Opera

A coherent evening of real opera: GSMD's Triple Bill reviewed

21 November 2020 9:00 am

Covid has been many things to the arts — most of them unprintable. A plague, a scourge, a disaster from…

A new opera that deserves more than one outing: Royal Opera's New Dark Age reviewed

31 October 2020 9:00 am

It’s quite a title sequence. Puccini swells on the soundtrack and words flash before your eyes. ‘Ecstatic!’ ‘Spellbound!’ ‘Passionate!’ ‘Dazzled!’…

I pounded my car horn like a Neapolitan cabbie: ENO's drive-in Bohème reviewed

26 September 2020 9:00 am

The email from English National Opera was blunt: ‘Your arrival time is 18.25. If you arrive outside your allocated time…

Why imperfect operas like Don Carlo are more interesting than perfect ones

8 August 2020 9:00 am

In the 62 years since I first heard and saw Don Carlo, in the famous and long-lasting production by Visconti…

The best recordings of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges

6 June 2020 9:00 am

‘I don’t want to do my work. I want to go for a walk. I want to eat all the…

No one understood the ennui of lockdown better than Louis XIV and his courtiers

9 May 2020 9:00 am

A few years ago I interviewed an eminent baroque conductor. Prickly and professorial, tired after a day of rehearsals, he…

It costs a lot of money to look this cheap: Metropolitan Opera’s At-Home Gala reviewed

2 May 2020 9:00 am

Desperate times call for desperate measures. With the world’s opera houses currently dark, the New York Metropolitan Opera tackled the…

The musical vaccination we all need against the bleak times ahead: ETO’s Cosi fan tutte reviewed

21 March 2020 9:00 am

Anyone familiar with Joe Hill-Gibbins’s work will brace instinctively when the curtain goes up on his new Figaro. He’s the…

A lost opera from the most powerful musician you’ve never heard of: La ville morte reviewed

14 March 2020 9:00 am

Who was the most influential figure in 20th-century classical music? Stravinsky? Pierre Boulez? What about Bernstein or Britten? John Cage…

Eurotrash Verdi: ENO’s Luisa Miller reviewed

29 February 2020 9:00 am

Verdi’s Luisa Miller is set in the Tyrol in the early 17th century, and for some opera directors that’s a…

Are we going to have to start taking Calixto Bieito seriously? ENO’s Carmen reviewed

15 February 2020 9:00 am

Calixto Bieito’s Carmen: three words to make an opera critic’s heart leap. Until quite recently, Bieito was the operatic provocateur…

More misogynistic than the original: ENO’s Orpheus in the Underworld reviewed

12 October 2019 9:00 am

It’s Act Three of Emma Rice’s new production of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, and Eurydice (Mary Bevan) is trapped…

More Grace Kelly than Grace Jones: Welsh National Opera’s Carmen reviewed

28 September 2019 9:00 am

How do you take your Carmen? Sun-drenched exotic fantasy with a side order of castanets, or cool and gritty, sour…

Why are so many operas by women adaptations of films by men?

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Opera’s line of corpses — bloodied, battered, dumped in a bag — is a long one. Now it can add…

Clare Presland as Susanna in Il segreto di Susanna at Opera Holland Park Image: © Ali Wright

It’s not fair – I liked Il segreto di Susanna before it was cool: OHP’s double bill reviewed

3 August 2019 9:00 am

Should a secret pleasure ever be shared? Spoiler alert: Susanna’s secret, unknown to her husband Gil, is that she smokes.…

An overcooked blowout: Glyndebourne’s Die Zauberflöte reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Think back to when you were 12, and the sensation of re-opening your favourite book. (This is The Spectator; I’m…

Leo Jemison (Miles), Elen Willmer (Flora) and Sophie Bevan (Governess) in The Turn of the Screw at Garsington Opera

Deft, elegant and genuinely chilling: Garsington’s Turn of the Screw reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Think of the children in opera. Not knowing sopranos and mezzos, pigtailed and pinafored or tightly trousered-up to look child-like,…

Saved by the chorus

29 June 2019 9:00 am

We’ve cried wolf with Handel. Ever since the modern trend began for staging the composer’s oratorios we’ve hailed each one…

Can an Offenbach production be too silly? Garsington’s Fantasio reviewed

22 June 2019 9:00 am

The tears of a clown have often fallen on fertile operatic ground. Think of Rigoletto and I Pagliacci; or The…

The ideal summer opera: Garsington’s The Bartered Bride reviewed

8 June 2019 9:00 am

So it’s the start of the summer opera season at Wormsley and we’re sitting there in evening dress in the…

Sun & Sea (Marina), the Golden Lion-winning opera at the Venice Biennale. Photo: © Andrej Vasilenko

If opera survives, it’ll be thanks to artists and curators, not opera houses

25 May 2019 9:00 am

It was bucketing it down in Venice, yet the beach was heaving. Families, lovebirds, warring kids, a yappy mutt, all…

ENO’s Jack the Ripper needs to decide if it wants to be a gore-fest or social history

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Is it possible to write a feminist opera about Jack the Ripper? Composer Iain Bell thinks it is, and his…

Jonas Kaufmann and Anna Netrebko in Royal Opera's La forza del destino. Photo: Bill Cooper

The most glorious singing anyone born after 1970 will ever have heard: La forza del destino reviewed

30 March 2019 9:00 am

To stage Verdi’s Il Trovatore, they say, is easy: you just need the four greatest singers in the world. The…

Fresh and wild: Chrystal E. Williams as Lady Macbeth and Brenden Gunnell as Seryozha in Graham Vick’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

Raw, frightening, overwhelming: Birmingham Opera’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk reviewed

23 March 2019 9:00 am

You can see Graham Vick’s work at La Scala or the New York Met. But if you want to be…

Deft humour and daft imagery: WNO’s Magic Flute reviewed

16 March 2019 9:00 am

Operas are like buses. Both are filled with pensioners and take ages to get anywhere, but more importantly they always…