The best classical concerts and opera in London
This review is from 2016. 'Akhnaten' returns to ENO in February 2019. In Pharaohic terms, 17 years is but a blink of a kohl-lined eye, but Akhnaten (hubby of Nefertiti, daddy of Tutankhamun) ensured a kind of immortality during his short reign by doing away with the whole multi-god thing and replacing it with worship of a single deity: the sun-disc, or Aten. Did he learn to juggle, too? That’s the question you may ask yourself during this new production of Philip Glass’s 1983 opera, directed by Phelim McDermot. Courtesy of members of Gandini Juggling, balls fly through the air in ever more complex patterns – growing in size from juggling balls to beach balls (symbols of the sun) as Akhnaten’s encounter with his solar deity draws near. Even the chorus gets involved, as if singing in Egyptian, Hebrew and Akkadian wasn’t difficult enough. Such is the production’s commitment to ball control, you half expect the pharaoh himself to engage in a spot of keepy-uppy during his extended moment in the sun. The Cirque-like tricks serve a purpose beyond keeping you visually entertained. They underscore the insistence of Glass’s music, as well acting as a kind of counterpoint to its complex cross-rhythms. Which isn’t to say that the music is especially challenging to listen to. Glass has always been the minimalist composer with the catchiest tunes, and ‘Akhnaten’ has the most hauntingly beautiful songs of his ‘Trilogy’, notably the pharaoh’s doleful ‘Hymn to the Sun’. From the first m
More classical concerts and opera in London
George and Ira Gershwin's jazz opera 'Porgy and Bess' is full of moody, swoony music, including unforgettable numbers like 'Summertime'. Since its first staging in 1937, it's been controversial: some condemned it for reinforcing African-American stereotypes in its depicting of a poor, struggling community, while others have seen it as a vital part of American history. With a score that draws on blues, spirituals and ragtime, it makes an undeniably powerful showcase for the talents of its performers. English National Opera is staging 'Porgy and Bess' for the first time ever, in a production that's directed by James Robinson, the artistic director of Opera St Louis. The cast includes Eric Greene and Nicole Cabell in the title roles, and Latonia Moore as Serena, in a return to the ENO following her memorable performance as 'Aida'.
Australian director Adena Jacobs is making her ENO debut with a new production of Strauss's scandalous opera. She's earned a reputation for subversive, feminist works like 'The Howling Girls' that break with operatic tradition and push the human voice to its limits. So her take on 'Salome', a story of female lust, is one to look forward to. 'Salome' is based on Oscar Wilde's story of a Biblical anti-heroine who demands her enemy John the Baptist's head on a plate. Strauss's music uses luscious orchestration to conjure up the world of Herod's court, and the story's shocking, borderline necrophiliac climax.
The Royal Opera's epic revival of director Keith Warner's staging of Wagner’s four-opera masterpiece 'Der Ring des Nibelungen' continues with 'Siegfried'. In the third opera in the tetralogy, Siegfried has grown up and realises his destiny. He reforges the sword Notung and sets off to claim the sleeping Brünnhilde. The conductor is Antonio Pappano. Sung in German with English surtitles.
The Royal Opera's epic staging of Wagner's four-opera masterpiece 'Der Ring des Nibelungen' finishes up with 'Götterdämmerung', the final opera in the tetralogy. Events culminate in tragedy as the curse of the ring continues to take effect. The conductor is Antonio Pappano. Sung in German with English surtitles.
David Alden's 2010 production of 'Lucia di Lammermoor' landed rave reviews for its atmospheric, gothic-hued Victorian setting, which sets Donizetti's 19th century opera in a series of claustrophobic interiors. Now it's back at the ENO. It's a haunting story of a woman who's manipulated by the men in two rival families, and sinks into heartbreak and depression.
The Royal Opera House's 2018 Autumn season opens with Keith Warner directing Wagner's four-opera masterpiece 'Der Ring des Nibelungen'. The first opera in the tetralogy, 'The Rheingold' sets the scene, when the dwarf Albrecht steals the gold from the Rhinemaidens and forges a ring. Meanwhile, Wotan, king of the gods, needs gold to repay the giants who built his new Valhalla… Starring John Lundgren and Johannes Martin Kränzle. The conductor is Antonio Pappano. Sung in German with English surtitles.
Part of the Royal Opera House's Autumn staging of Wagner's four-opera masterpiece 'Der Ring des Nibelungen', directed by Keith Warner, 'Die Walküre' sees the Valkyrie Brünnhilde having to decide if she should disobey her father Wotan and save the life of the doomed mortal Siegmund. The conductor is Antonio Pappano. Sung in German with English surtitles.
This review is from 2013. 'Simon Boccanegra' returns to Royal Opera House in Autumn 2018, starring Marcelo Álvarez Political intrigue and double-dealings, love across a divide and a child out of wedlock, revenge threatened on one Genoan family by another, a kidnapping, a poisoning, and, at its heart, Amelia – a young woman, infatuated with the man whose father was murdered by the pirate Simon Boccanegra... Verdi’s opera has it all. Elijah Moshinsky’s traditional and complementary production is impressive if sometimes a little spare, but it never gets in the way or resorts to novelty for its own sake. Such strength is supported by shadowy lighting for underhand shenanigans and luminosity for palatial surroundings and the grand Council Chamber scene (added by Verdi for the opera’s 1881 revision). In the title role, Thomas Hampson doesn’t always act-up the part enough. If his baritone is not the most resonant, his singing is still wonderfully open and unforced. As the troubled Amelia, soprano Hibla Gerzmava is a radiant songstress, finding deep emotion from within that is very affecting. Her lover, Gabriele Adorno, is given a swaggering portrayal by unstinting tenor Russell Thomas, while the bass Ferruccio Furlanetto brings gravitas to Boccanegra’s sworn enemy, Fiesco. Not wildly popular when first performed, it is now recognised as one of Verdi’s masterpieces, containing some of the composer’s most powerful, heartfelt and descriptive music, not least of the sea (the opening