Pick a side: Schutzwall at Tête à Tête

Although opera is traditionally associated with grand narrative structures, sometimes its heightened psychological intensity can be remarkably effective at drawing us into an intimate historical moment, and just keeping us there a little while. Schutzwall tells the story of two sisters – Angelika Meyer (Mimi Doulton) and Suzanne Meyer (Ella Taylor) – suddenly separated by…

Power hour: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, The Hermes Experiment at Tête à Tête

The Winter’s Tale is surely one of Shakespeare’s cruellest tragedies: Leontes’ mistaken, yet unshakeable jealousy destroys family bonds and friendships alike, culminating in blasphemy as he refuses to accept the Oracle of Apollo which exonerates his blameless wife. Even the eventual restoration of his wife and daughter, an earthly miracle achieved only by the courage…

Divine passion: Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah, Grimeborn

Aylin Bozok’s productions of French opera for Grimeborn have all been marked by their elegance, restraint and psychological intensity. Bozok exchanges the orchestra for a piano accompaniment (played here with plangent, unmistakeable panache by Kelvin Lim), keeps the singing in French but projects a clear English translation above the stage, and places our focus squarely…

Songs for a mad emperor: Sarah Toth’s Nero Monologues

Sarah Toth’s Nero Monologues is a pastiche opera, or pasticcio: this is a recognised form of opera making, used by Handel among others, where rather than writing an entirely fresh score, a composer collates (some might smirkingly say today ‘curates’) a selection of other people’s music, organising the chosen arias or passages to illustrate a…

Lust, silk and strangulation: Zemlinsky’s A Florentine Tragedy

Oscar Wilde never finished his play A Florentine Tragedy, an unsettling little story of the attempted seduction of a merchant’s wife by the local prince, and that prince’s death at the hands of her jealous husband, who comes home early in the piece to find them together. Alexander Zemlinsky’s challenging score makes this intense short opera…