Chronique à la une

Filter

All columns

Henze’s Final Opera Phaedra at the Royal Opera House, Covent G...

Sam Smith

Hans Werner Henze’s Phaedra, with libretto by Christian Lehnert, was written in 2007, five years before the composer’s death and four years after he actually announced he was never going to write another opera. The first half relates the story of how Phaedra’s love for her stepson Hippolyt triggers catastrophe, as told by many writers across the ages including Euripides, Jean Racine and Sarah Kane. The second half, in contrast, follows a mythological tradition alluded to...


Les Pêcheurs de Perles at Liceu: A Risky Winner Bet

Xavier Pujol

Christina Scheppelmann, artistic director at Liceu, commented on the text in the programme of Les pêcheurs de perles, that the opera’s plot is ‘naive and old fashioned’, and considered that ‘it is hard for this story to be emotionally touching’. Later, in regards to the work of stage director Lotte de Beer, who situates her version of this opera in a reality show, Scheppelmann wrote that Beer’s work manages to ‘make the story work from...


Inspired Staging Complements Poignant Opera in Billy Budd at t...

Sam Smith

Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd, which premiered at the Royal Opera House in 1951 before undergoing revisions in 1960, is based on the eponymous novella by Herman Melville, and has a libretto by E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier. With the main action set aboard the HMS Indomitable in 1797 during the French Revolutionary Wars, the story centres on Billy Budd who at the start is pressed into serving in the Royal Navy from a merchant ship. He has a lot of positive attributes including...


Excellent Revival of David McVicar’s Faust at the Royal Opera ...

Sam Smith

Charles-François Gounod’s Faust premiered at the Théâtre Lyrique on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris on 19 March 1859. It underwent several revisions over the following decade, including the insertion of a ballet into Act V to meet the expectations of grand opera, and was extremely popular in the nineteenth century. It was the work with which New York’s Metropolitan Opera opened for the first time on 22 October 1883, while Covent Garden included it in its...


Anna Pirozzi saves La Gioconda that Irène Theorin didn't sing

Xavier Pujol

The debut of Iréne Theorin, one of the greatest Wagnerian sopranos of our time, on the title role was the main feature of the restaging of La Gioconda at Liceu. The opera by Amilcare Ponchielli – the only one by him remaining in the repertoire – moves very awkwardly, as it doesn’t fit anywhere, in the space in between post Verdi and Verism. This wasn’t possible. A few hours before the opening, the theatre announced that Iréne Theorin, still...


London’s Sixth Ever Performance of Handel’s Berenice at the Ro...

Sam Smith

Handel’s Berenice was written at a time when the composer desperately needed a success. By 1737 he had been competing for audiences with the rival Opera of the Nobility for four years, but unfortunately things did not play out as he had hoped. Pressures, including the work involved to complete the piece, led him to have a stroke, and the opera, conducted by John Christopher Smith as the composer’s right hand was temporarily paralysed, lasted a mere four performances. Although...


Opera Online columnists