Queen’s dating dilemma: Handel’s Partenope at Iford

Partenope is a perfect comic storm of seduction, jealousy, fidelity and infidelity, gender-bending and downright skulduggery, anchored in the sharp human tension of true love. Many of these tropes are familiar Handel fare, but Partenope is set apart by the unnerving genuineness of its emotional dynamics, which ripple and transform from scene to scene, as the game of…

Shame, camera, action: Verdi’s La traviata at Longborough

Heavyweight opera behemoth /institution La traviata is always in need of agile, intelligent reworkings like Longborough’s intriguing new production. Daisy Evans’ incisive update makes Violetta Valéry a Hollywood filmstar in the late Fifties, taking inspiration from the celebrated, yet tortured life of Marilyn Monroe. While this has certainly been done before (memorably by Grange Park Opera in 2014), Evans’…

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…

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…