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…

Young artists bring fresh insights to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro

  Opera Holland Park has been nurturing new talent for a good many years with its Young Artists Scheme. To mark its tenth anniversary year, alumni, Nardus Williams, Julian Van Mellaerts and Elizabeth Karani, are singing leading roles in OHP’s The Marriage of Figaro.  On the night of the 14th June it was the turn of the…

Opera is back at Holland Park

This OHP production is highly recommended. Ticket returns are available if you sign up for an alert system, but I strongly urge you to try or call box office direct. On the evening I was present, filming was taking place of Marriage of Figaro so here’s hoping that plenty of others have access to this remarkable production.

‘Owen Wingrave’. A Family at War

For its Interim Season, Grange Park Opera is offering several new filmed operas to the public. Owen Wingrave, filmed in September of this year, is a rarely performed work by Benjamin Britten and was originally conceived as a TV opera. It was broadcast on BBC2 in 1971. For this reason alone I was very curious to see it.  For…

Lustrous line-up of singers for ENO’s Luisa Miller

Verdi is a fascinating composer. His musical output was phenomenal and he managed to notch up twenty-five operas during a long and largely successful career. He was long-living too, dying at the grand old age of eighty-seven. It’s quite an achievement when you think how many composers, worn out from the effort of composing and…