The Flying Dutchman

September 14, 2010 | By Nick Hammond | Music

Erik (Klaus Florian Vogt) bows his head in grief while the Dutchman (James Morris) watches from the doorway. Photo © Opéra National de Paris/Frédérique Toulet In the program notes for the current production of Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman (Le … Read More

The Cunning Little Vixen

June 28, 2010 | By Nick Hammond | Music

The vixen (Adriana Kucerova) converses with the badger (Slawomir Szychowiak). Photo: Opéra national de Paris/Christian Leiber Most writers and composers tend to create their greatest works in their early years, but Czech composer Leoš Janáček wrote his most memorable and … Read More

Billy Budd

April 24, 2010 | By Nick Hammond | Music

The British warship the HMS Indomitable prepares to attack a French vessel. Photo © Opéra National de Paris/ C. Leiber There is something deliciously ironic about being seated in Paris’s Bastille opera house watching an opera set on a fiercely … Read More


January 19, 2010 | By Nick Hammond | Music

Norma (Lina Tetriani) is the head druidess of the Gauls, who resemble inmates of a mental institution in this production. Photo: Marie-Noelle Robert Every new production of Bellini’s Norma, especially in Paris, needs to deal with the extraordinary legacy of … Read More

La Bohème

November 3, 2009 | By Nick Hammond | Music

Tama Iveri as Mimi. Photo: Opéra National de Paris/Ch. Leiber As predictions go, few can be as wayward as that of the Italian music critic who, after the first performance of Puccini’s La Bohème, wrote that “this is an opera … Read More

Die Tote Stadt

October 16, 2009 | By Nick Hammond | Music

Paul (Robert Dean Smith) and Marietta (Ricarda Merbeth) in one of Paul’s dreams. Photo: Opéra National de Paris/ Bernd Uhli We all know about the destruction wrought by Hitler and his henchmen on the world of the arts: huge collections … Read More


September 22, 2009 | By Nick Hammond | Music

Vincent Le Texier as Wozzeck and Waltraud Meier as Marie. Photo: Opéra National de Paris/S. Mathé At the beginning of last year, I wrote a review for Paris Update of a production of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck at the Opéra Bastille … Read More

Am Anfang

July 7, 2009 | By Nick Hammond | Music

Anselm Kiefer’s monumental towers worked well on the enormous stage of the Bastille opera house. Photo: Charles Duprat/Opéra National de Paris Stop the presses! Watching walls being built is the new equivalent of watching paint dry. In Am Anfang (In … Read More

King Roger

June 23, 2009 | By Nick Hammond | Music

The orgy scene becomes a swimming lesson in this production. Photo: Ruth Walz/Opéra National de Paris I must admit to having more than a little emotional investment in the opera King Roger (Król Roger), since Simon Rattle’s recording of the … Read More

Die Feen

March 30, 2009 | By Paris Update | Music

A performance of an early work by a composer or playwright often promises much but delivers little. Several years ago, I was filled with excitement at the prospect of seeing Wagner’s second …