Mozart and Stravinsky in Aix

Bathed in Mediterranean light, basking in enlightenment Aix found two famous classical works, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress in its famous festival’s open air ThÈ‚tre de l’ArchevÍche. But were we enlightened?

Des Moines: Nothing ‘Little’ About Night Music

Des Moines Metro Opera’s richly detailed production of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music left an appreciative audience to waltz home on air, and has prompted this viewer to search for adequate superlatives.

Longborough Festival Opera: A World Class Tristan und Isolde in a Barn Shed

Of all the places, I did not expect a sublime Tristan und Isolde in a repurposed barn in the Cotswolds. Don’t be fooled by Longborough’s stage without lavish red curtains to open and close each act. Any opera house would envy the riveting chemistry between Peter Wedd and Lee Bisset in this intimate, 500 seat setting. Conductor Anthony Negus proved himself a master at Wagner’s emotional depth. Epic drama in minimalistic elegance: who needs a big budget when you have talent and drama this passionate?

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra throws a glossy Bernstein party

For almost thirty years, summer at the Concertgebouw has been synonymous
with Robeco SummerNights. This popular series expands the classical concert
formula with pop, film music, jazz and more, served straight up or mixed
together. Composer Leonard Bernstein’s versatility makes his oeuvre,
ranging from Broadway to opera, prime SummerNight fare.

Die Frau ohne Schatten at Munich

It was fascinating to see — and of course, to hear — Krzysztof
Warlikowsi’s productions of Die Gezeichneten and Die Frau
ohne Schatten
on consecutive nights of this year’s Munich Opera

A Resplendent Régine Crespin in Tosca

There have to be special reasons to release a monophonic live recording of a
much-recorded opera. Often it can give us the opportunity to hear a singer in a
major role that he or she never recorded commercially—or did record on
some later occasion, when the voice was no longer fresh. Often a live recording
catches the dramatic flow better than certain studio recordings that may be
more perfect technically.

Karine Deshayes’s Astonishing New Rossini Recording

Critic and scholar John Barker has several times complained, in the pages of
American Record Guide, about Baroque vocal recitals that add
instrumental works or movements as supposed relief or (as he nicely calls them)

Knappertsbusch’s Only Recording of Lohengrin Released for the First Time

Hans Knappertsbusch was one of the most renowned Wagner conductors who ever
lived. His recordings of Parsifal, especially, are near-legendary
among confirmed Wagnerians.

Dulwich Opera’s Carmen

Dulwich Opera Company’s Carmen was a convincingly successful show.  This was mainly due to succinct musical direction and rigorous dramatic direction.  It also meant that the proximity of the action was a fascinating treat, and by the artists being young, and easy on the eye.

Franz Schreker: Die Gezeichneten

There is a host of fine operas out there languishing more or less
unperformed (in some cases, quite unperformed). A few of them might even
qualify as ‘great’. (Feel free to remove inverted commas, should
that be your thing.) Franz Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, whatever
its proponents might claim, is certainly not one of those: not even close.