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Káťa Kabanová, Royal Opera

Katya, sung by Amanda Majeski, had the passionate timbre making her role convincing. Boris (Pavel Cernoch) was ok, and his duet with Majeski was a delight. Susan Bickley's Kabanova was steely and overpowering. Antony McDonald's design and Richard Jones's direction worked well together - the faux 70s decor and costumes added a certain softness to the harsh reality of the society Janáček portrayed. Edward Gardner did the score justice, bring out fabulous melodic lines, nature and the edgy textures.
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Die Walküre, Jurowski and LPO

Stuart Skelton (Siegmund) and Ruxandra Donose (Sieglinde) made a good match in the first act, while Stephen Milling made a superb and dark Hunding. In the absence of staging, the orchestral colours shone through and it was a delight to hear it all. Svetlana Sozdateleva's Brünnhilde as firm, nuanced and had the emotional breadth to be convincingly half-god / half-human. Markus Marquardt's Wotan, sadly, was too subdue and introspective for my liking (I didn't see Das Rheingold, but I have heard stories of a certain bass-baritone staring at the score in performance).  I wonder whether we will get yet another Wotan / Wanderer in Siegfried later in the cycle.

This must be part of Vladimir Jurowski's preparation of his Ring cycles at future opera houses (Munich? Bayreuth?). Having checked with a few friends, we thought the LPO has not played the complete Ring for at least a few decades. Perhaps that's why it sounded bright, fresh and exciting.

The Queen of Spades, Royal Opera

I was quite looking forward to seeing and hearing this seldom performed gem of a piece. Thank goodness Pappano was at the helm to deliver an almost symphonic sound world with the overture. That was the good bit.

Why, oh why, we needed the composer to appear as a ghostly shadow to everything??? The duet between Gherman (Sergey Polyakov) and Lisa (Eva-Maria Westbroek) was lovingly sung, only to have a distracting composer loitering. The choreography and staging worked with the story line - except the ever present showy composer figure. If this production is to be revived, please DELETE the onstage composer!

Hansel und Gretel at the Royal Opera

On entering the auditorium, I saw a detailed and realistic image of a valley (presumably concocted from photographs of German or Austrian countryside) projected onto the stage. I had high hopes that this new production of Hansel und Gretel will have staging that relates to the story (the last time the Royal Opera staged this, a 60s trailer and a ghastly morgue were inflicted on us). I was not to be disappointed - Anthony McDonald gave us a realistic design, with the first act set in a cosy house with barren shelves. The forest scene in Act 2 was magical - there were trees, mist, forest creatures - not to mention characters from other Grimm tales during the dream sequence. Act 3 started with a innocent and inviting looking gingerbread house, but on rotation a large cauldron (presumably for turning fat children into gingerbread) was revealed!



Hansel and Gretel were sung by Hanna Hipp and Jennifer Davis respectively. They looked the part and sounded fresh - all helped to convey two misch…

Hagen Quartet, Wigmore Hall

Yes, the legendary Hagen Quartet playing at the Wigmore Hall.

The Schubert String Quartet in G minor sounded rough, with problematic intonation from the first violin. The whole piece sounded like a play through. Not a good start. The playing of the Webern pieces (Five Movements / Six Bagatelles) could not be more different. They got through the grittiness and bleakness of these concise pieces with precision and poise.

The second half of the concert was Haydn String Quartet in Bb (Op 55 N 3). The playing was warm, coherent with the kind of interplay between the quartet members that one would expect. Good tempi choice. This warmth was naturally conveyed through brilliant acoustic of the hall.

Porgy and Bess, English National Opera

I quite forgot the first number in Porgy and Bess is Summertime! Beautifully sung by Nicole Cabell as Bess. On a whole, the chorus number was better sung than the solo numbers - where the diction was generally inadequate. The set (Michael Yeargan) was three-dimensional and worked really well with the many scenes in this work. John Wilson was in his elements in the pit and the orchestra responded with a rhythmic boisterous sound - the best part of the evening.

I'm Not Running, National Theatre

David Hare's new play about a more-or-less accidental politician in the Labour Party seem contemporary at the time when politicians are about the parties, rather than the people. Siân Brooke's portrayal of the protagonist Pauline Gibson was strong and nuanced - especially when there were flashbacks to her doctor training days and a difficult mother. Alex Hassell's Jack Gould was equally effective at delivering a main stream process-focused politician.

At times, some dialogues seem too contrived, too many pauses. It's definitely a play of the moment. Perhaps David Hare will write one for a yet-to-be-fathomed post-Brexit England.