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Where possible we will try and update our news page with all the latest information about what is happening in the UK opera scene.

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enoa: an artistic community across Europe

The European of Opera Academies – enoa - offers invaluable professional opera training for young artists across Europe. Through the creation, promotion and dissemination of opera, enoa is both stimulating new operatic work throughout Europe, and offering the best possible conditions for young opera professionals – singers, pianists, composers, conductors, librettists, stage directors, set and light designers – to begin a career in a globalised context.

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Peaks & Troughs: 2013 Overview

Before our Opera Britannia critics time off for good behaviour (or not!) this Christmas, we persuaded them to pick out the highs and lows from their 2013 operatic diaries. They were not confined to performances they necessarily reviewed, hence links to the official OB review may well lead to a difference of opinion or two! In a year in which the focus lay on anniversary boys Wagner, Verdi and Britten, there was plenty to sink our critical fangs into. Each of our reviewers was invited to submit their nomination for Outstanding New Production and Best Revival, along with Best Male and Best Female Performances, before disclosing the production or performance that provided their biggest disappointment of the year (cancellations notwithstanding).

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ENO goes widescreen

After resisting prevailing tide for opera houses beaming their wares to a worldwide cinema audience, English National Opera has seen the light. From 2014, selected productions will be screened at 300 cinemas around the UK and beyond, starting with its revival of David Alden’s production of Peter Grimes, starring Stuart Skelton. A new production, by Terry Gilliam, of Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini will also be relayed. Gilliam’s earlier Berlioz adventure, The Damnation of Faust, was broadcast on television.

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Leo Nucci sings Verdi at Cadogan Hall

As the Verdi year draws to its close there is one more special treat in store for opera fans in the London area – a rare chance to hear the world-famous Italian baritone Leo Nucci in recital at Cadogan Hall.  This unmissable concert is part of the Rosenblatt Recitals series and will include popular arias from some of Verdi’s greatest operas; includingNabucco, Attila, I due Foscari, La traviata, I vespri siciliani, Un ballo in maschera and Don Carlo.

Full details of the programme and ticket information may be found here: and please check back on Opera Britannia after the concert to read our critic Mark Pullinger’s review.



New season of Rosenblatt Recitals

The Rosenblatt Recitals return to their new home at Wigmore Hall next week, offering the capital’s opera fans the chance to hear a wide range of new and existing international operatic talent in a series of ten concerts from now until June 2014.  The series opens on 16thSeptember with Tenerife-born tenor Celso Albelo who will be presenting a predominantly Hispanic programme of songs and arias, with some Verdi and Donizetti thrown in for good measure.

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Luciano Pavarotti returns to the top of the classical charts

Legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti has scored a Number 1 in the Classical Artist Album Charts, six years after he passed away. ‘Pavarotti: The 50 Greatest Tracks’ was released by Decca Classics, his career-long label, in celebration of a 50 year association.

Pavarotti made his first British TV appearance 50 years ago, on Sunday Night at the London Palladium (25/8), when he was introduced to the stage by Bruce Forsyth to a broadcast audience of 15 million viewers, and fast approaching is the 50th anniversary of his Royal Opera House debut at Covent Garden (21/9), where he was greeted by standing ovations and unanimous critical acclaim.

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Glyndebourne Festival 2014 announced

The 2013 Festival closes with news of the 2014 Festival, Robin Ticciati’s first as Music Director.  He is only the seventh conductor to hold the post in Glyndebourne’s 80- year history, following in the distinguished line of Fritz Busch, Vittorio Gui, John Pritchard, Bernard Haitink, Andrew Davis and Vladimir Jurowski.

The 2014 Festival opens with a new production of Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier directed by Richard Joneswith Robin Ticciati conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Kate Royalmakes her role debut as Feldmarschallin.Tara Erraught makes her role debut as Octavian and Teodora Gheorghiu makes her Glyndebourne debut in the role of Sophie.

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Ivor Gurney Memorial Festival

On 31 August, Cathedral provides the spectacular backdrop for a charity music festival to raise money for a newly commissioned stained glass window in memory of the composer Ivor Gurney, himself a native of Gloucestershire.

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Opera Australia's Carmen on Sydney Harbour

From 25th July, and Ireland cinemas are to screen a stunning production of Bizet’s Carmen recorded live from the waters of the Sydney Harbour, on a purpose built floating stage, against the magnificent backdrop of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour has become a highlight of the Opera Australia Season. Last year, Verdi’s La traviata was the first ever opera to be presented on the astonishing floating stage suspended above the water in Sydney Harbour, and was hailed as a great success.  This year Carmen takes the stage; dangerous, sexy and incandescent in a thrilling new production.

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From township to opera house

South African Soprano, Pumeza Matshikiza, signs global record contract with Decca Classics/ Universal Music

A singer grew up in the townships of Cape Town, South Africa, and discovered classical music, today signs a record deal with Decca, home to the biggest opera star in the world, the late Luciano Pavarotti.

Pumeza Matshikiza has already been described as “poised for operatic stardom” and “one of opera's most exciting new voices". But having been told she had no future as an opera singer in South Africa, she almost became a quantity surveyor.

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Opera North's autumn season

Britten fans,!  Opera North will be celebrating the centenary of the composer’s birth in style with a new autumn season dedicated entirely to three of his best-loved works.  The season opens on 14th September with a revival of Phyllida Lloyd’s popular production of Peter Grimes starring Jeffrey Lloyd-RobertsGiselle Allen and Robert Hayward, followed later in the month by a revival of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with James LaingJeni BernYvonne HowardHenry Waddington and the exciting young mezzo Kathryn Rudge.

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Rosenblatt Recitals unveiled

The 2013-14 Recital series has been unveiled, with an enticing blend of up-and-coming young singers and a few veteran performers. The biggest surprise is the appearance of Italian baritone Leo Nucci, who gives a special one-off concert with the Italian Opera Chamber Quintet at Cadogan Hall on 12thDecember, featuring some of the Verdi repertoire on which he’s built his long career. Nucci was last seen in London as Nabucco, warming up the production for Plácido Domingo. All other Rosenblatt Recitals take place in their usual home at Wigmore Hall.

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ENO 2013/14 season

English National Opera their new season this morning, boasting ten new (or ‘new to the UK’) productions and four classic revivals.  Film director and Monty Python veteran Terry Gilliam returns to ENO to lend his talent to a new production of Berlioz’s rarely performed Benvenuto Cellini, with the American rising star Corrine Winters (this season’s stunning Violetta) taking the role of Teresa – the cast also includes Michael Spyres in the title role and Willard White and will be conducted by ENO Music DirectorEdward Gardner.  If it’s anywhere near as good as Gilliam’s wacky but brilliant Damnation of Faust then we should all be in for an extraordinary evening.

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Elizabeth Connell Memorial Concert

South soprano Elizabeth Connell (1946 - 2012) was acclaimed for her performances of the great Strauss, Verdi and Wagner heroines. On Saturday 27 April a special concert to honour her memory will be held at St John's, Smith Square, with all proceeds being donated to the Musicians' Benevolent Fund as well as the Elizabeth Connell Prize, an annual award for young dramatic sopranos.

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Jennifer Rowley speaks out

Jennifer Rowley, the replacement who found herself replaced at short notice before the premiere of Laurent Pelly’s production of Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable at the Royal Opera House this season, has spoken out about what really happened.

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Royal Opera unveils 2013-14 season

This morning Royal Opera announced its plans for next season. While some of the productions and casts have been known for some time in opera press and blogging spheres, there’s always a frisson of excitement at the official unveiling of what lies ahead.

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Julia Lezhneva

On Thursday 7th the exciting young Russian soprano Julia Lezhneva will make her London solo concert debut at St James's Church, Piccadilly in a special charity event with proceeds going towards Pushkin House, the London Russian cultural centre.  Though only 23 years old, Ms Lezhneva has been building a very promising career since her professional debut five years ago which includes operatic appearances at Salzburg and La Monnaie as well as several recordings.

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Massimo Giordano

Currently appearing the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as Cavaradossi, tenor Massimo Giordano’s debut album will be released shortly. An exclusive BMG artist, the Italian tenor has recorded signature arias by Italian composers such as Verdi, Puccini and Giordano including arias from, among others, Don Carlo, Manon Lescaut and Andrea Chénier on a disc entitled ‘Amore e tormento’.

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WNO 2013/14 season

Welsh National Opera its exploration of opera with themed seasons in 2013/14, turning the spotlight on to an infamous royal dynasty, women behaving badly and religion. Eight new productions including a World premiere and a British premiere will be performed as well as a special Welsh National Youth Opera celebration of Benjamin Britten’s centenary year.  The Orchestra of WNO will also perform in the International Concert Series at St David’s Hall in Cardiff and at residencies at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

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WNO sets up summer camp at Covent Garden

Welsh National Opera announced today that it will perform in London in an exciting new collaboration with the Royal Opera House. An initial series of three operas will be seen in the Capital including the first London performances of Richard Ayres’s Peter Pan.

Over three years WNO will stage the productions in the main house starting in 2014 with Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron. This will be followed in 2015 with Peter Pan and there will be a new commission in 2016 to commemorate WNO’s 70th birthday.

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Royal Opera Live

On Monday 7th, opera fans will have the chance to experience "unprecedented and unparalleled" access behind the scenes at Covent Garden as a live internet broadcast on The Space will show an entire day in the life of the opera house; including rehearsals for The Minotaur and the new Eugene Onegin, a masterclass with Sir Antonio Pappano, interviews with Sir John Tomlinson,Christine RiceHarrison Birtwistle and Ryan Wigglesworth. Royal Opera Live culminates with an exclusive behind the scenes look at a performance of Act III of Die Walküre, which was recorded earlier in the season.  The broadcast starts at 10.30am and finishes at 9.30pm and promises to provide a fascinating and informative insight into the world of The Royal Opera.  Watch the trailer here.


2013 Glyndebourne Festival unveiled

Glyndebourne announced details of its 2013 Season, the 79th Festival, which marks the final year of Vladimir Jurowski’s 13 year tenure as Music Director. He will conduct a new production of Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos directed by Katharina Thoma.

The year’s big anniversaries of Verdi, Wagner and Britten are all marked, with revivals of Falstaff and Billy Budd, plus a cinema screening of Tristan und Isolde.

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Barbican Winter Season winter the Barbican Centre once again plays host to recitals by some of the greatest opera stars in the world today, starting with Latvian mezzo Elina Garanca who will be singing excerpts from Carmen as well as arias by Massenet, Tchaikovsky and Gounod on 2 October, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra.   On 15 November it’s the turn of the dazzling Cecilia Bartoli and the Kammerorchester Basel (programme to be confirmed), followed by America’s best-loved soprano Renée Fleming who will be performing Lieder by Mahler, Wolf, Arnold, Zemlinsky and Korngold on 9 December.

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La traviata from Sydney Harbour

Recorded live high-definition in March 2012, Opera Australia will be broadcasting Francesca Zambello's spectacular production of La traviata to cinemas in the UK and Ireland on Tuesday 31 July.  Starring the dazzling Australian soprano Emma Matthews as the tragic Violetta, this open-air performance takes place on a floating stage in Sydney Harbour and promises to be a unique and very memorable event, complete with fireworks!

For details of participating cinemas and timings please click here



Torre del Lago Puccini Festival unveiled

Finally, after much distress, and just two weeks before opening night, the programme of the fifty-eighth Puccini Festival of Torre del Lago was unveiled on the 7th of July. I will not linger on the difficulties (deriving – in brief -from government aid that had been promised and then denied) that jeopardized the very existence of this edition of the Festival. This being Italy, a last minute solution is always found, among compromises of every kind: the original ambitious intention of presenting at least two new productions had to be scrapped and this year the Festival will present only old mise-en-scènes. It will also be the first time that a Verdi opera appears at the Puccini Festival, La traviata, a co-production with other Tuscan regional opera companies.

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McVicar McKnighted

Congratulations Scottish opera director David McVicar who receives a knighthood in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Birthday Honours. About to direct Berlioz's epic Les Troyens for the first time at the Royal Opera House, McVicar is widely regarded as one of the UK's top directors, whose work is sought internationally.

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Trojan Hoarse

After missing recent engagements (and having to lip-synch at the Champions League final in Munich last week), Jonas Kaufmann has withdrawn from the eagerly anticipated new Royal Opera production of Les Troyens in June. Bryan Hymel, who had already joined rehearsals at Covent Garden, has been announced as a replacement Enée.

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ENO unveils 2012-13 season

ENO recently two Olivier Awards (which doubtless tasted even sweeter for being held at the Royal Opera House): the Best New Opera Production for Rameau’s Castor and Pollux and the Outstanding Achievement in Opera award for ‘The Breadth and Diversity of the Artistic Programme’. That breadth and diversity is there in spades for the 2012-13 season, unveiled this morning at the Coliseum. Another bold, risk-taking season lies ahead, headed by two new works, ensuring this is no Mickey Mouse season!

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Opera at the BBC Proms

The unveiling the annual BBC Proms prospectus is always a cause for anticipation, even if, operatically, some of the key events have been open secrets for some time. Among the ‘known unknowns’ is Glyndebourne’s Le nozze di Figaro on 28th August. Conducted by Robin Ticciati, there’s a strong cast led by Vito Priante (Figaro), Lydia Teuscher (Susanna), Sally Matthews soprano (Countess Almaviva) and Audun Iversen (Almaviva). Dinner jackets and tiaras at the ready!

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Covent Garden 2012-13 season announcement

News and thoughts the 2012-13 season from the Royal Opera, with full dates and casting information can be found here. The production of Rossini’s La donna del lago by Lluis Pasqual, a co-production with Paris and La Scala, has been scrapped after the disappointing reception it received and the Royal Opera has commissioned its own staging (oh that they had done the same with the Salzburg Rusalka!). John Fulljames now directs, with designs by Dick Bird. Starring Juan Diego FlórezJoyce DiDonatoColin Lee and a long-overdue House debut for Daniela Barcellona, it should be one of the musical highlights of the season.

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Sight-reading help for iPad users

If your sight reading leaves a great deal to be desired then hope is at hand with a clever new iPad app which allows budding pianists to improve their sight reading skills while practising pieces from a library of over a thousand music samples of varying difficulty levels.  SightRead4Piano was created by Dr Christopher Wiltshire of Wessar International in conjunction with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and various other examining boards, allowing piano students to download the official sight reading samples for each grade onto their iPad.

The app trains the brain and eye to achieve continuity and forces the pianist to keep going and constantly look ahead by quite literally making each bar disappear from the iPad screen as  you play it.  SightRead4Piano has been endorsed by the pianist Howard Shelley and goes on sale via the Apple app store at the end of January with average prices of less than £6 per grade.  There are also plans to develop this interesting app for singers in the near future, as well as for guitar, strings, brass, woodwind and percussion.


WNO announces 2012-14 season

Welsh National Opera details of their 2012-2014 seasons at a press conference today, where new Chief Executive and Artistic DirectorDavid Pountney unveiled plans including eight ambitious new productions and emphasised “the importance of risk taking and adventure, in spite of the economic challenges lying ahead”.

Wagner fans will be treated to a new production ofLohengrin to celebrate the bi-centenary of the composer’s birth while bel canto enthusiasts have a Donizetti trilogy to look forward to in autumn 2013 with three new productions of the Tudor operasAnna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux.

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A Knight at the Opera

Congratulations to Antonio Pappano, music director of The Royal Opera, who was awarded a knighthood for services to music in the 2012 New Year Honours list. Pappano, who celebrated his 52nd birthday yesterday (30th December), has been at the helm at Covent Garden since the 2002-3 season and is also music director of the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome. He has featured on BBC television during recent years, explaining the world of opera to a wider public.


Mirella Freni investigated over allegations of money laundering

Known to her fans as La Prudentissima, Legendary Italian soprano Mirella Freni is currently being investigated by the District Attorney's Office in Bologna over allegations of money laundering and exporting money abroad.

Lehman pulls out of Met 'Siegfried'

Gary Lehman, who due to sing the title role of Siegfried in Robert Lepage's new production at the Metropolitan Opera, has pulled out because of illness, the Met have announced. Jay Hunter Morris, who made his Met debut in 2007 and performed the role of Siegfried in San Francisco Opera's recent production, replaces Lehman. Morris made his Met debut in 2007 as Števa in Janácek's Jenufa. Siegfried is conducted by Fabio Luisi, and also features Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, Bryn Terfel as the Wanderer, Eric Owens as Alberich, Gerhard Siegel as Mime and Mojca Erdmann as the Woodbird. It opens on 27th October, with the 5th November matinee broadcast in cinemas in high definition.


Royal Opera: Cast change

Due to ill health, bass-baritone Falk Struckmann has withdrawn from singing the title role in the Royal Opera’s production of Der fliegender Holländer.

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Ed Gardner interview: Mackerras Memorial Concert

Paul Guest talks to Ed Gardner ahead of ENO concert

On Sunday, Gardner, music director of the English National Opera will take to the podium to honour the great Sir Charles Mackerras along with his colleagues Paul Daniel, Sir Mark Elder and a host of singers ready to remember the work of a much-loved colleague.

Ed kindly gave up some of his time to talk to me about the concert and Sir Charles himself.

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Mozart Vocal Works at the Barbican

The Great season at the Barbican continues in June with performances of 3 works by Mozart - Idomeneo (11 June), La finta giardiniera (24 June) and the Mass in C Minor (28 June).

The concert performance of Idomeneo on 11 June features the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble, a group known as one of the outstanding representatives of historically informed performances.  Conducted by the ensemble's founder Thomas Hengelbrock, the cast includes Camilla Tilling, Steve Davislim and Khrystyna Daletska.

Further information can be found here.


English National Opera 2011-12 Season Announcement

English Opera announced its 2011-12 season today, with the focus very much on new productions and living composers. There are new productions of John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer (directed by Tom Morris ofWar Horse fame), Detlev Glanert’s Caligula, Wolfgang Rihm’s Jakob Lenz and Damon Albarn’s Doctor Dee, premièred as part of the London 2012 Festival to mark the hosting of the Olympic Games.

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Garsington Opera

Garsington Opera moved to the glorious estate of Wormsley in the Chiltern Hills, home of the Getty family, and opens its short summer season with Mozart's much-loved opera, The Magic Flute on 2 June 2011 in its beautiful, specially designed Opera Pavilion. The highlight of the season will be the British premiere of Vivaldi’s La verità in cimento, a rare treasure, by the composer best known for his violin concerto, The Four Seasons. Rossini’s delightful Il Turco in Italia completes the season that runs from 2 June – 5 July. All the coming season’s conductors and directors will be working with both established and emerging young singers, two of whom are making their British debuts.

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The prestigious Rosenblatt Recitals return to their new home at Wigmore Hall next week, offering the capital’s opera fans the chance to hear a wide range of new and existing international operatic talent in a series of ten concerts from now until June 2014. The series opens on 16th September with Tenerife-born tenor Celso Albelo who will be presenting a predominantly Hispanic programme of songs and arias, with some Verdi and Donizetti thrown in for good measure. The exciting young American soprano Angel Blue makes her London recital debut on 21st October after glowing reviews for her Musetta at ENO and her recent Lulu at the Edinburgh Festival and Young Vic. On 7th November it is the turn of tenor Giorgio Berrugi with a mixed programme of French and Italian opera, followed by veteran world-famous baritone Leo Nucci and the Italian Opera Chamber Quintet in a delightful all-Verdi programme on 12th December, which will be taking place at Cadogan Hall instead of the Wigmore.

2014 begins with soprano Rosa Feola (9th January), who won the Audience Prize and the Zarzuela Prize at Plácido Domingo’s Operalia as well as Second Prize in the competition overall. The season later continues with Georgian mezzo-soprano Nino Surguladze (10th February); the Italian tenors Giuseppe Filianoti (11th March) and Antonio Poli (2nd April) ,the distinguished Welsh tenor Dennis O’Neill (5th May); and concludes with the final recital by Greek baritone Dimitri Platanias (16th June), who made his Covent Garden debut in Rigoletto in 2012. Programme details for the 2014 recitals are yet to be announced but it’s an exciting season and we look forward to publishing reviews of these recitals on Opera Britannia.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 January 2014 18:18 )  

Recent Reviews

Puccini: Tosca

Renée Fleming, our hostess with the mostest at the Metropolitan Opera’s latest cinema relay of Tosca a few weeks ago, urged us – as ever – to experience opera first-hand and to ‘come visit the Met’ or to support your local opera company. The Opera Britannia excursions budget wouldn’t get you as far as York, let alone New York, so my local company it was and performing the same opera too. Tosca is very much the safe, financial bolster to Welsh National Opera’s Tudor trilogy in its autumn season – a crowd-pleaser of a production excavated from 1992, but which seemed even older.


Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel

And so to Milton Keynes, pursued by a perishing wind fit to crack the famous concrete cows. The Milton Keynes Theatre, as a venue, is one of the jewels in the ATG crown, big enough to house almost any touring product, with spacious and well-designed auditorium and foyers. Unfortunately it is marooned in one of those soulless retail areas surrounded by a sea of mediocre chain outlets which offer the same tat or that which passes for food in a thousand other identical areas the world over. Whether it was position or the icy blasts which accounted for the poorly populated house is hard to say.


Mozart: The Magic Flute

For all the risk-taking in the operatic world, productions which are guaranteed bums-on-seats bankers are like Nibelung gold. To scrap not one but two such productions is a brave move for English National Opera this season. We shall see what Christopher Alden inflicts on Rigoletto in the spring, replacing Jonathan Miller’s famous Little Italy staging. Meanwhile, Nicholas Hytner’s much loved production of The Magic Flute has finally been laid to rest (after a few ‘absolutely your last chance to see’ revivals), replaced with this new one by Simon McBurney and Complicite.


Shostakovich: The Nose

Described at the time as “an anarchist’s hand grenade,” The Nosewas not well received and soon disappeared from view, although Malko, one of Shostakovich’s teachers at the Conservatoire, recognised the quality of the score. It was composed in 1927-28 and given a concert performance, against Shostakovich’s better judgment, in 1929: “The Nose loses all meaning if it is seen just as a musical composition. For the music springs only from the action...It is clear to me that a concert performance of The Nose will destroy it."



ENO goes widescreen

After resisting the prevailing tide for opera houses beaming their wares to a worldwide cinema audience, English National Opera has seen the light. From 2014, selected productions will be screened at 300 cinemas around the UK and beyond, starting with its revival of David Alden’s production of Peter Grimes, starring Stuart Skelton. A new production, by Terry Gilliam, of Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini will also be relayed. Gilliam’s earlier Berlioz adventure, The Damnation of Faust, was broadcast on television.



Poetry Corner

Biography: Mary Robertson is an Emeritus Professor in Neuropsychiatry at University College London and visiting Professor at St George’s Hospital Medical School, London. Aside from being an opera devotee, Mary is a published poet and photographer.

(New poems added: 04/08/2010)

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Around the Houses

Dmitri Platanias will sing the title role when the Royal Opera revives its new production of Nabucco. Mariusz Kwiecien will be joined by Saimir Pirgu in Steffen Aarfing's production of Szymanowski's King Roger at Covent Garden in 2015. The Royal Opera will stage Andrea Chenier in 2014/15 with Jonas Kaufmann, Eva-Maria Westbroek and Željko Lucic.

Anna Netrebko is due to sing the role of Lady Macbeth for a single performance at the Bavarian State Opera in June 2014.

Maria Agresta will sing Lucrezia in Verdi's I due Foscari in the 2014-15 season at Covent Garden. Placido Domingo does the Doge double, adding the baritone role of Francesca Foscari to his Simon Boccanegra.

Corinne Winters, fresh from her triumph as Violetta in ENO's production of La traviata, is to return to the Coliseum next season as Teresa in Berlioz's Benvenuto CelliniMichael Spyres sings the title role in a production which sees the return ofTerry Gilliam to the director's seat, after his Damnation of Faust debut.

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"Around the Houses" concentrates on providing the latest news on future plans for opera companies around the globe, artists schedules, cancellations and interesting snippets of information. We will try and avoid unsubstantiated gossip wherever possible, but all of our sources will remain completely confidential.  If you would like to advise us about potential news for this section, then please feel free to email us at

Coming Soon

Reviews to be published shortly:



CD Reviews

Vivaldi: Catone in Utica (Naive)

Although he claimed to have composed around ninety operas, there cannot be many left in the archives of the Biblioteca Nazionale in Turin for Naïve to record in its ongoing Vivaldi Edition if you discount pasticcios, reworkings and incomplete works. Their latest offering, the fourteenth opera in the series, falls into the latter category, for only Acts II and III of Catone in Utica have survived. The opera was written to celebrate the culmination of his third and final season at Verona’s Teatro dell’Accademia Filarmonica – a profitable success for the composer. Premiered in 1737, it is unknown whether Act I was even written by Vivaldi himself, or whether music by other composers was employed.

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Recital Reviews

Anne Sofie von Otter: Alumni Series

Milton Court, 23rd November 2013

When this was first drawn to my attention, such is my regard for the Swedish mezzo that I immediately withdrew from reviewing Albert Herring some two hundred yards down the road in the Barbican, and enthusiastically opted for what I thought was an evening of French chansons and mélodies. What a prospect! Anne Sofie von Otter let loose on Chausson and Debussy, Fauré and Poulenc, perhaps some Gounod and Bizet, with maybe a little Délibes and/or Satie by way of let-your-hair-down encore material. All with her long-term musical accompanist Bengt Forsberg summoning up the necessary style. Rapture guaranteed, for which I arrived fully prepared.

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DVD Reviews

Donizetti: Lucrezia Borgia (EuroArts)

Scholars now doubt on Lucrezia Borgia’s credentials as mass poisoner, but Donizetti’s operatic treatment on her historical character would have us believe she spiked drinks with cantarella and laced dishes with deadly nightshade like nobody’s business. Lucrezia, here on her fourth marriage (in reality, her third) to Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, is reunited with Gennaro, her long-lost son. Unfortunately, she withholds this vital information from him and from her husband, who suspects her of conducting an affair. It’s as free an interpretation as the lusty television series The Borgias, which never got as far as this in Lucrezia’s marital history, but none the worse for that.

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