Archive for the ‘2011’ Category

Royal Ballet Triple: Asphodel Meadows, Enigma Variations, Gloria, Covent Garden, November 2011

20 November, 2011

The first and last items on this excellent programme are to music by Poulenc, and both these two ballets — though not the music — deal with death. In an announcement at the start of the evening, a request was made for no applause during Gloria. As a result the audience seemed hesitant about applauding the first item, Asphodel Meadows, though several people applauded, more than once, during the third item, Gloria, before being shushed by others. How much better if the Royal Opera House had saved the announcement until just before Gloria!

Laura Morera and Ricardo Cervera, photo Johan Persson

The revival of Liam Scarlett’s Asphodel Meadows, which had its premiere in May 2010, is most welcome. The music is Poulenc’s Concerto in D minor for two pianos and orchestra, danced by an ensemble of fourteen plus three principal couples, one for each movement of the concerto. The first pair of principals, Rupert Pennefather and Marianela Nunez in brown, showed immense emotion in their movements, and their pas-de-deux in the slow middle section of the first movement was beautifully done. Tamara Rojo and Bennett Gartside in charcoal danced the Larghetto, and Laura Morera and Ricardo Cervera in burgundy the Allegro of the third movement. Flawless dancing of great musicality, and Tamara Rojo in particular was striking in her superb control. The ensemble work was excellent, and this was a perfect start to an evening ending with the bleak World War I retrospective of Gloria, as the meadows of asphodel appear in Homer’s Odyssey (Book XI, line 539), where Odysseus travels to Hades and encounters the shades of dead heroes.

Carlos Acosta in Gloria, Dee Conway

Poulenc’s Gloria in G, in praise of God, was used by Kenneth MacMillan for this elegy to those whose lives were lost or blighted by the Great War. Andy Klunder’s fine designs show the men with helmets, though their uniforms and flesh have been torn off, and the metal-frame ruin over a trench is a stark reminder of a wasteland of death where ghostly men and women emerge from the horizon. Sarah Lamb was beautifully moving as the woman in mourning, well partnered by Thiago Soares, and Laura Morera was the fearless girl, tossed about by Valeri Hristov, Kenta Kura and Johannes Stepanek. The ballet is based on Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth, and the female soloists both reflect aspects of her personality. She lost her lover and her brother during the war, and Carlos Acosta was superb in his solo role, showing a fierce intensity in his portrayal. His solos were gripping, and as the sole figure on stage at the end he pauses, and suddenly drops out of sight behind the abyss.

Enigma Variations, photo Dee Conway

Sandwiched between these two memorials to the victims of war, performed less than two weeks after Armistice Day, was Ashton’s brilliant ballet to Elgar’s Enigma Variations. Christopher Saunders portrayed Elgar himself, with Christina Arestis as his wife. Her fluidity of body language was pure Ashton, and a joy to watch. Nehemiah Kish and Lara Turk were well cast as the contemplative scholar subduing his emotions, and the young romantic girl with whom he’s in love, and this genteel pas-de-deux is followed by a complete contrast with Edward Watson giving a remarkable performance of the difficult and demanding Troyte variation. One contrast follows another, and Bennet Gartside was a finely understated Jaeger in the Nimrod variation, followed by Roberta Marquez as Dorabella. Her body and arm movements were beautiful in this fiendishly difficult solo, though some musicality was lacking, and José Martín was enormous fun in the bulldog solo. In the end it was Christopher Saunders and Christina Arestis who framed this ballet so beautifully, and the evening was well conducted by Barry Wordsworth.

This is a triple bill not to miss. Performances continue until November 30 — for details click here.

An Inspector Calls, review, Richmond Theatre, London, November 2011.

16 November, 2011

There’s a lovely conjuring trick using a box having a top, four sides and no bottom. You open it out to show that it’s empty, then close it up again and produce things from the inside. I thought of this in seeing Stephen Daldry’s interesting production of J. B. Priestley’s 1945 play, with the inspector as the magician, and the five other main characters as the top and sides of the box. The difference here is that the box at first appears to be full, then empty … but then as the sides close up again there really is something there!

This is, after all, entertainment, and scores of teenage girls sitting near me in the audience loved it. The production shows the participants as caricatures, with the inspector as a forceful Scotsman played by Tom Mannion, and I particularly liked Kelly Hotton as the daughter. The players showed plenty of melodrama, exhibiting the pretensions and presumptions inherent in the class system, and rendering this play excellent material for GCSE, which is why the teenagers were there.

The setting was presumably pre-First World War, but the boy who switches on a radio gives a curious disjunction in time, providing the occasional use of music, which made a powerful contribution. Both time and space are disjointed, and the designs by Ian MacNeil, with small doorways and windows in the house made the characters larger than life. The occasional use of supernumeraries helped give an air of reality behind the selfish concerns of the dinner guests, and the aspect of society at large being more important than a few individuals is very topical in view of present worries about the Euro and the disaffection with EU bureaucracy that is being felt across Europe.

This powerful drama by J. B. Priestly plays tricks with time, with guilt about the past and precognition about the present — the now but not here that we don’t yet see. The box is empty, yet also stuffed full — well worth a visit as it tours Britain.

Performances in Richmond continue until November 19 — for details click here. It then tours to: Bromley, Churchill Theatre, Nov 22–26; High Wycombe, Swan Theatre, Nov 29–Dec 3; Plymouth Theatre Royal, Dec 6–10. In 2012 the tour dates are: Blackpool Grand Theatre, Jan 9–14; Norwich Theatre Royal, Jan 17–21; Nottingham Theatre Royal, Jan 24–28; Salford, The Lowry, Jan 31–Feb 4; Belfast Grand Opera House, Feb 7–11; Dublin Gaiety Theatre, Feb 14–18; Glasgow Theatre Royal, Feb 21–25; Aberdeen HMT, Feb 28–Mar 3; Bradford Alhambra, Mar 6–10; Aylesbury Waterside, Mar 20–24; Cardiff New Theatre, Mar 27–31; Swindon, Wyvern, Apr 3–7; Cheltenham, Everyman, Apr 10–14; Newcastle Theatre Royal, Apr 17–21; Sheffield Lyceum, Apr 24–28; Swansea Grand Theatre, May 1–5; Llandudno, Venue Cymru, May 8–12; Northampton Derngate, May 15–19; Wimbledon New Theatre, May 22–26.

Eugene Onegin, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, November 2011

13 November, 2011

This new production by Deborah Warner, a joint venture with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, goes for big spaces. In Act I a huge barn, in Act II a big hall for the party and broad winter scene for the duel, and in Act III vast pillars reaching upwards for the ballroom, and later outside the mansion for Tatyana’s final rejection of Onegin.

Carefree days: Tatyana and Olga, all images Neil Libbert

These spaces were filled with some excellent singing. Toby Spence as Lensky was so good, both vocally and in his stage presence, that he seemed to be the main character during the first two acts. Then in Act III, Brindley Sherratt sang an outstanding Prince Gremin — it doesn’t get any better than this. Adrian Thompson was a fine Monsieur Triquet, Claudia Huckle a delightful Olga, and Amanda Echalaz as Tatyana came good in the final scene after an uneven performance during the first two acts. As Onegin himself, Norwegian baritone Audun Iversen sang with feeling, but his stage presence was disappointing. Presumably the director wanted to portray him in a kindly light when he rejects Tatyana’s letter, but without the haughtiness early on it’s difficult to appreciate his comeuppance in Act III, and with his lack of insouciance at the party scene when he whisks Olga round the dance floor, it’s hard to appreciate why Lensky would lose his rag.

Lensky confronts Onegin

The party scene was delightful, with kids and kitchen staff joining in the fun — this is after all in the countryside — and the ball scene in Act III was stunning. Kim Brandstrup’s choreography, led by professional dancers, added a great sense of style to the occasion, and the lighting by Jean Kalman showed principal figures clearly at the front of the stage, while those towards the rear appeared as if in a slight mist — very clever.

Lensky and his second await Onegin

I liked the front-drops during the orchestral preludes, and found Tom Pye’s sets very effective. The barn in Act I served as the place where Tatyana wrote her letter, starting at a table but moving to the floor. Yet it was odd that she scribbled almost nothing — it’s an impulsive letter, but long, so this rendered the scene less effective.

Conducting by Edward Gardner brought to life what is Tchaikovsky’s most gripping opera, and the chorus were superb.

Tatyana, Gremin and Onegin

Altogether this is a wonderful new production by the ENO, and the visual effects were so good that the audience spontaneously applauded the ball scene as the curtain opened for Act III.

Performances continue until December 3 — for details click here.

Grief, Cottesloe, NT review, National Theatre, November 2011

11 November, 2011

This powerful new play by Mike Leigh leaves a haunting sense of despair after the fine cast has brought to life characters who just don’t get it.

Lesley Manville, Ruby Bentall and Sam Kelly

It starts in 1957 when the Russians put up Sputnik, and the doctor’s son is working for Ferranti, designing computers, whatever they are. Exciting times, yet Lesley Manville’s Dorothy and her brother, Sam Kelly’s Edwin are stuck in the past. They share a house — Dorothy having lost her husband during the war — and in quiet moments they occasionally sing old songs in unison. The nostalgia is claustrophobic, and confusing to Dorothy’s daughter, Victoria.

The Doctor with Edwin

She is fifteen going on sixteen, and needs emotional support that her mother fails to provide, let alone her uncle or her godparents Gertrude and Muriel, friends of Dorothy from her days as a rather classy telephonist. These elegant, gregarious ladies, well portrayed by Marion Bailey and Wendy Nottingham, really haven’t a clue. ‘Garrulous Gertie’ answers her own kindly questions with no need for any response, and both are about as far from understanding Ruby Bentall’s teenage Victoria as the earth is from the moon.

Marion Bailey, Lesley Manville and Wendy Nottingham

Poor Dorothy. She’s elegant too, whisking off her apron when guests arrive, and trying to give her awkward daughter firm boundaries that aren’t really part of her own nature. Dorothy Duffy’s rude cleaning lady treats her with contempt, knowing full well her mistress can’t set the agenda. Yet Dorothy can and does stop her daughter having a tiny tipple of sherry before her sixteenth birthday, even on Christmas day, three weeks before the major event. You can say, no … no … no … and then yes, at which point the other person’s annoyance causes them to refuse. And even when it’s about to happen, on Edwin’s return from his final day at work after forty five years of steady slog, Dorothy can’t resist controlling the situation by telling her daughter to sip it slowly. What does she think she’d do — knock it back like a Russian sailor, or copy the subdued ways of her elders? And why does she need to reveal to Edwin what his Christmas present is just as he’s about to open it? Her emotional intelligence is poor, and that’s true of everyone here, even David Horovitch as the doctor friend with his witty one-liners, “He who laughs last thinks slowest”. No-one is ahead of the curve, not even the doctor. This is not Chekhov. It’s Mike Leigh’s beautifully observed portrait of ordinary folk unaware of their own failings, helped by superb acting and a well-balanced cast directed by the author.

Dorothy and Victoria in a rare lighter moment

“All’s well that ends” says the bouncy doctor, not once or twice but every time he appears …until his final appearance at the house when it really is the end.

Performances continue until January 28 — for details click here.

Siegfried, Metropolitan Opera, Met live cinema relay, November 2011

6 November, 2011

In the final part of the intermission feature from the second interval, as Renee Fleming went to meet Bryn Terfel in his dressing room, he said he was wondering when she would get round to him. Was he feeling left out? Perhaps so, but never mind because in the third act he was superb as the Wanderer. When Siegfried asks, who are you then, who wants to restrain me? Terfel’s lengthy response came over superbly, with a strong focus on Wotan’s psychological angst, ‘wer sie erweckt, wer sie gewänne, machtlos macht’ er mich ewig!‘ (whoever wakes her, whoever wins her, would render me powerless forever!).

Mime and Siegfried, all images Ken Howard

This production by Robert Lepage, brilliantly conducted by Fabio Luisi, brings nuances in the score and the libretto that had previously passed me by, and in Act I, Gerhard Siegel gives one of the finest portrayals of Mime that I have ever seen. After his encounter with the Wanderer, and his failure to ask the one question he really needs answering, he muses on what he has just learned: that only one who knows no fear can kill the dragon. He has already forfeit his head to the Wanderer and knows that Siegfried will lop it off unless he learns fear from the Dragon Fafner. But how can he kill the dragon if he learns fear? “Verfluchte Klemme!” (Damned dilemma!) he sings, and you feel for the poor fellow who has devoted eighteen years to bringing up the boy who will kill the dragon, but will also finish his own ill-fated existence. Gerhard Siegel acts everyone else off the stage, making me think of him as an Asperger’s victim embroiled in teenage fantasies that he can never fulfil.

Siegfried and the Sword

As for the real teenager, Siegfried, Jay Hunter Morris sang the role with huge conviction. There are not many people in the world who can do this well, but their number has just increased by one with this great new Heldentenor, and the intermission features showed he was utterly dedicated and loved what he was doing. He looked the part too, as a Christ-like figure full of spirit, rather than the rambunctious oaf he sometimes appears.

Alberich and the Wanderer

Eric Owens reprised his wonderful Alberich from Rheingold, and Patricia Bardon looked and sang a beautiful Erda, with Deborah Voigt bringing back her Brünnhilde from Walküre. After a mythical eighteen year sleep, and a real absence of over four hours while the other singers have warmed up, or even died, she has to come in with Heil dir, Sonne! Heil dir, Licht! and it’s a tough call. As she began expressing her love for Siegfried, the voice took on more confidence and she was terrific.

Brünnhilde and Siegfried

One of the odd moments in the last scene is when Siegfried loosens the breastplate of the sleeping hero, and cries, Das is kein Mann! This sometimes sounds foolishly naive but the way Jay Hunter Morris tackled it, facing the audience with this revelation, it all made sense. Making sense is a vital feature of this production, and Terfel helped bring out the subtleties of Wotan’s dilemmas. Technically I regret that the shards of the sword looked fake, unlike the eventual sword itself — an important point when you have close-ups on the cinema screen — but the Woodbird flitted around like a well-rehearsed pet animal, and we shall doubtless see more of these clever 3D-projections in other productions.

Manon, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, November 2011

4 November, 2011

Manon is one of MacMillan’s most beloved full-length ballets, and the first night of the present run was performed with huge conviction.

Sarah Lamb as Manon, all photos Johan Persson

Rupert Pennefather — always an extremely talented dancer with a lovely line — seems transformed, his body language and facial expressions eloquently exhibiting the emotions and frustrations felt by Des Grieux. He showed a sense of attack that has been missing in the past, and his partnership with Sarah Lamb was glorious. From their first pas-de-deux in Act I to her final death in his arms in the swamps of Louisiana they were superb together. She brought out the amoral, changeable nature of Manon, so easily distracted by jewels and a comfortable life, and apparently too by the power and brutality that Christopher Saunders exhibits as Monsieur G.M. He too seems to have grown in his characterisation of the role.

From the beginning of Act I to his death by gunshot, Manon’s brother Lescaut was brilliantly portrayed by Thiago Soares. He and Pennefather showed great precision and musicality, and the interactions between the two of them were riveting — Lescaut so determinedly lacking in moral compass, against the emotions embodied by Des Grieux. The pas-de-trois with Manon, Lescaut and Monsieur G.M. later in the Act — a wonderful piece of Macmillan choreography — was beautifully performed, and the first interval arrived after a terrific performance of one of the greatest Acts in any full-length ballet.

Monsieur G.M., Manon, and Lescaut, pas-de-trois

The remainder of the evening continued the emotional roller-coaster, helped by the superb conducting of Martin Yates. It’s a pleasure to hear his performance after a disappointing musical account of Sleeping Beauty recently, but then Martin Yates is a serious musician who has re-orchestrated the score of this ballet. It was originally conceived by Leighton Lucas using various pieces from Massenet’s operas — though nothing from Manon itself — and Yates brought out the power of the music very strongly.

MacMillan’s choreography brilliantly shows the world of pre-revolutionary France, to say nothing of the emotions of the characters, and with so many dancers contributing individual performances, the overall effect is mesmerising. Among solo roles, Valentino Zucchetti danced superbly as the beggar chief in Act I, and Eric Underwood gave a fine performance of the gaoler in Act III, his predatory gaze following the ragged and shorn Manon, before his final assault on her in his private rooms.

With Martin Yates’s conducting these performances are not to be missed, and they continue with various casts until November 26 — for details click here.

La Sonnambula, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, November 2011

3 November, 2011

Bellini’s La Sonnambula, like Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix was regarded in nineteenth century Italy as a classical example of the pastoral genre, and oddly enough the heroine and her mother in these performances of Sonnambula feature the same singers as Covent Garden’s concert performance of Linda di Chamounix two years ago.

All ROH images Bill Cooper

Eglise Gutiérrez was the sleepwalking Amina, and Elizabeth Sikora sang beautifully as her mother Teresa. Ms Gutiérrez produced some lovely soft notes in this technically demanding role, and after a nervous start she warmed up during the evening and her ‘mad scene’ was superbly sung. This is after the second sleepwalking episode, when her beloved Elvino has rejected her and now intends to marry his former lover Lisa, thinking Amina has been unfaithful. The reverse is the case and it is Lisa who has paid court to the Count, but truth will out in the end and the excitable young lovers are reunited.

Amina at her wedding party in Act I

Spanish tenor Celso Albelo was terrific as Elvino, being on top form from beginning to end, and giving serious meaning to the term bel canto. And with Michele Pertusi singing superbly as Count Rodolfo, a role he has performed in many major opera houses, including the Met’s live relay in March 2009, this was a wonderful cast. Pertusi looked very much the part with his wonderful stage presence, and Elena Xanthoudakis was a wittily assertive Lisa. Her voice had a wonderful purity in the Proms this past summer as William Tell’s son Jemmy, and came over powerfully here as the hostess of the inn. Korean bass Jihoon Kim sang well as her new admirer, whose handsome smugness well deserved the shoe she threw at him, and I only wish it had gone through the air rather than along the floor.

Act II 'mad scene'

Sudden fits of temper are a useful feature of this production by Marco Arturo Marelli, and I loved the chair being thrown through the window by the furious Elvino. Glass shattered and the snow came in, but the warmth of Bellini’s score was well captured by Daniel Oren in the orchestra pit, and this revival, nine years after the production’s first performances is very welcome indeed.

Performances continue until November 18 — for details click here — and there is a BBC Radio 3 broadcast on Saturday, 19 November at 6pm.

Heart of Darkness, Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, November 2011

2 November, 2011

Wow! This was a remarkable achievement by 33 year old composer Tarik O’Regan, along with a libretto by artist Tom Phillips.

The crew on the boat

They have packed Joseph Conrad’s novella into 75 minutes of gripping musical narrative, starting in London with the old sea captain, Marlow — beautifully sung by Alan Oke — in a moment of recollection, “He was a remarkable man”. This is repeated in different forms, and although nothing is hurried, everything is accomplished. Marlow goes into the heart of Africa, upstream with his crew.

Edward Dick and Robert Innes Hopkins have come up with a wonderful design. The deck of the boat moves up and down on water that seeps through, and the effect is that we are there with them as they move up river. It is all helped by Rick Fisher’s lighting, which is mostly dark, but sometimes brilliantly lit with the crew is in the midday sun, and when the witch-doctor appears later we see a strangely magical projection roiling the air.

Alan Oke as Marlow

The sets and lighting help, but the atmosphere is created by the music and libretto. The tension, the frustrations, “What I really need are rivets”, and when the rivets eventually arrive the crew dance for joy. Bright interludes there may be, but the percussion, strings and woodwind create a sense of the jungle, and the crew pull out their guns, “The jungle has eyes in it”. They survive an attack, instigated by Kurtz, that mysterious man whom we eventually meet, strongly sung by young Danish bass Morten Lassenius Kramp. He looks the part in spades, lying on a table, yet supremely fit and slim when he stands up. A man of vision, or is it obsession — Kurtz and his ivory, “They will try to claim it as theirs. It’s my ivory. I want nothing more than justice”. But as Marlow later sings, “His intelligence was perfectly clear, but his soul was mad”.

Marlow and Kurtz

The opera ends as it starts, on the river Thames in London. Kurtz’s fiancée, sung by Gweneth-Ann Jeffers, reappears and we are back to Marlow’s conversation with her at the beginning. He muses about the ‘remarkable man’, impossible to know him and not admire him. She wants to know what were his last words, and Marlow is stuck. “The last word he announced was . . . your name”. It is almost the end, and as the tide of the music goes out and in, we are left to ponder on the eternal insanity of acquisitive obsession.

The music was played by CHROMA conducted by Oliver Gooch, and I would gladly hear and see it all again. This is the first time I remember seeing surtitles in the Linbury Studio, and they worked very well. Performances continue until November 5 — for details click here.

Review of Sleeping Beauty, with Rojo and Bonelli, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2011

1 November, 2011

Colourful new costumes with Oliver Messel’s original designs updated by Peter Farmer, fine ensemble dancing and some excellent solos, what more could one want? Well … coordinating the conducting better with the dancing would help.

Tamara Rojo in Act II, all photos Bill Cooper

During the first interval, a lady from the audience told me she thought only one of the fairy variations in the Prologue was well danced, and that was Emma Maguire in the fifth variation (Fairy of the Golden Vine). Certainly she showed enormous poise and control, as she did in the pas-de-trois from Act III, along with fine performances by Hikaru Kobayashi and Kenta Kura. But what went wrong with the other variations in the Prologue? The audience was lukewarm about the first four (Yuhui Choe, Helen Crawford, Hikaru Kobayashi, Samantha Raine), but I’m inclined to blame the conducting, which I found sluggish. After Itziar Mendizabal followed with the Lilac Fairy’s variation, the young men dance, but the music was terribly plodding, which makes it hard for the dancers. Good performances on stage however, as the king throws the invitation list to the floor, realising his master of ceremonies has omitted Carabosse, and then on she came with her ghastly attendants. Genesia Rosato was a fine Carabosse, but as her coach exited something crashed. A bit of extra excitement was welcome and the audience around me were amused.

Back for Act I with the delightful Tamara Rojo as Princess Aurora, and Gary Avis showing fine stage presence as the English prince. Pity about the ragged brass at the start of Act I, and pity about the Christopher Wheeldon’s new choreography for the Garland Dance, which is supposed to be a waltz. Problems with the brass reappeared in Act II, but Boris Gruzin’s conducting warmed up later in that Act, and the journey to the sleeping realm came over effectively.

Rojo and Bonelli in Act III

Act III contained some very fine dancing: the pas-de-trois of Florestan and his Sisters by Kobayashi, Kura and Maguire, as I mentioned earlier, and Yuhui Choe was a brilliant Princess Florine with her partner Alexander Campbell as the Bluebird. They danced beautifully together, and Red Riding Hood and the Wolf were wittily portrayed by Leanne Cope and Johannes Stepanek, with the little trees that now come on stage adding a nice touch. As the principal characters, Tamara Rojo and Federico Bonelli formed a fine partnership and came over as real fairy tale characters, he the perfect dark haired prince and she showing the reserve befitting a princess who is manipulated by forces outside her immediate control.

This revamped production with its new costumes is certainly worth seeing, though I hope the Company can make more rehearsal time available for putting the orchestra together with the dancers.

Performances with various casts continue until December 21 — for details click here.

Don Giovanni, Metropolitan Opera live relay from New York, October 2011

30 October, 2011

For Don Giovanni lovers it doesn’t get much better than this.

Leporello and the Don, all photos MetOpera/ Marty Sohl

The Met’s new music director Fabio Luisi gave a sparkling account of the overture, and the performance never looked back. Mariusz Kwiecien combined noble aplomb with demi-world charm as the Don, and Luca Pisaroni was the perfect foil as his sidekick Leporello. Their early dialogue was superbly done, and Barbara Frittoli as the Don’s erstwhile lover Donna Elvira showed huge vulnerability in her portrayal. Later in Act I when Donna Anna suddenly realises Giovanni was the man who seduced her and killed her father she recalls going outside to stop him and her disingenuous, arditamente il seguo … remains curiously unquestioned by her would-be husband Don Ottavio. Marina Rebeka as Anna makes it sound as if she really is lying about her feelings, but Ramón Vargas continues to sing in loving adoration and concern, and his voice and breath control are remarkable.

Ottavio, Anna and her father

The peasant dancing at the party that Giovanni puts on for the wedding couple Zerlina and Masetto, was delightfully done, so far as one could see from the cinema screen, and Mojca Erdmann’s lyrical Zerlina was prettily flirtatious with the Don, and cleverly seductive with her husband-to-be. With Joshua Bloom as a red-blooded and anxious Masetto they made a superb couple, and her vedrai, carino … in Act II, after he has been beaten up, was beautifully delivered.

Wedding dancing at the Don's

As the Commendatore, Štefan Kocán gave a fine performance before his death in Act I, and then made a dramatic entrance at the end, with his bluish make-up helped by Paule Constable’s lighting. The flames are real and Kwiecien’s insouciant Don goes down like the captain of his ship, bowing to no-one, not even the powers of the afterworld. It’s always difficult to tell on the cinema screen, but this production by Michael Grandage looks very good indeed, and with Fabio Luisi keeping everything on track musically it was a wonderful Giovanni.