Enchanting Elixirs plus Magic from Mozart – and Miller
Bowing out as our music editor after nearly a decade, Sebastian Taylor shares his opera high notes
28 February, 2019 — By Sebastian Taylor
Andrew Shore enters as Dr Dulcamara in ENO’s Jonathan Miller staging of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. Photo: © Donald Cooper/Photostage
NEARLY 10 years of opera reviewing have been my good fortune and, looking back, I’ve been to some wonderful performances – and quite a few not so good.
Particularly memorable are Jonathan Miller stagings for the English National Opera and Royal Opera House.
For the ENO, these include The Barber of Seville, The Elixir of Love, La Boheme, Rigoletto and The Mikado. For the ROH, there was Cosi Fan Tutte and Don Pasquale.
Each was fantastic in its own way. Unforgettable, though, was Andrew Shore’s arrival as Dr Dulcamara in a Chevrolet in The Elixir of Love, set by Miller in the US Midwest.
Classic opera director Miller began to fall out of favour with the ENO and ROH, keen for the more dramatic touch of theatre directors. Good examples of the latter were Simon McBurney of Complicité’s staging for the ENO of Raskatov’s A Dog’s Heart and Mozart’s The Magic Flute – being revived again in a fortnight’s time.
Other ENO productions sticking in the memory include Peter Grimes, Tristan and Isolde, The Pearl Fishers, Akhnaton, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, The Girl of the Golden West, Janáček operas and several Toscas.
Bryn Terfel in the title role of Verdi’s Falstaff at the ROH. Photo: © 2018 ROH. Photo: Catherine Ashmore
Other memorable ROH productions include Anna Nicole, Mahagonny, Falstaff (with Bryn Terfel in the title role), Shostakovich’s The Nose. George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, the astonishing Kat’a Kabanova recently and several Traviatas.
Away from the two opera houses, there’ve been some great productions put on by the Hampstead Garden Opera, Opera Up Close, Charles Court and the King’s Head Theatre, Islingon. While their productions may lack celebrity singers, often they’re much more fun and a great way to enjoy opera.