UK Premiere of ‘Little Women’ at Opera Holland Park

‘Little Women’ at Opera Holland Park 2022.  Back stage, Harry Thatcher and Kitty Whately as John Brooke and Meg March. Front stage, Frederick Jones and Charlotte Badham as Laurie and Jo March. Sisterly love has rarely been treated in opera, or in the arts in general, with the exception of Chekhov’s plays. Mark Adamo, composer…

Thrilling Staging of Puccini’s Le Villi at Opera Holland Park

Every year Opera Holland Park presents a new double bill of short opera. It’s a neat endeavour as it introduces audiences to opera that might not otherwise have seen the light of performance. In the hands of new creatives, singers and musicians, the bite-size works, lasting no more than forty-five minutes, give interesting insights into…

Young Artists provide a compelling Onegin at Opera Holland Park

Opera Holland Park has been mentoring young singers and conductors for a decade now and its efforts to nurture burgeoning talent continue to bear fruit.  Young Artists performing Tchaikovsky’s Onegin impressed this week, the principal singers providing intriguing insights into the roles of Tatiana, Olga, Lensky and Onegin. Rory Musgrave’s Onegin in particular drew attention. For his…

Inspired Casting for Opera Holland Park’s ‘Onegin’

When Eugene Onegin premiered in Moscow in 1879, Tchaikovksy was aware of the weight of expectation around his new opera which had been directly inspired by Alexander Pushkin’s epic poem of the same title. Pushkin was Russia’s Shakespeare – a god. Would his dramatisation of Pushkin’s masterpiece come off well? Pushkin was long gone by then, having…

Handmaid’s Tale – Opera For Our Time

When Margaret Atwood’s published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985 it caused a stir. In the author’s dystopian novel, young women who have transgressed the societal rules of authoritarian republic Gilead, are sentenced to spend the rest of their child-bearing years producing offspring for childless couples.  You don’t need to look very far to understand where Canadian Atwood got her…

Body horror: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, at English National Opera

This icy, subtle production presents Margaret Atwood’s terrifying vision with a clear-sighted, almost detached precision. Poul Ruders’s score gets under your skin, amping up the tension as events come to a head, while the heart-breaking performances relentlessly deal the emotional blows. Opera as commentary, catharsis and conscience: brilliantly done. * ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ the opera,…

Così Fan Tutte in Coney Island: All the Fun of the Fair with Dazzling Mozart Score

Così Fan Tutte is arguably one of the world’s most loved operas.  Librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte and Mozart chart the emotional journey of two couples; Fiordiligi and Ferrando, Dorabella (Fiordiligi’s sister) and Guglielmo. They are engaged to be married and still have everything to learn about love. Don Alfonso, self-made philosopher, bets with the two fiancés, that…

Countertenor Orliński embraces film with Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater

On a wet February evening, I attend a cinematic event at London’s Soho Hotel. Countertenor, Jakub Jósef Orliński, fresh from his successes at the Royal Opera, is starring in a film of Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater. In the screening theatre, Orliński sits in the front row with an audience of journos, prs, record company execs behind him. …

ENO Riding High with Wagner’s Valkyrie

Opening night at the English National Opera’s Valkyrie and the auditorium was full. The excitement was palpable and understandable – it was ENO’s first stab at Wagner in fifteen years. I was thrilled to be able to attend such a landmark event and all credit to ENO for going ahead with the Valkyrie project. Wagner operas are a rarity in…

Climbing the walls: ‘Jenůfa’, Royal Opera House

Perhaps it’s appropriate that the first opera I’ve seen at Covent Garden since lockdown is this unflinching depiction of confinement and familial dysfunction, Claus Guth’s new staging of Janáček’s masterpiece, ‘Jenůfa’. (Please beware spoilers in this piece – I’ll be roaming around the entirety of the plot, the better to discuss the production.) The drama…