Richard Bratby

Richard Bratby is the chief classical music critic of The Spectator

Fresh as an April shower: Opera North’s Albert Herring reviewed

Opera North has launched its spring season with Giles Havergal’s 2013 production of Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, performed (as conceived) in the Howard Assembly Room – the company’s studio space next door to the Grand Theatre. The economics of opera are a dark and dismal science, but one of the few constants is that ticket

Everything hits the spot: Royal Opera’s Elektra reviewed

Aristotle wrote that classical tragedy should evoke pity and awe. With Richard Strauss’s Elektra, the awe can be taken as read: a certain irreducible level of epicness is written into the score, even if – like Sir Antonio Pappano on the first night of this new production at the Royal Opera – a conductor takes

Irresistible: Hansel and Gretel, at the Royal Opera House, reviewed

Fun fact: Engelbert Humperdinck composed part of Wagner’s Parsifal. Shortly before the première, it was discovered that Wagner’s score didn’t allow time for a crucial scene change. The 27-year-old Humperdinck, then working as Wagner’s assistant, composed a few temporary bars to cover the gap and, rather to his own surprise, found that they met with

The miracle of watching a great string quartet perform

Joseph Haydn, it’s generally agreed, invented the string quartet. And having done so, he re-invented it: again and again. Take his quartet Op. 20, No. 2, of 1772 – the first item in the Takacs Quartet’s recital last week at the Wigmore Hall. The cello propels itself forward and upward, then starts to warble like

Ebullience and majesty: Opera North’s Falstaff reviewed

Opera North has launched a ‘Green Season’, which means (among other things) that the sets and costumes for its new Falstaff are recycled. On one level, that’s nothing new: this eternally underfunded company has been performing miracles of sustainability for years now, and there’s usually at least one production each season that looks like it’s