Richard Bratby

In defence of the earworm

4 December 2021 9:00 am

That strain again… it’s the morning after the concert and one tune is still there, playing in the head upon…

40 per cent sublime, 60 per cent ridiculous: ENO's The Valkyrie reviewed

27 November 2021 9:00 am

It’s the final scene of The Valkyrie and Wotan is wearing cords. They’re a sensible choice for a hard-working deity:…

Hockney’s Rake’s Progress remains one of the supreme achievements

20 November 2021 9:00 am

With Glyndebourne’s The Rake’s Progress, the show starts with David Hockney’s front cloth. The colour, the ingenuity, the visual bravura:…

This is how G&S should be staged: ENO's HMS Pinafore reviewed

6 November 2021 9:00 am

Until 1881, HMS Pinafore was the second-longest-running show in West End history. Within a year of its première it had…

Very much NSFW: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet/Quatuor Danel at Wigmore Hall reviewed

30 October 2021 9:00 am

‘Drammatico’, wrote César Franck over the opening of his Piano Quintet, and you’d better believe he meant it. The score…

Small but perfectly formed: the Royal College of Music Museum reopening reviewed

30 October 2021 9:00 am

Haydn is looking well — in fact, he’s positively glowing. The dignified pose; the modest, intelligent smile: it’s only when…

We'll be talking about Royal Opera's Jenufa two decades from now

16 October 2021 9:00 am

Leos Janacek cared about words. He’d hang about central Brno, notebook in hand, eavesdropping on conversations and trying to capture…

Hits you where it hurts: Welsh National Opera's Madam Butterfly reviewed

9 October 2021 9:00 am

‘It’s generally agreed that in contemporary practice, this opera proposes significant ethical and cultural problems,’ says the director Lindy Hume…

See it while it’s still hot: Royal Opera's Rigoletto reviewed

2 October 2021 9:00 am

In Oliver Mears’s new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, the curtain rises on a work of art. The stage is in…

A terrific night of opera: Zanetto/Orfeo ed Euridice, Arcola Theatre, reviewed

18 September 2021 9:00 am

For a one-hit composer, we hear rather a lot of Pietro Mascagni. His reputation rests on his 1890 debut Cavalleria…

Opera della Luna is a little miracle: Curtain Raisers at Wilton’s Music Hall reviewed

11 September 2021 9:00 am

Arthur Sullivan knew better than to mess with a winning formula. ‘Cox and Box, based on J. Maddison Morton’s farce…

Exuberance and class: Ariadne auf Naxos at Edinburgh International Festival reviewed

4 September 2021 9:00 am

For some reason, I’d got it into my head that the main work in the Gringolts Quartet’s midday recital at…

The central performances are tremendous: Glyndebourne's Luisa Miller, reviewed

28 August 2021 9:00 am

Opera buffs enjoy their jargon. We all do it, scattering words like ‘spinto’ and ‘Fach’ like an enthusiastic pizza waiter…

Neither Tristan nor Isolde quite convinced: Glyndebourne's Tristan und Isolde reviewed

21 August 2021 9:00 am

Glyndebourne is nothing if not honest. ‘In response to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions our 2021 performances of Tristan und Isolde…

Ecstasy from Birmingham Opera Company: Wagner's RhineGold reviewed

7 August 2021 9:00 am

At the end of Birmingham Opera Company’s RhineGold, as the gods stood ready to enter Valhalla, Donner swung a baseball…

Springtime for Putin: Grange Park's The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko reviewed

31 July 2021 9:00 am

Alexander Litvinenko lies in a London hospital, dying of polonium poisoning. That photograph from 2006 haunts the memory: the medical…

A short history of millionaire composers

24 July 2021 9:00 am

Art is supposed to emerge from poverty but extreme wealth does not preclude talent, as the history of composers proves. By Richard Bratby

Zips along with enormous vim: Malcolm Arnold's The Dancing Master reviewed

24 July 2021 9:00 am

Malcolm Arnold composed his opera The Dancing Master in 1952 for BBC television. It never appeared, the problem being the…

Comedy genius: Garsington Opera's Le Comte Ory reviewed

17 July 2021 9:00 am

Melons. An absolutely cracking pair of melons, right there on a platter: the centrepiece of the banquet that the chaste,…

Wow, this is good: Grange Park Opera's Ivan the Terrible reviewed

3 July 2021 9:00 am

There are worse inconveniences than having to wear a face mask to the opera. But there’s one consequence that hadn’t…

A new concerto draws cheers in Liverpool: RLPO/Hindoyan reviewed

26 June 2021 9:00 am

There was no printed programme for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s first concert under its music director designate Domingo Hindoyan.…

The promoter the critics love to hate: an interview with Raymond Gubbay

19 June 2021 9:00 am

Richard Bratby talks to one of Britain’s most successful impresarios about his promoter’s nose, Arts Council spinelessness and ENO madness

Lush, elegant and vivid: Der Rosenkavalier at Garsington reviewed

12 June 2021 9:00 am

At the turning point of Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Der Rosenkavalier, all the clocks stop. Octavian has arrived…

Hit every auditory G-spot simultaneously: CBSO/Hough/Gardner concert reviewed

29 May 2021 9:00 am

Rejoice: live music is back. Or at least, live music with a live audience, which, as Sir Simon Rattle admitted,…

For fans of neglected, niche and uncool music, lockdown has been a blessing

15 May 2021 9:00 am

When this whole mess is over, there’ll be a shortish MA thesis — or at least a blog post —…