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Natalya Romaniw Reigns Supreme in Madam Butterfly at the Londo...Sam Smith
Set in Japan, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly of 1904 explores the relationship between the American naval officer Pinkerton and the Nagasaki born Cio-Cio-San, who he both affectionately and patronisingly calls Madam Butterfly. She takes their marriage extremely seriously, even converting to Christianity the day before their wedding and consequently being ostracised by her family. He, on the other hand, sees his union as being akin to his Japanese house,...
Strong Singing but Questionable Staging: Luisa Miller at the L...Sam Smith
Luisa Miller is not one of Verdi’s total rarities, but it does not grace major opera houses with anywhere near the same frequency as his most popular creations. The work, however, has much merit as, for example, Act II ends with an allegro in three mounting stages that, although quickening towards an animated finish, is not like a conventional stretta. Written in 1849, it is regarded as coming at the beginning of the composer’s ‘middle period’, with...
First Ever Staging of Gerald Barry’s Alice’s Adventures Under ...Sam Smith
Gerald Barry has written six operas, with his first The Intelligence Park of 1990 appearing in the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio last autumn. Now, his Alice’s Adventures Under Ground of 2016 comes to Covent Garden’s larger venue for its first ever staged performances. The opera only lasts an hour meaning there are two performances on most of the days it is appearing, with Cast A taking on one of them and Cast B the other. Barry has opted for the original title of...
A Thrilling Siegfried at the Royal Festival Hall, LondonSam Smith
In January and February 2021 the London Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski, will be presenting Richard Wagner’s tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen twice at the Royal Festival Hall. It began performing the operas individually two years ago, with Das Rheingold being presented in 2018, Die Walküre last year and Siegfried appearing now. This is the opera that moves on from the failed attempts of the chief god Wotan to retain control of the world for...
Second Revival of Calixto Bieito’s Carmen at the London ColiseumSam 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 the sweet, loving...
The Little Match Girl ‘Retold’ in Aisha and Abhaya at the Roya...Sam Smith
On the Royal Opera House’s website Aisha and Abhaya is listed under both ‘opera and music’ and ‘ballet and dance’ as if to suggest it is a hybrid piece. While, however, it undoubtedly consists of music, dance and film, it is hard to see how it qualifies as an opera since across the hour-long piece only a small amount of (non-operatic) singing features in Ori Lichtik and Gaika’s specially created soundtrack. Nevertheless, this point is made solely for...