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…

Gasp, cry, laugh: Puccini’s Il Tabarro & Gianni Schicchi, Fulham Opera

First, darkness; next, grief and spiritual transcendence; finally, ribald laughter. For his penultimate work, Puccini designed a trio of short one-act operas, Il Trittico, to take his audience on an extraordinary, disconnected emotional journey in one evening, from a bitter revenge tragedy to a brilliant farce. Fulham Opera have picked the two most popular elements…

Some enchanted evening: Puccini’s La rondine at Iford

From the opening party at Magda’s house, all fairylights and champagne, to the sultry Paris dive where students are later discovered toasting new-found love in absinthe, La rondine is no “poor cousin” Puccini: it is a symphony of self-deception and conscious seduction, in very modern mode. The opera’s compromised, yet nostalgic moral outlook fits our time; the…

A Tosca which falls flat? Dyka /Alagna at the ROH

Oksana Dyka sang at the 2005 inauguration of President Viktor Yushchenko (or so Wikipedia confidently assures me). Only two months afterwards, she would star in her very first Tosca. Nine years later, in a political maelstrom where power is wrenched from fist to fist daily, where religion cannot be a safe refuge, and where corruption may…

Back to the grindstone: The Miller’s Wife at Grimeborn

“The windmill goes round and round… It is a simple life”. The Miller‘s Wife opens, and almost closes, with a similar scene: the miller’s wife in the garden of the mill, while the miller inside pores over his books. However, in this opera, there appears to be no such thing as a simple life. Life, in fact,…