Opera and Classical Reviews
Coliseum, London

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...

La bohème @ Coliseum, London

by David Rafaello

It took 63 years for Leoncavallo’s La Bohème to come to London (in an amateur production in 1960), and another 40 years to make it to ENO. The latter is about the right interval for...

The Turk In Italy @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Rossini churned out so many operas (39 in 19 years) that it’s tempting to think every one is a rehash of previous work, and to some extent the music is rather interchangeable. Il turco in...

The Coronation of Poppea @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

There are always fresh flowers on Monteverdi’s tombstone in Venice. After a performance as uplifting as ENO’s new production of The Coronation of Poppea, this is understandable. A fresh, new translation and a wonderful post-modern...

Don Giovanni @ Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Lewes

by Helen Wright

A visit to Glyndebourne is always a treat, partly because of the glorious setting but mostly because the performances are so consistently stunning – both musically and artistically. Year after year there are exciting new...

L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Oh, joy: an evening of massage for the spirit. The Mark Morris Dance Group collides with ENO – and both win. Handel’s oratorio, written in 1740, is based on the twin poems of John Milton...

Four Saints @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

There’s an end-of-term feel at ENO as its season draws to a close, with the Mark Morris Dance Group presenting the Anglo-American double bill reviewed here, and their version of the Handel oratorio, L’Allegro, il...

Ernani @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

First performed at La Fenice in Venice in 1844, Ernani is early, unsophisticated Verdi and all the more fun for that. Why it is so rarely performed is a mystery. The plot (based on a...

St John Passion @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Celebrating Easter 2000 and the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death, the ENO made the bold decision to stage one of his great dramatic Passions, which normally unfold the Easter story in static performance. Of course...

The Silver Tassie @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

After all the hype (including a CD of ‘highlights’ sent to ticket holders in advance) this World premiere was eagerly awaited but, perhaps inevitably, a disappointment. Turnage has been influenced by Britten but says that...

La bohème @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

La Bohème, Puccini’s tale of the Bohemian life, has been updated to the 1950s and one suspects that this is more in the interests of saving costume budgets than giving a new perspective. The lives...

Gawain @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

The music for Harrison Birtwistle’s opera about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was loudly heckled at its Covent Garden premiere in 1991, partly because parts of it are so complex – and so loud...

Alcina @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

The trouble with Handel is that his original audiences didn’t have so many distractions. They were quite happy to sit for hours while his singers came on, sang a nice aria, sang it again with...