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A Stark and Effective Production of The Handmaid’s Tale at t...Sam Smith
Written in 1998 to a libretto by Paul Bentley, Poul Ruders’s The Handmaid’s Tale is based on Margaret Atwood’s eponymous novel of 1985. This means that when he wrote it no one had even heard of Bruce Miller’s television series that aired in 2017. With some qualifications, the opera follows the same plot as the novel in painting a nightmarish vision of the early twenty-first century, which then still lay in the future. It is a world in which a supposedly...
Pretty Yende is a Deeply Moving Violetta in La traviata at the...Sam Smith
Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata of 1853 is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world today, and the Royal Opera has been putting a special focus on the work in its 2021/22 season. By the end of this month no less than six different singers will have taken on the main role with Lisette Oropesa, Kristina Mkhitaryan and Anush Hovhannisyan having sung it across a dozen performances last autumn. The opera now returns for thirteen outings in April 2022, as well as a live cinema...
Deborah Warner’s New Peter Grimes Has it All at the Royal Oper...Sam Smith
Premiering in 1945, with a libretto adapted by Montagu Slater from George Crabbe’s eponymous narrative poem, Peter Grimes focuses on the type of outsider figure that always fascinated Benjamin Britten. Set in a nineteenth century Suffolk coastal village referred to simply as ‘the borough’, it focuses on the clash between Grimes, a hard working fisherman who dreams of wealth and respect, and a narrow-minded and repressive community who will never judge him kindly,...
First Revival of Phelim McDermott’s Così fan tutte at the Lond...Sam Smith
Così fan tutte of 1790 is the third and final opera (after Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni) on which Mozart collaborated with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. Originally set in Naples, it sees the philosopher Don Alfonso challenge two soldiers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, to prove that their respective fiancées, the sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi, are faithful. He is certain that no woman ever is, but the younger men are so convinced of their own lovers’ fidelity that...
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...