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Ratcheting up the Tension in The Turn of the Screw at Regent’s...

Sam Smith

The Turn of the Screw is a 1954 chamber opera by Benjamin Britten, with Myfanwy Piper’s libretto being based on Henry James’ eponymous novella of 1898. Told across a prologue and sixteen scenes, with each of these being preceded by a variation on the twelve-note 'Screw' theme, it has been described as one of the most dramatically appealing of all English operas. Set in an English country house in Bly in the middle of the nineteenth century, it tells of a young...


The Royal Opera and London Sinfonietta Reveal a Cave at the Pr...

Sam Smith

All operas are about more than just the music. In the case of composer Tansy Davies and librettist Nick Drake’s new creation Cave, however, the music, word, message and setting all possess such significance that the work would have been all the poorer had any of them not received the attention that they do. This is the second time that Davies and Drake have collaborated, following Between Worlds, which was produced by English National Opera and staged at the Barbican Theatre in...


First Revival of Richard Jones’ La bohème at the Royal Opera H...

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, but it...


Outstanding Musical Credentials Create an Enchanting Lohengrin...

Sam Smith

Lohengrin of 1850 is the sixth of Richard Wagner’s thirteen operas, and the third he wrote (after Der fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser) to be regularly performed still. It stands very much at a crossroads in that it harks back to classical opera in some respects, but in others looks forward to the composer’s later music dramas by including leitmotives and being essentially through-composed (although a few distinct arias are to be found within it). It is also the...


Manon in Ellis Island, at the Liceu

Xavier Pujol

The new Manon Lescaut production presented at Liceu, a co-production by Teatro di San Carlo from Naples and Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia from Valencia, starts at the Ellis Island in New York, a world referent for immigration. It is there that an old Des Grieux recalls his past and the romantic relationship that he had in his youth with Manon Lescaut. The whole opera by Puccini is presented therefore as an immense flashback. The scenography will transform to show us successively the Amiens...


George Benjamin Provides some Lessons in Love and Violence at ...

Sam Smith

Lessons in Love and Violence is the third opera on which composer George Benjamin and librettist Martin Crimp have collaborated. They first enjoyed success together in 2006 with Into the Little Hill while Written on Skin, which premiered at the 2012 Aix-en-Provence Festival, has gone on to become the most widely performed opera of any to be written in the twenty-first century. Their latest creation represents a co-production between no less than six major opera houses, and is...


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