The Magic Flute at the London Coliseum

ENO’s production is very much for 2024 London. Completely charming but fuelled with conceptual depth and thinking. Fine singing, live video artist, live sound effects artist, dialogue in colloquial English and many additional performers as well as the scripted characters. The orchestra’s flautist and glockenspiel play on stage, alongside Tamino and Pagageno with the glockenspiel player being the comedic butt of some of Papageno’s jokes.

Read more: The Magic Flute at the London Coliseum

Imogen Cooper at Keswick Music Society

This recital was fantastic because Imogen Cooper played with outstanding virtuosity a range of repertoire showing deep understanding and sympathy. Imogen Cooper did not hold back, she took the risks and showed us her full vision of this complex music. We were treated to magnificent performances of all four of Schubert’s Impromptus D899, the graceful No.1, the thrilling No. 2, the journey of No. 3 and then No. 4 charged with so much emotion, so much creativity in the modulation of the tempi (ie rubato) and throwing all the experience and technique of a great musician in to the performance.

Read more: Imogen Cooper (piano) at Keswick Music Society

Curtain call at the end of Royal Opera’s latest revival of Cavalleria Rusticana at Covent Garden
Cavalleria Rusticana curtain call

Royal Opera’s latest revival of the classic double bill of Italian verismo operas that has thrilled opera lovers since the time of Enrico Caruso.

I’ve never really made sense of Cavalleria Rusticana on record past the famous tunes but the bitter drama opens up to life with this vibrant modern dress production, stage revolve and above all, surtitles in English. The music has a huge emotional compass, is technically progressive, passionate and supple, this performance seemed much darker than the classic recordings. The prelude action is non-sequential but then there’s a load of story-telling to get through before the plot sort of becomes clear but then, oh then, the opera comes so alive. This staging gives us false perspective, heightening the sense of exclusion. The scenery (in both productions) is set on a stage revolve, in Cavalleria Rusticana the rotation is reversed as an indication of a change of fortune as the dénouement approaches. The singing is gripping, the passion, the warmth but the chilling discords in the famous Easter Hymn now make sense with stage action and dramatic lighting. Wonderful.

Read more: Cavalleria / Pagliacci - The Royal Opera, Covent Garden

Tardis in the foyer of Riverside Studios

Tonight’s First Night of a new version of Alan Turing - A Musical Biography was graced by a Tardis in the foyer of the reconstructed Riverside Studios. The foyer rather overstates the site’s heritage as the studios are entirely new.
Alan Turing’s story is fantastic as well as horrific, it should be shouted loud and proud: Alan Turing is both of massive interest as a seminal computer scientist, hero of the secret war and as a gay martyr who was sentenced to chemical castration following conviction for cottaging.
The prose text rings true, I hear the precise analytical mind of the mathematician. I’m not so sure about the musical book which seeks to explore thoughts using a post-Sondheim musical idiom. The music works well for me but needs fewer sung words.
A tour-de-force by both actors and the technical team; a killer apple also features. I really warmed to Joe Bishop’s portrayal of Alan Turing as a young man, his mini-lecture on the Fibonacci Series was a masterpiece. He’s clean-shaven, as was Alan Turing. Zara Cooke plays a number of roles and is convincing - the current production has done away with the narrator used previously; that’s tough on the actors but keeps momentum. It seems the tale they tell is closer to historical accuracy than the recent Hollywood movie.

Read more: Alan Turing - A Musical Biography

Iolanthe - ENO
ENO welcome photos of curtain calls

Iolanthe - ENO

Iolanthe is fun and fairies and ENO gave us magic too. Fairies have been different over the ages, ENO’s fairies are multi-coloured Arthur Rackhamesque fairies of uncertain ages: fun and frolics are their territory. It fits fine and the company poked fun at the political pumpkins of our time.
It’s a five star production and the music is fantastic. The front of house announcements were made as stand-up comedy by Clive Mantle as a character fireman, who appears in the action to put out fires. The opening is further subverted with lights fading up on a faux Royal Box showing a sheep wearing a tiara, then a flamingo, the first of many running jokes.

Read more: Iolanthe - Gilbert and Sullivan - ENO