Sir Mark Elder

Modified Rapture

Two events in the past week or so, each presenting something to chew on… (more…)

Mr Novello and the deadening hand of the Royal Albert Hall

Should we wish to Keep the Home Fires Burning, then I’m sure the dismantled remains of the Royal Albert Hall will make excellent kindling. I am not one to advocate the destruction of our built heritage often – quite the contrary in fact – but having seen two Proms this season, I am perfectly willing to make an exception. Alternatively, they could just turn it into a permanent circus ring or a furniture warehouse, either of which would suit it far more than its current role as a concert hall. (more…)

Where’d he go??

Oh, dear.  A bit of a bloggin’ disaster.  Moving house got me out of the habit, out of the frame of mind, and out of the path of a computer for rather too long.  I do apologise, and especially to the two people who were kind enough to trouble themselves with comments on previous blogposts, which then sat in unloved cyberspace for two months.  Tsk tsk, not good enough. (more…)

Something old, something new for the Tsar’s Bride

For all its engaging lyricism, and a good thump of melodrama, it’s telling that I haven’t really been able to work up the enthusiasm to blog thoughts on the Tsar’s Bride.  Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera, which has just run its course at Covent Garden, is perhaps a little more flimsy than it had originally sruck me, dazzled as I was by the resources lavished upon it. (more…)

Fidelio packs its punch

Last Saturday’s Fidelio at Covent Garden may not have been perfect, but it’s in the work’s DNA to pack a punch against many odds.  And even if the work itself hadn’t had such in-built strength, the quality of the singing would have pulled it through.

Nina Stemme, remarkable in every role I’ve ever heard her in, once again came through as a dramatic and vocally confident Leonora.  Even when given daft things to do by the director she still managed to retain the dignity of the character and make something convincing of the role.  A good example would be the frequent cleaning of guns, weighing them up, and swapping them from one bag to another during Abscheulicher! Make something of that, whilst imbuing your gleaming tone with dramatic nuance, if you can.  And if anyone can, Stemme did. (more…)

Let’s get this Adriana out of the way

I’ve had this hanging over me for ages. “Must write up Adriana Lecouvreur,” I’ve been muttering to myself, long after everyone stopped caring about it.  Got to get it out of the way now… it’s Tannhäuser on Sunday.

I was late to the party: 4 December.  It was a Gheorghiu night.  She turned up; she looked great in the frocks; she sang exquisitely but sometimes nearly inaudibly; she managed some real pathos in the final act.  No-one can collapse against the furniture in simple white shift dress quite like Ms G and, to everyone’s credit – and probably mostly hers – that last scene, preposterous on paper, managed somehow to work.  Poisoned violets, indeed.  Tsk! (more…)