Christine Rice

The Minotaur’s impenetrable labyrinth

It is to my eternal shame that the suggestion of ‘new’ opera fills me with a slight sinking feeling. When the Royal Opera announced a raft of new commissions for the coming years I was pleased at their vote of confidence in the currency of the artform, but I wasn’t filled with eager excitement for the respective evenings in the theatre. When it came to this revival of The Minotaur then, not having seen it the first time around and in response to a chorus of general approval, I thought I should get myself along. I must say I came out of the theatre at the end with more of a feeling of having done A Good Thing than of pure enjoyment. (more…)

ROH Rigoletto

An interesting and very enjoyable Rigoletto at ROH last night. I always forget – between encounters – just what a romping good piece this is.

With John Eliot Gardiner at the helm, it started coolly, almost subdued. The so-called ‘orgy’ on-stage (which never works, as I noted last time) didn’t suffer for that. As the drama deepened, the pacing and dynamics became more variable and responsive. As an example, the fantastic close to Act 2, Si, Vendetta!, started at a rather measured tread, slightly slow, prompting in me some slight surprise, but with each ‘stepping up’ of the musical frisson, just a little extra pace was added, ultimately powering the music to an exciting climax. The storm scene was as thrilling as it should be.   (more…)

Berlioz and Gilliam fight it out for Faust

Such a lot has already been written about ENO’s The Damnation of Faust, the rather shapeless but lovable piece of Berlioz that has been panel-beaten into a concept by Terry Gilliam.  It was a really good evening at the theatre.  Not sure it did Berlioz very much good, though.

It’s always been a problem, as many have remarked: not an opera, not an oratorio, but a ‘legende dramatique‘.  When composers start inventing new terms for their dramatic – and not so dramatic – works, preparations should be made for an unconventional evening out.  Bühnenweihfestspiel, anyone? (more…)

Gloom descends on St Martin’s Lane

… and I’m not referring to the need to discount the tickets desperately in order to fill the great barn that is the Coliseum.  Radamisto is Handel in “17 Variations on a Theme of Woe” mode.

The performance was led with great drive and instrumental colour by Laurence Cummings, attempting to inject the drama so lacking on the stage.   Much of the blame for that – when it isn’t Handel’s – rests with a rather dull, lazy production by David Alden. (more…)