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…

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…

‘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…

Britten’s War Requiem finds new life with ENO’s staging

At the Coliseum to watch the first UK staging of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem on its opening night, I was curious to see how Turner prize-winning photographer, Wolfgang Tillmans would tackle this work as set designer. War Requiem’s reputation has soared since 1962, when it was first performed in Coventry Cathedral. As a choral work,…