Dvd

Benjamin: Lessons in Love and Violence (The Royal Opera)

Benjamin: Lessons in Love and Violence (The Royal Opera)

Stéphane Degout (King); Barbara Hannigan (Isabel); Gyula Orendt (Gaveston/Stranger); Peter Hoare (Mortimer); Samuel Boden (Boy/Young King); Jennifer France (Witness 1/Singer 1/Woman 1); Krisztina Szabó (Witness 2/Singer 2/Woman 2); Andri Björn Róbertsson (Witness 3/Madman);

"His [George Benjamin's] music, like Crimp’s words, is at once brilliantly clear and full of half-suggested meanings. Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande lurks in the background, a benign influence casting rays of light into this world of moral darkness. Although Benjamin does not write conventional arias, it seems there is barely a line that this cast does not shape with beauty and expressiveness. Hannigan is outstanding, as ever, as Isabel. Stéphane Degout and Gyula Orendt are well matched as the King and Gaveston/Stranger, the latter swathed in a mystic accompaniment of gentle percussion. Peter Hoare brings a fearsome authority to Mortimer and Samuel Boden is inspired casting as the Boy, growing up to be King. Lessons in Love and Violence is not an opera that is going to inspire affection. What it does have is the most gripping concentration, enough to make an audience hold its breath for long stretches at a time. In Katie Mitchell’s razor-sharp production, the opera is set in a high-end, modern development, where the walls are hung with paintings in the style of Francis Bacon. Is she telling us that the horrors we witness are, in fact, a prediction for our own time? It is a depressing thought." (The Financial Times ★★★★)

Benjamin: Written on Skin (The Royal Opera)

Benjamin: Written on Skin (The Royal Opera)

Christopher Purves (Protector); Barbara Hannigan (Agnès); Bejun Mehta (First Angel/Boy); Victoria Simmonds (Second Angel/Marie); Allan Clayton (Third Angel/John); David Alexander, Laura Harling, Peter Hobday, Sarah Northgraves (Angel Archivists);

"Magic and irresistible ... It is the best opera written over the last twenty years." (Le Monde)

Berg: Lulu (The Royal Opera)

Berg: Lulu (The Royal Opera)

Agneta Eichenholz (Lulu); Michael Volle (Dr Schön / Jack the Ripper); Klaus Florian Vogt (Alwa); Jennifer Larmore (Countess Geschwitz);

"It is immaculately rehearsed and executed - one doesn't often see opera acted with such freedom and honesty and absence of flummery. And its unsparing analytic clarity forces one to confront the bitter truth about Lulu's inner life and the corruption and idiocy of the men who are infatuated by her...Antonio Pappano's electrifying conducting is razor-sharp in the manner of PierreBoulez, and the orchestral playing is magnificent...Singing with an extraordinary grace and insouciance, Eichenholz manages to make this monster chillingly real and hauntingly beautiful." (The Daily Telegraph)

Berg: Wozzeck (Gran Teatre del Liceu)

Berg: Wozzeck (Gran Teatre del Liceu)

Franz Hawlata (Wozzeck); Angela Denoke (Marie); Reiner Goldberg (Drum Major); Vivian Tierney (Margret); Johann Tilli (Doctor); Hubert Delamboye (Captain);

"The quite sensational Chorus and Orchestra, revealed a worldclass theatre company, with a conductor London should book soon. Sebastian Weigle read the score with suavity, so that it seemed as if Wozzeck was more than a little influenced by Mahler; and how thankful I felt for that ingratiating, mellow and fierce sound!" (Musical Opinion)

Berlioz: Béatrice et Bénédict (Glyndebourne)

Berlioz: Béatrice et Bénédict (Glyndebourne)

Stéphanie d’Oustrac (Béatrice); Paul Appleby (Bénédict); Sophie Karthäuser (Héro); Philippe Sly (Claudio); Lionel Lhote (Somarone); Frédéric Caton (Don Pedro); Katarina Bradić (Ursule);

"… delivered with sumptuous assurance..." (The Times)

Berlioz: Les Toryens (The Royal Opera)

Berlioz: Les Toryens (The Royal Opera)

Anna Caterina Antonacci (Cassandra); Eva-Maria Westbroek (Dido); Bryan Hymel (Aeneas); Fabio Capitanucci (Coroebus); Robert Lloyd (Priam); Narbal (Brindley Sherratt); Ashley Holland (Panthus); Daniel Grice (Soldier);

"David McVicar's stupendous production at the Royal Opera House would be worth seeing for Es Devlin's mighty sets and Constructivist Trojan horse alone. But Antonio Pappano's orchestra plays the ravishing score with such élan, and the singing and acting are so fine, especially Cassandra (Anna Caterina Antonacci), Dido (Eva-Maria Westbroek) and Aeneas (Bryan Hymel), that you can forgive the long, angular ballets that are like misbegotten descendants of Isadora Duncan and the Ballets Russes." (The Wall Street Journal)