I decided to started writing notes about the operas I went to in order to remember them better. Because memory is not my strong point, and I’d had one too many conversations involving people saying “Remember when we saw [some singer] in [some opera] in [not actually very many years ago] and…” and me thinking ‘Nope’. I decided to put said opera notes on the interwebs because, having gone to the trouble of writing the things, I thought I might as well see if they were of use or entertainment to anyone else. Apparently they are, which is nice.

However, it was never supposed to become a pain in the arse, and sometimes I’m too busy/tired/etc. and they don’t get done. But at the very least, the idea is to keep track of what I went to where and when.

I didn’t review any concerts before 2009, and I generally don’t review things that my friends are in.

RIGOLETTO (ROH, 2014-09-30)

Simon Keenlyside (title role) and Brindley Sherratt (Sparafucile). Yeah. Also good: Aleksandra Kurzak (Gilda). Story – thoroughly unpleasant (yes, I know, but was reminded anew). Orgy scene – just embarrassing.

THE MAKROPOULOS CASE (ENO, 2010-09-21)

I wrote about this production when it was last at the ENO in 2006, and don’t have an awful lot more to add. Amanda Roocroft vocally superb but not 100% convincing as Emilia Marty. Andrew Shore (always a pleasure) as Dr Kolenaty.

SIMON BOCCANEGRA (ROH, 2010-07-02)

Managed to get a standing ticket for this, which wasn’t the brightest idea when one has chronic knee pain (and the rest…), but I wanted to hear Domingo sing live, so I did. I’d never heard the work before, and he sounded lovely to me. Various people have made their complaints in various fora, but I’m quite happy not knowing what a ‘Verdi baritone’ is, or whether a given singer ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be singing Simon B. Ferrucio Furlanetto (Fiesco) sounded pretty lovely too. Couldn’t really see an awful lot from row W (i.e. halfway to Holborn), but that wasn’t really the point.

Also: £9! To hear Domingo at Covent Garden! Journalists: how on earth can you maintain that opera is an expensive art form?

DON CARLO (ROH, 2008-06-14)

I know I enjoyed it, and that I particularly liked Simon Keenlyside (Posa), Ferrucio Furlanetto (Philip) and Erik Halfvarson (Inquisitor), but otherwise…

Edit: I did see the production again the following year, and managed some notes this time around.

BILLY BUDD – concert performance (2007-12-09)

I didn’t review concerts at this point, only fully-staged productions. Was there for Saks’s Claggart rather than Bostridge’s Cap’n Vere or Nathan Gunn’s Budd – all v good though, and superb sea impressions from the lovely LSO.

THE RING (ENO, 2004-5)

Phyllida Lloyd’s production didn’t go down too well with the critics, but I thought it was brilliant. Well, mostly. As my first live Ring cycle, having known the music for years from recordings, it made a huge impression on me and was one of the key musical experiences I had around that time that turned me into the kind of person who gets excited about opera. Wish I’d written it up, but of course, I didn’t do that back then.

THE RAKE’S PROGRESS (ENO, 2001)

Back in 2001, I wasn’t even especially keen on Stravinsky – imagine that! Literally all I remember about this is that there was a brilliant pairing of Barry Banks as Tom Rakewell and Gidon Saks as Nick Shadow.

DER FREISCHÜTZ (ENO, 1999)

Erm, this was the one with the bit in the middle that was set in the 1st world war trenches (though the rest of the opera wasn’t), with a random naked lady running around, I believe?

KATYA KABANOVA (Prague, 1996)

In Czech with English surtitles, including, IIRR, the charming “Don’t you talk to my mum like that”. And really cheap champagne at the bar.

TOSCA (?, ?)

Have this hazy memory of James Morris as Scarpia, prancing around in evil thigh-boots brandishing a whip. Or was that just a dodgy dream?

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