Michael White’s classical news: Opera Holland Park; Lise Davidsen; Miloš Karadaglić; Botanical Rhapsody

Thursday, 26th May — By Michael White

Miloš Karadaglić

Miloš Karadaglić plays the Albert Hall on June 1

WELL here we are, end of May, and the country-house opera season starting – which is something I greet with mixed feelings. Yes, it can be wonderful to dress up, pack a fancy picnic, and go down to Glyndebourne. But (a) it’s an organisational millstone; (b) the dressing up gets tiresome; and (c) the self-regarding privilege of it all can be oppressive.
So there’s much to be said for Opera Holland Park, which brings the country-opera experience to your London doorstep, minus the wardrobe requirements and most of the swank.

OHP’s season starts next week on May 31 with a new staging of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (for me, the most perfect opera ever written, with not a note, scene or gesture you could possibly regret), running to June 25. In the star role of Tatyana is Armenian soprano Anush Hovhannisyan who rose to fame through the Royal Opera’s young-artist scheme and now seems to be everywhere (she’s also the soprano soloist in a Verdi Requiem at the Festival Hall on June 1). And the show looks generally promising.

But not content with that, OHP’s season then forges ahead with a new Carmen, running June 2-18. And later in the summer come a double-bill of Delius’s Margot la Rouge with Puccini’s Le Villi (rarely staged collector’s pieces), plus American composer Mark Adamo’s acclaimed operatic adaptation of Little Women – a UK premiere.

OHP is big on access, offering free tickets(!) to under-18s and over-65s, with generous concessions to under-30s and NHS workers. All of which makes it very commendable. Take a picnic if you must. Details: operahollandpark.com

Two of the chief box-office draws among young singers are Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen and British tenor Freddie de Tommaso; and the Barbican has scored the coup of playing them head-to-head in a joint recital on May 30. Expect a good, old-fashioned operatic knockout (standard repertoire) with high-intensity, high-volume singing. These are two giant voices – as I can attest, having once heard Davidsen open her magnificent lungs in a small room in Oslo and taken two days to recover from the shock. Keeping them in some sort of order will be pianist James Baillieu. Unmissable. barbican.org.uk

• Until recently, the hot young classical guitarist of our time was Miloš Karadaglić: charismatic, glamorous, promoted like a rock star by his record company, and an outstanding artist with it. Then he suffered some kind of injury and all but vanished from the scene – to be replaced in terms of visibility and adulation by Sean Shibe. But Miloš is now back with a vengeance, playing solo at the Albert Hall on June 1. It’s a sweeping programme – Bach to Beatles – and he’ll do it stylishly. royalalberthall.com

Chelsea Flower Show runs this week, and if you plan to go, look out for a bizarre exhibit where plants are made to sing – with some hi-tec assistance. Called Botanical Rhapsody, it’s a garden room where sensors are attached to the leaves of houseplants to pick up their bio-rhythms, which then trigger electronic pitches and become melody. It’s not exactly Bach, but for a plant it’s damned impressive. Until May 28. rhs.org.uk

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