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Flying High with The Magic Flute at the London Coliseum

Sam Smith

The Magic Flute is Mozart’s final opera, and takes the form of a Singspiel that combines singing with spoken dialogue. In it, the Queen of the Night persuades Prince Tamino to rescue her daughter Pamina from captivity under the high priest Sarastro, who she claims is evil. As Tamino goes about his quest, however, and falls in love with Pamina, he learns that things are the other way around. The Queen of the Night represents the forces of darkness, while Sarastro’s community...


An operatic wordsmith: Luca Salsi's excellent La Scala recital

James Imam

Luca Salsi has a special way with words. His Macbeth sends shivers down the spine; his noble Giorgio Germonts fills you with warmth. Such portrayals works so well because Salsi can craft colour, nuance and meaning into a line like few others today. How fitting, then, that Salsi should provide a La Scala recital programme that read like a homage to Italian verse. In doing so, Salsi confirmed himself the foremost wordsmith of the opera world. On the world’s largest opera stages...


Plácido Domingo and Angel Blue brighten up Liliana Cavani's ti...

James Imam

Liliana Cavani's tired and uninspired 1990 production of La traviata apparently has enduring appeal. Ten shows into a 12-evening run, the theatre was heaving with audience members, a large proportion of them international. Perhaps tourists come to Milan expecting this sort of dependably traditional operatic fare. But there was, on this occasion, another reason to catch the show. In opting for multiple casts to sustain this long run La Scala had not skimped on quality: the...


A Very Merry Widow at the London Coliseum

Sam Smith

Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow (or Die lustige Witwe) is an operetta that was immensely popular on its premiere in 1905, and has continued to cause much amusement in opera houses ever since. Based on Henri Meilhac’s play L'attaché d'ambassadeof 1861, it tells of one Hanna Glawari who is a merry widow because, when her husband died, he left her a fortune of twenty million francs. She comes from the small Balkan principality of Pontevedro whose economy is...


Rodelinda at the Liceu: Hell at Home

Xavier Pujol

With some notable exceptions, the most eminent of which is Beethoven’s Fidelio, the theme of maintaining marital loyalty, whilst morally so commendable, is theatrically utterly boring. Its opposite, instead, always affords interesting theatrical shambles which can range from the vaudeville to tragedy and everything in between. If Händel’s Rodelinda, a story about staunch marital loyalty, theatrically is not only tolerable but works rather well is because deep down it...


First Revival of Così fan tutte at the Royal Opera House, Cove...

Sam Smith

Originally set in Naples, Mozart’s Così fan tutte of 1790 sees the philosopher Don Alfonso challenge two soldiers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, to prove that their respective fiancées, the sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi, are faithful. He is certain that no woman ever is, but the younger men are so convinced of their own lovers’ fidelity that they agree to a wager with him. They will pretend to be called away to war and then return disguised as Albanians to try...


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