Opera + Classical Music Reviews

Orfeo @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

First performed in 1607, Claudio Monteverdi’s masterpiece Orfeo wasn’t quite the first opera written – that honour goes to Peri’s Dafne – but it’s testament to the brilliance of the composer that it sounds as…



Haitink’s Beethoven: Symphony No 5, Symphony No 8 @ Barbican Hall, London

by Dominic McHugh

Can Haitink’s Beethoven get any better? This was the question on many lips during the interval at the fifth concert in the Amsterdam-born conductor’s complete cycle of the Beethoven symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra.It...

LSO / Haitink – Beethoven: Symphony No 4, Emperor Concerto @ Barbican Hall, London

by Dominic McHugh

Bernard Haitink’s Beethoven cycle with the London Symphony Orchestra is already synonymous with music-making of the highest quality. During this fourth concert in the series, however, the Amsterdam-born conductor’s interpretations of these masterworks approached legendary...

Handel’s Messiah @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Yangen Xu

Easter would hardly be Easter without a performance of Handel’s Messiah. And this rendition, given by the Royal Choral Society and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall, was as moving and thrilling as...

Shostakovich: Symphony No 1, Symphony No 14: LSO/Gergiev @ Barbican Hall, London

by Yangen Xu

Shostakovichs graduation work, his First Symphony in F minor Op. 10, was written when the composer was at the tender age of 20. The London Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Russian maestro Valery Gergiev...

Elgar: Serenade for Strings; Mozart: Piano Concerto 25; Brahms: Symphony No 1: LSO/Runn...

by Yangen Xu

I owe all my readers and the LSO an apology for being late to this concert. Due to major delays on the tube, I had to miss the first half of Elgar’s Serenade for Strings,...

La belle Hélène @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

It’s a long time since I’ve been helpless with laughter at an opera house. I blame the sheep. Actually it happened more than once – and for all the right reasons – which speaks volumes...

Sir John In Love @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Vaughan Williams wrote the most glorious orchestral music but is less well known for his operatic work. Sir John In Love, based on Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, is far from Verdi’s classic Falstaff –...

Götterdämmerung @ Royal Opera, London

by Dominic McHugh

With Twilight of the Gods, the Royal Opera’s new production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle has come to a blazing finish. It’s had a mixed press so far, not least for Keith Warner‘s challenging direction and...

La Voix Humaine and Send (Who Are You? I Love You) @ Grand Opera, Houston

by Zan Buckner

For her first foray into opera, Broadway soprano Audra McDonald takes on a world premiére as part of an ambitious one-woman double bill. McDonald has won four Tony Awards for her work in musical theatre....

Rigoletto @ Coliseum, London

by Dominic McHugh

Jonathan Miller’s production of Verdi’s Rigoletto remains not only his best production of any opera I can remember him directing in London, but also one of the best modern productions of any opera you will...

Mahler – Seventh Symphony @ Barbican Hall, London

by Ben Hogwood

Riccardo Chailly‘s was just such a performance, andwent some way to proving the Leipzig Gewandhaus are ontheir way back to recapturing past glories. Theperformance fizzed with energy and atmosphere yet wasnever a display piece, the...

Attila @ Cadogan Hall, London

by Dominic McHugh

At the height of the first scene of Verdi’s ninth opera, Attila, a Roman general tries to strike a bargain with the notorious Hun: ‘You can take the universe, but leave Italy to me’. This...

Andrea Bocelli – Amore

by Dominic McHugh

Even amongst so called ‘cross-over’ artists, Andrea Bocelli is something of an anomaly. The Russell Watsons of this world are incapable of taking on the full-length opera recordings that Bocelli attempts and which give him...

Steven Isserlis @ West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge

by William Norris

This was an exhilarating concert – even the five curtain calls at the end couldn’t do it justice.The early nineteenth-century Austrian composer Franz Schubert was, and to a certain extent still is, much maligned and...

The Mikado @ Coliseum, London

by Dominic McHugh

Twenty years on, Jonathan Miller’s production of The Mikado remains witty and diverting. It’s without a doubt the greatest of the Savoy operas by WS Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan, containing several great songs, some...

Eugene Onegin @ Royal Opera, London

by Dominic McHugh

Snow, rain, ice skaters, a lake – the Royal Opera’s new production of Tchaikovsky’s most familiar and enduring opera has it all. And in the two lead male roles, the company has secured the services...

Chopin: Piano Concerto No 1; Mahler: Symphony No 5: LSO @ Barbican Hall, London

by Dominic McHugh

It was fascinating to hear Mahler’s Fifth Symphony the day after hearing Berg’s Wozzeck. Both composers dwelt in Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, and though Mahler was Berg’s senior, one can sense...

Porgy and Bess @ Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Nashville

by Zan Buckner

Seventy years. That’s how much time had passed since this original version of Porgy and Bess was last performed – the only version that composer George Gershwin lived to see. Many say it is Porgy and Bess as he...

Genius of the Violin: Take a Bow!: LSO @ Barbican Hall, London

by Yangen Xu

For the first-time concertgoer unfamiliar with the sound of a string orchestra, attending the LSO’s Genius of the Violin: ‘Take a Bow!’ Concert could have been an excellent start to the world of classical music....

Beethoven – Missa Solemnis: LSO @ Barbican Hall, London, 19

by Dominic McHugh

Four years’ work went into the composition of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, and you can really tell it’s his most intricate piece, and one of the most complicated works by any composer to perform. The complexity...