Iolanta: Coming Into the Light

  Portrait of Peter Ilitsch Tchaikovsky by Nikolai Dimitriyevdi Kuznetsov 1893   Tchaikovsky’s philosophical and psychological opera, Iolanta, playing at Opera Holland Park, has been a big hit with critics and audiences alike this summer. It is easy to see why, with its starry line up of singers such as the soprano Natalya Romaniw together…

Classical Opera Goes Virtual

  Tim Benjamin is not the first composer to use digital sound and music in opera. Modern opera is all about experimentation and if you are a small opera company with constrained budgets, virtual is the way to go if you want a chorus in the score! But this is not quite Tim Benjamin’s story,…

Is This The Future of Opera? Youthful Exuberance for Opera Holland Park.

  Jack Holton (Anckarström) with Blaise Malaba (Ribbing) and Tom Mole (Horn).   Like Shakespearean actors and concert pianists, opera singers are outsiders in today’s entertainment world of self-made performers boasting one million subscribers on their Youtube channel. Accessibility is of course a lovely idea and the internet has certainly provided an equal platform for…

Verdi’s Ballo in Maschera. A Revelation.

  Verdi and the Naples censor when preparing “Ballo”, 1857–58, caricature by Delfico   Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, Un Ballo in Maschera, nearly didn’t see the light of day. The problem lay in Italy’s troubled political situation and the opera’s libretto, based on the assassination of King Gustave III in 1793 during a masked ball.  When…

A Riveting Ripper at the Coliseum

  Jack the Ripper’s frenzied killing spree in Victorian London has never ceased to fascinate and appall.  Iain Bell, composer of the ambitious new opera of the same name, and his librettist Emma Jenkins, decided, when creating their new work, to rid the stage of his presence altogether and to focus instead on the Ripper’s…

McBurney’s Magic Flute Enchants Again.

  Mozart’s Magic Flute is an unusual opera, full of Viennese slapstick, magic and strange journeys through a fairy-tale landscape. Emanuel Schikaneder, who wrote the libretto, was a theatre-manager, actor and most importantly, Mozart’s friend. The two relished working together and being both a little strapped for cash in 1791, they strove to create an opera…

‘The Merry Widow’ Comes of Age

  ‘Can you hold my drink so that I can leap over you,’ bellows a middle-aged woman in front of me to perfect strangers. Friday night at the Coliseum and some of the punters in the dress circle have been overdoing the Sauvignon. It’s also the opening night of The Merry Widow and all this boisterous…

Philip Glass’s Akhnaten at ENO

  The audience settles, the house lights dim, ominous music begins to build in the orchestra pit. ‘Opened are the double doors of the horizon/Unlocked are its bolts’, the narrator intones. Welcome to 18th Dynasty Egypt as envisaged by American minimalist composer Philip Glass. You don’t have to be a fully paid-up Glasshead to enjoy…