Who pulls the strings? Mozart’s Magic Flute at Longborough

Like Glyndebourne’s recent Rinaldo, Longborough’s Magic Flute seems to take shape as a young boy’s daydream, or perhaps the world of his storybook coming to life in his imagination. A sense of dreamlike surrealism never quite fades from the stage: magic feels real in Thomas Guthrie’s vivid production, thanks to the skilful use of puppetry throughout the…

For teenage kicks: Mozart’s Lucio Silla at Buxton

Although it can’t lay claim to the emotional dexterity and acute social awareness of Mozart’s mature works, Lucio Silla is an ambitious piece which demands a great deal of its primarily soprano cast, taking as its theme the life of the Roman dictator Sulla,  though with only the most nonchalant nod to the facts of…

Preview: Opera in the City Festival

The Arts are steadily moving east in London. Nicholas Hytner is launching his new 900-seat theatre at Tower Bridge this autumn: it’s been 80 years since London theatre received such a large new forum for performance. Dalston and Hackney are brimming as ever with pop-up arts opportunities, but closer than trendy East London, the City…

Jungle drums beating true: Mozart’s Magic Flute at Iford

Director John Savournin has created a lively, accessible and stripped-down Flute for magical Wiltshire garden opera venue Iford which gives the lovers Tamino and Pamina a clear choice between the superstitious tribal culture of the Queen of the Night, and the humanist ethos of Enlightenment philosophy pioneered by the philosopher-sorcerer Sarastro. Simon Bejer‘s design takes us to the Peruvian rainforest,…

A stern Father’s Day treat: Mozart Idomeneo at Garsington

Mozart’s Idomeneo, rè di Creta is a sprawling monster of an opera; messy in its misappropriations of classical myth, and chaotic in the pacing and development of its plot, it fills a long evening by being strangely voluminous in parts and curiously bare in others. Gone are the taut sexual dynamics of Le nozze di Figaro, or the…

Season preview for Culture Whisper: Glyndebourne 2016

Melly Still’s magical production of Janáček‘s The Cunning Little Vixen (revival, 2012) is back, the only opera I know to have been born from a comic strip. Still’s vision balances a fine naturalistic sense with elements of Eastern European folktale and cartoon to deliver a world of animals bursting with colour, while humans exist in monochrome…

Season preview for Culture Whisper: Garsington 2016

Summer garden opera simply doesn’t get more glamourous than Garsington. The stunning lakeside setting at Wormsley, the Getty family’s oil-painting-perfect English retreat, sets off any picnic to perfection; there’s even an army of Scouts to carry your basket for you (tips go towards their Scout Hut). The evening should impress on stage too: Garsington’s elegant…