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Nixon in China, Adams
D: Peter Sellars
C: Paul Daniel
English National Opera – Nixon in China

“Nixon in China”, John Adams’s first opera is that rare – if not unique – phenomenon; namely a work which, at its première in Houston in October 1987, concerned people who were still alive and events which occurred some fifteen years beforehand and thus within the audience’s living memory. Over thirty years on from President Nixon’s visit to China, it is perhaps not so easy to appreciate its historical significance. Suffice it to say, the “old cold warrior” (as Alice Goodman’s libretto has Nixon describe himself) effectively ended China’s isolation from the West or, at the very least, started the process whereby full diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic and the United States were restored.

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Boris Godunov, Mussorgsky
D: Richard Jones
C: Antonio Pappano
Opera review: Boris Godunov at the Royal Opera House

It tells the tale of the 16th century Russian tsar Boris Godunov who seized power after the death of Ivan the Terrible, allegedly after supervising the murder of Ivan's son, and went on to be almost as terrible as his predecessor. In the opera, he is plagued with guilt and ends up going mad, so the whole thing becomes a case history of increasing derangement. Most unusually, there is no major role for a woman singer, so there are no great soprano arias to liughten the musical mood, and it is Boris who dies at the end after the plot has meandered through the darker realms of insanity. The credit for the power of this scene goes equally to Terfel and the director, Richard Jones, and his team, whose striking design and costumes provide a visual treat matching the power of the music. Jones does, however, rather overdo a repeated vision tormenting Boris of the murder of Ivan's son which brought Boris to power.With Bryn Terfel as Boris dominating the show, all other roles are reduced to bit parts, but it is worth mentioning John Tomlinson as a drunken monk, who provided a much needed comic interlude to interrupt the sombre tale. As always, however, Bryn Terfel is well worth seeing and the intensity drawn from the orchestra by Antonio Pappano is magnificent.

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29 March 2016www.express.co.ukWILLIAM HARTSTON
Kát'a Kabanová, Janáček
D: Robert CarsenMaria Lamont
C: Marco Angius
Turin, Teatro Regio - Katia Kabanova

On the podium of the Orchestra of the Teatro Regio , Marco Angius prefers a dynamic, vibrant direction, with a strong emotional and vital impact, clearly contrasting the elegiac parts and the more lively ones (the storm of the third act). To underline a preference for often full-bodied and voluminous sounds, sometimes overwhelming compared to the stage. The Slovak soprano Andrea Danková is Katěrina Kabanová, known as Katia: very musical and elegant, with a non-protruding voice, metallic in the high and at times weak in the low register, with attention to accents and singing line. The interpretation is excellent and heartfelt, where the loneliness of a woman eager for love emerges and who, with difficulty, manages to repress her erotic impulses. Baldanzoso is Boris Grigorjevič by the Ukrainian tenor Misha Didyk : shrill and vigorous vocality, characterized by almost always sure and thundering high notes, outlines a passionate and at the same time caring lover. On the shields the rehearsal of the English mezzo Rebecca de Pont Davies, in the role of the algid and authoritarian Marfa Ignatěvna Kabanova, known as Kabanicha, custodian of an asphyxiating matriarchal tradition: the voice is luminous, firm and penetrating in the high notes, in some cases opaque in the low ones; the acting is magnetic and charismatic. Characteristically centered is the weak Tichon Ivanyč Kabanov by the Slovak tenor Štefan Margita , with a brilliant and controlled voice, lively and well projected, able to bend to suggestive mezzevoci. The Ukrainian mezzo-soprano Lena Belkina as Varvara is credible : using a clear tonal voice, homogeneous and round in the emission, and a rightly flirtatious interpretation, she gives the character the freshness and imprudence of youth. The tenor Enrico Casari (Váňa Kudrjáš) and the German bass-baritone Oliver Zwarg (Savjol Prokofjevič Dikoj) performed more than good : decisive in the accents and handsome the first, remarkable in the phrasing and ugly in the scenic hatching the second. The interventions of the Chorus of the Teatro Regio , led by Claudio Fenoglio, were centered . At the end, a warm success and strong applause for all the performers

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20 February 2017www.connessiallopera.itStefano Balbiani

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