Opera and Classical Reviews
The Silver Lake

The Silver Lake @ Hackney Empire, London

by Sam Smith

The Silver Lake is not the best known of Weill’s compositions, while the librettist for the singspiel, Georg Kaiser, is today less famous than Brecht,…



William Alwyn’s Miss Julie @ Barbican Hall, London

by Sam Smith

An indication of the popularity of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, which sees an aristocratic woman become caught between her love for the valet Jean and...

Giulio Cesare @ Opera North, Grand Theatre, Leeds

by Melanie Eskenazi

‘S. P. Q. R.’ proclaims the inscription on the brutal concrete which surrounds Caesar as he announces his conquest – Senatus Populusque Romanus, the Senate...

Stephen Storace’s Bride and Gloom @ St John’s, Smith Square, London

by Sam Smith

A more literal translation of Stephen Storace’s Gli sposi malcontenti, which premiered at Vienna’s Burgtheater on 1 June 1785, would be The Discontented Newly-weds. However,...

Prom 75: The Last Night of the Proms 2019 @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Sam Smith

On paper this did not look like the most inspiring Last Night of the Proms. Even by the measure of recent years, the first half...

Prom 74: NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover / Manze @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Sam Smith

The final week of the 2019 Proms season saw the festival observe a tradition from its early years, by focusing Monday night’s concert on Wagner,...

Prom 70: Jonny Greenwood @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Barry Creasy

Tuesday evening’s Prom, curated by composer and lead-guitarist of Radiohead, Jonny Greenwood, was a lucky-dip of works whose minimalist inclinations ensured they hung together well....

Prom 67: BBC SO / Oramo @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Barry Creasy

  Sunday evening’s Prom was clearly an attempt to follow through the ‘nature’ theme begun with John Luther Adams’ In the Name of the Earth...

Prom 62: Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Barry Creasy

Pizzica is a music and dance form specific to the Salento peninsula, and it is part of the wider tarantella style of folk-dance, supposedly a...

Prom 61: Vienna Philharmonic / Orozco-Estrada @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Sam Smith

While it may have been Prom 60 that hit the headlines for constituting Bernard Haitink’s final concert ever in the United Kingdom, the one that...

Prom 60: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Haitink @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Keith McDonnell

We all knew the day would come when one of the world’s most revered and admired conductors, Bernard Haitink, would take his final bow in...

Prom 59: Benvenuto Cellini @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Sam Smith

Berlioz’ first opera Benvenuto Cellini is rather an unorthodox piece, since it possesses quite an unwieldy plot and demands much from a staging in order...

Prom 55: Jephtha @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Barry Creasy

Jephtha is Handel’s last oratorio, and despite its high critical standing, this was only its second complete Proms performance. Sadly, despite some excellent musicianship, like...

Prom 54: Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Barry Creasy

Jazz and religion might seem unlikely bedfellows, but it is surprising how many great names in the world of jazz have turned their hands to...

Prom 53: BBC Symphony Orchestra / Davis @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Barry Creasy

The playing of Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis on Thursday evening was of the high standard that one would expect from...

Prom 51: Die Zauberflöte @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Sam Smith

This semi-staged performance of Die Zauberflöte was adapted by Donna Stirrup from Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s 2019 production by André Barbe and Renaud Doucet. In many...

Prom 47: Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Nelsons @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Barry Creasy

Pairing Bruckner’s eighth symphony with Bach organ works in this concert by the Leipzig Gewandhaus was an odd piece of programming, although there are tenuous...

Prom 45: Mississippi Goddam @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Barry Creasy

Programming a Prom that is an homage to Nina Simone presents many challenges. Firstly, everything she accomplished was contextualised by her back-story: the political activism...

Prom 44: London Symphony Orchestra / Rattle @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Barry Creasy

Sir Simon Rattle always enjoys challenging and educating his audiences: they must do their homework before being allowed their tea. Tuesday’s Prom was no exception,...

Prom 40: Queen Victoria’s 200th Anniversary @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Barry Creasy

With a clever nod to real Victorian values, the BBC programmed Sullivan’s Victoria and Merrie England Suite as the first item for this celebratory Prom....

Prom 38: Solomon’s Knot @ Royal Albert Hall, London

by Barry Creasy

The Royal Albert Hall is not kind to small early-music ensembles, especially when their Prom is scheduled for the late-night slot, when there are generally...