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…

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….

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…

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,…

‘Partenope’ at English National Opera

  English National Opera’s 2016/17 season closes with a welcome revival of Christopher Alden’s Olivier Award-winning 2008 production of G. F. Handel’s Partenope, first staged in 1730. The plot, daft even by Baroque comic opera standards, revolves around the mythical Partelope, Queen of Naples, and her multiple suitors. Silvio Stampiglia’s libretto, awash with braggadocio, cross-dressing…

An opera for our troubled times: ‘The Winter’s Tale’ at ENO

How to turn one of Shakespeare’s late “problem plays” into an opera? It’s something which has preoccupied conductor and composer Ryan Wigglesworth since his student days. Now 37, his ruminations have come to fruition in this commission for English National opera (ENO) and in The Winter’s Tale, he has produced an opera for our troubled…