Opera + Classical Music Reviews

Simon Boccanegra @ Royal Opera, London

by Dominic McHugh

Simon Boccanegra has always failed to attract the attention it deserves. The disaster of the 1857 premiere led the composer to revise it in 1881 by improving the orchestration and completely rewriting the finales to…



The Tempest @ Royal Opera, London

by Helen Wright

If it’s true, as was widely reported, that Thomas Adès was still writing the overture a few days before the opening night of The Tempest, the achievement of all concerned in conjuring up an almost...

Bernard Haitink & LSO – Brahms Symphony No 2 Double Concerto

by Ben Hogwood

It took Brahms some 20 years to arrive at a first symphony with which he was totally happy, and rather like a London bus his second followed within the year. The two works are chalk...

Theodora: Glyndebourne Touring Opera @ Theatre Royal, Plymouth

by Johnny Johnson

The brave Christian noblewoman Theodora is arrested and thrown into prison because she refuses to honour the Emperor, and threatened with a fate worse than death – as a sex-worker for the President Valens’ Royal...

La traviata: Glyndebourne Touring Opera @ Theatre Royal, Plymouth

by Johnny Johnson

Set in mid 19th century Paris, in a society of double standards – outward moral rectitude and conventional respectability contrasted with hypocrisy and decadence behind gilded doors – this complex social backdrop in turn contrasts...

Steve Reich – Three Tales

by Ben Hogwood

Three Tales is a collaboration between contemporary composer Steve Reich and his wife, the videographer Beryl Korot. Together they have produced a powerful, poignant and sometimes amusing portrait of three technological events from the 20th...

The Black Monk @ Bloomsbury Theatre, London

by Chris Linosi

We don’t get operatic world premieres very often, probably because the main bulk of the operatic audience simply does not appreciate more modern styles of writing. Examples include Berg’s Wozzeck, recently put on at Covent...

Cathy Marston Triple Bill: Broken Fiction / Unstrung Tension / Traces – Royal Bal...

by Helen Wright

The intimate space of the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre is the perfect setting for Cathy Marston’s innovative and exhilarating choreography. Three works, one a World Première, all packing much more in terms of...

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...

Dvořák – Symphonic Poems – Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Royal Concertgebouw Orch...

by Ben Hogwood

Some of Dvořák’s finest music was written in the twilight of his career. An extended visit to America in the 1890s spawned the New World symphony and the Cello Concerto, both staples of the core...

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...

Mozart – Piano Quartets – Paul Lewis, Leopold String Trio

by Ben Hogwood

Mozart is well known for his exploits in the fields of opera, symphony, concerto, mass, chamber and solo music – in fact, just about any classical discipline available at the time was mastered by him,...

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...