Rosemary Joshua (Despina) and Thomas Allen (Don Alfonso) in Royal Opera House's production of 'Così Fan Tutte' - February 2012 © Royal Opera House

Così Fan Tutte: Constancy, Comedy and Cancellations

The best laid plans of the Royal Opera House don’t often go awry… but on this fateful day in February, I think some of their senior staff might have had a bit of a headache! What do you do when your star baritone drops out of a performance at the last minute with no time to get his standby replacement from Paris? Well… here’s what happened….
Continue reading

Claire Rutter as the eponymous heroine in Act 3 of Puccini's 'Tosca' at English National Opera - January 2012 © Mike Hoban, ENO

Tosca: An ENO English Experience

No one who reads my blog can be in any doubt as to how much I love Puccini’s Tosca. I can practically sing it back to front… and I’m sure my family and my long-suffering housemates are getting fed up from me mentioning Tosca or singing long dramatic arias in the shower. Perhaps it’s time to start a Tosca-jar… every time I mention Rome or jumping off battlements, I should contribute £1 to the jar. Might even pay for a trip to Rome to see Tosca… (ooops… £2 down already).
Continue reading

Reinhard Hagen (The Commendatore) and Erwin Schrott (Don Giovanni) in the Royal Opera House production of Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' - February 2012 © Mike Hoban

Don Giovanni: Second Time Lucky

Usually when I don’t like something, that’s that. I’m open to trying lots of new things and I endlessly give experiences more time than they usually deserve… but when I’ve made up my mind whether or not I like something, it definitely goes in the camp of
“Been there, done that, definitely don’t want the T-shirt”.

So when I went to this production at the Royal Opera House of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in January and loathed it… I definitely was not going to allow it to take up any more of my time. That’s until the Royal Opera sent me an email through the student standby scheme offering any seats in the house for £10 a pop. Surely I could sit through another performance with front row seats and not roll my eyes every few seconds…?! Confident in my better nature… I decided I could put aside my reservations. And what a night it was!
Continue reading

Luca Pisaroni (Caliban) and Joyce DiDonato (Sycorax) in the Metropolitan Opera production of 'The Enchanted Island' - 21 January 2012 © Sara Krulwich, New York Times

The Enchanted Island: The Met’s Magical Mystery

If I’ve learnt something over the last year of Met Live in HD broadcasts, it’s that you can never predict what’s coming. No exception to this rule was this screening of the newly commissioned The Enchanted Island, a mélange of reworked baroque arias from composers such as Handel, Vivaldi and Rameau with new libretto and story by Jeremy Sams. A hand-picked stellar cast really brought the production together and 17th century-style staging was enhanced by modern projection effects (something that the Met seems to be a big fan of at the moment). An enjoyable evening… even more so for my father, the self-confessed Handel addict.
Continue reading

Stephen Costello (Alfredo) and Ailyn Pérez (Violetta) in a special performance of Verdi's 'La Traviata' at Royal Opera House - 20 January 2012 © Neil Gillespie

La Traviata: Pérez hits a high note… again!

What a performance!

It was never my intention to write up every performance of the Royal Opera House’s La Traviata that I’ve been to see this season, but after last night’s wonderful performance – the best Traviata that I’ve ever seen live – I definitely owe it to you, and my blog, to write down some of my thoughts!

The magic of last night’s performance came around entirely by accident. I’d booked this ticket to see Anna Netrebko in this role, but owing to a foot injury, it was announced that Ermonela Jaho would be stepping in for her. And then, only a day before the performance, it emerged that owing to illness, Jaho was going to be replaced….. by none other than Ailyn Pérez, the captivating star of the performance I saw in December. So I knew it was going to be good…
Continue reading

Natalie Dessay (Manon), Giuseppe Filianoti (Des Grieux) and Franck Ferrari (Lescaut) in Massenet's 'Manon' at the Opéra National de Paris - January 2012 © Charles Duprat

Manon: Parties, Punks and Priests in Paris

With Little Me’s first birthday looming just around the corner, what better way to celebrate than to go back to the place where his opera journey began…. in Paris! This time to see Natalie Dessay and Giuseppe Filianoti in Massenet’s Manon at the Opéra Bastille. And what a bizarre experience this performance was!
Continue reading

Marina Poplavskaya (Violetta) and James Valenti (Alfredo) in the first cast of 'La Traviata' - October 2011 © Royal Opera House

La Traviata: A Tragic Triumph

I’ve always had a soft spot for Verdi’s La Traviata ever since I saw it for the first time during my undergrad. When I saw that the Royal Opera House were staging it over a three-month period this winter with three different casts, I jumped at the chance of booking tickets… and one for each cast! Having seen two of the casts, and with the news that Anna Netrebko has cancelled her performances in January, I thought I would end my first year of blogging on a Verdian high…
Continue reading

Jonas Kaufmann (Faust) and René Pape (Méphistophélès) in Met Opera's new production of Gounod's 'Faust' - December 2011 © Ken Howard

Faust: The Met’s Nuclear Production

In this, my last Met Live in HD viewing of 2011, I went to see another production of Gounod’s Faust, a far cry from the Royal Opera House production I saw in September. Des McAnuff’s production was far out – it was set between the World Wars, with Faust as a nuclear scientist. While I’m not sure I followed all of the historical and cultural ideology implanted in this production, it was definitely not a hindrance as by the end I was in tears. It was very moving!
Continue reading

The lovers, Rodelinda (Renée Fleming) and Bertarido (Andreas Scholl), in Met Opera's production of Handel's 'Rodelinda' - December 2011 ©  Ken Howard

Rodelinda: Handel gets the Hollywood treatment

This production just proves how versatile the Metropolitan Opera is at staging great productions across the board. Having seen Siegfried at a Met Live in HD screening less than a month previously, I was back in Malvern to watch my first full-length Handel opera on the big screen – this time with Handel’s number 1 fan, my father.
Continue reading

The impressive set for Act 3 in Tchaikovsky's 'Eugene Onegin' - November 2011 © Neil Libbert, ENO

Eugene Onegin: A Tchaikovsky Triumph

This performance, for me, was special in many ways. Not only was it a great performance, both musically and visually, but also it was part of a reunion with some of the people with whom I had visited the Salzburg Festival in August this year. Having seen three operas and some concerts in Salzburg, it seemed fitting that the first big UK reunion should be at an opera. So 17 opera tickets later… and we were off to see my first Tchaikovsky opera of the year, Eugene Onegin.
Continue reading