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First Revival of Barrie Kosky’s Carmen at the Royal Opera Hous...

Sam Smith

Based on Prosper Mérimée’s eponymous novella, Georges Bizet’s Carmen of 1875 is the story of the ultimate temptress. A gypsy and cigarette factory worker in Seville, Carmen has the power to entice any man she chooses. Once, however, they are besotted with her she quickly moves on, leaving them heart broken and unable to accept what has happened. In the opera Don José, an army corporal, has almost everything he could ever desire. He has the sweet, loving...


Triumphant Return for Jonathan Miller’s La bohème at the Londo...

Sam Smith

Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 creation La bohème is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world today. Set in 1830s Paris, it focuses on six young adults and the love that four of them find with each other amidst the most impoverished of circumstances. One couple, Marcello and Musetta, have a stormy relationship but their frequent battles prove that their love actually has staying power. Rodolfo and Mimì, on the other hand, enjoy an apparently perfect love,...


A Staged Version of Britten’s War Requiem at the London Coliseum

Sam Smith

While most composers’ settings of the Catholic Church’s Requiem Mass were written to honour departed individuals, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem is rather different. It was commissioned to be performed at the consecration of the newly built Coventry Cathedral in 1962, the old structure having been bombed during the Second World War. It was therefore designed to commemorate all lives lost in war, and, although circumstances prevented this from happening, it was planned for...


Excellent Performances Lift Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Oper...

Sam Smith

Simon Boccanegra, originally of 1857 but revised in 1881, has not traditionally been seen as Verdi’s greatest creation. When, however, in 2010 Plácido Domingo took on the title role, his first as a baritone, at the Royal Opera House in Elijah Moshinsky’s 1991 production, it injected a new level of interest into the piece. English National Opera got in on the act with a ‘film noir’ production in 2011, while Moshinsky’s version enjoyed a further revival...


Ildar Abdrazakov's recital conquers La Scala

James Imam

The bass Ildar Abdrazakov has it all: the sumptuous voice, the rock solid technique, refined musicality and a gift for story telling with which he brings music and text to life. But that Abdrazakov has talent is hardly news in Milan -- the bass has regularly featured in opera productions here for nearly two decades. Instead, the big revelation from this La Scala recital was just how versatile he is. In Milan, Abdrazakov has always been most readily associated with Verdi. He has...


The tragic, dark and terrible beauty of Kàtia Kabànova

Xavier Pujol

Kàtia Kabànova is an opera of a tragic, dark and terrible beauty: a woman trapped in a marriage that is unsatisfactory from all angles tries to find an exit to the vital suffocation she is feeling in the arms of a lover who is even weaker than her husband. The feelings of guilt and, above all, a tyrant perverse and dominating mother-in-law summarising an oppressing and asphyxiating social entourage, will be make sure to make impossible any other solution but the suicide...


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