Columns linked to Richard Jones

Samson et Dalila is a Production of Two Halves at the Royal Op...

Sam Smith

Camille Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, which premiered in Weimar in 1877, is the only one of the composer’s operas to be regularly performed today. In describing how the Israelite Samson is duped by the Philistine Dalila into divulging the secret of his strength, thus enabling him to be weakened and blinded, the story comes from Chapter 16 of the Book of Judges. However, it concentrates on certain elements and downplays others, ignoring the heroic deeds that earned...


The Valkyrie heralds the start of a new Ring Cycle at the Lond...

Sam Smith

English National Opera is commencing a new Ring Cycle, directed by Richard Jones, but rather than starting with the first opera in Richard Wagner’s tetralogy, Das Rheingold, it is beginning with the second, The Valkyrie. Then, over the next five years, the complete series will be presented in a co-production with New York’s Metropolitan Opera. While in the initial instalment the chief god Wotan manages to retain his status and magnificent fortress Valhalla, albeit at a...


Strong First Revival of Richard Jones’s Boris Godunov at the R...

Sam Smith

Boris Godunov is Modest Mussorgsky’s only completed opera, and is considered to be his masterpiece. Its subjects are the eponymous Russian ruler, who reigned as Tsar from 1598 to 1605, and the False Dmitry I, who succeeded him almost immediately but was killed only a year later. The Russian-language libretto was written by the composer, and is based on Pushkin’s blank verse drama Boris Godunov as well as Nikolay Karamzin’s History of the Russian...


Amanda Majeski is an Outstanding Katya Kabanova at the Royal O...

Sam Smith

Katya Kabanova is often regarded as Leoš Janáček’s first ‘mature’ opera, despite the fact that he was 67 when it premiered in 1921. The libretto is by Vincenc Červinka, while the work is based on Alexander Ostrovsky’s play The Storm, but there can still be little doubt that the opera, and particularly its lead character, were inspired by the composer’s feelings for the far younger Kamila Stösslová. Set in the Russian town of...


First Revival of Richard Jones’ La bohème at the Royal Opera H...

Sam Smith

Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 creation La bohème is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world today. Set in 1830s Paris, it focuses on six young adults and the love that four of them find with each other amidst the most impoverished of circumstances. One couple (Marcello and Musetta) have a stormy relationship but their frequent battles prove that their love actually has staying power. Rodolfo and Mimì, on the other hand, enjoy an apparently perfect love, but it...


La bohème at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Sam Smith

Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 creation La bohème, which is almost cinematographic in its length and proportions, is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world today. Set in 1830s Paris, it focuses on six young adults and the love that four of them find with each other amidst the most impoverished of circumstances. One couple (Marcello and Musetta) have a stormy relationship but their frequent battles prove that their love actually has staying power. Rodolfo and...