Opera + Classical Music Reviews

Ariodante @ Coliseum, London

by David Rafaello

Ariodante is no Serse or Giulio Cesare or Alcina. Handel aficionados attend with their scores not just to come over precious but rather to follow the (admittedly beautiful) tunes recycled from various other mix-and-match Handel…



A Masked Ball @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Goodness, what a lot of fuss. Looking back at my review of the last ENO production by Spanish director Calixto Bieito – Don Giovanni – there was plenty of controversy then, but nothing on the scale greeting...

Don Giovanni @ Royal Opera, London

by Helen Wright

The first new production at Covent Garden this year, Francesca Zambello’s Don Giovanni has two casts – the first, theoretically the starry one, with Bryn Terfel as the Don. This sounds appealing, but the live...

La traviata @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Verdi’s most lyrical and romantic opera is back at the Coliseum in its 1996 incarnation, originally directed by Jonathan Miller and now revived by Steven Stead. Based on Dumas’ La Dame aux Camélias, and later...

Parsifal @ Royal Opera, London

by John Bench

The idea of a music drama based on the legend of Parsifal and the Knights of the Holy Grail occurred to Wagner as early as 1846 when he was working on Lohengrin. The Swan Knight...

The Rake’s Progress @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

I came away from the first night of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress not quite knowing what to think, and it was interesting to see that other reviewers disagreed markedly with one another in their comments....

The Marriage of Figaro @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Steven Stead, the South African born director and actor, has chosen to make quite a splash with his first new production for ENO. Whether or not this production will stand the test of time is,...

Die Frau ohne Schatten @ Royal Opera, London

by Dorothy Anderson

The ROH has revived its 1992 production of Richard Strauss’ fifth opera, Die Frau ohne Schatten. First performed in 1919 with a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal from his own story, it’s a complicated allegorical...

L’Anima del Filosofo @ Royal Opera, London

by John Bench

The Royal Opera House has treated us to a double first by staging Josef Haydn’s ‘L’Anima del Filosofo’ (The Spirit of Philosophy) as a means of enticing Cecilia Bartoli to make her debut at Covent...

War and Peace @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

War and Peace is Prokofiev’s greatest operatic triumph, managing to distil the vast scale of the novel into nearly three and a half gripping hours of beauty and horror in equal measures. The new production...

Tosca @ Royal Opera, London

by Helen Wright

There are times when tradition triumphs, even in this age of minimalism. Tosca at Covent Garden is proof of that. This production positively creaks (it must be almost 30 years old) but it’s still wonderful....

La bohème @ Coliseum, London

by David Rafaello

The first time around we thought it unfortunate that Stephen Pimlott had taken such a slapstick view of this sensitive opera, but apparently Puccini is widely regarded as fair game for cavalier treatment – pack...

Orpheus & Eurydice @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

The opening night of Orpheus & Eurydice was a subdued affair, for good reason. Many people understandably did not choose to use their tickets on the day terrorism hit the USA, with the events still...

Don Giovanni @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

With critics spitting feathers and the first night audience reportedly booing for all they were worth, I approached ENO’s new production of Don Giovanni with mixed interest and trepidation. The Coliseum is no stranger to...

The Rape of Lucretia @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

The Rape of Lucretia is Britten’s sparsest opera, and there are times during its performance when one longs for the lush orchestration of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But this is a stark story, and the...

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

David Pountney’s production of Shostakovitch’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, first seen over ten years ago, has lost none of its bite. This is the original version, not the revised, watered-down Katerina Ismailova which Shostakovich was...

Il Trittico @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

There were lots of empty seats at the Coliseum for the opening night of Il Trittico – Puccini’s triptych of one-act operas – but if there’s any justice in this world they’ll be sold out...

The Cunning Little Vixen @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Janáček’s most lighthearted opera – based on the tale of Vixen Sharp Ears, published in instalments in the daily newspaper in his home town of Brno in the early 1920s – is a welcome return...

Folk Songs / La Strada / The Prisoner @ Coliseum, London

by David Rafaello

Let’s begin with the one that is supposed to be opera, The Prisoner. Luigi Dallapiccola’s Il Prigioniero is rarely performed. This is perhaps because it doesn’t work as opera. Calling it a “symbolist opera” –...

Requiem @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Verdi’s Requiem is the most operatic of all the great requiems, and indeed after its first performance in the church of San Marco, Milan in 1874 the 2nd, 3rd and 4th performances were given at...

Nabucco @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Verdi’s Nabucco is best known for the moving Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, Va pensiero, which has become almost an alternative Italian national anthem. There is a lot more to it than that, however, as...