Columns linked to English National Opera

Fourth Revival of Phelim McDermott’s Satyagraha at the London ...

Sam Smith

Philip Glass is recognised as one of the leading figures in minimalism today, and yet it is not a word he especially likes. This is understandable since it can severely underplay the variety of music that is all too often categorised under this one umbrella term. Glass himself has written over twenty-five operas, yet even if we look at just his trilogy that focuses on pivotal figures in the fields of science, politics and religion respectively, the styles of composition are markedly...


Natalya Romaniw Reigns Supreme in Madam Butterfly at the Londo...

Sam Smith

Set in Japan, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly of 1904 explores the relationship between the American naval officer Pinkerton and the Nagasaki born Cio-Cio-San, who he both affectionately and patronisingly calls Madam Butterfly. She takes their marriage extremely seriously, even converting to Christianity the day before their wedding and consequently being ostracised by her family. He, on the other hand, sees his union as being akin to his Japanese house,...


Strong Singing but Questionable Staging: Luisa Miller at the L...

Sam Smith

Luisa Miller is not one of Verdi’s total rarities, but it does not grace major opera houses with anywhere near the same frequency as his most popular creations. The work, however, has much merit as, for example, Act II ends with an allegro in three mounting stages that, although quickening towards an animated finish, is not like a conventional stretta. Written in 1849, it is regarded as coming at the beginning of the composer’s ‘middle period’, with...


Second Revival of Calixto Bieito’s Carmen at the London Coliseum

Sam Smith

Based on Prosper Mérimée’s eponymous novella, Georges Bizet’s Carmen of 1875 is the story of the ultimate temptress. A gypsy and cigarette factory worker in Seville, Carmen has the power to entice any man she chooses. Once, however, they are besotted with her she quickly moves on, leaving them heart broken and unable to accept what has happened. In the opera Don José, an army corporal, has almost everything he could ever desire. He has the sweet, loving...


Film Becomes Opera in Orphée at the London Coliseum

Sam Smith

Philip Glass, who is recognised as one of the leading proponents of minimalism in the world today, has written over twenty-five operas, a total achieved by hardly any composer since the days of Rossini, Donizetti and Verdi. His 1991 work Orphée is the final addition to English National Opera’s current season of operas exploring the Orpheus myth, and is based on Jean Cocteau’s eponymous film of 1950. It is, in the words of the production’s director Netia Jones,...


There is Nothing Quite Like The Mask of Orpheus at the London ...

Sam Smith

This autumn English National Opera is exploring the Orpheus myth by presenting four operatic takes on it. Now, following Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice and Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, both of which still have performances that can be seen, comes the third addition to the mix, Harrison Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus. Without a doubt there is no other opera quite like it with the orchestra containing no strings, the score including electronic music (which was...