Benjamin Britten

Peter Grimes

David Alden’s production of Peter Grimes was new to ENO in 2009, with some of the same cast as this run, and looking back at my reflections I seem to have been impressed. If I am perhaps a little more reserved on second encounter, four years later, it is still a powerful account of Britten’s pre-eminent work. (more…)

Keenlyside at the Barbican

A thoroughly grown-up concert, this one… Even Keenlyside himself described it as being ‘suicidal’, so dark and despairing were many of the choices. It was, however, a very rewarding recital, with great variety of musical style, delivered with tremendous artistry. (more…)

Reasons to be cheerful

Catching up on the last four performances I’ve attended (on the past two weekends), allows for a pleasant – if brief – celebratory post. (more…)

Indomitable Glyndebourne

Tranquil sheep at GlyndebourneAfter two ever-so-slightly disappointing performances at this year’s Glyndebourne Festival [here and here], they were back on indomitable form for the season-closing performance of Billy Budd. (more…)

Glorious Gloriana

I’m sure Richard Jones’ production of Britten’s 1953 Coronation gift-gone-awry will have split the audience; it certainly did our little group. The device of framing it as a small-town production of the opera around the time of its composition (complete with visiting QEII to witness it) provided some cluttered ‘business’ in the wings – directors, stagehands, man in overalls to raise the ‘unseen’ curtain, that sort of thing. However, whilst others found it difficult to connect with, I thought it a fine evening dramatically, just as it was musically. (more…)

Death in Venice

ENO Death in Venice

ENO Death in Venice – (c) ENO/Hugo Glendinning – click to jump to their Flickr page for more

In Britten centenary year, when better to encounter his Death in Venice for the first time? Especially in so graceful and poignant a production as that provided by Deborah Warner for English National Opera.

There was atmospheric assistance on hand, after a run of particularly humid (and drably grey) days in London we had just a small insight into the stuffy, oppressive air that pervades the work. This saw the rudimentary Coliseum air-conditioning turned well up, so that most of us in the Balcony were assailed by sudden and severe gusts of cool air. At times this nicely mirrored the billowing curtains of the hotel scenes that separated the lobby from the balcony overlooking the ominous lagoon. The light shifted and changed over the lagoon, and the cityscape of Venice shifted elegantly into and out of focus as the scenes moved between the Lido and the city. Walls and curtains moved silently to change the locations, leaving most of the downstage area empty. If there was one minor carp, it would be the near-impossibility of creating claustrophobia on the Coliseum’s yawning stage, but this production did come as near as any to achieving it. (more…)

Peter Grimes: ENO at the Proms

I’m pleased to be able to file a happy report from the Royal Albert Hall, following the disappointing Novello Prom and a Yeomen of the Guard that suffered for being on too hot a day, and viewed from the precipitous heights of the Balcony. The television relay confirms that as having been quite excellent, but I was unable to form a reasonable opinion on the night.

Pebbles on Brighton Beach

However, this time with the benefit of a side stalls (front row, near the stage) seat, this Grimes was pretty spectacular.  Largely the same cast as the ENO theatre run of 2009, minus in particular Gerald Finley’s Balstrode, it was as theatrical as if they had all just gathered themselves up and rushed round from the Coliseum that afternoon. (more…)