Visit London Blog » puccini Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 La Boheme at The Soho Theatre Tue, 01 Feb 2011 15:43:15 +0000

After receiving rave reviews at Kilburn’s Cock Tavern, Opera Up Close has transferred its production of La Boheme to the Soho Theatre in Central London. With a new English libretto by Robin Norton-Hale, this show is contemporary and relevant while leaving Puccini’s sublime music untouched.

The Soho Theatre has a great vibe. Everyone sits on long benches that are surprisingly comfortable. Andrew Charity, musical director, plays piano (replacing the orchestra) with great gusto and an intimate knowledge of the score. The cast are strong and work well as a team. The biggest roles are quadruple cast, I saw Elinor Jane Moran as the frail Mimi: she has a sweet tone and sings well throughout, but is a very meek stage presence until the final heart-wrenching scene.

I really enjoyed watching the boisterous boys mucking around as the poor suffering students (no money for food, but they can afford a Mac laptop?). Philip Lee is an exceptionally strong actor and singer as Rodolfo and Nicolas Dwyer provides good support as a leather-clad Marcello.

This is a thoroughly modern yet comprehensive version of La Boheme; in many ways more believable than with the conventional Puccini staging. As expected, the vocal talent is not as impressive as you’d find at a renowned opera house, but these young performers are well on their way to the major London theatres, and it is a pleasure to support them on their journey there.

La Boheme continues until 20 February, book tickets here.

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Operas to see in London this Month Thu, 28 Oct 2010 14:30:45 +0000

There are so many opera masterpieces on in London this month. The English National Opera (ENO) is performing La Boheme by Puccini (my favourite opera composer) and The Royal Opera House (ROH) is currently showing Rigoletto by the magnificent Verdi (a composer who many argue is superior to all who came before or after him).

Both theatres have tempting ticket offers, La Boheme tickets are available for as little as £21, and the ROH have Rigoletto tickets for a staggering £8; there are also other student and young person discounts.

The ENO always has a diverse programme. This season they are offering up some real classics including Handel’s Radamisto Mozart’s Don Giovanni and of course Puccini’s La Boheme.

Unlike some operas La Boheme is not difficult to follow, the narrative told through many familiar melodies. Above all it is a great love story and a great opera for beginners!

There is nothing quite like sitting in London’s Royal Opera House, it is one of the great wonders of our city. Rigoletto features Israeli-born conductor Dan Ettinger, making his debut at The ROH. The production is quite dark and moody, and takes place in the shadows of a giant reversible set. The singing is the highlight for me, and I left thinking it perhaps the most impressive display of vocal talent I have ever seen on this stage.

If these grand operas don’t appeal to you, there are plenty of other wonderful, smaller-scale productions happening all over the city. One to look out for is at The King’s Head Theatre in Islington, where Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is currently being performed. And in North London the Hampstead Garden Opera are putting on a production of Mozart’s ever-popular Magic Flute.

Experience something different this month and book tickets to an opera, you are spoilt for choice.

  • La Boheme (ENO) continues until 27 Jan. Book here
  • Rigoletto (ROH) continues until 6 Nov. Book here
  • Don Giovani (ENO) runs 6 Nov- 3 Dec. Book here
  • Radamisto (ENO) continues until 4 Nov. Book here
  • Barber of Seville (King’s Head Theatre) continues until 14 Nov. Book here
  • The Magic Flute (Hamstead Garden Opera) runs 4-14 Nov. Book here
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Puccini’s Tosca by the ENO at London Coliseum Wed, 09 Jun 2010 08:00:27 +0000

The opera Tosca is, above all, an epic love story. Every year you are sure to find Puccini’s masterpiece on somewhere, this summer it is being performed by the ENO (English National Opera) at London Coliseum.

My first encounter with this opera was at the age of 15 when I was given the part of Shepherd Boy (in my case they made it into Shepherd Girl) at Holland Park Opera. The power of the music blew me away, ever since it has been my favourite opera. This time around the music moved me close to tears.

The ENO’s production is stunning. The three central protagonists: Tosca, Scarpia and Cavaradossi are all played by singers that seem fully engrossed in their roles; this makes the audience’s job to watch and believe very easy. South African singer Amanda Echalaz makes a pretty Floria Tosca, her voice is unfaltering, but it was her acting that particularly impressed me. She was entirely convincing throughout and has genuine chemistry with her leading man. Tosca’s suicide, which concludes the opera, was spectacular with Amanda falling backwards off the rear of the stage with shocking grace.

Julian Gavin who plays Mario Cavaradossi has a wonderfully creamy tenor voice, a pure delight to listen to. It is a difficult role to sing, but he easily hit the notes and managed to fill the entire theatre. The baddie, Baron Scarpia must be a fun part to play, in this production Antony Michaels-Moore takes it on with gleeful terror.

The set had a Neo-Classical feel that worked well with the production as a whole. Cavaradossi’s painting in the first act is an important feature, and it is a shame that it was shown as a strange mosaic-type picture, but apart from that the set was appropriate.

Conductor, Edward Gardner did a sterling job with the orchestra, although the music needs little help to sound beautiful. Puccini himself commented, “Only with emotion can one achieve a triumph that endures” and this is entirely true of Tosca, which I believe has some of the most passionate, overpoweringly emotional music of all time.

Any well known opera is open to great criticism, but I have seen four productions of Tosca in my lifetime, and this is hands down the best. The ENO’s Tosca is on until the 10 July, I promise you won’t be disappointed, this is a show not to miss.

Book tickets HERE.

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