Opera and Classical Reviews
Sebastian Comberti, Maggie Cole – Mozartiana

Sebastian Comberti, Maggie Cole – Mozartiana

by Ben Hogwood

Cello Classics is maturing into a very interesting label, not content to focus on the core repertoire but putting together excellent anthologies such as their Ysaye Connection, and now this – an examination of works…



Winterreise: Simon Keenlyside @ Barbican Hall, London

by Helen Wright

Simon Keenlyside is not only Britain’s finest lyric baritone but also its most active. This is the singer who scales walls as Don Giovanni, somersaults into bed with Papagena even when sporting a broken wrist...

Prom 63: War and Peace @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Helen Wright

Tim Albery’s magnificent production of Prokofiev’s epic masterpiece War and Peace received rapturous reviews at The Coliseum in 2001, quite rightly. For this season’s BBC Proms almost the entire cast was reassembled at the Royal...

Don Giovanni: Welsh National Opera @ Theatre Royal, Plymouth

by Johnny Johnson

Set in 16th-century Seville at its premiere in Prague in 1787, Katie Mitchell’s 1996 production, revived by Elaine Kidd, suggests the back streets of a southern European city in the 1930s. The night, in which...

Hamlet @ Royal Opera House, London

by Jane Morley

Covent Garden has not mounted a production of Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet for 93 years. In many ways, it is easy to see why. You don’t have to be a Shakespeare purist to find something intrinsically...

The Trojans At Carthage @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

After the frankly awful production of the first half of Berlioz Les Troyans, The Capture of Troy, the second half had to be approached with trepidation. The good news is that while The Trojans at...

Turandot @ Lithuanian National Opera, Vilnius

by Julija Kalpokiene

Puccini’s last opera is the Lithuanian Opera and Ballet Theatre’s last premiere of the season. Although the composer did not complete this, his last opera, it is considered by the critics to be one of...

Alcina @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Handel’s tale of the triumph of reason over magic and wanton pleasure was fun when it first opened in 1999. That was mostly because David McVicar’s production was such a feast for the eyes. The...

The Handmaid’s Tale @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s novel of the right-wing fundamentalist republic of Gilead – formed in 2005 when the corrupt and polluted United States collapsed – was disturbing when first published in 1985 and is...

The Cunning Little Vixen @ Royal Opera, London

by John Bench

This enchanting opera, composed by Janácek in 1921 in his seventieth year, is based on a comic strip which appeared in a Czechoslovakian newspaper of the time. The composer admired the story of the half...

Der Rosenkavalier @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Richard Strauss’ best-loved opera is a delicate balance between genuinely moving emotion and slapstick farce. The beautiful, aristocratic Marschallin has found love with 17-year-old Count Octavian but knows that sooner or later he will leave...

Rigoletto @ Coliseum, London

by David Rafaello

If you are a devotee of the National Enquirer or Sunday Sport you may take Rigoletto in your stride, but this sordid and bloodthirsty tale is at best an improbable and at worst a macabre...

The Capture of Troy @ Coliseum, London

by David Rafaello

This first part of Berlioz’s Les Troyans is billed by ENO as ‘The Capture of Troy’ but Richard Jones’s arrogantly inconsequential production of this difficult work just about gives it the coup de grace. Occasionally...

Khovanshchina @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Modest Musorgsky started nine operatic projects and only finished one – Boris Godunov – and even that gets performed in versions tweaked by other composers Khovanshchina was largely unorchestrated when Musorgsky died and was subsequently completed by...

Tosca @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

A new production of Tosca is always something to look forward to, though the last two at ENO have not been triumphs: playing around with the settings in one of the few operas located exactly...

Xerxes @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

When this production of Handel’s Xerxes opened in 1985, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth, it stunned all who saw it and won numerous awards. The genius of Nicholas Hytner, soon to...

Wozzeck @ Royal Opera, London

by John Bench

The unfinished play Wozzeck, on which Alban Berg’s opera is based, was written in 1837 by Georg Büchner, a German medical student who died from typhus that same year at the age of 23. Berg...

The Fairy Queen @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

I didn’t take an umbrella along to the Coliseum, often a disastrous mistake in view of the current laughable attempt at summer weather offered to inhabitants of London town. I needn’t have worried, however –...

Così fan tutte @ Coliseum, London

by David Rafaello

This is standard Mozart at its best – not bog standard but benchmark Mozart – no distracting frills, no self-indulgent gimmicks, no production distortions, no cheap laughs. With his clear sense of the dramatic development...

Lulu @ Coliseum, London

by David Rafaello

Alban Berg’s long but unfinished, late-romantic masterpiece has finally been given a worthy London airing. The diminutive American Lisa Saffer in the title role fills the Coliseum’s huge stage. And Paul Daniel’s sensitive conducting allows...

Il trovatore @ Royal Opera House, London

by John Bench

Il Trovatore (‘The Troubadour’) is a tale of civil war in which two long lost brothers, sworn enemies, fight for the love of a woman. First produced in 1853, it is normally set in the...