Plus the St John Passion at the Royal Festival Hallby Alexandra Coghlan / March 5, 2019 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2019 issue of Prospect Magazine
Violonist Viktoria Mullova © Heikefischer-Fotografie.d Billy Budd Royal Opera, 23rd April to 10th May It’s hard to believe we’ve not seen a new production of Britten’s heart-rending opera for over two decades at Covent Garden—where it premiered in 1951. First seen in Madrid last year, this co-production comes laden with awards. Updating the action to the 1940s, Deborah Warner and designer Michael Levine provide an abstract staging that steers away from social context and on to psychology. The all-male crew of the HMS Indomitable is a Who’s Who of British talent. Jacques Imbrailo reprises his take on Billy, with Brindley Sherratt as his nemesis Claggart and Toby Spence as Captain Vere. Ivor Bolton conducts. St John Passion Royal Festival Hall, 2nd April Love or hate the results, when Simon Rattle and Peter Sellars join forces it’s always an event, and this St John Passion is no exception. Expect bare feet, block colours and hieratic gestures. Rattle has assembled an extraordinary set of soloists. Who else could bring Christian Gerhaher, Magdálena Kozená and Mark Padmore together? They join the Orchestra and Choir of the Age of Enlightenment for a performance that’s part-ritual, part-drama. The Hallé & Viktoria Mullova Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, 7th April Since it opened in 2013, Saffron Hall has punched above its weight, programming thoughtfully and with star power. Mark Elder and the Hallé visit with a French-accented programme. There’s sensuality in Debussy’s Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune and disorienting intoxication in Ravel’s La Valse, all balanced by the Nordic directness of Sibelius’s folk-infused Violin Concerto, performed by the brilliant soloist Viktoria Mullova.