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Having read so many negative reports of English National Opera in the press over the past couple of years, I was in two minds as to whether I should accept an invitation to go to their recent production of Partenope. Apart from anything else, this was the first time I’d ever been to a staged Handel opera, and I was concerned that this would be an inauspicious introduction. I needn’t have worried. I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the opera – as good as anything I’ve experienced on the international scene. Christopher Alden’s production was clever and stylish, with the updating to 1920s West Coast America entirely appropriate for a story with glamour, flirting and brittle wit at its heart. I should also add that while the Coliseum is often cited as a ‘problem theatre’ for singers, in this case I could hear every word sung by an excellent cast. I usually play safe with opera and go to the Royal Opera House, but on this evidence, I’ll be heading to ENO much more often.

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About Opera Now

Christophe Rousset celebrates a quarter century at the forefront of the Early Music scene with Les Talens Lyriques; Sir John Eliot Gardiner takes Monteverdi’s three surviving operas on tour around the world; and our guide to the brightest and best opera festivals of 2017. Plus, remembering the velvet voice of Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda; individuality and imagination in the songs of Arthur Sullivan; Debussy’s ravishing Pelléas lets down its hair at Garsington; American baritone Scott Hendricks shares his love of playing bad boys; the art of the librettist; British conductor Nicholas Chalmers; and an 80th birthday tribute to Grace Bumbry.