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,…

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…

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…

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…

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…