Sophie Bevan

Idomeneo

Temple of Athena, Rhodes

Another new production at the Royal Opera House; another unsatisfying evening in the theatre. Much has been said about Martin Kušej’s new production of Idomeneo, mostly about the shark. In many respects the shark was the least of its problems.

By the interval (by which time the shark had made its appearance) I was feeling relatively well-disposed towards the production. It was one of those standard grey-white walls, unspecified-villains-in-trenchcoats, bewildered-peasantry-in-50s-ish-modern-dress affairs. Much use was made of the revolve, as different empty room configurations swung into view. The basic theme was of dystopian civilisation in which the libretto’s references to Neptune are applied to a sort of cult which demands his worship: hence the shark becomes some sort of ritualistic maritime offering. By the interval, though creaking a bit at the seams, it was holding together passably well. (more…)

A bit of magic back in the old Flute

Die Zauberflöte cast sheet Colin Davis dedicationA revival of David McVicar’s gloomy-but-not-intrusive production of Die Zauberflöte doesn’t really get the blood rushing these days; in the event it was shot through with excellent performances that added up to one of the best revivals of this production I can recall. This was particularly pleasing in a run dedicated to Sir Colin Davis. (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…)

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…)

The Rose-Bearer clearly wasn’t travelling by public transport in London

So last night was Der Rosenkavalier at ENO – from what I remember of it after the rather tedious journey home. In fact the rather wonderful evening was ‘book-ended’ by frustrations, latterly the travel chaos and previously the frustration of ENO’s pricing structure at the Coliseum. If you want the write-up of the opera, skip the Preamble! (more…)

Kosky’s Bollox: Castor & Pollux

English National Opera are to be commended – very warmly indeed – for taking the London opera scene into the territory of the French baroque.  New works are important, but it seems there is a wealth of uncharted territory just waiting for our two big London companies to explore.

It is disappointing, therefore, that they chose to introduce us to Castor et Pollux in the Barry Kosky production, joint with the Komische Oper.  I can scarcely imagine a production of it, by turns more dreary and irritating. (more…)