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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...
First Revival of Barrie Kosky’s Carmen at the Royal Opera Hous...Sam 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...
Triumphant Return for Jonathan Miller’s La bohème at the Londo...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 Staged Version of Britten’s War Requiem at the London ColiseumSam Smith
While most composers’ settings of the Catholic Church’s Requiem Mass were written to honour departed individuals, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem is rather different. It was commissioned to be performed at the consecration of the newly built Coventry Cathedral in 1962, the old structure having been bombed during the Second World War. It was therefore designed to commemorate all lives lost in war, and, although circumstances prevented this from happening, it was planned for...
Excellent Performances Lift Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Oper...Sam Smith
Simon Boccanegra, originally of 1857 but revised in 1881, has not traditionally been seen as Verdi’s greatest creation. When, however, in 2010 Plácido Domingo took on the title role, his first as a baritone, at the Royal Opera House in Elijah Moshinsky’s 1991 production, it injected a new level of interest into the piece. English National Opera got in on the act with a ‘film noir’ production in 2011, while Moshinsky’s version enjoyed a further revival...
Ildar Abdrazakov's recital conquers La ScalaJames Imam
The bass Ildar Abdrazakov has it all: the sumptuous voice, the rock solid technique, refined musicality and a gift for story telling with which he brings music and text to life. But that Abdrazakov has talent is hardly news in Milan -- the bass has regularly featured in opera productions here for nearly two decades. Instead, the big revelation from this La Scala recital was just how versatile he is. In Milan, Abdrazakov has always been most readily associated with Verdi. He has...