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…

Rock opera: ENO’s ‘Tosca’ at South Facing Festival

Once there was a time when I would have been fully on top of such exciting news: a rock festival just down the road at Crystal Palace Bowl. Only a few stops on the train, or a mere jaunt on the bus, without any need to negotiate the seething metropolis. In fact, the news reached…

In Opera Holland Park’s Amico Fritz, the love duets rule

In an age where maximum noise and drama seems to be a prerequisite to an opera’s success, Amico Fritz might be regarded as the cuckoo in the nest. Its pastoral, gentle story-line is likely to pass most opera goers by. Opera Holland Park on the other hand is championing Mascagni’s work in a new production – presenting…

Vixen in the Park

Leoš Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen is a popular work on the opera circuit. Man’s uneasy alliance with the natural world is a theme which chimes particularly well with our times. Janácek wrote it way back in 1921 however, and he spent many an hour studying forest animals (as did many other composers worth their salt before him). …

English National Opera Announces 2021/22 Season

The English National Opera (ENO) has announced its 2021/22 main stage season. It heralds the ENO’s ambitious return to the London Coliseum following the coronavirus pandemic theatre closures. In line with our founding principle, the season has been designed to delight aficionados and newcomers alike, with a range of audience favourites and bold new productions….

New recording of Arne’s Eighteenth Century Hit Impresses

I sat down to Arne: Artaxerxes over the Bank Holiday and believed, at first, that I was listening to a newly discovered Mozart opera. Young Mozart may well have seen  Artaxerxes in London in the mid-1760s when he was touring. He loved opera with a capital L and Thomas Arne’s hit work must have fuelled Mozart’s boyhood passion…

Margaret Catchpole Horse Stealer

 Based on Victorian bestseller The History of Margaret Catchpole, ‘Margaret Catchpole’, the opera, is the story of a Suffolk servant girl who steals a horse to join her lover in London. In the 18th century when this true story played out, horse-stealing was a capital offence.   Stephen Dodgson’s opera was a slow burner during his lifetime. It…

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…

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 played…