Manchester Theatre Awards

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News: Opera

What makes an opera performance special is not just the spectacle of a lavish and imaginative staging (though it helps), but whether the whole show comes together to make something unforgettable.

Four productions hit that mark – two from Opera North at Salford, and two at Buxton. The production of Andrea Chénier (by Giordano), directed by Annabel Arden, with Oliver von Dohnányi at the musical helm and superbly cast, told a French Revolutionary tale of love and treachery with the same kind of élan as Les Misérables.

The same company’s Billy Budd (by Britten), directed by Orpha Phelan and conducted by Garry Walker, was also splendid visually and musically powerful. English Touring Opera bring wonderful examples of how to achieve a lot with limited resources, and their Don Giovanni, directed by Lloyd Wood and conducted by Michael Rosewell, was a classic example at Buxton Opera House, as the familiar story was set in old Vienna with a touch of The Third Man mystery about it. And the Buxton Festival’s own Tamerlano (by Handel), a co-production with The English Concert, was nobly sung and vivid in its realisation by Francis Matthews.

But nothing quite outshone Andrea Chénier, and it wins the award.

Robert Beale
17 March 2017