Toby Spence

Glorious Gloriana

I’m sure Richard Jones’ production of Britten’s 1953 Coronation gift-gone-awry will have split the audience; it certainly did our little group. The device of framing it as a small-town production of the opera around the time of its composition (complete with visiting QEII to witness it) provided some cluttered ‘business’ in the wings – directors, stagehands, man in overalls to raise the ‘unseen’ curtain, that sort of thing. However, whilst others found it difficult to connect with, I thought it a fine evening dramatically, just as it was musically. (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 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…)