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

  Verdi is a fascinating composer. He notched up twenty-five operas during his long and largely successful career and also managed to live to 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 staging operas, suffered poor health and died…

A Darker Setting for Carmen at the Coliseum

  Carmen at ENO Bizet’s Carmen has probably been the world’s most performed opera since it premiered at the L’Opéra Comique in Paris in 1875. Scroll up to 2020 and opera houses and directors worldwide are still trying to come up with ways of injecting new life into Bizet’s rich score. Carmen’s hits, have been…

An Electrifying ‘Mask of Orpheus’ at ENO

  Aerialists, Matthew Smith (Orpheus Hero) and Alfa Marks (Eurydice Hero)   Commissioned by ENO, The Mask of Orpheus, caused quite a stir, when it premiered at the Coliseum in 1986. Some heralded it as a genius work. Others found it difficult, which probably explains why it has not been fully staged again until now….

Trouble in Rice’s Underworld

  Emma Rice’s ENO staging of Orpheus in the Underworld has been much maligned in the traditional press recently, much to my dismay. Her efforts to update this nineteenth century operetta to suit the modern zeitgeist and ‘me too’  sensibility have been frowned upon by those supposedly in the know, who see her efforts to…

Benjamin Britten and the Challenge of Singing

  Portrait of Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten  by Kenneth Green 1943   The voice is an extraordinary thing. Air pumped from our lungs, passes over the fleshy folds in our throat, to emit a full spectrum of sounds. Some more pleasing than others. Last weekend I shouted and screamed so hard at a football…

Interview: Star Baritone Jacques Imbrailo

    Jacques Imbrailo is singing in Jules Massenet’s Werther (see our review here) at the Royal Opera House and then he is off around the world on various singing engagements through 2020. In April this year, this rising star among baritones earned great reviews in Billy Budd and his Albert in Werther is another…

Werther: A Romance Worthy of Revival

Isabel Leonard, Charlotte. Juan Diego Flórez, Werther.   As I step into the  Royal Opera House’s stylish new café, there is the familiar Covent Garden buzz. It’s the opening night of Werther, and also the start of the new opera season. The talking points are Joyce di Donato’s upcoming title role in Agrippina. She was…

Mothers and Sons and L’arlesiana

Yvonne Howard, Rosa Mamai and L’innocente sung by Samantha Price.   At a performance of L’Arlesiana at Opera Holland Park recently, I was bowled over by Yvonne Howard’s heart-breaking aria, Esser madre è un inferno (To be a mother is hell!). Howard as the long-suffering matriarch is superb. When she pleads for God to watch over her son,…