Tag Archives: English National Opera

Opera Review: The Magic Flute

26 Feb

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Plot: Mozart’s final masterpiece is the story of a terrifying and joyful journey in pursuit of love, wisdom and happiness. From the stratospheric arias of the Queen of the Night, through the jolly folk tunes of Papageno the Birdcatcher to the profound music of Sarastro, leader of the enlightened ones, it is a full expression of Mozart’s musical and dramatic genius.

This is a restaging of Nicholas Hytner’s 1988 production and having missed it at the ENO last year I didnt want to pass up the chance. Fellow opera fan Abigail has already given it a thumbs up so I was quite looking forward to it. This is somewhat my introduction to Mozart’s work and by the time the overture has finished I knew I would have one helluva time, and then there’s Papageno! Oh I just loved him! Roderick Williams did a really winning performance. With his melodious baritone voice and his comic timing in full gear. Maybe it’s just me but I really couldnt care less about Tamino and Pamina. The most interesting characters were really Papageno and the Queen of the Night, okay, maybe Sarastro even.

papageno

I am really tempted now to catch the ETO’s version that will play at the Hackney Empire next week.

The Magic Flute: 4/5

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Opera Lover

20 May

Puccini’s Tosca and Turandot.

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena.

So far these are the only opera productions that I have seen and enjoyed in the last 2 years since I became an opera fan. As opera tickets doesnt come easy on the pocket unlike theatre, I usually wait till it’s a production that I really wanted to see that I will be tempted to book it.

So after having been introduced to Bernstein’s comic operetta Candide recently, via the National Theatre’s revival that I only listened to when I got the soundtrack, I found out after browsing the ENO’s website this week that they are staging Candide from 23 Jun 08 – 12 Jul 08! I am really tempted to book it even if Pangloss would not be played by Simon Russell Beale who incidentally won the 1999 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical. (Have you noticed that whenever I get the chance I would mention a snippet or two about SRB?) And then there is the staging of the much loved double bill of Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci from Sat 20 Sep 08 – Thu 23 Oct 08 also from the ENO.

Now tell me, what’s a girl got to do?

OST Review: Leonard Bernstein’s Candide

11 Apr

Music by Leonard Bernstein [1956], Lyrics by Richard Wilbur
Additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, John Latouche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and Leonard Bernstein

Book adapted from Voltaire [1758]
by Hugh Wheeler, in a new version by John Caird [1999]

Voltaire’s towering work of comic and philosophical genius is one of the glories of 18th-century satire and is as relevant today as when it was first written. Candide explores a world that is dominated by violence, greed, war, hatred and a series of catastrophic events seemingly unmitigated by goodness, truth, beauty or God. Voltaire’s great achievement is to temper his merciless analysis of human cruelty, and the apparent emptiness of heaven, with extraordinary wit and good humour. While disturbed by his story, we also find ourselves laughing uproariously at it. Add one of Leonard Bernstein’s most brilliant scores and Richard Wilbur’s witty lyrics to this heady mix, and you have a work of unalloyed pleasure. – National Theatre

This is what a new love does to me. I devour almost everything I can about them. And it’s just how I have always done things when I start loving someone, in this case with Simon Russell Beale, dubbed and not just hyped mind you, but is admittedly “the finest classical stage actor of his generation”. You just have to prove this by checking out any production he has starred in, in this case, I checked out his role as Voltaire/Pangloss in the National’s 1999 revival of Bernstein’s Candide which gave SRB the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 2000 (1999 season) for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance. Brilliant isn’t he?

So I decided to purchase the OST from Amazon UK and I just love, love, love it! It was great listening to SRB singing as Pangloss, his enunciation even whilst singing was perfect! My favorite tracks are, The Best of All Possible Worlds, Dear Boy, Oh Happy We, Candide’s Lament, Glitter and Be Gay, I Am Easily Assimilated, Make Our Garden Grow among others. I regret not having seen this production but Candide will be staged by the English National Opera (ENO) come June closing the ENO season with style. I am tempted mind you!

Candide OST: 5/5

NT’s 1999 Candide: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/Candide+1277.twl

ENO’s 2008 Candide: https://www.tickets.eno.org/show.as