Columns linked to Carlos Álvarez

First New Production of Rigoletto in Twenty Years at the Royal...

Sam Smith

Based on Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse, Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto was a triumph when it premiered at La Fenice in Venice in 1851, and has remained one of the composer’s most frequently performed operas ever since. Its popularity is thoroughly deserved but might still be deemed interesting, given that it is a contender for the cruellest opera in the mainstream repertoire. While many works see the innocent suffer and die, there is usually a sense in...


Otello at Liceu, a Psychological Drama

Xavier Pujol

Otello’s ship has to overcome the storm to get into port – in order to get to Liceu, the opera Otello had to overcome several storms. Firstly, the replacement of the announced conductor, Riccardo Frizza, by Gustavo Dudamel. With this piece, the Venezuelan conductor – who had already opened the season at Liceu with a concert version of Il Trovatore – directed his first staged opera in Spain. Secondly, the announced production from the Royal Opera House directed by...


Brilliant Performances in First Revival of Keith Warner’s Otel...

Sam Smith

Like the Shakespeare play upon which it is based, Giuseppe Verdi’s penultimate opera Otello of 1887 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 for the deception with disastrous...


Excellent Performances Lift Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Oper...

Sam Smith

Simon Boccanegra, originally of 1857 but revised in 1881, has not traditionally been seen as Verdi’s greatest creation. When, however, in 2010 Plácido Domingo took on the title role, his first as a baritone, at the Royal Opera House in Elijah Moshinsky’s 1991 production, it injected a new level of interest into the piece. English National Opera got in on the act with a ‘film noir’ production in 2011, while Moshinsky’s version enjoyed a further revival...


Andrea Chénier at the Liceu: A perfect night

Xavier Pujol

Opera is the most complex and interdisciplinary form of artistic expression created by Western culture, all scenic and musical arts are represented. In this state of affairs, in the same way that it is very difficult to totally ruin an operatic performance it is even a greater challenge to achieve absolute perfection. Nevertheless, this is – or almost is – what happened in the premiere of Andrea Chénier at Liceu, one of the foundational titles of the verismo movement...


An ugly, disoriented and only half well sung Ballo

Xavier Pujol

The overall result of the Un ballo in maschera’s opening at Liceu – presented as the official opening of the season, although the season had de facto already started last month with Il viaggio a Reims – is clear: the men and choir were good, less so the women, passable the conductor and orchestra, ugly and dark the production and very poor the stage direction. Let’s start with what went well. Carlos Álvarez is at the best moment of his career, already...