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Bizet Carmen

with Ruxandra Donose, Adam Diegel, Leigh Melrose, Elizabeth Llewellyn etc

ENO Chorus & Orchestra/Ryan Wigglesworth at The Coliseum, London, 21 November 2012

Calixto Bieito’s updated and distorting take on Bizet, full of clapped out Mercedes on stage (six of them !) and as large a chorus as ENO could muster, produced shouts of rubbish quite early on, though it went down well with the young audience which ENO woos assiduously.

The singing and acting was generally less than memorable, leaving Elizabeth Llewellyn [L] as the ‘good girl’ Micaëla to offer the best singing and characterisation of the evening, enthusiastically applauded .

If you need an updated Carmen, think also of ballet; the Roland Petit/Paris Opera Carmen (recently on Sky Arts 2) is provoking, but also far more appropriate [TDK].

See David Gillard * in Daily Mail


Haydn La vera constanza

Royal Academy of Music, London, 23 November 2012

For us, that was it, so on to a great opera production on a shoestring; one of Haydn's 16 from Royal Academy Opera.

We have loved these since Antal Dorati's ground-breaking recordings from the late '70s, excellently recorded with star casts (though the CDs seriously lacking libretto texts *).

With Trevor Pinnock at the musical helm, all was equally well at RAM; his abbreviations and adjustments of Haydn's 1785 recits were apt and provided perfect surtitles in the theatre; maybe they could be made available to collectors and libraries, which all ought to have the CDs in their collections?

The first cast was strong as you could wish and I look forward tomorrow to seeing the second cast, of which I've heard good things. Be there !

Hana Zushi's official photos displayed outside the theatre focus on particular singers and, I guess, their future careers.

Mine L (from rehearsal, in the programme) features one of the boys (Jude Chandler) who acted like a professional and delivered his one sentence in perfect Italian (my only thought was that he ought to have joined in singing the final chorus with all the others; I'm sure he'd have been well able to).

My credits are ordered above deliberately. The small orchestra in the pit was as sharp and subtle as Dorati's Lausanne Chamber Orchestra. Jamie Hayes brought many a stylish idea into his cast's ensemble working, but what made this a memorable triumph was the ingenious and readily adaptable stage sets (Tim Reed, designed on a shoe-string) and the atmospheric lighting of Jake Wiltshire which had virtually every moment, whether of storm at sea or fishing in a garden, one to treasure visually too. **

I understand that archive videos are made by Academy Opera. This production, if filmed to today's standards, would have commercial prospects as good as many a specialist DVD from one of Europe's composer festivals, which we have reviewed.

Peter Grahame Woolf

- - without a shadow of a doubt the best live performance I have yet heard of a Haydn opera – and that includes the Salzburg Festival [Boulezian]

**Several "whole stage" photos have now been supplied, which show what it was I particularly loved in this production:















RAM photos: Hana Sushi


P.S. Helen Bailey [R and above] (Rosina in this production) gave a splendid recital at Blackheath Halls 10 December - though I gather that the lighting made for problems for the singers - see upper full-stage picture !)


CD review: http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Feb04/Haydn_operas1.htm#ixzz2D3y4ydJH

**La vera costanza is the final opera in the first box. First produced in 1779 it concerns a virtuous heroine surrounded by some rather stock buffo characters. The cast is consistently strong once more, with Jessye Norman and Helen Donath heading a standout female side. Some of the secco recitatives are rather heavily done by Dorati, who plays harpsichord and this can impede the natural rhythmic impetus of a work of this kind. Still, the arias themselves are well taken and there are plenty of opportunities for virtuosity and for expressive control. One such is for Kari Lövaas’s dramatic soprano aria in Act I Non s’innalza where she shows her excellent range and instinct for theatrical combustibility. Nor should we forget the band – they are properly alert and lithe behind Trimarchi’s So che una bestia sei. Donath is impressive throughout and the top aria for Norman is her well articulated and confident Dove fuggo in the Second Act.