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Showing posts from April, 2009

Lohengrin at the Royal Opera

Tonight's performance of Lohengrin at the Royal Opera was truly astounding. Johan Botha sang the title role with amazing stamina and intensity - right to the final aria. Edith Haller had an angelic voice that befitted Elsa. Petra Lang's steely tone really worked well as Ortrud. In fact, the entire cast was well matched - from the big Wagnerian choruses down to the many a cappella passages.

Semyon Bychkov led the orchestra to deliver a dramatically paced yet lyrical performance. The brass section was giving its best. The chorus was fantastic too as it sang with gusto and intensity. All in all, it was Wagner at its best.

Il Trovatore

Sondra Radvanovsky who sang Leonora last night at this revival of Il Trovatore was sensational. Her voice was big enough to fill the auditorium, yet the pianissimi were soft enough to draw you into the drama. Absolutely amazing. Dmitri Hvorostovsky sang a fine Count di Luna - with sufficient gravitas and weight. His duet with Leonora was fantastic. Roberto Alagna, as Manrico, was entertaining at times, but he was quite often under the note which could be infuriating.

Carlo Rizzi kept the drama moving and the orchestra responded in kind.

Acis and Galatea

Oh my god, the dullness continued with Acis and Galatea. I was hoping the light and pastoral Handel score will brighten things up. I was so wrong. While the stage had more visual interests, the same dull playing and inanimate singers failed to bring this performance to life. The dancers continued to provide pointless distractions. It could have been so much fun, so playful, so tragic. Oh no, let's make it boring. I looked at my watch more than 3 times thinking whether I will miss Newsnight on BBC2. Though others couldn't wait till the end and walked off half way through the performance.

Dido and Aeneas

I am not a Purcell fan at the best of times, but was really put off by the dark and dull Dido and Aeneas production at the Royal Opera / Royal Ballet on Wednesday night. The whole production was turgid (my friend's choice of word), lifeless and boring.

Wayne McGregor was the choreographer.Christopher Hogwood conducted the score with rhythmic discipline. The orchestra, OAE, played along. No more, no less. Come on, make it come to life - with all the resources available it could have been an exciting performance full of fizz and drama. The stage was mostly barren - made for ballet rather than opera. It might have been a better production if they focused on one or the other: perhaps the opera and ballet companies had to make too many compromises. 

Dr Atomic at the English National Opera

It has just been over a month since I last saw Dr Atomic at the English National Opera. Somehow it has been relatively easy to recall what I saw and how I felt. The set and costumes were wonderfully evocative of the era (40s). Dr Oppenheimer (Gerald Finley) sang the title role with conviction. And Peter Sellar's direction had an intimate quality - whether it was in the lab, the home of Oppenheimer or at the test site. John Adams's score was dramatic. The best part was the slow, incessant and girating sequence that led up to the test bomb explosion: you could tell the entire audience was gripped by that dramatic ending