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Category: Reviews – opera and ballet

NZ Opera’s Kátya Kabanová packs a punch at the St.James in Wellington

By , 07/10/2017
Janáček wrote to his long-time, would-be amour Kamila Stösslova about his leading character in the new opera he was planning, in 1920 - "The main character there is a woman, so gentle by nature.....a breeze would carry her away, let alone the storm that breaks over her...." This was Kátya Kabanová, or Káťa Kabanová as the Czech spelling has it, the first of three operas whereby the composer sublimated... read more

Compressed, alternative version of Mozart’s Figaro treated with wit and flair

Although only a few weeks ago Eternity Opera put on Mozart’s famous opera at the Hannah Playhouse, this was something very different.  Georgia Jamieson Emms’s group are to perform a fully-staged production of their show on 20 and 22 October at St. Matthew’s Collegiate, Masterton, then next summer take it on tour.  A good-sized audience was present for the concert, despite Houstoun and Hristova performing Beethoven at the other... read more

NZSO and Edo de Waart’s outstanding performance of Damnation of Faust

Berlioz was a non-conformist, musically.  In an ironic twist, the otherwise excellent programme notes said he ‘flaunted rules and regulations’ whereas in fact he flouted them, falling out with audience and critics in the process.  The work that was the entire programme of this NZSO concert demonstrated to the full the composer’s very different  music from that composed by his contemporaries and recent predecessors. The work required a large orchestra;... read more

Eternity opera’s triumph with The Marriage of Figaro – with the second cast

By , 06/08/2017
The production was performed seven times over a week, with only one dark evening, on Monday the 7th. There were two casts, but that did not mean each had a quiet time every other day, for each acted as the chorus for the other on alternate evenings. It was a busy week for everyone. Last year’s Don Giovanni had been scheduled in the same way which was presumably considered successful... read more

Eternity Opera’s “Figaro” produces the goods at Welllington’s Hannah Playhouse

By , 05/08/2017
Having so very much enjoyed Eternity Opera's "Don Giovanni" here in Wellington a year ago, I was looking forward to some replication of the experience with this new production of another Mozart masterpiece, "Le Nozze di Figaro" - or, to put it in the performance's English-language context "The Marriage of Figaro". A large part of the attraction of both productions for me was the intimacy of the Hannah Playhouse... read more

Close-up Janáček an operatic delight from NZSM

By , 28/07/2017
  It wasn't until he was almost fifty that Moravian composer Leoš Janáček began to show the world what he could really do, with the appearance of the first of his operas, Jenufa, in Brno in 1904. Up to that time a lot of his musical activities were devoted to researches into folk music, determined as he was to create from Moravian and other strains of Slavonic folk music a... read more

Lively and colourful Iolanthe from Wellington G&S Light Opera

By , 14/07/2017
Iolanthe is one of the operettas admired by many who take it upon themselves to judge musical worth, and it doesn’t rank among the most popular, with Pirates, Mikado, Gondoliers and Pinafore. The company last staged Iolanthe in 2008. Here was a chance to see how those opinions stack up with someone who was not seeing it for the first time (I saw the 2008 production and reviewed it in... read more

NZ Opera’s 2017 Carmen surprises, disconcerts and delights

By , 01/06/2017
There's almost always a lot to like in any production of Carmen. On the face of things the opera has everything that any theatre-goer-cum-music-lover could wish for - like the Shakespearean character who says "four feasts are forward", one can say Carmen has the four things which ensure operatic success - spectacle, drama, compelling characters and memorable tunes. Of course, these things don't make or play themselves, and, despite... read more

NZ Opera’s Mikado contentious but “not to be missed”

By , 25/02/2017
When W.S.Gilbert's ornamental Japanese sword fell off the wall of his study while he was turning over in his mind ideas for his latest operatic collaboration with Sir Arthur Sullivan, The Mikado was born - or so all the G&S history books tell us. In fact, there happened to be a vogue for japonaiserie in England at the time Mikado first hit the stage, instigated some years before by... read more

Days Bay Opera does it again with Handel’s “Theodora”

By , 11/02/2017
One of the pleasures of reviewing for me is fronting up to performances of music which I simply don’t know, and subsequently asking myself (sometimes in tones of amazement and disbelief) why it is I’ve never encountered this or that work before, finding it so beautiful / profound / thrilling /whatever! Thus it was with this often compelling production of Handel’s oratorio Theodora, a work the composer wrote towards... read more

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