Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2007

An ecstatic Parsifal at the Royal Opera

It's not even Christmas yet, but inside the Royal Opera House tonight, it felt like Easter has come early.

Tonight's performance of Parsifal was a revival of the 2001 production. Christopher Ventris sang the title role with conviction. Petra Lang was a convincing mad and schizophrenic Kundry. John Tomlinson sang a more lyrical than usual Gurnamanz and Willard White added wickedness to the scorer Klingsor. Its minimalist design and light-touch stage direction really let the music carry the drama. OK, there was the feet washing and flying sword, most of the time the singers were allowed to give the music care and space.

The real star was Bernard Haitink. The orchestra gave Haitink 110% tonight - not a split note in the brass section, the woodwind department was full of rich colours, even the strings were adding warmth to the music (I recall the drunken-sounding brass section in the Ring). But Haitink didn't take any of this for granted - he was phrasing and shaping the mus…

Aida in Technicolor at the English National Opera

Last night I went to see Aida at the English National Opera. When I booked a few weeks earlier, there were just  the odd single seats left - clearly I forgot about the fact that Aida is a bit of a crowd-puller. So being two seats behind Ed Gardner I had a rather wide-angle view of the stage!

Claire Rutter was  the defiant yet passionate Aida. Jane Dutton made a tempestuous and bitchy Amneris. John Hudson, as Radames, took a little while to warm up at the beginning. He was brave enough to sing the last note of Celeste Aida with a pianissimo sotto voce rather than blasting it out. However, against the strong voiced Aida and Amneris, Ramades sounded at times overwhelmed (there were one or two moments where his voice sounded pushed). The chorus did very well in the second act with multiple divides - there were slaves, women, high priests, normal priests - and added much atmosphere to the subsequent trial and entombment scenes. The acrobatic show during the ballet music also worked well.