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Norma at the Liceu, The Sword and the CrossXavier Pujol
It tends to be the case, at least at Liceu, that in premiere nights musically the performances start off being a little wobbly and, sometimes, with luck they end well. Norma, the last opera for this season, wasn’t an exception. At the beginning there were many issues in all musical areas, but it ended reasonably well. The problem lies in the fact that in Norma the best musical numbers, the shiny ones, are located at the start of the piece and we couldn’t enjoy them...
Christopher Maltman’s Iago is Something Special in Otello at t...Sam Smith
Like the Shakespeare play upon which it is based, Giuseppe Verdi’s penultimate opera Otello of 1887, with a libretto by Arrigo Boito, is the story of a general in the Venetian military whose skills in managing political and personal affairs do not match those he has demonstrated in fighting. When his ensign Iago feels Otello has sidelined him for promotion, he lays a trap to make Otello believe his wife Desdemona has been unfaithful, and the general falls whole-heartedly...
Poignant New Opera The Blue Woman Premieres at the Royal Oper...Sam Smith
The standard operatic repertoire is full of examples of sexual and physical violence towards women. That is a fact that cannot be dismissed lightly on the grounds that most of the pieces were written a hundred or more years ago, since even today one in five women have been raped or sexually assaulted as an adult. As a result, there is still something troubling about violent acts being sensationalised and used to create moments of high drama on stage, when in reality they leave behind real...
Outstanding Performances Complement Brilliant Production in Ca...Sam Smith
Although Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci are entirely separate operas, they are so frequently performed together that ‘Cav and Pag’ is now a standard phrase in the operatic world. In some ways it is easy to see why it has become a tradition to pair the two. Written only two years apart, in 1890 and 1892 respectively, their short running times mean they can comfortably fit into one evening, and together they seem to...
Best Revival Yet of Jan Philipp Gloger’s Così fan tutte at the...Sam Smith
Così fan tutte of 1790 is the third and final opera (after Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni) on which Mozart collaborated with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. Originally set in Naples, it 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’...
Opera North’s Parsifal Brings a Touch of the Divine to London’...Sam Smith
Premiering in 1882 at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, Parsifal is Richard Wagner’s final opera and widely regarded as one of his greatest achievements. It is loosely based on Wolfram von Eschenbach’s epic poem Parzival, written in the first quarter of the thirteenth century, which recounts the story of the Arthurian knight Parzival and his quest for the Holy Grail. Set in Monsalvat, it sees the title character attempt to retrieve the Holy Spear that pierced Christ’s side...