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Romeo and Juliet at the Liceu: One of those sad tepid successes

Xavier Pujol

The stage is a space where life – or its simulation – is presented in an intense, concentrated way, where emotions and feelings guide the characters and their actions. In theatre, especially in opera, and in general in all scenic arts, the aim is always to achieve something intense. Life is tepid, the stage is always hot. If one cannot achieve an extraordinary success one must at least achieve an extraordinary failure that grabs the attention. Anything but an anodyne,...


The Truth about Satyagraha at the London Coliseum

Sam Smith

Philip Glass is recognised as one of the leading figures in minimalism today. He has written over twenty-five operas, and three of these form a trilogy that focus on pivotal figures in the fields of science, politics and religion respectively. Einstein on the Beach premiered in 1976 before the triptych was completed eight years later with Akhnaten. In between these came Satyagraha in 1980, which explores the early active life of Mahatma Gandhi. It focuses on political struggle as it...


An Innovative and Extraordinary Carmen at the Royal Opera Hou...

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 decided to marry...


The Ancient Becomes Timeless in The Return of Ulysses at the R...

Sam Smith

The story in Claudio Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, performed here in English as The Return of Ulysses, of 1639 is taken from the second half of Homer’s Odyssey. In it Ulysses, King of Ithaca, finally returns to his kingdom following ten years fighting in The Trojan Wars and a further decade lost at sea. His wife Penelope has remained faithful throughout his long absence, in spite of loathsome suitors queuing up to persuade her to forget him and embrace...


A Gory but Psychologically Intense Salome at the Royal Opera H...

Sam Smith

Despite only being mentioned briefly in the New Testament, the character of Salome has certainly caught the imagination as she has pervaded art, literature and music over the centuries. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark she is described as a girl who pleased King Herod so much at his birthday feast with her dancing that he promised her anything she desired. After consulting Herodias, the husband of Herod and her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a plate, with Herodias...


Gran Teatre del Liceu: That old dear Elisir

Xavier Pujol

At times, opera can also be the art of nostalgia and of longing, referring not just to the voices. Liceu has once again restaged in its scene its own production of L’elisir d’amore, one of the most successful productions of the theatre, which has toured around bringing dignity to Liceu’s name.  The staging is signed by Mario Gas as stage director, who started his relationship with this title over 30 years ago. That production was the grandmother of the one...


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