Reviews & features: Opera

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John Adams and Lee Breuer among Edinburgh International Festival 2010 highlights

22 Mar 2010

As the programme is launched for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, we cast an eye over the highlights

Admeto, re di Tessaglia

11 Sep 20093 stars

Exit, pursued by a butoh sheep

Opera is a medium well placed to embrace the ridiculous, and sometimes to render it sublime. Strained voices, high drama, grand sets, expensive costumes and expensive tickets: they all have their place, and it can be a fine line between spectacular and…

Actus tragicus

11 Sep 20094 stars

Bach in a dolls house

'I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.' Virginia Woolf's sentiment is one the characters in Actus tragicus might well understand - though her black humour would probably be lost on them. Filling the stage is an impressive…

Tragic endeavours: Staatsoper Stuttgart’s Actus Tragicus

21 Aug 2009

Lifting the lid on one of the EIF's must-sees

Actus Tragicus. A presentation of tragedy. With that title, Stuttgart Opera’s production is hardly going to be a bundle of laughs. Yet, the sheer beauty of the Bach cantatas, which lie at the heart of this highly unusual synthesis of music and drama…

Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich

20 Aug 2009

American soprano is mobbed, but not in the mob

Dawn Upshaw is up to her elbows in batter. She’s in the kitchen of her New York home, making pancakes with her son. It’s a very domestic scene, but then the American soprano couldn’t be further from the diva-ish stereotype. She’s just returned from the…

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David Levin talks The Testament of Cresseid

20 Aug 2009

The Israeli director discusses adapting Burns for the stage

Robert Burns might be the subject of many Homecoming events this year, but Jonathan Mills’ decision to focus on the lesser-known Scottish poet Robert Henryson as part of the Edinburgh International Festival’s 2009 programme could prove a rewarding one.

Music Hitlist

10 Aug 2009

What to go see this week

GRV three-day music festival, The Juan McLean, Young Fathers and Unicorn Kid, Scotland at Night, St Kilda, Broken Records

Silviu Purcărete’s 'Faust'

13 Jul 2009

The veteran Romanian director tackles Goethe

Silviu Purcărete doesn’t do things by halves. Last time the veteran Romanian director was in Edinburgh was almost two decades ago with a version of Ubu Rex. The production was a massive take on Alfred Jarry’s absurdist classic. Since then he brought a…

St Kilda - Island of the Birdmen

13 Jul 2009

A multi-media, operatic portrayal of Island life

At 191 metres, there is no building in Scotland anywhere near as tall as Stac an Armin, the highest sea stack in Britain. Along with the slightly shorter Stac Lee, these wildly dramatic sea cliffs were among the hunting grounds for the birdmen of St…

Doris Dörrie to direct Handel's Admeto, re di Tessaglia

13 Jul 2009

The opera is given a Far Eastern flavour

It might be nearly 300 years since it was first performed in London, but Handel’s opera Admeto, re di Tessaglia isn’t showing its age. Given an innovative reworking by director Doris Dörrie, the action has been transplanted from the classical Greek…

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Regal king size

21 Aug 2008

Karol Szymanowski considered himself an outsider which is why he identified with Sicily’s King Roger II and why his opera has become a gay favourite, finds Carol Main The Edinburgh International Festival’s staged opera programme is swinging from one…

Hitlist - Music

21 Aug 2008

The best gigs this fortnight

N*E*R*D Justin Timberlake guested at their Scottish debut in 2003 after the MTV Music Awards and while this night might not have the trouser-snake in tow, Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams most certainly have what it takes to throw down a platinum hip hop…

The Musical of Musicals, The Musical!

18 Aug 20083 stars

Solidly performed Sondheim send-up a safe bet

Essentially a send-up of musicals by Sondheim and Rodgers & Hammerstein among others, The Musical of Musicals is unlikely to be appreciated (or its references understood) by non-aficionados. This said, it is solidly performed and often amusing, the…

Opera Shorts

14 Aug 20083 stars

Intimate new work in bite-sized chunks

In its inaugural run of performances, this new opera company provides a showcase of some of Edinburgh’s freshest talent with a set of four 15-minute long operas. The intimacy of such a small theatre helps captivate the audience, and the paucity of props…

Scottish Opera: Cinderella

31 Jul 2008

A fairytale debut at the Fringe

It’s probably safe to say that Scottish Opera is the only name which appears in both the music programme of the International Festival as well as the Fringe. As part of their continuing quest to bring high quality opera to a new audience, the company…

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Death becomes them - The Two Widows

22 Jul 2008

Edinburgh International Festival

Jane Irwin and Kate Valentine are at very different stages in their operatic careers. But Carol Main finds them both in exuberant mood ahead of Scottish Opera’s take on Smetana’s 19th century comedy.

Regal king size - Król Roger

22 Jul 2008

Edinburgh International Festival

Fitting neatly into the EIF’s theme of Artists Without Borders, the majestic Król Roger opens up audiences to an innovative collaboration. Carol Main chats to Festival director Jonathan Mills about the opera’s arrival in the city. Listening to a…

Bittersweet symphony - Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

22 Jul 2008

Edinburgh International Festival

Brecht and Weill’s Mahagonny has inspired an artistic generation. Neil Cooper analyses the pair’s enduring appeal.

Best of the rest - Edinburgh International Festival

22 Jul 2008

Edinburgh International Festival

Giselle. Under the artistic direction of Nina Ananiashvili, the State Ballet of Georgia will be performing what many view as the definitive interpretation of this romantic ballet. Gabriela Montero Two performances here from the superb Venezuelan…

Christine Brewer

23 Aug 2007

As comfortable chatting about American Idol as she is arias, Christine Brewer is swift to dispel any notion of the opera diva. Indeed, from the moment she burst onto the stage as a teenager with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Brewer knew she had…

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Opera in concert – Dido and Aeneas and Prima La Musica, Poi Le Parole

23 Aug 2007

Opera at this year’s Festival has taken an interesting journey. The programme started with Bernstein’s Candide, chronologically the last of those heard, with Monteverdi’s glorious 400 year-old L’Orfeo hot on its heels. The latter was fully – and…

Capriccio

23 Aug 2007

At the start of the Festival, opera-goers were spirited back to the genre’s origins with a spectacular production of the first great opera, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo. Now, as things draw to a close, the opera on offer is one which poses questions to itself…

Candide

9 Aug 2007

In setting up this year’s Opening Concert of the Edinburgh International Festival, Jonathan Mills has quickly ditched the tradition of a Sunday evening kick-off (although the St Giles’ Festival Service remains in place for the morning) and has brought…

The Turing Test

19 Jul 2007

Quite what Monteverdi would have thought about a singing computer featuring in an opera is anyone’s guess. Inspired by the famous test set by Alan Turing, founder of modern computer science, composer Julian Wagstaff has written a chamber opera to be…

Capriccio

19 Jul 2007

Richard Strauss’ final opera Capriccio, which received its premiere in 1942, is described by the composer as ‘a conversation piece for music’. A young countess cannot choose between two lovers, one a musician, the other a poet.