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The Exterminating Angel at the Royal Opera House, Covent GardenSam Smith
Thomas Adès’ The Exterminating Angel, which premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2016, is based on Luis Buñuel’s classic 1962 Surrealist film. In it a group of bourgeois guests dine at the house of Edmundo, Marqués de Nobile, and his wife Lucia, only to discover that at the end of the evening that they are unable to leave the house. An undefined force is holding them in one room, and as the days wear on the people stuck there grow increasingly bestial as...
Richard Wagner Walküre Osterfestspiele 2017Helmut Pitsch
March 19th 1967 is the birthday of the Salzburg Easter Festival, a creation of classical superstar Herbert von Karajan in his search of optimized conditions for the performing arts. Walkuere and the Ring der Nibelungen were his first projects to be realized together with the Berlin Philharmonic and a world class cast. Since then, the Easter Festival has gained a top position in the international festival calendar and a reputation for outstanding production for a small and exclusive circle...
Claus Guth's Die Frau ohne Schatten finally at Staatsoper BerlinAchim Dombrowski
Claus Guth created this production of Strauss/Hofmannsthal’s The Woman without Shadow (Die Frau ohne Schatten) 2013 for La Scala. After later shown at Covent Garden, London it is now being staged at the Berlin State Opera as part of the Easter Festival 2017, scenic rehearsal by Julia Burbach. Contrary to other concepts with directors elevating the over-mystified, ferry-tale like plot into full abstraction (Loy for Salzburg or Ponnelle for Cologne many years ago), Guth and...
Gran Teatre del Liceu: A cruel, spectacular RigolettoXavier Pujol
A dramatic conception that was complex to decipher and perhaps even polemic, a surprising and spectacular visual coldness and a totally convincing musical resolution were the three main axis of the performance of Rigoletto presented by Liceu. It is difficult to dramatically face the great titles of the repertoire because it is a matter of finding the right balance between redundancy and extravagance, two extremes that are both artistically sterile. In this production of the Verdian...
Partenope at the London ColiseumSam Smith
George Frideric Handel’s twenty year long domination of London opera began in 1720 with Radamisto, meaning that Partenope, which appeared in 1730, was at the midpoint of this golden period. The opera was extremely well received on its premiere, but it is about as far removed from opera seria as any of the composer’s works, and presents a challenge to any director who wishes to make sense of such a far-fetched story. English National Opera, however, has long been known as...
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Royal Opera House, Coven...Sam Smith
Many Wagner fans will rank Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg as one of their favourite works of all time, but the real measure of its strength is that many an opera-goer who normally avoids Wagner like the plague will make a special exception for Die Meistersinger. Unlike virtually all of the composer’s other mature works, it is not about gods, grails, rings and potions, but rather flesh and blood human beings. By exposing all of the foibles and frailties of this strangest of...