Autumnal vocal sparkle: Bach and Parry from Cambridge Chorale

As the autumn evenings begin to darken and lengthen, growing chillier and damper, we could all do with a little burst of beauty; and this short programme of three Bach motets, and Hubert Parry‘s six Songs of Farewell, both promised and delivered an hour or so of exultant, jubilant singing from Cambridge Chorale, in their first public concert…

Embracing anew: A Fairy Queen at Iford

Director Timothy Nelson has created a new performing edition of Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen for Iford, which picks out the most familiar scenes and divides them into four “Nights” (the Mechanicals’ rehearsal, Oberon and Titania’s quarrel, the human lovers’ confusion, and the Mechanicals’ play), framed by a Prologue and Epilogue. Purcell’s music is not only exquisite, but here is…

Pain and purity: Janáček’s Jenůfa at Longborough

Among the many operas in the canon thrumming with drama and violence, Jenůfa remains notably dark, shocking in its bleak brutality, barely relieved by a final discovery of true love which only comes to the shattered characters at an appalling price. Consequently, Jenůfa presents a real challenge for directors, because if the tension drops for even a few seconds…

Jungle drums beating true: Mozart’s Magic Flute at Iford

Director John Savournin has created a lively, accessible and stripped-down Flute for magical Wiltshire garden opera venue Iford which gives the lovers Tamino and Pamina a clear choice between the superstitious tribal culture of the Queen of the Night, and the humanist ethos of Enlightenment philosophy pioneered by the philosopher-sorcerer Sarastro. Simon Bejer‘s design takes us to the Peruvian rainforest,…