Superb, sinister Tales of Hoffmann at Dutch National Opera

Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann

Dutch National Opera, 3 June 2018

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Caricature of Offenbach by André Gill, 1874, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

No colourful tavern scenes and Venetian gondolas in this new Amsterdam production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Off-white and black dominate its three-floor set of many rooms. Moreover, this three-hour version assembled by conductor Carlo Rizzi and director Tobias Kratzer is likely to dissatisfy both purists and traditionalists.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Spectacular Gurrelieder revived at Dutch National Opera

Schoenberg: Gurrelieder

Dutch National Opera, 18 April 2018

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Plan of Gurre Castle, Denmark. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Toward the end of Pierre Audi’s last season at Dutch National Opera, the house has revived one of its artistic director’s most admired productions. The first ever and, so far, only staged version of Schoenberg’s gargantuan cantata represents the best of Audi’s innovative work.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Musically superlative Das Floß der Medusa at Dutch National Opera

Henze: Das Floß der Medusa

Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam, 13 March 2018

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Study for The Raft of the Medusa (1818-1819) by Théodore Géricault, Louvre Museum (public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

The events that inspired Das Floß der Medusa, an indictment by Hans Werner Henze against social injustice, are the stuff of nightmares. Romeo Castellucci has now staged it for Dutch National Opera, where it opened the third edition of the Opera Forward Festival. Despite his bold cinematographic concept, the musical performances were the strongest dramatic aspect of the production.

Full review on Bachtrack.

 

 

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Tristan und Isolde smoulders at Dutch National Opera

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

Dutch National Opera, 18 January 2018

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Tristan and Isolde on a German stamp issued in 1933

After its co-producers in Paris and Rome, it is Dutch National Opera’s turn to present director Pierre Audi’s shadow-clad Tristan und Isolde. In Amsterdam Audi’s lucid visuals complemented a strong, balanced cast. Conductor Marc Albrecht kept a lyrical Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra on a concentrated simmer for the full four hours. This was a Tristan und Isolde to treasure.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Dutch National Opera revives a musically gorgeous La bohème

Puccini: La bohème

Dutch National Opera, 1 December 2017

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The original Café Momus, the Christmas Eve party venue in La bohème

Benedict Andrews’ staging of La bohème is seriously flawed, but this revival was a triumph, thanks to picture-perfect, vocally enticing soloists and the copiously talented young conductor Andrea Battistoni.

Full review on Bachtrack.

Rigoletto is mad but the singing is fine at Dutch National Opera

Verdi: Rigoletto

Dutch National Opera, 9th May 2017

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Le roi s’amuse (1932) by Victor Hugo

What happened to Rigoletto after the hitman he hired to kill his daughter Gilda’s abductor murdered her instead? He went mad and was committed to a mental institution. This is Damiano Michieletto’s twist on Verdi’s compact but tremendous tragedy Rigoletto for Dutch National Opera. Although intriguing, the production is overanalytical and is ultimately sabotaged by its own cleverness. The cast compensates with a good old Verdi singfest.

Full review on Backtrack.

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Dutch National Opera revives deliciously dark A Dog’s Heart

Raskatov: A Dog’s Heart

Dutch National Opera, 22nd April 2017

Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940)

Is A Dog’s Heart even an opera? It is sung by opera singers to live music. Alexander Raskatov’s score, however, is secondary to the incredible stage visuals. Whatever it is, actor/director Simon McBurney’s first stab at opera is fantastic theatre. Its revival at Dutch National Opera, where it premiered in 2010, is hugely welcome.

Full review on Opera Today.