Royal Opera House
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Wednesday 01 July 2009
Only the Royal Opera House could lose one star (the indisposed Dmitri Hvorostovsky) and find three others; well, five actually since Antonio Pappano, the evening's inspired accompanist, brought with him his orchestra's concert master, Vasko Vassilev, serenading us with Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov in so homespun a manner as to turn a public concert into a private soirée.
Thursday 25 June 2009
Only the Royal Opera House could lose one star (the indisposed Dmitri Hvorostovsky) and find three others – well, five actually since Antonio Pappano, the evening’s inspired accompanist, brought with him his orchestra’s concert master, Vasko Vassilev, sweetly serenading us with Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov in so homespun a manner as to turn a public concert into a private soiree.
Friday 19 June 2009
Sometimes the first bar of music will tell you what kind of evening is in prospect. And so it was here with Antonio Pappano, in his first Traviata for the Royal Opera, infusing the prelude with a sepia glow in remembrance of times past - better times for Violetta whose childhood photographs speak of an innocence long lost but never forgotten.
Wednesday 10 June 2009
Considered as a possible dance adaptation, Wuthering Heights is a daunting prospect. Emily Brontë's novel is famous for its driven characters and brooding power, but it also has a rambling, jumpy narrative, stuffed with intricate relationships. Cathy Marston's new dance version strips down the novel, simplifying the plot. But the stylised choreography and designs smooth away contrasts between characters. Despite some atmospheric moments, Marston is a long way from Brontë's Romantic fury.
Lulu, Royal Opera House, London<br>One Evening, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London<br>Mitridate, Sadler's Wells, London
Sunday 07 June 2009
Friday 05 June 2009
It’s taken the best part of a century to achieve the transition of Frank Wedekind’s Lulu from femme fatale to victim.
Wednesday 03 June 2009
Frederick Ashton's 1958 ballet, Ondine, the tale of a water sprite's love for an unfaithful prince, was old-fashioned even when it was new. It has an enchanting ballerina role, created for Margot Fonteyn, but surrounds it with an awful lot of padding. Ashton's watery imagery goes from poetic to kitsch and back again. Lila de Nobili's designs include mistily evocative landscapes, but unflattering wigs and boots.
Sunday 31 May 2009
Wednesday 13 May 2009
Laurent Pelly’s incurably cute 2006 staging of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore adds a whole new dimension to that well-worn phrase “make hay while the sun shines”.
Sunday 10 May 2009
For those disinclined to spend an evening filtering out the BacoFoil breastplates of the Royal Opera House's latest revival of Lohengrin, this recording of Semyon Bychkov's slow-burning interpretation is a gift.
Friday 08 May 2009
The theatre is about illusion, but its effects can be all too real. The Victorians loved turning the stage into a lake for sea-battles in which swimmers manipulated large model ships; when Phantom opened at Her Majesty's, the theatre simply reverted to its original function as a site for spectacle.
Saturday 02 May 2009
As classical music concerts go, it was certainly out of the ordinary. The renowned Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman was about to play the final piece in his recital at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. He sat silently for a moment, then turned to the audience and said he would never play again in America, as its military wanted to control the whole world.
Tuesday 28 April 2009
A mobile phone and a noisy box of latecomers threatened to violate the sanctity of the Grail so mystically evoked by Wagner in a haze of divisi violins at the start of his Lohengrin prelude.
Purcell Dido and Aeneas/ Handel Acis and Galatea, Royal Opera/ Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, London
Wednesday 01 April 2009
It’s probably apocryphal, but a member of the Covent Garden elite was once heard to exclaim: “What is it tonight, darling, singing or dancing?” Well, both actually.
Wednesday 18 March 2009
Who knows if it really makes a difference or not when Verdi's Requiem is performed in the opera house but Antonio Pappano's vivid performance for the Royal Opera certainly had the whiff of theatricality about it. Churchy it was not – though you might imagine that the Royal Opera Chorus had been advised that their murmured repetitions of the words Requiem aeternam at the outset must sound almost indivisible from the mournful cello descent, as if emanating from deep inside some dark Italian cathedral.
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