como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si… – Tanztheater Wuppertal – Sadler’s Wells – February 14 2016

Bausch’s final piece (loosely translated as “Like moss on a stone, ah yes yes yes”) celebrates her dancers’ capabilities in extended solos, but fails to knit together into a satisfying whole.

Bauschean elements permeate the show, with a few video effects which are well used. The stage (Peter Pabst) moves apart and together in fractured pieces, like a jigsaw which (unlike the show itself) knits together seamlessly, and then pulls apart. One can fruitfully read ideas of dislocation, physical separation and divorce into it, these tectonic monoliths as shorthand for selves which never can know another, except to abut their neighbour – but mainly the set was just merely interesting, and the dancing rather the same.

A list of things that happen in “como el…”


Tosca-Gheorghiu, Youn, Massi – January 12 2016 – the Royal Opera House

“Where else can you pay £16 and experience world class opera?” enthused the man next to me, enthusing likewise to his son, at his first ever opera performance. Normally I am as enthusiastic about value for money, and credit must go to Arts Council for heavily subsidising the ROH, otherwise tickets would be at least a third more expensive. Normally I am a boring proselytiser for value for money/accessibility  (as opposed to being normally just boring.) We were, the man said, being treated to world class opera in one of the top five opera houses in the world with top name stars.

La Bohème – Winters, Borichevsky, Rock – The Coliseum/ENO, 31st October 2015

I was – perhaps for the first time ever – offended by something I saw in an opera house.

I confess I admire Bohème. It has a touch of romance, tragedy and good music when well-played. This performance really had none of those elements.


The Queen of Spades – English National Opera – June 19th 2015

I had expected Tchaikovsky but I had not expected an orgy in animal costume during the intermezzo, which I also got*. Actually in essence I got three hours of Alden madness, to the detriment of Tchaikovsky’s very fine score, which not even some excellent singing or playing could quite overcome.


La bohème – Netrebko, Calleja, Meachem, Rowley, Del Savio, Vinco, White, Davies, Price Saturday 30 May 2015, 7.30pm

What an unexpectedly disappointing affair this bohème was, a tragedy because the whole thing came across as over-directed and completely un-spontaneous, tragedy because the tragedy didn’t quite work, in part from the fact that Anna Netrebko ended up sounding bizarrely miscast.


Krol Roger – Kwiecien, Jarman, Pirgu, The Royal Opera House, May 6th 2015

Perhaps this production will become (in)famous for featuring a really big head onstage. We’re talking about fifty feet high or something. Certainly it didn’t have much else to recommend it, apart from some admittedly fine singing here and there, of which more later. “Roger” is an opera I like a lot, mainly for the libretto by Szymanowski and Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz and for the shifting leitmotiv filled musical score. To my mind Holten didn’t do it full justice.


Aakash Odedra Company – Murmur/Inked, DanceEast Jerwood House (Ipswich), March 7th 2015

Murmur/Inked (or rather, Inked/Murmur, the pieces performed in that order) is Aakash Odedra’s solo show (which prompted a question from a friend: is he a company of one?). Murmur is choreographed by Odedra and Lewis Major, Inked by Damien Jalet.