Ermonela Jaho

Bethan Langford

by Coriander Stuttard

Bethan Langford is a young mezzo-soprano with a flourishing career. She is also visually impaired. A week-long residency in December at Snape Maltings gives her an exciting opportunity to develop a new stage work called Indus, inspired by her disability, in which she explores the idea of ‘difference’. Working with writer and director Ruth Mariner and composer Cameron Dodds, Langford hopes Indus will help to ‘promote change and acceptance of being disabled in our society’

Sun and shade

by Francis Muzzu

Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho is loved by the public for her unfettered, heart-wrenching portrayals of opera’s most tragic heroines. Francis Muzzu finds out how she balances all that onstage anguish with her relaxed, happy offstage personality

A weekend in Tallinn

by Andrew Mellor

Baltic Circles

by Andrew Mellor

The Baltic Sea holds vivid tales of tragedy, mystery, adventure and love. No wonder then, that its shores have provided such fertile soil for opera stretching back at almost four centuries. These are the deep, cold waters upon which Richard Wagner’s famously stormy sea voyage began and upon which much of the strategic drama of the Second World War was played out. But the Baltic is associated with pleasure as well as pain. It was to the Sea’s exclusive coastal resorts that the Imperial Russian and later Soviet glitterati retired in the summer, visitors replaced today by a new breed of inquisitive and energetic tourist attracted by some of the most stunning nature and architecture in Europe. Lined with capital cities from Copenhagen to Tallinn, the Baltic also abounds in beautiful waterfront opera houses, old and new.

Out of the shadows

Dating back to the origins of opera in the 17th century, puppets are becoming ever more popular in today’s opera houses. Benjamin Ivry traces their history from the marionette theatres of the 18th-century to the impressive model-making production teams of the present day, exploring the enduring appeal of puppets to audiences of all ages

Gerard Mortier

by Benjamin Ivry

A provocative iconoclast and a champion of artistic innovation throughout his career, Gerard Mortier was one of the most colourful, influential and controversial figures in opera right up to his death in 2014. Benjamin Ivry assesses the impresario’s legacy by way of a collection of essays exploring the link between opera, art and politics; and he asks, where are the Mortiers of today?

Above the noise of battle

Four years of commemoration of the First World War, culminating in last month’s celebration of the end to hostilities, are being marked in Opera North’s Armistice 100 mini-season. Opera Now spoke to director Tim Albery about how the horrors of war and the solace of peace can be conveyed through the medium of opera

Floral notes

by Simon Mundy

The spectacular Floralies Hall in Ghent has been rescued from decades of neglect to become the new home of the Ghent Festival. The historic venue promises to revolutionise the way opera is presented in the Belgian city, as Simon Mundy discovered at a recent performance of Verdi’s Don Carlos


by Professor Anthony Ogus

Professor Anthony Ogus has learnt to expect the unexpected when it comes to operatic adventures – for instance when a friend’s foot-related misfortune resulted in an evening of intense musical ecstasy during a recent trip to Holland

The Turn of the Screw, Britten

by Thomas May · illustrations: Philip Newton

According to Peter Kazaras, if you ‘follow Britten’s lead’ when staging The Turn of the Screw, ‘you will get precisely where you need to get – to a place of utmost anxiety, and eventually to tragedy’

Candide, Bernstein

by Susan Nickalls · illustrations: Thor Brødreskift

This high-spirited take on Bernstein’s Candide, semi-staged in Bergen’s Griegallen, was the best of all possible productions with a top-notch cast and music that fizzed with energy from the very outset

Carmen, Bizet

by Andrew Mellor · illustrations: Anders Bach

There was little chance of a flamenco and castanet-strewn Carmen from Danish National Opera. The company already looks and feels different since the arrival of its new artistic and general director Philipp Kochheim

Bérénice, Jarrell

by Francis Carlin · illustrations: Monika Rittershaus

Just when works by George Benjamin and Thomas Adès have salvaged the idea of new opera as a viable art form for our times, along comes another example of how not to do it. Rather predictably, Michael Jarrell’s new opera on Racine’s Bérénice was a waste of time and money

Rodelinda, Handel

by Fiona Hook · illustrations: Simon Gosselin

Bertarido’s son, Flavio, who has no part in the action, is placed at the centre of this staging of Rodelinda and we are asked to believe that the story, including the imagined happy ending, is happening inside the young boy’s head, just before he dies. Director Jean Bellorini’s concept just doesn’t work

Semiramide Rossini

by Susan Nickalls · illustrations: Michele Crosera

La Fenice’s spectacular new production of Semiramide celebrates the opera’s 1823 world premiere in this very theatre, as well as commemorating the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death

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