Safe Choice for New Music Director

September 7, 2022 | Opera | By Nick Hammond

Pierre Audi’s 2014 production of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, revived in 2016 and again now at the Bastille, is fast becoming a stalwart of the Opéra de Paris’s repertoire, and it is easy to see why: with a set that is … Read More


A Knightly Cult

June 1, 2022 | Opera | By Nick Hammond

I must admit to approaching British director Richard Jones’s production at the Opéra Bastille of Richard Wagner’s Parsifal with some trepidation. Jones’s previous productions of Wagner’s other works, especially the Ring Cycle, have had a tendency to trivialize the most … Read More


Hard-Hitting Production of Dark Tale

May 18, 2022 | Opera | By Nick Hammond

Richard Strauss’s one-act opera Elektra, the first of his many collaborations with librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, is unrelentingly hard-hitting throughout its one hour and 45 minutes. No room or time is given for light relief as the heroine singlemindedly pursues … Read More

Pelléas et Mélisande

Darkness and Light in Music

July 14, 2021 | Classical | By Nick Hammond

Recently, in an article on Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, I suggested that the only other 20th-century French opera that will stand the test of time is Claude Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande (1902), inspired by Maurice Maeterlink’s symbolist play from … Read More

French Music for the Stage

Theatrical Froth

May 19, 2021 | Classical | By Nick Hammond

After the flood of new releases of French chamber music recordings over the last couple of months, it comes as a refreshing change to have a new album of French orchestral music to review. The veteran Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi … Read More

Dialogues des Carmélites

An Unlikely Masterpiece

May 5, 2021 | Classical | By Nick Hammond

It is always an intriguing exercise to try to guess which operatic works written in this or the last century will stand the test of time. In the French repertoire, an opera like Olivier Messiaen’s sprawling Saint François d’Assise (1983), … Read More

Un Matin de Printemps

A Trio of Spring Treats

April 28, 2021 | Classical | By Nick Hammond

Could it be due to lockdown that so many recordings of French chamber music have been released recently? It is certainly easier and safer to bring a few musicians together, rather than a larger ensemble, especially if all the players … Read More