Sophisticated Christmas sparkle: The Firework-Maker’s Daughter at the Royal Opera House

Directed by John Fulljames, The Firework-Maker’s Daughter is a gently exotic and quietly magical act of storytelling, with a strong female hero, a vibrant score with strong, tuneful melodies from David Bruce played with relish by the CHROMA Ensemble, and plenty of visual interest contributed by skilful shadow puppetry from Indefinite Articles. Shapes and outlines inspired…

Cabin pressure rising: Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse at the Linbury

Half urban myth, half folklore, the mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse-keepers from the Flannan Isles one night in 1900 has never been satisfactorily explained. Theories abound; questions linger. As a child, I became obsessed by this mystery one summer, poring over maps and photographs (in the days before the internet) with no more success than…

A bewildering bed of roses: King Size at the Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House

King Size is an ultra-modern take on the German tradition of Liederabend, or the “evening of song”, mixing Schumann, Wagner and Schubert with the Jackson 5 and Stephen Sondheim. This production by noted European director Christoph Marthaler, originally from Theater Basel, is intriguing, but feels oddly rootless, moving from one understated, vaguely humourous situation to another…

A Tosca which falls flat? Dyka /Alagna at the ROH

Oksana Dyka sang at the 2005 inauguration of President Viktor Yushchenko (or so Wikipedia confidently assures me). Only two months afterwards, she would star in her very first Tosca. Nine years later, in a political maelstrom where power is wrenched from fist to fist daily, where religion cannot be a safe refuge, and where corruption may…

Just Look Back in Anger: Tippett’s King Priam

English Touring Opera take Tippett’s powerful pacifist retelling of Homer’s Iliad on tour in a strong, beautifully designed production, directed by James Conway, which will leave hearts and minds in turmoil. In our modern bunting-laden aftermath of the Queen’s Jubilee, the Royal Wedding and the Olympics, we seem to have almost forgotten that not everyone in Britain…