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…

A Moving New Production of Cunning Little Vixen at ENO

Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen is a perplexing but masterful opera, full of darkness, yearning and joy.  On the surface it is a fantastical story, that of a Vixen who is captured by a Forester and who escapes, after causing a minor Orwellian revolution amongst the hens. She falls for a Fox, and my apologies for the spoiler,…

Retrospecstive 2021: slight return

One more look in the rear-view mirror before 2021 disappears completely… After the multi-course blowout of choosing 25 recordings of the year, this is more of a digestif, if you will. A few events and developments that gave me cause for celebration: one each for pop, classical, TV, media and film. Bon ‘Voyage’: the return…

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…

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…

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….

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…