Opera + Classical Music Features

Olivier Opera Awards

If the inclusion of the Royal Opera’s Pellas et Mlisande in the nominations for the 2008 Olivier Awards took some people by surprise, it may cause them to choke on their breakfast cereal to discover this morning that the production by Stanislav Nordey has won the award for Best New Production.

It is one of just two awards for opera in the competition – the other was for Outstanding Achievement, which went to Natalie Dessay for her performance in the Royal Opera’s La fille du rgiment. This is likely to be a more popular choice among regular operagoers, as the production and Ms Dessay’s performance were highly regarded by many.

Having seen most of London’s operatic output last year, I certainly wouldn’t have considered either of these as appropriate winners myself and would question how many productions the Olivier judges actually saw.

The production of Debussy’s masterpiece was lambasted by most critics and set the blogs and discussion boards buzzing with cries of derision, so its triumph in the prestigious theatre awards, run by the Society of London Theatres, is a little mystifying.

Nevertheless, I would congratulate the Royal Opera House and the individuals involved. A little “controversy” is always welcome.

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