapped and seeks an explanation. The musical rhythms strengthen to reinforce his existential dilemma and we become aware that this is to be an operatic monologue with some spoken words but mostly sung.
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Rimsky-Korsakov’s delightful but rarely performed final opera, The Golden Cockerel, containing some of the most gorgeously melodious music you will ever hear, is being toured to theatres in England that do not often host opera during the next three months, as a companion piece to La Boheme. Based on an 1834 tale by Pushkin, it satirizes politicians and in particular the role of the Tsar, in Russian society of the time. In 1905 Rimsky had openly supported student protests in St Petersburg … [Read more...]
There are tribute acts (which I avoid like the plague) and there are acts that pay tribute and thankfully An Evening Without Kate Bush is the latter. Sarah-Louise Young obviously loves her subject - she must do as she even performed as Kate Bush when she was thirteen in her school talent show even though her Miss Jean Brodie like teacher stopped her mid-flow tutting that a young girl in a unitard was in very poor taste. Now a few years later, Young gets her revenge on her prim and proper teacher … [Read more...]
Marquee TV is a subscription streaming service, enabling you to watch arts programmes of all sorts either on your laptop, tablet or, using an app, your television, for less than £9 per month. My introduction to this service was Puccini’s 1904 melodramatic opera Madama Butterfly in a production recorded at Glyndebourne in 2018. As someone who rarely watches opera, plays or ballet online, preferring the ‘live’ experience, I have to say that I was very impressed with the clarity of the picture … [Read more...]
Another smash hit from WAM! Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) the eighteenth-century superstar of classical music who started composing aged 5, was dead by 35 but had by then written over 600 works including four of the greatest operas of all time: The Marriage of Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787), Cosi fan tutte (1790) and The Magic Flute (1791). The Marriage of Figaro is a comic masterpiece that delights at every turn. It is Four Weddings and a Funeral without the funeral. A cross between A … [Read more...]
It’s no accident that Puccini wrote Madam Butterfly in 1905. Japan had announced itself on the world stage by defeating Russia. It was the first Asian nation to win a war against a modern industrialized power. It was an event that undermined lazy assumptions of white racial superiority. Puccini’s opera can be seen as a landmark in the dialogue between 'the West' and Japan. However, it was to be America, not Russia that proved most influential in shaping modern Japan. Puccini captures this macro … [Read more...]
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) is one of the greats of Italian opera. Best known for Aida and as the composer of the dramatic music for The X Factor. Translated into English his name is Joseph Green. He is the man who sexed up opera. Bringing in adultery, rape, prostitution and violence. Searching for a vehicle that would allow him to explore the power struggles within society on the domestic level Verdi hit upon the idea of adapting Schiller’s play Intrigue and Love (1874). This had the added … [Read more...]