Preview: Opera in the City Festival

The Arts are steadily moving east in London. Nicholas Hytner is launching his new 900-seat theatre at Tower Bridge this autumn: it’s been 80 years since London theatre received such a large new forum for performance. Dalston and Hackney are brimming as ever with pop-up arts opportunities, but closer than trendy East London, the City…

Monteverdi’s Poppea, Hampstead Garden Opera

If you turned on BBC Radio 3 for more than 20 mins over the weekend, you might have noticed that we are joyously celebrating the 450th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi, composer of our earliest extant opera, Orfeo. L’incoronazione di Poppea was Monteverdi’s fourth and final opera, and the journey from Orfeo to Poppea shows just how far Monteverdi took the genre, creatively,…

A welcome return: Monteverdi’s Ulysses’ Homecoming, English Touring Opera

Saffron Hall, East Anglia’s brightest new star venue on the classical music horizon, is moving with confidence into direct competition with Snape Maltings. Their first fully staged opera, English Touring Opera’s clear and compelling Ulysses’ Homecoming, marked a development from the Saffron Opera Group’s previous concert performances of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre; and, with the…

Embracing anew: A Fairy Queen at Iford

Director Timothy Nelson has created a new performing edition of Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen for Iford, which picks out the most familiar scenes and divides them into four “Nights” (the Mechanicals’ rehearsal, Oberon and Titania’s quarrel, the human lovers’ confusion, and the Mechanicals’ play), framed by a Prologue and Epilogue. Purcell’s music is not only exquisite, but here is…

Pain and purity: Janáček’s Jenůfa at Longborough

Among the many operas in the canon thrumming with drama and violence, Jenůfa remains notably dark, shocking in its bleak brutality, barely relieved by a final discovery of true love which only comes to the shattered characters at an appalling price. Consequently, Jenůfa presents a real challenge for directors, because if the tension drops for even a few seconds…