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,…

Rapturous, languorous beauty: Lully’s Armide, Grimeborn

If you fancy being entertained like a French king, head to Grimeborn for Lully’s Armide. Lully’s artistic monopoly over French opera lasted well beyond his death (thanks to some dastardly patenting, as the excellent programme notes explain): he took full advantage of his pre-eminent position musically, as well as financially, creating opera for Louis XIV of rapturous,…

DIARY OF ONE WHO DISAPPEARED, Janáček, Grimeborn

The poems which inspired the mysterious song cycle Diary of One Who Disappeared first appeared anonymously published in a newspaper in May 1916. They immediately caught the eye of composer Leos Janáček, who completed this song cycle by 1920. The poems, eventually attributed to Ozef Kalda, tell the story of a young man who falls in love…

Love conquers all, kills some, exiles others: Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea at Grimeborn

Ryedale Festival Opera’s version, in a clear and lyrical new translation by John Warrack, absolutely understands Monteverdi’s sophisticated agenda: and, with a talented cast in director Nina Brazier’s capable hands, resoundingly succeeds on all levels, giving us an evening of luxurious beauty, abandoned sensuality and superb characterisation. Click here to read my full review on…

Biting the hand that feeds: Madame X at Grimeborn

Masetto (now an impoverished immigrant artist, more reminiscent of Puccini’s poet Rodolfo than Mozart’s Masetto) and Zerlina (all girlish scruples definitely removed, along with most of her charm) encounter Don Giovanni again in the shape of a cardboard-cutout capitalist, Mr Wilmore, whose seduction of Zerlina this time is bald, transactional and unpleasant: and, worst of all,…

Luxurious, plaintive and dark: Massenet’s Werther, Grimeborn

Massenet’s Werther is a tragic tale of unrealised and forbidden passion between a dutiful wife (Charlotte) and her husband Albert’s best friend, Werther, whose final, violent resolution comes at that most emotionally loaded of times – Christmas. Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther is the original inspiration for Massenet, whose opera (like Goethe’s work) is itself…