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2023 Season Reviews

Ariadne auf Naxos

Garsington’s terrific casting allows this fascinating new view of the piece to flourish”
David Mellor, Mail on Sunday, 2 July

“The director and conductor manifested their love of the piece so clearly, with the result that the difficulties were made light of and even turned to advantage in such a remarkable way”
David Karlin, BachTrack, 19 June

“The final apotheosis, achieved by the sparsest of means, is breathtaking”
“In the pit, the Philharmonia play quite wonderfully for Mark Wigglesworth, whose conducting is remarkable in its finesse, intensity and emotional depth”
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 19 June

“The Composer … winningly delivered by the mezzo-soprano Polly Leech as if in a cloud of teenage hormones”
“The director’s approach is also reinforced, stroke for stroke, by Mark Wigglesworth’s responsive conducting: zesty and bold in the prologue and then, in the opera proper, expansive before building up to a full-throttle climax”
Neil Fisher, The Times, 19 June

Here with tirelessly ringing tone Young Woo Kim proves himself quite a revelation and a new heroic tenor to watch”
“Sparks were struck and Garsington’s longstanding record with Richard Strauss remains undimmed”
John Allison, Daily Telegraph, 19 June

“Astonishing vocals from Natalya Romaniw (Ariadne) and Young Woo Kim (Bacchus), who both give thrilling performances”
“Kaleidoscopic colouring and painstaking detail supplied by the musicians of the Philharmonia Orchestra under Mark Wigglesworth – whose sensitivity to the score’s varied moods is constant and finely tuned”
George Hall, The Stage, 19 June

“Romaniw’s acting was, as usual, deeply affecting and her singing both nuanced in phrasing and wonderfully soaring to the heights”
Melaine Eskenazi, MusicOMH, 26 June

The Korean tenor Young Woo Kim was a faultless Bacchus, his voice filling the auditorium”
Simon Heffer, Saturday Telegraph, 24 June

Young Woo Kim is simply the best I’ve ever seen or heard: the challenges hold no fear for him, and as a scarred soul washed up on shore, he paces the characterisation perfectly with his wonderful facial expressions, tenderness and later heroics.”
David Nice, The Arts Desk, 25 June


The Bartered Bride

“A score of sublime musical fecundity … The final opening night of this summer’s Garsington Opera season certainly whets the appetite for more Smetana”
“Pumeza Matshikiza plays Marenka with an endearing attitude while singing with gorgeously rich tone”
John Allison, The Daily Telegraph, 1 July

“The two leading characters are so convincingly cast: the South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza as a beautifully poised, touching but determined Mařenka, Oliver Johnston as a Jeník who from the start gives the feeling of an outsider who can confront Village Opinion with a certain emotional and moral clarity”
Stephen Walsh, The Arts Desk, 3 July

“Conductor Jac van Steen seems to know and love every bar of this work … The Philharmonia Orchestra were highly responsive and the Garsington Opera Chorus sang excellently in their very busy role”
Roy Westbrook, Bachtrack, 3 July

“Garsington has revived its brilliant and fizzing production of The Bartered Bride by Smetana and it’s just as delightful and illuminating of the actual work itself as ever”
Mel Cooper, PlaysToSee, 3 July

“The casting could hardly have been bettered …  Mařenka was superbly taken by Pumeza Matshikiza who conveyed pathos and real integrity of character”
Richard Whitehouse,, 2 July


Il barbiere di Siviglia

“Mezzo-soprano Katie Bray’s Rosina is as much in charge of her destiny as she is of her high notes”
Charles Hebbert, Culture Whisper, 2 June

“Garsington’s sharp and sunny Rossini … The detailed 1930s sets by Simon Higlett are ravishing”
Neil Fisher, The Times, 1 June

“Johannes Kammler’s unctuously acted and sonorously sung Figaro was a commanding presence from the moment he circled the stage on a bicycle”
Melanie Eskenazi, MusicOMH, 3 June

“Christopher Luscombe directs for the first time at this address, bringing a wealth of experience in the management of comedy – spoken and sung – to his task. The result is consistently entertaining”
George Hall, The Stage, 1 June

“Much, including the shaving scene of Doctor Bartolo, is razor-sharp and everything is light on its feet”
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 2 June

“Douglas Boyd led The English Concert in a vivacious, buoyant reading of the score, with some particularly fine woodwind playing”
Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack, 2 June

“Callum Thorpe as Basilio exuded a double-espresso vocal kick out of all proportion to the scale of his role”
“The singing was consistently sunny and supple, and Boyd and his band matched it for grace, colour and wit.”
Richard Bratby, The Spectator, 8 June

The English Concert’s performance is as engagingly nimble as the choreography”
Curtis Rogers, Seen and Heard International, 2 June


Mitridate, re di Ponto

“Conductor Clemens Schuldt has a firm hand on the pace and drama, and lively, lovely playing from the English Concert drives the opera forward”
Rebecca Franks, The Times, 2 June

“Garsington’s cast delivers the goods in fine style”
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 2 June

“Conductor Clemens Schuldt delivers buoyant and bracing accompaniments from The English Concert”
John Allison, Daily Telegraph, 2 June

“The barnstorming role of the tyrannical but heroic Mitridate is sung with utter commitment by Robert Murray – an experienced Mozart tenor who here attains the heights of tragedy”
George Hall, The Stage, 2 June


“Tim Albery’s production and Hannah Clark’s designs were the ideal backdrop for these tempestuous characters”
Melanie Eskenazi, MusicOMH, 5 June

‘… A rare light is shone here upon the boy Mozart, allowing those of us who love the work of the mature master to better grasp his route to the top. Those who appreciate Mozart will understand him a lot better after seeing this wonderful performance’
David Mellor, Mail on Sunday, 4 June

“Davies, consistently musical, expressive and characterful, turns louche Farnace from villain to hero, while Kemény’s high-minded Sifare is sung with purity”
Claudia Pritchard, Culture Whisper, 2 June

“Albery has assembled five voices that are exceptionally strong and vividly differentiated”
Michael Church, The Independent, 2 June

“Soprano Louise Kemény, in the trouser role of Sifare, was particularly impressive; impassioned yet dignified, the perfect foil to Iestyn Davies’ wonderfully louche, repellent Farnace, who brought a Handelian sense of line to his often furiously hectic vocal fireworks”
Stephen Pritchard, Bachtrack, 2 June

“Elizabeth Watts is an immaculate Aspasia, stopping time in Act III’s ravishing “Pallid’ ombre”, her richer tones a foil to Soraya Mafi’s silvery clarity and Swarovski coloratura as Ismene”
Alexandra Coghlan, inews, 2 June

Elizabeth Watts frequently soars with a sweet-voiced charm as Aspasia, bringing the sort of intensity and variety to her anguished ‘Nel grave tormento’ …  that looks ahead to the roles of the Countess Almaviva or Fiordiligi”
Curtis Rogers, Seen and Heard International, 5 June