Opéra National de Lorraine, Nancy, France - MD M. Balke - Design Annemarie Woods
Iford Arts, UK - MD O. Gooch - Design Alyson Cummins
This Macbeth makes for a fascinating and stimulating experience, therefore, and different from the usual sort of operatic sublime one may encounter elsewhere. Read the full review here: Seen and heard International
"Director Bruno Ravella presides over a sophisticated traditional reading which proves faithful to both Shakespeare's eerie original, and also to Verdi's passionate protests for Italian nationalism which spill out like power surges through Macbeth's arias and choruses. Ravella adds some intelligent director's touches, especially where Lady Macbeth is concerned". Read the full review here: Bachtrack
Hampstead Garden Opera, London - MD O-J Ruthven - Design Flávio Graff
Bachtrack 4*Fringe Opera 4* "Bruno Ravella has created an artistic and imaginative theatrical world filled with moving curtains, ravishing colour, and tremendous talent" "There’s no blurring of the lines here – Ravella distinctly presents one performance taking place on top of another performance." Ham and High 5*
Iford Arts, UK - MD C Bucknall - Design Kimm Kovac
Bachtrack "The amorality of Handel’s Agrippina has shocked and delighted audiences ever since its première at the Venice Carnival of 1710. Handel’s librettist, Cardinal Grimani, created a world of power games and greedy duplicity which spoke to his contemporaries as much about the nepotistic culture of the Catholic Church as the constant backstabbing of Rome’s imperial court. Looking for a later parallel, director Bruno Ravella has updated the action to the consumerist hell of the 1980s, giving us big hair, shoulder pads, cocaine and ruthlessness in spades. Agrippina, immaculately coiffured and sharply suited, channels Alexis (Joan Collins in Dynasty) as she plots, bargains and schemes to ensure her son, Nerone, is proclaimed heir to Claudio’s throne." "Ravella’s vision creates an atmosphere, rather than changing the fundamentals of the piece, which remain intact – and acidly amusing."
The Spectator "Designed by Kimm Kovac, Bruno Ravella's production of Handel's only Venetian opera is a thrift-shop fantasy of the 1980s, half Jackie Collins novel, half John Hughes movie. There are perms, shoulder-pads, personal stereos, leotards, gold lamé and leg-warmers. There's even a hot-tub in the font."
The Fine Times Recorder "HANDEL’s Agrippina is a dark story about family jealousies and treachery, extra-marital liaisonsand power plotting – so what more natural updating than to the days of Dynasty! That’s how director Bruno Ravella envisaged the final opera in the 2015 Iford Festival." "The clever updating extended to a blue-lit sauna surrounding the Iford Cloister well - which also doubled as a bed of shame - and Bradley Travis's Lesbus as a Manilow-esque aide." "With the excellent Iford Baroque orchestra under the baton of Christopher Bucknall, this was a production to be cherished."
Opera Now ****
Garsington Opera, UK - MD J Van Steen - Designs Giles Cadle
The Guardian **** "profoundly humane vision of Strauss's autobiographical opera" "Bruno Ravella's production boasts practically perfect performances from Mary Dunleavy and Mark Stone as the tempestuous Mr and Mrs Storch, and Jac van Steen conducts with sensitivity" " Bruno Ravella’s production for Garsington Opera is among the most touching and effective to date." "It’s a fine, profoundly humane achievement and well worth seeing."
The independent ***** "Serenely accomplished." "There's no weak link in this delightful production" "Everything about this serenely accomplished production is spot-on"
Financial Times **** "When first presented with Giles Cadle’s set design — a broad, open-plan alpine villa — I wondered how the swift scene shifts were going to be effected. The answer: wittily and inventively. Bruno Ravella’s production reflects a similar sort of breeziness, telling the story clearly and effectively"
The Times "It's boosted by an intelligently understated staging by Bruno Ravella with clean 1920s designs by Giles Cadle (top marks for staging the tobogganing scene without calamity). Ravella's show deals in small gestures rather than grand theatrics; the moment when Christine realises that the Baron is simply using her for access to "the Master" is quietly devastating."
MusicOMH **** ½ "Richard Strauss’ “Bourgeois comedy with musical interludes” has never been a staple of the repertoire in the same way as most of his other operas, but Bruno Ravella’s beautiful production for Garsington Opera, with inspired musical direction from Jac van Steen, shows that it can be as engaging as any of the composer’s better known works."
Bachtrack **** "Every aspect of Bruno Ravella's period (i.e. 1920s) production for Garsington Opera is pin-sharp in its attention to detail. Giles Cadle's sets are a masterpiece of creating different Environments with a minimum number of moving parts: simple devices transform the Strauss home into a ski and toboggan slope (including a ski lift and a real crash between Christine and the young Baron) followed by the Grundlsee mountain inn, the Baron's lodging and Robert's club in Vienna. Every prop is precise, the maids move as if they were trained in a posh school for domestic servants. Stagecraft is superb throughout." "But the score is remarkable for being closely knit with the dialogue, continually changing in response to the mood and speech pattern of every sentence: van Steen, Ravella and their cast followed this closeness utterly faithfully. And the final quarrel, when everything is supposedly settled, was an utterly accurate portrayal of how the two people in a marital row can steadily dig themselves into a hole, regardless of any logic or sense, out of which they cannot escape – until the row dissipates itself for no more reason than how it started. By the end of the opera, it totally won me over as a true-to-life portrait of enduring love, with all its trials, tribulations, comfort and joy."
Opera News "Ravella's direction was unfailingly sharp and witty."
What's on Stage **** "A sensitive production makes a powerful case for Strauss's neglected 'opera domestic' " "Set within fetching designs by Giles Cadle that are both sturdy and wittily inventive, and lit with customary eye-guiding discretion by Bruno Poet, Ravella's production makes it seem perfectly natural for ordinary people to have humdrum exchanges through singing. And humdrum conversation is all we really get in Intermezzo, which probably explains its neglect. But, as Strauss understood better than anyone, there's drama to be found in the smallest things. Buy into that and it'll sweep you away."
The Stage **** "Richard Strauss’s domestic comedy is a hit for Garsington in Bruno Ravella’s staging and in Andrew Porter’s English translation"
Classical Source "Bruno Ravella's direction is admirably supportive and restrained, and let all the significant moments make their mark. Giles Cadle's inventive set and his costumes - late-1920s/early-1930s - are just as effective."
Opera Today "Bruno Ravella's production takes the work seriously, on its own terms, and succeeds accordingly. Giles Cadle's resourceful set moves us in and out of a Garmisch-style villa, modern (to Strauss), without being avant garde. There is always a strong sense of who everyone is, and why he or she is acting in the manner we observe." "This was a far from insignificant victory of Strauss' critics, Garsington' latest estimable contribution to a hero's after-life."
Opera Now *****
Mundoclasico "This year, the new production of Intermezzo received a unanimously eulogistic response from the press. All the critics were in agreement, from traditionalists to iconoclasts, pedants, conformists, exigent ones, precious, destructive ones, etc. etc.
The reason for this very rare consensus is simple. The director Bruno Ravella represented the anxieties of a housewife in the Alps faced with the constant travels of her composer husband as a theatrical action of rigorous naturalness. There wasn't one single moment in this Straussian neorealism when the singers gave the audience an erratic or stereotypical gesture; they were so imbued with their domestic mishaps that watching them gave the impression of being spies in their private lives. The scenic framework designed by Giles Cadle consisted of a typical Alpine residence on two levels cut in half, transformed as needed with theatrical tricks both ingenious and witty: rotating panels, doors and wardrobes enabled the action to move outdoors, to the home's nucleus, from the place where the composer plays skat with his colleagues to the ski slope where his wife thinks she meets a adequate fling to avenge herself from his absences.
This production was not only sober, but also filled with constant discoveries, for example the transformation of steps into the ski slope in which Christine, wife of the composer Robert Storch, slides down literally to crash into her fling, Baron Lummer. There was also constant movement: even the musical interludes were staged, not just with the principal singers, but with a group of domestic employees elevated to the role of deus ex machina in their constant diligence to serve their masters, and also to deliver the changes of scenery as part of their responsibilities to clean and keep the house in order. All of this happened in precise and spontaneous synchronisation with those typical Straussian details in the score, such as sforzandi, the subito piano, or the changes of tempi or dynamics. And whilst the opera was sung in English, what clarity of diction, and how differentiated the characterisations of the aristocrats, artists, lawyers, notaries, Germans, Austrians, housemaids, cook, etc!
The orchestra of the Garsington Opera under the direction of Jac van Steen also exuded clarity and precision in the details, as well as constant expressivity in the development of the typical long Straussian phrases that elevate this scenic divertissement to the best of what the composer has written. And the cast was second to none. The Christine of Mary Dunleavy sang with solid projection and a beautiful lyrical sound, and her acting in this most difficult of roles inspired by Strauss' wife was a model of psychological perception in her abrupt changes of a authoritarian, yet naive and deluded housewife, with abrupt changes during her neurotic crisis when her bossy and repressive attitude changed to comical lack of self control. The role of Richard Strauss, disguised under the name of Robert Storch, was sung with a vibrant and articulated voice by Mark Stone, who could transmit all the reserve and fragility recognisable in the famous composer. The menage a trois was completed by a hilarious Baron Lummer in his role as the hedonist young and bored aristocrat. In a cast rich in small but indispensable cameos, it is worth mentioning the perceptive housemaid of Ailish Tynan, elevated to supreme domestic authority thanks to her capability to interpret and adapt to the insecurities of her boss, with abrupt comments, suggestive silences and knowhow such as tea making, luggage packing or when to return objects to their normal places after they've been thrown on the floor by the frustrated wife. The child Louis Hynes also convinced and excited us with his interpretation of Franz, the suffering product of this complicated marriage of egocentrics.
In the end, the composer and his wife, now old and holding hand, are ecstatic on their balcony face at the natural beauty they seem to be watching above and beyond the spectators. This 'bourgeois comedy' doesn't end thus. Fits, anxieties, rages and worries are finally drowned in an orchestral finale both calm and ecstatic, already in the palpitating and resigned dimension of the Alpine Symphony or the Four Last Songs. Without a doubt, Strauss is a magician, a superlative composer in his power to manipulate his wife, and himself! Except that in this case he protects himself more, as in the end there should be no doubt that he is the 'Helden' of all his compositions, and in Intermezzo more so than anywhere else. But here we can only agree with Alma Mahler: his music is of a supreme beauty. This is why even though we discover his intentions and artifices we let ourselves be manipulated by it without resisting."
Stand Moutier, Switzerland - MD F Agudin
Semi-staging, Carnegie Hall, New York, USA - Orchestra Arcangelo - MD J Cohen
Read review here
Stand Moutier, Switzerland - MD F Agudin
Read reviews here
Iford Arts, UK - MD O Gooch
Hampstead Garden Opera, London UK - MD O-J Ruthven
Nominated for Best Opera Production at the Offies 2014
The Independent ****
Riverside Opera, London UK - MD S Evans
Iford Arts, UK - MD O Gooch
Les Arts Florissants - MD J Cohen
Performed in Paris, Versailles and Warsaw
Iford Patrons event, UK - MD O Gooch
Glyndebourne Jerwood Project - Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Hampstead Garden Opera - MD O-J Ruthven
Semi-staging of the Glyndebourne Festival Production at the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London UK
Read review here
Hampstead Garden Opera - MD O-J Ruthven
Semi-staging of the Glyndebourne Festival production at the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London UK
Read review here
Freightliners City Farm Opera, London UK - MD T Purser
Opera Scenes - Royal Academy Opera, Royal Academy of Music, London - 2017
Jette Parker Young Artists Program, Royal Opera House Covent Garden - Stagecraft session
Opera Scenes - Vocal Faculty - Royal Academy of Music, London UK - Jan 2014, April 2015 and January 2016
Opera Intensive Course - National Opera Studio, London UK
Educational Workshops and Friends Evening Variety Show - Clonter Opera, UK - 2013, 2014 and 2015
Der Rosenkavalier, Strauss - Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, Argentina - Original Director Robert Carsen
Faust, Gounod - Florence Opera. 2017 - Original Director Sir David McVicar
Faust, Gounod - West Australia Opera, Perth. 2015 - Original Director Sir David McVicar
Rinaldo, Handel - Glyndebourne Festival, UK. 2014 - Original Director Robert Carsen
Read reviews here: The Independent, The Telegraph, musicOMH, bachtrack and What's on stage
Nominated for Best revival, Whatsonstage Opera Poll 2014/2015
Faust, Gounod - Royal Opera House Covent Garden, UK. 2014 - Original Director Sir David McVicar
La Boheme, Puccini - Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London, UK - Original Director John Copley
Read review here
La Traviata, Verdi - Grand Théatre de Genève, Switzerland - Original Director Sir David McVicar
Rinaldo, Handel - Glyndebourne on Tour, UK - Original Director Robert Carsen
L'incoronazione di Poppea, Monteverdi - Glyndebourne on Tour, UK - Original Director Robert Carsen
The Guardian **** Read review here
Cosi fan tutte, Mozart - Palau de les Arts, Valencia, Spain - Original Director Nicholas Hytner
Faust, Gounod - Palau de les Arts, Valencia, Spain - Original Director Sir David McVicar
Thais, Massenet - Metropolitan Opera, New York. 2017 - Director John Cox
Cosi fan Tutte, Mozart - Lyric Opera, Chicago. 2018. Director John Cox
Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart - Garsington Opera, UK. 2017 - Director John Cox
Otello, Verdi - Houston Grand Opera, USA - Director John Cox
Fidelio, Beethoven. Garsington Opera, UK. 2014 - Director John Cox
La fille du régiment, Donizetti - Royal Opera House Covent Garden, UK. 2014 - Director Laurent Pelly
Otello, Verdi - Los Angeles Opera, Teatro Regio Parma - Director John Cox
Ariadne auf Naxos, Strauss - Chicago Lyric, USA - Director John Cox
Read review here
Der Rosenkavalier, Strauss - Royal Opera Covent Garden, London. DIrector Robert Carsen
Agrippina, Handel - Theater an der Wien, Vienna. Director Robert Carsen
Nabucco, Verdi - Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London. Director Daniele Abbado
The two widows, Smetana - Angers Nantes Opera, France. Director Joanna Davies
La fille du régiment, Donizetti - Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London. Director Laurent Pelly
The Rake's Progress, Stravinski - Scottish Opera, Glasgow, UK. Director David McVicar
Aida, Verdi - Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London. Director David McVicar
Rinaldo, Handel - Glyndebourne Festival, UK. Director Robert Carsen
Rusalka, Dvorak - Komische Oper, Berlin, Germany. Director Barrie Kosky
Ariadne auf Naxos, Strauss - Houston Grand Opera, USA. Director John Cox
Tannhauser, Wagner - Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London. Director Tim Albery
The Rake's Progress, Stravinski - Glyndebourne Festival, UK. Director John Cox
Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart - Garsington Opera, UK. Director John Cox
L'incoronazione di Poppea, Monteverdi - Glyndebourne Festival, UK. Director Robert Carsen
Der Rosenkavalier, Strauss - Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London. Director John Schlesinger
L'elisir d'amore, Donizetti - Glyndebourne, UK and Houston Grand Opera, USA. Director Annabel Arden
Fidelio, Beethoven - Garsington Opera, UK. Director John Cox
Matilde di Shabran, Rossini - Royal Opera House Covent Garden, UK. Director Mario Martone
Love and other Demons, Öetvös - Glyndebourne Festival, UK. Director Silviu Purcarete
Cosi fan tutte, Mozart - Glyndebourne Festival, UK. Director Nicholas Hytner
Der Stein der Weisen, Mozart and friends - Garsington Opera, UK. Director John Cox
Otello, Verdi - Opéra de Monte-Carlo. Director John Cox
Temistocle, JC Bach - Oper Leipzig, Germany. Director Francisco Negrin
Tosca, Puccini - Chicago Lyric, USA. Director John Cox
Vanessa, Barber - Los Angeles Opera, USA. Director John Cox