Peter Hoare

The Dame, well-piqued

Queen of Spades, Russian Deck [Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain]Last Saturday we caught the opening night of English National Opera’s new production of The Queen of Spades. Not entirely a success, albeit with flashes of magnificence.

Most of the problem was David Alden’s: the production had an air of cheapness about it, not to mention laziness. Present were the trademark harsh side-lighting and oddball extras, as well as much piling up of chairs, not to mention the frankly puerile appearance of a bunch of stuffed carton character heads at one point. Of darkness and tension there was practically none. (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…)