It is going to quickly be 20 years since David McVicar’s manufacturing of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte was first seen on the Royal Opera. Its longevity proves what an excellent funding a manufacturing may be if it avoids sturdy opinions in regards to the opera in query and appears easy however trendy.

It additionally helps that, again in 2003, McVicar airbrushed out the racist feedback within the textual content, turning evil Monostatos, recognized as a “Moor”, into a comic book, bewigged, 18th-century fop. The sexist attitudes are tougher to erase and people stay, to garner semi-guilty giggles among the many viewers.

Total, it is a slick, well-balanced present that addresses Enlightenment philosophy and pantomime humour in equal measure. It has already hosted a number of casts and is now getting three extra over a run of 14 performances, lasting to the top of January.

The current line-up excels on the high and backside of the vocal spectrum. Aigul Khismatullina unleashes high notes of blazing energy as Queen of the Night time and Brindley Sherratt plumbs the depths of Sarastro’s arias with sonorous gravity. Anna Prohaska and Filipe Manu make a gorgeous, younger main couple as Pamina and Tamino, the tenor with a pleasant heat of voice. Gyula Orendt performs Papageno, the opera’s “everyman”, straight down the road as an amicable, abnormal man in a far-from-ordinary magical world. They might be glad of the snappy articulation and readability that conductor Maxim Emelyanychev brings with him from working with interval devices, however there’s a lack of musical heat in his efficiency.


To January 28,

A white-haired man conducts an orchestra while a woman stands and sings
Simon Rattle with soprano soloist Iwona Sobotka and the LSO © Andy Paradise

An everyday cry goes up round this time of the 12 months for music that’s not about Christmas. Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra clearly took that to coronary heart once they deliberate Saturday’s all-choral live performance. Pairing Szymanowski’s setting of the mournful Stabat Mater with Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, derided by Bernard Shaw because the work of “a first-class undertaker”, was hardly going to set the seasonal sleigh-bells tinkling.

On paper, the programme appeared indigestible, although it proved extra palatable in follow. The first energy of the performances got here from Rattle himself, who has lengthy championed each works, the Szymanowski from his days in Birmingham, and the Brahms throughout his tenure with the Berlin Philharmonic, with whom he made a first-class recording.

Amongst settings of the Stabat Mater, the one by Szymanowski is an outlier, unique and sensual. Rattle gave it area and luxuriant textures courtesy of the LSO; Iwona Sobotka was an excellent soprano soloist. The mezzo and baritone soloists, Hanna Hipp and Florian Boesch, had been ready of their lesser roles.

Rattle’s efficiency of the Brahms was slightly swifter, much less monumentally refulgent than his recording, nevertheless it nonetheless had gravity and deep-toned richness to spare. Though the Barbican acoustic is healthier than it was once, it’s nonetheless unhelpful for choirs, and regardless of thorough rehearsal the London Symphony Refrain sounded tentative in uncovered passages. Sobotka’s wealthy soprano was much less properly suited right here. Boesch set in regards to the German texts with positively biblical fireplace, however the extra consoling music eluded him. This was in all senses Rattle’s night.



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