The best bit about my job is that I get to see – if not quite as much opera as I’d like – pretty well as much opera as is available to be seen in the West Midlands. This month’s reviews have ranged from a community opera in a Worcestershire country church to the Royal Opera House’s live cinematic relay of Brecht and Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, as well as English Touring Opera’s annual spring triple bill.
Two of ETO’s offerings were Donizetti rarities – one (The Wild Man of the West Indies) a triumph, one (The Siege of Calais) a heroic failure – and while it’s always nice to have the chance to see unknown works done with such conviction and quality, the heart sinks slightly at the news that there’ll be more Donizetti next season. I’m not entirely sure the West Midlands needed two productions of Anna Bolena in one decade (let alone Maria Stuarda) – at least, not when that decade hasn’t seen a single professional production of Peter Grimes, Der Freischutz or Un Ballo in Maschera (to choose just three from a long list) in the region. On the other hand, if ETO’s forthcoming Pia de’ Tolomei is anything like as wonderful as their production of The Wild Man of the West Indies (aka Il Furioso all’isola di San Domingo), which I saw last night at Warwick Arts Centre, I’ll feel very churlish indeed for saying so.
Anyway, although The Birmingham Post is currently struggling to post reviews online, it did manage to get one if my recent reviews up within 48 hours of filing. And happily, it’s my review of what might just turn out to be the greatest thing I’ll see all year. Following on from last year’s tremendous ETO King Priam, the Tippett revival really seems to be gathering steam. And about time too