Semyon Bychkov

A run of success

Fresh from the rather disappointing performance at the rather special Bayreuth Festspielhaus, it was back into Proms season and a run of tremendous performances in the dismal Royal Albert Hall… it would seem that the Albert Hall has a message for Bayreuth: you can have a special and well-designed theatre, but it ain’t much use if what you put on isn’t up to scratch. It goes without saying that all of these performances would have been that much more special in a better acoustic, but they still achieved rare levels of intensity in Kensington’s cavernous barn. (more…)

Fabulous Frau

Having attended the Royal Opera’s Die Frau ohne Schatten twice, on Sunday, 23 March and Saturday, 29 March, I’m still at something of a loss to lay out my thoughts. I was captivated by it – Claus Guth’s production, the score and the performance of it – and still find myself going back to reflect on elements of the staging, and calling to mind snippets of the gorgeous orchestral swell of the score. (more…)

Proms Tristan & Isolde

A storm broke somewhere in the distance during the second act of the Proms’ Tristan und Isolde, but the physical atmosphere inside the Royal Albert Hall remained resolutely Im Triebhaus until the bitter end: the musical atmosphere kept up a moderate heat as well. (more…)

Bohème 2012

As old as me, John Copley’s production of La Bohème creaked its way onto the Covent Garden stage for another outing. There’s no denying it’s extraordinarily effective, even if the more jaded amongst us might wish for the refreshing tonic of a new production. Then again, bearing in mind the ROH’s choice for a Rusalka production, it’s probably best we stick with this for the foreseeable. (more…)

Wolfram wins through in Tannhäuser at ROH

This was such an eagerly-anticipated evening.  A belated 50th birthday present from a friend to my partner; a Wagner opera that was so easy and well-known in terms of the tunes, but promised something more complex in performance; and those near-rave reviews.   You can add to that, that the particular subject of the raving was Christian Gerhaher, performer of Wolfram and, therefore, singer of O du mein holder Abendstern in Act 3: the music to which we swapped our Civil Partnership rings and signed the register.

This explains the irritation – no, anger! – that was occasioned by the announcement from the stage – not from a slip in the programme, mind you – of the delay of Christian Gerhaher in his return from Munich.  We had an account of the journey – delayed flights, faulty planes (or trains, can’t remember which) and a delayed Eurostar from Paris.  It stopped short of anyone’s dog eating the tickets.  The real cause of annoyance (I may have let out a little ‘boo’ at the Company Manager making the announcement) was that there was no straightforward replacement.  It wasn’t that misfortune had befallen the understudy: there apparently was no understudy.  So we had that dismal alternative: the singer from the side of the stage whilst the Staff Director ‘walked the part’. (more…)