Songs of innocence and experience: Verdi’s Falstaff at Garsington

Bruno Ravella’s fast-paced direction for Garsington Opera honours Falstaff’s intense immediacy with a clear emphasis on dynamic physical and visual comedy underpinned by taut stagecraft, while still allowing time for its vital moments of pathos to breathe on stage in this subtle, elegant production. Henry Waddington’s dextrous characterisation means Falstaff’s connection to Rigoletto, another Verdi tortured clown, feels unmistakeable.…

Preview: Waterperry Opera Festival

It’s not every summer England sees a brand new garden opera festival coming to life. Waterperry Opera Festival is not only new, but innovative and ambitious, opening with a range of pieces broad enough to welcome a wide audience, deconstructing and disrupting the classic English summer opera formula (though picnics are still definitely encouraged). Four…

Escape to the country: Bernstein’s Candide at Iford

This whirling, high-energy collaboration between Iford Arts and Opera Della Luna packs every possible punch in a furiously creative evening of constant costume changes, an endlessly reassembling set, and above all a blazing sense of commitment from Jeff Clarke’s fine cast. Candide’s endless, troubled travels feel like a parable of life itself, as he learns the…

Resurrection par excellence: Handel’s Messiah, Merry Opera

We gather in the glorious Arts and Crafts surroundings of Our Lady Star of the Sea, Lowestoft, one of Suffolk’s most beautiful Catholic churches, on a summery April evening while the kittiwakes scream overhead. Merry Opera’s cast gradually file in, dressed in everyday clothes: twelve men and women from all walks of life, approaching the…

A fine cast sent adrift: SALT – fEast Theatre

“This strip of saltmarsh, not quite the land, not quite the sea”: the wet, uncompromising North Norfolk coastline forms the setting for Jeremy Page’s 2008 novel Salt, newly adapted for the stage by Robin McLoughlin, who also stars in fEast’s touring production as the charismatic Kipper, a mysterious, defensive man with a fascination for chemistry,…

Present for the future: A Hansel at Snape Maltings

“One must be poor to know the luxury of giving!” George Eliot (in Middlemarch) points us to the social circularity behind a gift: and this Hansel given at Snape was a perfect example, with three exceptional musicians, Julius Drake, Mark Padmore and Krzysztof Chorzelski, ‘giving back’ their skills in performance in aid of two charities…