Greek perfection at Grimeborn 2018: GREEK, Turnage

Like the roar of an older, bolder London, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s GREEK bounces snarling onto the Grimeborn stage, celebrating its thirtieth anniversary in the first ever revival of its world premiere production for Munich and ENO, directed both then and now by Jonathan Moore. The significant privilege of reviving such an iconic production of this groundbreaking work with…

Hurtling into blankness: Entanglement! An Entropic Tale at Tête à Tête

Opera and physics: as a combination, what could possibly go wrong? As I briefly scanned one of the many programme notes generously supplied for the brave audience of Entanglement! An Entropic Tale, entitled “Quantum Mechanics, Shroedinger, The Uncertainty Principle and Wave-Particle Duality”, I felt a sense of mounting panic. However, as experiments go, Entanglement! wasn’t…

Bad boys go head to head: Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Grimeborn

Lucia di Lammermoor is an opera of shocking brutality, with savage emotional aggression rivalling physical violence throughout its fast-paced plot. Fulham Opera’s reduction for Grimeborn brings Donizetti’s dark, doomed characters to vivid life with some glorious principal singers, supported by a dramatic piano accompaniment from Ben Woodward. Foremost is Alberto Sousa’s passionate, difficult Edgardo, a…

Empowered comic victory: Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate, Grimeborn

The celebrations of the centenary of Women’s Suffrage in Britain have reached Dalston’s cultural heartland as Spectra Ensemble present a little-known opera by Suffragette composer Ethel Smyth, The Boatswain’s Mate, at Grimeborn. Smyth had to fight hard to become a composer, and even harder to get her work on stage, but she won through on both counts,…

Kimonos and karma: Puccini’s Madame Butterfly at Iford

Madame Butterfly enjoys extraordinary popularity today: even people who have never been to an opera in their lives could probably recognise its title. But why? Despite its surface familiarity, it’s a dark, upsetting piece, entirely devoid of romance, brimful of callous manipulation. Above all, its score is a far more challenging, experimental listen than we…

Une princesse inconnue: Isouard’s Cendrillon, Bampton Classical Opera

The little-known Cendrillon of Franco-Maltese composer Nicolò Isouard is the opera on which Rossini based his blockbuster hit La Cenerentola, which swiftly pitched Isouard’s Cendrillon into obscurity. On the opening night, possibly the opera’s UK première, the rain poured unhelpfully down on Bampton’s exquisite Deanery Garden, but spontaneous umbrella jokes (rhyming nicely with ‘Cinderella’) were…

Everybody loves David: Handel’s Saul at Glyndebourne

Barrie Kosky’s vividly abstract production of Saul for Glyndebourne embraces every emotional detail of this dramatic oratorio, from its exhilarating choruses to its raw, intimate family scenes. Kosky adds voices beyond Handel’s music: we hear laughs, shouts, cries, sobs, sighs, gasps, even spoken words around and between the score, fleshing out each moment with human detail.…