Die Frau ohne Schatten in Toulouse

The fifth opera in the Richard Strauss canon — the one that is truly gigantic — staged just now at Toulouse’s acoustically famed 1150 seat Theatre du Capitole in the…

Wolf’s Mörike-Lieder: Anna Prohaska and Christian Gerhaher at Wigmore Hall

A decidedly superior Liederabend, in terms of verse, musical setting, and performance. Hugo Wolf remains a connoisseur’s composer: slightly perplexing, perhaps, but then there is no playing to the gallery,…

Werther in Monte-Carlo

A superb cast, an inspired maestro, an intimate theater, an operatic masterpiece (the eighteenth of Massenet’s thirty-six operas), Werther in Monte-Carlo was a thrilling bombardment of emotional crises.  From the…

Julian PrÈgardien : Schubert, Wigmore Hall, London

The Wigmore Hall’s complete Schubert song series continued with Julian PrÈgardien and Christoph Schnackertz, in a recital deferring from May. Well worth the wait, because PrÈgardian is good, his singing enhanced by very strong musical instincts. In Lieder, sensitivity and musical intelligence are as important as voice. A good recital, is one where you come away feeling you’ve gone deeper into the repertoire thanks to the performer, as opposed to watching celebrity for celebrity sake

Boesch and Martineau Schubert Complete Songs, Wigmore Hall, London

The Wigmore Hall’s complete Schubert Songs series of 40 concerts began with a recital by Florian Boesch and Graham Johnson. (Read my review here). If anything, though, the second concert, where Boesch was accompanied by Malcolm Martineau, was even better. The programme was beautifully planned, and the performance exceptional, even by the very high standards of the Wigmore Hall.

Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk – ENO London

It took artistic courage to choose Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtensk to start the ENO’s 2015-2016 season. Shostakovich isn’t an easy sell, and so full of sex and violence that some minds – like Josef Stalin – would be aghast. But Mark Wigglesworth is passionate about Shostakovich , and as new Music Director of the ENO, he’s making a point. Good opera needs artistic vision.

Berg Wozzeck Fabio Luisi Zurich Opera

Zurich Opera brought Alban Berg Wozzeck to the Royal Festival Hall, London . Fabio Luisi conducted Philharmonia Zurich and a very good cast in a concert performance. With all pretence at staging removed (apart from natural good acting) we could focus on the sheer musical audacity of Berg’s writing, and pick up on the processes the music employs to create the drama.

Britten, Danced.

Many, many thanks to the Barbican Centre for commissioning Britten’s Phaedra choreographed by Richard Alston Dance Company at the Barbican Theatre. Of the numerous Britten homages this centenary year, this is one of the most inventive. Absolutely, it makes sense to dance Britten, to find new ways into his music through physical, non-verbal expression.The worlds of dance and music don’t mesh nearly as often as they should. so this was stimulating for everyone, though it was by far a better dance performance than a musical experience. But Richard Alston’s danced Phaedra is something that will last, long after this centenary year has passed.

Opera Awards, London 2013

A brand new award to promote opera has been unveiled in London.

Brindley Sherratt – Sarastro at the Royal Opera House

Brindley Sherratt sings Sarastro in Mozart Die Zauberflˆte at the Royal Opera House, London. All performances are sold out, though returns are possible. The entire run (which ends 9th May) is dedicated to the memory of Sir Colin Davis who conducted this production, by David McVicar, most recently in 2011.