Lessons in Love and Violence

Benjamin: Lessons in Love and Violence

Dutch National Opera, 25 June 2018


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.








Choice cast in bonbon-box Marriage of Figaro at Dutch National Opera

Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro

Dutch National Opera & Ballet, 6th September 2016


Charlton Heston exercises his droit du seigneur on Rosemary Forsyth in The War Lord (1965)

Outwardly pretty, but mouldy on closer inspection, like a decaying box of bonbons. That’s the Almaviva household in Dutch National Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro. Although neither conductor Ivor Bolton nor director David Bösch plumbs any psychological depths, this season opener offers multiple delights.

Full review on Bachtrack.

Degout and Planès near-perfect in French fables

Stéphane Degout/Alain Planès: Debussy/Poulenc/Satie/Ravel

Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam, 20th April 2016


Can one overdose on Debussy songs? Not when Stéphane Degout delivers them so emphatically, yet with such refinement. Too much languid Debussy, however, can act as a mild opiate, inducing a half-dream state. Perhaps this was the baritone’s intention — an evening split into two distinct halves, the first misty with melancholy, the second spiked with soft-touch irony. His baritone of suede was highly gratifying in both modes. In the second half, however, Poulenc’s Le Bestiaire (The Bestiary) and Ravel’s Histoires naturelles (Stories from Nature) not only showed off his dramatic gifts better, but seemed a natural fit for his vocal temperament.

Full review on Bachtrack.