Reviews

  • Review

First Night of the Proms review

This year’s Proms opened with a rousing rendition of the Marseillaise from the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo: the day after the Nice atrocity, no gesture could have better underlined solidarity with our traumatised concitoyens. From that it was a graceful segue into Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture, with strings and woodwind in coruscating form. Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky cantata gave the combined choruses of the BBCSO and BBCNOW their head, with a refined intervention from Olga Borodina in the ‘Field of the Dead’ section; this Russian mezzo’s artistry allowed her to weave exquisite arabesques around the choral theme.

  • Review

Eugene Onegin, Garsington Opera, review

Negatives first. Michael Boyd’s production of Tchaikovsky’s flawlessly-constructed tragedy takes its cue from Kasper Holten’s disastrous Covent Garden take, and pushes further in the wrong direction. Boyd’s risen-again Lensky skips so obtrusively about the stage during Onegin’s post-duel wanderings that the hero’s grief is systematically upstaged, while the chorus is also systematically upstaged by dancers.

  • Review

Richard Farnes

To see and hear the Ring Cycle sung, played and performed at the extraordinary level reached by Opera North this summer is a very special musical experience indeed

  • Review

Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Glyndebourne, review

The Leiser-Caurier “Barber” at Covent Garden has been the contemporary benchmark for productions of Rossini’s sparkling opera buffa, but Annabel Arden’s new one outdoes it through sheer visual sophistication.

  • Review

Oedipe, Royal Opera House, review

Enescu’s only opera, completed in 1936, finally arrives at Covent Garden in a magnificent co-production with La Monnaie, first seen in Brussels in 2011. And what a masterpiece it is. Designed by Spanish-Catalan Alfons Flores and directed by Àlex Ollé, it opens with a tableau of 20 panels of sepia draped figures recalling a cathedral frontage where the Thebans celebrate the birth of a son to King Laïos and Queen Jocaste (memorably incarnated by Sarah Connolly), interrupted by the blind prophet Tirésias who predicts he will kill his father and marry his mother. Twenty years later, the abandoned Oedipus – a superb marathon singing performance by Danish bass-baritone Johan Reuter – flees after learning of his destiny and believing himself to be the child of King Polybus and Queen Mérope.