“Glenn Close is ravishing. She reprises the role of Norma Desmond, making her debut in London which has won her several awards in Los Angeles and Broadway. Dressed in silks, furs and sophisticated couture, made exclusively for showbiz royalty and divas, she engages the audience’s eyes and converts them all, even those who don’t like musicals. She is a charismatic beaming star when she sings songs including ‘Surrender’, practically whispering before she gives vocal bravado to ‘As if we never said goodbye.’”
Click here to read my 5-Star review at www.LondonTheatre1.com.
Director, Phelim McDermott and Improbable Theatre Company have produced something special at English National Opera at a time when the opera house really needs it. From stage designs by Tom Pye and Kevin Pollard, lavish costumes, mesmerising music and unbelievable voices – by soloists and the beleaguered ENO chorus -, this has prompted positive reviews from critics and sell out performances. (I almost missed out on seeing this production if it wasn’t for standing day tickets, which I bought on the day for £10 each.)
Composed by Philip Glass, Akhnaten is mesmerising, enthralling, and enchanting. I simply had no idea what to expect, yet I left feeling excited about the production and mentally calmer than I had been before the opera begun. It’s fair to say that there’s certainly something stunning and enchanting about Glass’s music here.
Not many know of Akhnaten but he’s very different from other pharaohs. The life of Akhnaten, who was pharaoh of Egypt around 1350BC and married to Nefertiti, is known in ancient history for converting his people to believe a new religion, following a monotheistic sun god. The storyline, itself, is rather basic but the staging is finely executed by its remarkable music score and vocals, which is the key focus, I thought.
Five operas in a space of seven days may seem like a tall order but somehow I managed to do all of them. The range included works by Fringe companies like Opera Vera (read review here) and Unexpected Opera as well as those at the Covent Garden and English National Opera (ENO). To my delight it was an even spread that pretty much captured the kind of operas happening in London – and my, (oh, my) there are plenty!
Royal Opera House: L’Étoile, Covent Garden ★★★★
However I must admit that the music glows and is highly addictive. The ROH Chorus sing wittingly to Couplets du Pal as they celebrate King Ouf’s execution by impalement (yeah, I know – it’s very weird!) By the end of it, I was humming a few catchy songs I hadn’t heard before including Le chartreuse verte.
Firstly, it should be said that this is an original production from the English National Opera (ENO) in London. Whilst sitting at the Gate cinema in Notting Hill, I noticed there was barely any mention of it, and although it may have seemed like a brand new revival for New York, it certainly wasn’t for London audiences. On top of the so-called novelty was the performance of Bizet’s Ceylon romantic opera, which hadn’t been staged at the Metropolitan Opera for 100 years. In 1919, Enrico Caruso and Giuseppe De Luca sung as the two best friends who fell in love with the same Hindu priestess (Frieda Hempel), which was, sadly, only performed three times in the run.
Back in my mind I recalled some of my concerns I had about the ENO production I saw in 2014. Director Penny Woolcock, set designer Dick Bird and lightening designer Jen Schriever were here again to regal their ‘traditional’, silky, smooth Eastern pearl-diving village, with its aquatic, ocean shimmer.
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☆☆☆☆☆ Any opportunity to see #LauraLinney live should be embraced fast. If not, then at least try and read one, or all, of Strout's books. I'm currently reading Anything Is Possible (2018) & I've having difficulty putting it down. @_bridgetheatre trendfem.com/2018/06/my-nam…
☆☆☆☆☆ One can learn many things from @operahollandpk #OHPTraviata stripping an opera of novelty & sensationalism and bringing it back to the text doesn’t render a production boring or unoriginal... when executed well it can do wonders trendfem.com/2018/06/opera-… #OHPYoungArtists
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have a central twin room available at #edfringe 21-27th £282. Email NICritics@mail.com if you're interested! Please RT :)— NICritics (@NICritics) June 16, 2018