L'heure espagnole/ L'enfant et les sortilèges, Glyndebourne, East Sussex
Tête à Tête Opera Festival, Riverside Studios, London
The Francis Bacon Opera, Camden Arts Centre, London

Glyndeborne's double bill of Ravel operas captures the composer's delicate touch and ability to combine laughter and pain

Loosely translated as "Spanish time", L'heure espagnole, suggests a semi-Tantric deferment of erotic abandon. Every nation has preconceptions about other nations' sex lives, particularly when those other nations enjoy a warmer, disinhibiting climate. Yet the conceit of Ravel's Spanish comedy, now playing at Glyndebourne in Laurent Pelly's double bill, depends on time-keeping that we British would characterise as Swiss in its efficiency. For all the vampish Hispanic chromatics and butch, glittering percussion, it is the tick of three clocks that dominates the French composer's score.

Concepcion (Stéphanie d'Oustrac), the adulterous heroine of this slender 45-minute sex farce, is as time-conscious in her pursuit of bliss as any well-to-do Parisienne engaged in a cinq-à-sept affair. Rebuilt from Pelly's Opéra de Paris production, Caroline Ginet's 1970s-styled set suggests a life of domestic chaos for the frustrated clock-maker's wife. Suspended from the pendulum of a cuckoo-clock, her wedding dress hangs like a relic. A contagion of gaudy automata spreads from the dusty workshop: a ticking Last Supper, a nodding skeleton, a car whose headlights flash expectantly, a washing machine with a clock face in its door, a jamon strung above a mountain of laundry. Whip-thin in her black negligee, D'Oustrac prowls the stage like the cat she will become in the second opera in this Ravel double bill, L'enfant et les sortilèges.

It is a treat to hear L'heure played under a conductor, Kazushi Ono, whose interest is as much in the delicacy of Ravel's orchestration as it is in the musky cravings of Concepcion and her differently disappointing suitors: the peacock-like poet, Gonzalve (Alek Shrader), the plump banker Don Inigo (Paul Gay), and the ageing husband (François Piolino) whose bespectacled eyes see more than Concepcion suspects. The musical textures are crisp. But Pelly's comedy is broad. Elliot Madore's muscle-bound Ramiro grins at the audience, as though inviting us to wink back at him, and the wistfulness that Richard Jones identified in his Royal Opera House production is absent. L'heure passes in a flurry of double entendres and sight gags, without a sense of accumulation into weeks, months, years of loneliness.

Pelly is more tender in L'enfant et les sortilèges, newly staged for Glyndebourne and designed by Barbara de Limburg in a cavalcade of Architects' Ball monochromes and Magritte greens. Between L'heure espagnole and the first performance of L'enfant, war had maimed Europe and the perfect happiness of Ravel's early works could be recaptured only fleetingly. Even his 1913 Piano Trio – played impeccably at the Cadogan Hall, London, by Jennifer Pike, Nicolas Altstaedt and Igor Levit in Monday's lunchtime Prom (PCM 4) – suggests a painful nostalgia. But in L'enfant's tantrums and dreams, that lost innocence is addressed directly. Khatouna Gadelia's short-trousered Child contends with sulky Chairs (Gay and Julie Pasturaud), a priapic Teapot and gibbering Arithmetic (Piolino), a chorus of limpid toile de Jouy shepherds and an aggrieved menagerie before learning to consider the pain of others, courtesy of the Squirrel (D'Oustrac). The London Philharmonic Orchestra plays elegantly under Ono, the flimsy Spanish sex farce and surreal fantasy becoming something wise and kind.

With so many eyes on the Games, Tête à Tête's annual festival opened with a sense of beleagueredness at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith: Ergo Phizmiz's bite-sized opera for soprano, baritone, cello and vibes, Caring in the Community, fought with Roger Federer and Andy Murray for a Sunday afternoon audience. The contrast level was high – from Jacques Cohen's conservative monodrama for soprano and string quartet (Marie Vassiliou and the Piatti Quartet), The Lady of Satis House, to Elvis Herod and The Gang of Rogues' chaotic Mike the Headless Chicken, and Chroma's wafer-thin Instant Doodle Opera – but Roger and Andy prevailed.

The future of new opera looked healthier at Camden Arts Centre on Wednesday, where Stephen Crowe's Francis Bacon Opera previewed to a crammed house. A staged transcript of Melvyn Bragg's 1986 South Bank Show interview, Crowe's comedy had the rare quality of making people laugh with the music as much as the words, as pianist Genevieve Ellis's splintered figures offered their own acerbic commentary on an increasingly bibulous conversation about beguilement, realism and sensation between Bacon (Christopher Killerby) and Bragg (Oliver Brignall).

Ravel double bill (01273 813813) to 25 Aug; Tête à Tête (020-8237 1111) to 19 Aug; 'The Francis Bacon Opera', St Columba's by the Castle, Edinburgh (edfringe.com), 19-27 Aug

Critic's Choice

The London Sinfonietta gives a pocket history of Modernism in works by Ligeti, Berio, Xenakis and Andriessen in the Late Night Prom 44 at the Royal Albert Hall (Tue), while BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Prom 47 (Fri) celebrates the music of John Cage. At the Edinburgh International Festival, Leif Ove Andsnes gives a morning piano recital at the Queen’s Hall (Thurs) and Charpentier’s David et Jonathas opens at the Festival Theatre (Fri).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone