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Oliver Mears’s Rigoletto Finds its Stride at the Royal Opera H...Sam Smith
Some productions are tremendous on their first outing and never quite manage to recapture the same brilliance in subsequent revivals. Others discover that they need an initial outing before they find their feet, and the Royal Opera’s Rigoletto, from its Director of Opera Oliver Mears, would seem to fall into this latter category. It first appeared last September, but, aided by an outstanding cast, its first revival feels leaner and meaner in a great many ways. The good news is that...
A Pelléas et Mélisande of Dark Beauty at LiceuXavier Pujol
Achieving perfection in opera, the most complex form of artistic expression that Western culture has ever created, is not easy, but when it is achieved, the result is magical. The Pelléas et Mélisande currently on stage at Liceu does not reach perfection but it is very, very close to it and it is more than likely that it will become the great show of the season on an artistic level and will remain for many years in the theatre’s memory. Pelléas et...
Jamie Manton’s New Production of The Cunning Little Vixen at t...Sam Smith
Composed between 1921 and 1923, Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen is based on the serialised novella Liška Bystrouška by Rodolf Těsnohlídek of 1920. This first appeared in the newspaper Lidové noviny, with illustrations by Stanislav Lolek, and Janáček adapted its words to arrive at the final libretto for the opera. A more literal translation of the Czech title would be Tales of Vixen Sharp-Ears, and the story tells of the...
Irish National Opera’s Bajazet Comes to the Royal Opera House,...Sam Smith
Although better known today for his concertos, in his own lifetime Antonio Vivaldi was just as famous for his operas. He claimed to have written ninety-four, and while it is impossible to prove he ever composed quite so many, we do know of at least thirty-two. Bajazet of 1735 is one of these although strictly it is a pasticcio, which is a work built around music (usually from a range of composers) that by and large already exists. In this instance, it seems that Vivaldi...
Fifth Revival of Jonathan Miller’s La bohème at the London Col...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,...
A New and Highly Innovative Theodora at the Royal Opera House,...Sam Smith
Handel’s oratorio Theodora is unusual among his compositions in that it has created more of a splash in the modern day than it ever did during his lifetime. It premiered at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden on 16 March 1750 but ran for just three performances and was only revived once in 1755. Although the fact there had been an earthquake a week before the premiere meant that some of the composer’s usual patrons had fled the city, the real reason for the work’s...