Columns linked to Brian Jagde

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...


First Revival of Barrie Kosky’s Carmen at the Royal Opera Hous...

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...


Adriana Lecouvreur at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Sam Smith

Francesco Cilea is one of several Italian composers who might have been far better known today had they not lived at around the same time as Giacomo Puccini. As it is, their own considerable talents have tended to be eclipsed by those of the great composer to the extent that the only operas of Cilea’s that are performed with any regularity today are L’arlesiana and Adriana Lecouvreur. The latter was also the only one of the composer’s that was unequivocally acclaimed as a...


Madama Butterfly at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

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, whom he both affectionately and patronisingly addresses as Madam Butterfly. She takes their love so seriously that she converts to Christianity, and is consequently ostracised by her family. He, on the other hand, sees their marriage as being akin to his Japanese house, which he has on a 999-year lease that he can cancel at any...