Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Peter Grimes, Royal Opera

John Macfarlane's austere design for Peter Grimes was still fresh and effective. Amanda Roocroft was superb as Ellen. While Ben Heppner brought to the role his wealth of experience, his wobble and intonation was definitely an acquired taste. The Royal Opera should definitely start searching for the next Peter Grimes.


Andrew Davis was great. No doubt there were sufficient rehearsals to ensure Brittern's scoring was not fluffed. The highlight from the pit was the sea interludes which were beautifully and atmospherically played.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Macbeth at the Royal Opera

Macbeth was never my top Verdi opera. Still. I went to see it.

Simon Keenlyside sang superbly as Macbeth - from innocence, power-hungry through to the deranged. Liudmyla Monastyrska had a tremendous voice - she had no difficulties in filling the house while matching that of Keenlyside at the right moments. The chorus was magnificent - especially in those crowd-scene moments. Pappano conducted a very obedient orchestra.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Damnation of Faust at the ENO

Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust deserves to be staged. It's a wonderful work full of surprises and fantasies. Having sung the work in French a few times, I have become very partial to the work. So I went to ENO's staged version of Faust.


An in true ENO fashion, The Damnation of Faust received a thoroughly provocative treatment. Hildegard Bechtler created a set that was both practical and versatile in delivering the countless scene changes. I thought the cliff top / German Romantic backdrop was really good. The Nazis were used to depict hell and the works of the devils. Provocative enough for an English audience, but might seem mundane to visitors from across the Channel.

Peter Hoare, as Faust, had the right kind of ringing tone and enough emotions to be believable. Christopher Purves as Mephistopheles delivered a wide range of colours, from the wooing romantic to the sarcastic devil. Christine Rice was a fine Marguetite - and she was particularly good in the solo arias. Though low on numbers, the chorus did rather well throughout the scenes. Edward Gardner once again gave the work the necessary shape and flow. Let's hope the ENO will revive this again.