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…

Jungle drums beating true: Mozart’s Magic Flute at Iford

Director John Savournin has created a lively, accessible and stripped-down Flute for magical Wiltshire garden opera venue Iford which gives the lovers Tamino and Pamina a clear choice between the superstitious tribal culture of the Queen of the Night, and the humanist ethos of Enlightenment philosophy pioneered by the philosopher-sorcerer Sarastro. Simon Bejer‘s design takes us to the Peruvian rainforest,…

A stern Father’s Day treat: Mozart Idomeneo at Garsington

Mozart’s Idomeneo, rè di Creta is a sprawling monster of an opera; messy in its misappropriations of classical myth, and chaotic in the pacing and development of its plot, it fills a long evening by being strangely voluminous in parts and curiously bare in others. Gone are the taut sexual dynamics of Le nozze di Figaro, or the…

Season preview for Culture Whisper: Glyndebourne 2016

Melly Still’s magical production of Janáček‘s The Cunning Little Vixen (revival, 2012) is back, the only opera I know to have been born from a comic strip. Still’s vision balances a fine naturalistic sense with elements of Eastern European folktale and cartoon to deliver a world of animals bursting with colour, while humans exist in monochrome…

Season preview for Culture Whisper: Garsington 2016

Summer garden opera simply doesn’t get more glamourous than Garsington. The stunning lakeside setting at Wormsley, the Getty family’s oil-painting-perfect English retreat, sets off any picnic to perfection; there’s even an army of Scouts to carry your basket for you (tips go towards their Scout Hut). The evening should impress on stage too: Garsington’s elegant…

Just what the Philosopher ordered: Salieri’s La Grotta di Trofonio at Bampton

Salieri’s brisk, vibrant comedy is a hidden masterpiece, combining the perils of courtship with the 18th century’s burgeoning taste for crackpot science. Director and designer Jeremy Gray’s commitment to the score, the work and this much-maligned composer shines out in Bampton’s engaging production, sung in exceptionally clear English by a talented cast. You can’t produce Salieri without…