Simon O’Neill

A magical Parsifal

Curtain Call at Parsifal

Curtain call at Parsifal, showing the basic set with woodland surrounding a geometric playing space and the Grail ‘cube’.

I’m not sure Parsifal has ever quite worked this spell on me. It’s entirely possible I was just ‘in that zone’ and receptive to its very special charms. However, I also think that this was one of the most successful new productions Covent Garden has had for some time. Whilst Stephen Langridge’s production is not without flaws, in comparison to a number of recent new productions on London’s stages, it is something of a triumph. With a very strong cast – and some notably outstanding and character-redefining performances – it was a special evening indeed. (more…)

Der »Knick-Knacks« des Nibelungen

I’ve waited until the end of the entire first Cycle before compiling jottings on the Royal Opera’s revival of Der Ring des Nibelungen in Keith Warner’s fussy, random, distracting collection of bits’n’pieces. What you might call a Gesamtkunstwerk of jottings. I see it again for the third cycle and might give it the blow-by-blow treatment then. (more…)

Freischütz & Fille

Two evenings, both with flaws as well as tremendous performances; both looked forward to immensely, and one more successful than the other.

The first – and most successful – was the concert performance of Der Freischütz at the Barbican (21/4).  The LSO were on fine form, with all the gorgeous sonorities of the score richly displayed.  Sir Colin Davis ensured there was the right amount of pep in all of the folksy numbers, the angst of Agathe and Max was given its space, and there was a liberal dose of fire and thunder in the Wolf’s Glen scene.  I could have done without some of the electronic sound effects: I thought we left such things behind with John Culshaw’s Solti Ring recording. (more…)

The RO’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

This was to have been one of two performances of the Royal Opera’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, nearly identical but crucially different,  that we would have seen in the space of about 11 days.  However, it was not to be.  The cast of the Covent Garden run – with one crucial substitution – will take the stage of Symphony Hall, Birmingham, for a one-off performance of the Royal Opera in the regions.  Bryn Terfel was to have replaced Wolfgang Koch as Hans Sachs, which is a pretty major substitution in the context of the work, let alone that it brings in the great Bryn.  But the vicissitudes of the winter season got the better of Mr T and he had to withdraw because of a chest infection.  Wolfgang Koch, as one would expect, replaced him. (more…)