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Fine Stagecraft Meets Superb Musicianship in Die Walküre at th...

Sam Smith

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski, is currently in the midst of presenting Richard Wagner’s tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen over a three-year period. The first opera Das Rheingold was performed in January 2018, with the second Die Walküre appearing now. While in the initial instalment, the chief god Wotan manages to retain his status and magnificent castle Valhalla, albeit at a terrible price, in this one things unravel at an alarming rate...


Outstanding Revival of La traviata at the Royal Opera House, C...

Sam Smith

Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata of 1853 is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world today. Based on Alexandre Dumas, fils’s play La Dame aux camélias, it tells of Violetta Valéry who is a famed Parisian courtesan. Beneath her apparently carefree exterior, however, she is suffering from tuberculosis and her world is shaken when she meets Alfredo with whom she falls in love. They run away together and live off the sale of her goods, but one day...


Too Clever by Half: The Queen of Spades at the Royal Opera Hou...

Sam Smith

Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades of 1890 is based on Pushkin’s eponymous short story of 1834. Set during the reign of Catherine the Great it sees the officer Gherman initially admire from afar, and then become increasingly obsessed with, the granddaughter of the old Countess, Liza. She, however, is engaged to Prince Yeletsky, and Gherman knows that his lack of wealth means he will never stand a chance of winning her. He learns, however, that the now elderly Countess...


The Three Butterfly by Lianna Haroutounian

Xavier Pujol

Tradition states that Puccini is the operatic composer who better expressed the complexities of the feminine soul. Feminism might have something to say about this and might not agree much. What is true, however, is that the Puccinian female characters have a musical depth and theatrical density far greater than the masculine ones, who often tend to be more schematic and stereotypical. The dramatic weight difference between the feminine and the masculine characters, which starts...


L’italiana in Algeri at the Liceu: The Craziest Rossini

Xavier Pujol

Liceu has chosen L’italiana in Algeri by Rossini to close the year, an opera premiered in 1813 in Venice, which therefore precedes Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola and Il Turco in Italia. This is and opera that reached Barcelona quickly, in 1815, but of which in two centuries only 13 performances have taken place. The last ones were in 1982 in a memorable production directed by the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. This work, with a libretto by Angelo Anelli, consists essentially...


A New and Delightful Hänsel und Gretel at the Royal Opera Hous...

Sam Smith

Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, which premiered in 1893, is based on the eponymous fairytale that was recorded by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812. It follows the Grimm version of the story reasonably closely, although there are a few notable differences including the fact that the mother here is not intent on losing the children in the forest so that she and her husband might survive the hard times. She sends them there to collect berries as a punishment for...


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