Royal Opera House shelves move north

The proposed £100m outpost of the Royal Opera House (ROH) in Manchester is among a swathe of arts projects that have been shelved because of the arts-funding cuts announced earlier this week.

Royal Ballet Mixed Bill, Royal Opera House, London

Waltzing couples whirling to Ravel lack the passion of layered duets and chilly laments inspired by Chekhov

Verdi Rigoletto, Royal Opera House

The passing of La Stupenda, Dame Joan Sutherland, cast a long dark shadow over the evening and maybe it was that which gave this revival of Verdi’s Rigoletto (Gilda was one of many roles she famously sang at Covent Garden) an added frisson of commitment and excitement.

Dame Joan Sutherland: Soprano known as 'La Stupenda'

Joan Sutherland's career was so solid and durable – and those are miserable words for a thing of such brilliance – that it might seem perverse to fix on one night of it. But 17 February 1959 was the date, and the occasion, a performance of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the stuff that legends are made of. "Yes, yes," people say as if to wave away the subject, quieten the old opera-bore, soothe a child who tells of improbable adventures which you know the real world lacks resources to supply, But no: that night was one of the great events of a lifetime, and the voice of wonder is not so easily silenced.

Bizet Les Pecheurs de Perles, Royal Opera House

The mis en scène of some operas really is best left to the imagination.

Onegin, Royal Opera House, London

Lukewarm love in a cold climate

Russell Maliphant, Sadler's Wells, London<br/>Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, London

An earlier hit is diminished by being extended, while a modern classic grows in stature

Steffani Niobe, Regina di Tebe, Royal Opera House

Agostino Steffani (who?) may have been consigned to a footnote in musical history but here's why he was such a big deal in the realm of 17th century courtly drama. He wrote extravagantly – Niobe was the first of his operas where the aria count fell below 60 (the great and the good always had time on their hands) – and he wrote with feverish theatrical daring. The overture to Niobe begins benignly with well-regulated pomp and circumstance but suddenly we are assailed by the clatter of martial trumpets and drums (sounding here from the highest balcony) wilfully designed to cut across the courtly processional as if at all costs to stop it progress. Shock-horror - and the curtain has not yet risen.

Griffin's 'Question Time' inspires Bonnie Greer opera

It was one of the most controversial programmes in television history. When Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, was invited on to BBC 1's Question Time, it sparked massive protests. The programme, earlier this year, had extra edge because Mr Griffin was next to the black academic and playwright Bonnie Greer.

Deloitte Ignite, Royal Opera House, London

Deloitte Ignite opened up the Royal Opera House in a weekend festival of contemporary art. Evening concerts were cheaply priced; events during the day were all free. The performances and installations went from the inventive to the bland.

Ignite set to transform Covent Garden into an enchanted forest

If you go down to the Royal Opera House, you're sure of a big surprise. Next weekend, Covent Garden will be transformed into a series of different forests as part of Ignite, the annual three-day contemporary arts festival. There's a shimmering Floating Forest, with real trees hanging from the beams, in the Paul Hamlyn Hall, while 200 discarded opera costumes from the ROH archives will create a surreal Faded Forest in the Conservatory, alongside mannequins and an Amazonian soundscape. The Linbury Studio will be transformed into a Reclaimed Forest of recycled telegraph poles and a reflecting pool by the opera designer Dick Bird. And in the entrance hall, the Anglo-French artist Alice Anderson has been commissioned to create a forest of tumbling auburn hair titled "Mother Web", which will remain in place for a year.

Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin, Bolshoi Opera/ Royal Opera House

Dmitri Tcherniakov’s revelatory staging of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin unfolds in rich Chekovian detail and with such an acute behavioural eye that at times one feels more of a participant than an observer.

Tanguera, Sadler's Wells, London<br/>Triple Bill, Royal Opera House, London<br/>Le Corsaire, Royal Opera House, London

When a form speaks volumes by itself, it doesn't need tacky red lighting and dry ice to tell its story

Bolshoi Ballet Triple Bill, Royal Opera House, London

The Bolshoi Ballet's triple bill is all over the place. It starts with a bad Petrushka, pulls up with Alexei Ratmansky's Russian Seasons, then abandons the Russian theme for the pretend-Spanish dazzle of Paquita. It's an unbalanced evening, but there's plenty to enjoy by the end.

Bolshoi: Serenade and Giselle/Coppélia, Royal Opera House, London

Russian star rises in tales of the east
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