Archives for posts with tag: English National Opera

“We have a delightful production of one of the most popular operas in the repertoire. It’s not very old, and audiences seem to love it. Clearly, what we should do is replace it with something stark, unengaging and gimmicky. Oh, and while we’re at it, have you seen the musical Rent?

14329

That conversation almost certainly never took place but it might as well have. Jonathan Miller’s 2009 staging of Puccini’s La Bohème – charming, evocative, and fitting both music and libretto like a glove – has been usurped by a sordid reimagining from director Benedict Andrews, that is colder and more brutal than its predecessor and completely devoid of romance. Read the rest of this entry »

Anybody who has enjoyed an extended love affair with opera will know from their frequent disappointment that it is an art form alarmingly susceptible to being royally buggered up. Singers who – either through delusion or an inability to say no – allow themselves to be cast in roles for which they are patently ill-equipped will suck the life out of the best productions; theatre management that persists in colluding with them perpetuates both the disappointment for the audience and the damage to the reputation of the performers; directors in thrall to white-tiled bathrooms, chain-link fencing or the Third Reich can render risible a musical performance that would otherwise rank as world-class.

8759 Read the rest of this entry »

The presence of New York Metropolitan supremo, Peter Gelb at last night’s première of ENO’s new production of The Girl of the Golden West is probably explained by his wish to support Keri-Lynn Wilson, who was in charge of the baton for the evening, and who also happens to be his wife. If, however, he was also scouting for a new La fanciulla del West to borrow for New York, he will have been pleased to encounter no nasty surprises that might frighten the Met’s famously conservative audience in Richard Jones’ production of Puccini’s 1910 cowboy opera. (The alternative possibility that, in the wake of his recent trials and tribulations on the other side of the Atlantic, he might be about to interview for a new job never once crossed my mind. No, honestly, it didn’t.)

7984

Read the rest of this entry »

rsz_eno_xerxes_-_alice_coote_1_c_mike_hobanI began this review thinking comparisons with those who have previously sung these roles in Nicholas Hytner’s extraordinary 1985 production of Xerxes should probably be avoided, but, wouldn’t you know, my fellow critics across the broadsheets and internet have leapt into this muddy pit with gusto. I feel transported back to a typical 18th century theatre where those in the more expensive boxes of the third tier would throw pasta onto the heads of the poor souls in the “pit”, while the rival supporters of the castrati challenge each other in the streets surrounding what is now Trafalgar Square.

Read the rest of this entry »