Ravishment without drama in Dutch premiere of A Village Romeo and Juliet

Delius: A Village Romeo and Juliet

At the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam on the 15th of December, 2018

Frederick Delius completed his most successful opera, A Village Romeo and Juliet, in 1901, but its Dutch premiere had to wait until last Saturday, when Sir Mark Elder conducted it in concert at the Concertgebouw. Together with a convincing cast, he presented the work in the best possible light.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Fiery, formidable Boris Godunov at the Concertgebouw

Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov

At the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam on the 8th of September, 2018

The NTR ZaterdagMatinee concert series at the Concertgebouw traditionally opens with an opera. This year it was a fiery performance of Modest Mussorgsky’s masterpiece Boris Godunovconducted by Pablo Heras-Casado and with a practically faultless cast.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Lessons in Love and Violence

Benjamin: Lessons in Love and Violence

Dutch National Opera, 25 June 2018

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The Earls of Lancaster, Hereford and Arundel inspect Piers Gaveston’s head, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Six years ago composer George Benjamin and playwright Martin Crimp gave the world Written on Skin. It caused a sensation at its unveiling at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Hot on the heels of its world premiere at the Royal Opera House in London, the composer is now conducting their second full-length opera, Lessons in Love and Violence, at the Holland Festival, where he is this year’s Composer in Focus.

Full review on Opera Today.

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A volcanic Elektra by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic

Strauss: Elektra

Concertgebouw, 2 June 2018

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Electra by E. Teschendorff, 1892, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“There are no gods in heaven!” sings Elektra just before her brother Orest kills their mother. In the Greek plays about the cursed House of Atreus the Olympian gods command the banished Orestes to return home and avenge his father Agamemnon’s murder at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra.

Full review on Opera Today.

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The Golden Cockerel bedazzles in Amsterdam

Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel

Concertgebouw, 16 December 2017

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The Tale of the Golden Cockerel, illustration by Ivan Bilibin, 1907, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s fairy tale The Golden Cockerel was this holiday season’s ZaterdagMatinee operatic treat at the Concertgebouw. There was real magic to this concert performance, chiefly thanks to Vasily Petrenko’s dazzling conducting and the enchanting soprano Venera Gimadieva.

Full review on Opera Today.

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Thrilling singing in Simon Boccanegra at the Concertgebouw

Verdi: Simon Boccanegra

Concertgebouw, 16th September 2017

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Victor Maurel sang the title role in Simon Boccanegra at the premiere of the revised 1881 version

This is what Verdi should sound like. Idiomatically sung by confident singers, with role-tailored voices that make one sit up and listen. The NTR ZaterdagMatinee concert series at the Concertgebouw, a long-standing institution financed with public broadcasting funds, traditionally opens with an opera. This year it was Simon Boccanegra, Verdi’s sombre study of personal tragedy lurking behind public success.

Full review on Backtrack.

Stenz conducts an impressive Babylon at the Holland Festival

Widmann: Babylon

Concertgebouw, 3rd June 2017

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The Ziggurat of Ur in Iraq, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

According to the programme, at one point composer Jörg Widmann requires the chorus in his opera Babylon to split into 94 parts. I hope this is a misprint, but Babylon is a fearlessly ambitious composition. This impressive performance at the Holland Festival, led by the intrepid Markus Stenz, was deservedly cheered at length.

Full review on Backtrack.