The Mikado is England’s best comic opera. A masterpiece of whimsy, satire, silliness and jollity. If you wanted a definition of Englishness in all its surreal glory then The Mikado is it. Part farce, part romantic comedy it is totally captivating. It takes you out of yourself and transports you to a world of fantasy and comic joy. It’s like reading Evelyn Waugh’s … [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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The road from Opera with a capital O to the musicals which dominate the West End goes via Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880). He injected fun, satire and transgressive innovations into musical theatre that opened up the form and broke down barriers and boundaries. His so called operettas are stepping stones on the way to the musical. For me they are liberating and joyful. … [Read more...]
Opera has long been seen, rightly or wrongly, as a high brow form of theatre and this perception alone is enough to put many people off going. Cue Opera’r Ddraig, a Welsh opera company who take classic operas and adapt them to Welsh settings. Their latest adaptation sets Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore on Barry Island, probably most famous for its links to Gavin and … [Read more...]
Imagine sitting in a village Community Centre with no stage, just a flat floor, no complex lighting rig, no set to speak of and no orchestra, just one piano, watching what quickly proved to be a totally involving and ultimately very moving production of Puccini’s La Boheme. That is what I had the good fortune to be doing thanks to Opera Holloway, a small-scale touring … [Read more...]
Vivaldi’s four violin concerti depicting Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, which we know collectively as ‘The Four Seasons’ are probably some of the most well-known music composed in the early eighteenth century. Pamela Schermann, the director, had the idea of performing them using five-string players and what sounded like an electric piano, breaking up the sequence … [Read more...]
The Oxford English Dictionary gives the word ‘quixotic’ (derived from that most legendary man from La Mancha) two almost opposing definitions. The Don Quixote persona who is a figment of Alonso Quijana’s imagination can be lauded as ‘extremely idealistic’ or condemned as ‘unrealistic and impractical’. So too, can director Lonny Price’s and producers Michael Linnit and … [Read more...]
Man of La Mancha, the 1965 musical version of the sixteenth century Spanish novelist Cervantes’ story of Don Quixote, who imagines he is a mediaeval knight errant, has not been seen in London’s West End since 1969, so this new English National Opera production has been one of the hottest tickets in London this Spring. Musically, it is superb, in no small part owing … [Read more...]
Pegasus Opera Company working in collaboration with Hagemann-Rosenthal Associates presents Shaw goes Wilde: comprising of two one-act operas based on Bernard Shaw's The Music Cure and Oscar Wilde's The Nightingale and the Rose. Performed in the newly opened Susie Sainsbury Theatre in the Royal Academy of Music. A state of the art theatre boasting amazing acoustics, … [Read more...]
It’s unmistakably Georges Bizet’s Carmen, as the overture and the piano introductions to the opera numbers keep reminding the audience. The anomaly of traditional productions being a French opera set in Spain but sung in Italian (or indeed in English) is commented on in this contemporary makeover, if only as a vehicle to keep in the Toreador Song, perhaps one of the … [Read more...]