Bluebeard’s Castle. Review by Alan Price. Bluebeard’s Castle is one of Michael Powell’s striking music films. And he’s made quite a few of them. Powell directs the opera’s singers / actors with a purposeful intensity.
Trouble in Tahiti. Review by Barbara Lewis. Opera typically is the medium for extraordinary emotion on a grand scale. The great straddler of genres Bernstein makes it the vehicle to explore the depressing ordinariness of the countless millions who can’t find their way back to the extraordinary emotion they once felt.
Candide, WNO. Review by Barbara Lewis. Too messy, too long, too anti-Semitic, too misogynistic: there are many reasons to avoid Bernstein’s Candide. And yet, director James Bonas and the Welsh National Opera bravely make a powerful case for staging this attack on the depravity of those in power and the futility of war.
The Excursions of Mr Broucek. Review by Barbara Lewis. The Excursions of Mr Broucek is an opera like no other – or as Wasfi Kani, the founder and power behind the bold, brave and never daunted Grange Park Opera, puts it: “Cosi fan Tutti it isn’t.”
Gianni Schicchi. Review by Barbara Lewis. Gianni Schicchi, the protagonist of Puccini’s only wholly comic opera, was a 13th-century Italian knight immortalised by Dante in the Circle of Impersonators for pretending to be the rich gentleman Buoso Donati and dictating a testament highly favourable to himself.
Even more than an outpouring of passionate pacifism, Benjamin Britten’s Owen Wingrave is a universal exploration of the heroic strength of character required to reject decades of blind allegiance to an unholy cause.
Grange Park Opera Interim Season. Simon Keenlyside: An Autumn Walk in Wales (available online). Review by Barbara Lewis: Context is all, says Simon Keenlyside, as for the second time this year he delivers a musical tour of his own personal context – the woods around his Welsh home.
An unexpected joy of lockdown is seeing world-class performers in their natural habitats. Habitat is the apposite word for Simon Keenlyside, who read zoology at Cambridge before focusing on his operatic career and who describes a love of nature as “the marrow” of his existence. He looks to music for its validation.
For Wasfi Kani, the unstoppable founder of Grange Park Opera, even a pandemic is only a temporary setback. As soon as she had accepted this summer’s country house opera season at The Theatre in the Woods was lost, she set about mobilising the “pandemicists” and amassing funding for a Found season.