Reviews & features: Opera

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American mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato returns to Edinburgh Festival

16 Jul 2010

DiDonato performs Idomeneo and with David Zobel at EIF 2010

Last summer, mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato soldiered on with a broken leg in London and was plunged into darkness at the Usher Hall. Carol Main keeps everything crossed for the Kansas girl’s Edinburgh return

Edinburgh, My Home: Jonathan Mills

22 Mar 2010

Edinburgh International Festival director Jonathan Mills on the virtues and indiscretions of his adopted home

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…

Porgy and Bess takes centre stage at Edinburgh International Festival

16 Jul 2010

Opéra de Lyon's production of Gershwins' crossover classic

As operas go, it’s fair to say that Porgy and Bess blew in like a hurricane. When George and Ira Gershwin’s self-styled ‘American folk opera’ featuring a libretto by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward appeared on the New York stage in 1935, its cast of…

Further Edinburgh International Festival highlights 2010

16 Jul 2010

Montezuma Carl Heinrich Graun’s opera about the Aztec leader who welcomed Spanish adventurers into his kingdom only for them to quickly get tore into the plundering and subjugation explores the clash of two very different worldviews. King’s Theatre…

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An overview of the 2010 Edinburgh Festivals and their directors

15 Jul 2010

What to expect from Edinburgh in August

Nowhere does a festival quite like Edinburgh, and even with the film folk having long moved out of August, there is more than plenty going on for lovers of art, literature, comedy, theatre, kids entertainment, music, dance and military displays. The…

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…

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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.

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…

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

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…

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…

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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…

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…

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…

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…

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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…

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.

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…

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.


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…