Blame game: Strauss’ Daphne at Grimeborn

Daphne comes from one of the most controversial (read: embarrassing) periods of Strauss’ life, when he continued to compose under the Nazi regime, rather than taking a principled stand (or moving away from Germany). For Strauss’ Daphne at the Arcola Theatre, Dalston, director and conductor José Manuel Gandia took Strauss’ discomfiting collaboration as the starting point…

Bizet’s Carmen, OperaUpClose, Soho Theatre

There is no definitive edition of Bizet’s Carmen. In January and March 1875, two different editions of the score were published, neither of which match the conducting score for its premiere (also March 1875, at the Opéra Comique, Paris). As a result, musicologists differ as to Bizet’s true intentions for Carmen and its characters: the work is free…

Tawdry goings on: Gala at Grimeborn

The topic of Ergo Phizmiz’s small opera Gala is Gala Dalí’s overwhelming passion for Jeff Fenholt, the original star of Jesus Christ Superstar, who was a ‘boy toy’ for Gala when she was 79 and he was 29. There’s a double geriatric sex scene (no fun to witness), and a bit of live rabbit-boiling thrown in for good…

The Lion-Faced Man at Tête-à-Tête

We don’t laugh at oddities of nature in circus sideshows any more: sadly, we haven’t grown out of the propensity, but it’s simply become all too easy (and, for some, lucrative) to do that on television. Any casual flick through the channels will show you society’s appetite for the freakish has not diminished, although it…

Thursday night is school night at Tête à Tête: Sonata for YouTube, Turandot Reimagined

Tête-à-Tête is branching out ever further into new venues. Having been to a dance theatre and a nightclub, we now found ourselves in a school theatre. Fittingly, the evening’s programme was academically focused: Llywelyn ap Myrddin’s Sonata for YouTube, inspired by John Cage, and Jonathan Man’s Turandot Reimagined, which seeks to take Puccini’s orientalist opera back…

The Boys from Bohème: An Unexpected Opera Chat Show

I have to start this review with a confession: the more you go to Unexpected Opera shows, the harder it gets to remain objective about them. As I’ve now seen more than one, I’m afraid my judgement on these is probably compromised already. This very seldom happens to a critic – opera critics most of…

Verdi meets The Queen Vic: an uproarious Falstaff from Fulham Opera

Fulham Opera’s Falstaff opens in a modern day pub: crisps are on the table, children are playing with mobile phones, and Falstaff himself is in tracksuit bottoms. It’s effectively a case of Verdi meets The Queen Vic, soaked in a London underworld atmosphere of wideboys, semi-functional alcoholics and glossy Essex beauties. Directed by Daisy Evans, the action…