Reviews

Reviews of FAITH – Philharmonia Orchestra, St. John’s Smith Square London

The concert itself was conceived as a solemn ceremony…as a homage to the little-known religious side of the 20th century’s greatest composer, this concert could hardly have been bettered.

Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, June 3 2016

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/what-to-listen-to/philharmonia-st-johns-smith-square-review-a-near-perfect-homage/

In every respect this was imaginative programming. Without gimmick and using a few simple devices – low lighting, the sound of bells, a waft of incense – St John’s Smith Square had acquired the atmosphere of Orthodox St Petersburg. The point, perfectly achieved, was to allow the music to be performed without interruption. 

Fiona Maddocks,The Guardian, June 5 2016

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jun/05/stravinsky-myths-and-rituals-philharmonia-review

 

Reviews of Pelléas et Mélisande – LA Philharmonic , Los Angeles

It proved not only a triumphant culmination of past efforts, but a validation of the work’s oft-questioned dramatic viability. The audience at Disney Hall was in raptures…The performance succeeded at every level, revealing in its unusual format an equally valid way to present Pelléas et Mélisande…The performance will stand as one of the greatest ever in Disney Hall and a milestone in the history of this unique work of musical art. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rodney-punt/la-phils-long-journey-wit_b_9334394.html

Although the production was only semi-staged, this was great opera at the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

https://bachtrack.com/review-pelleas-melisande-salonen-los-angeles-february-2016

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s presentation Friday of Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande”… seemed to this viewer to be a nearly ideal semi-staging of an opera. Directed by David Edwards, it made no apologies for not being a full production with glorious sets and costumes, etc. 

http://www.ocregister.com/2016/02/21/esa-pekka-salonen-leads-la-phil-in-a-potent-pellas-et-mlisande/

 

Review of Carmen – Singapore Symphony

…while with the entire performing forces in white, David Edwards’ subtle lighting effects were cleverly absorbed into the performance as the whole stage seemed to change colour from within. 

http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/arts/sizzling-chemistry-between-carmen-and-jealous-lover

 

Reviews of Midsummer Night’s Dream – Middle Temple Hall, London 

You rarely see a full production of Shakespeare’s dream play so magical it brings tears to the eyes. But then you don’t often get 42 players and 14 voices joining the cast to adorn the text with Mendelssohn’s bewitching incidental music, plus the Overture composed 16 years earlier – certainly the most perfect masterpiece ever written by a 17-year-old. Add a fluent ensemble of actors, a sense of high style in costume design and, above a simple stage with audience on three sides and the orchestra on the fourth, a hammerbeam oak forest in the very hall where Twelfth Night had its first known performance, and you can expect a certain perfection.

David Nice, The Arts Desk, May 3 2016

http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music/midsummer-nights-dream-middle-temple-hall

http://www.planethugill.com/2016/05/the-delight-of-having-both-midsummer.html

 

PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE – Philharmonia Orchestra, London

It’s often claimed that Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, set to Maurice Maeterlinck’s subtly symbolist text, is suitable for concert performance. But that is to reckon without the alienating effect of bright platform lights and an over-prominent orchestra. Both potential drawbacks were overcome in this semi-staging directed by David Edwards. Evoking Maeterlinck’s “blue shadows” and death-reeking castle vaults in conjunction with Colin Grenfell’s skilful lighting, Edwards offered an imaginative take on this work. 

Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 28 November 2014

http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/music/pell-as-et-m-lisande-philharmonia-salonen-festival-hall-opera-review-9890304.html

The Philharmonia’s schedule is dominated until spring by City of Light, a big retrospective examining the artistic world of Paris in the first half of the 20th century. It is by no means a survey of solely French music: Stravinsky’s ballets, for instance, are prominent in future concerts. It opened, however, with a semi-staging by David Edwards of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande that ranked among the finest achievements of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s principal conductorship.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 28 November 2104

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/nov/28/pelleas-et-melisande-review-salonen

In an operatic world in which the director is an increasingly despotic king, it’s good to be reminded that, sometimes, not staging an opera is the most radical reading of all. No elaborate set or concept dominated David Edwards’s one-off Pelléas et Mélisande at the Royal Festival Hall last night. There were just suggestions, allusions, echoes. And a cast – what a cast – that came close to perfection.

Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, 28 November 2014

http://www.theartsdesk.com/opera/pelléas-et-mélisande-philharmonia-salonen-rfh

 

BORIS GODUNOV – Philharmonia Orchestra, London

“David Edwards made eloquent use of stage and auditorium…this daring and accomplished semi-staging [was] as strong as a shot of vodka”

Hilary Finch, The Times May 4, 2015

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – Portland, Oregon

“A feast for the eyes and ears…this was a production of which not only PSU but also the musical community of Portland can be very proud”

Bruce Browne, Oregon Artswatch April 30, 2014

THE MERRY WIDOW – Singapore Lyric Opera

“What made everything work…was the sheer exuberance with which the cast threw themselves into the music, reminding us what fantastic entertainment opera can be”

Derek Lim, The Flying Inkpot October 28, 2014

The jewel of the production was most definitely lyric soprano Kishani Jayasinghe. As wealthy widow Hanna, she exuded a dazzling Parisian glamour and authority, and enthralled the audience. She showed herself to be a complete master of her voice, with a clear projection, impeccable dynamic control, and a stunning range of colour. She was well-matched with Nicholas Ransley who played her old flame, Count Danilo Danilovich. He had a charming and cultivated air about him, and their duet scenes, whether arguing, dancing or singing, were always a delight to watch. The constant competition and banter between Cascada and St Brioche kept the production light-hearted. The ensemble work, especially by the male cast in Women, Women, Women! and by the quintet towards the end was tight and well-balanced.

Mervin Beng, The Straits Times, November 4  2014

DIE WALKÜRE Act 3 – Philharmonia Orchestra, London

“…ingeniously and atmospherically semi-staged on a shoestring by David Edwards”

Martin Kettle, The Guardian May 23, 2013

RIGOLETTO – Singapore Symphony Orchestra

“The true heroes of this Rigoletto had no singing parts. Lan Shui led the SSO in beautifully delicate and nuanced accompaniment, and stage director Edwards’ narration was just what was needed to string together a delectable tasting of Verdi’s opera”

Mervin Beng, The Straits Times, November 4 2013

PADMAVATI – Opéra Bastide, Bordeaux

Et plutôt que de se laisser (mal)mener par un metteur-en-scène qui serait lui aussi en herbe, Opéra Bastide a eu le flair de s’associer avec l’extraordinaire magicien britannique de l’opéra David Edwards, un habitué de Covent Garden, d’Aldeburgh, des opéra de Tokyo, de San Francisco, de Los Angeles, qui pourtant ne refuse pas pour autant de travailler avec la relève jusques et y compris en Aquitaine. Le résultat, présenté voici peu à Bordeaux en version piano-chant (prochains spectacles avec ensemble instrumental) est déjà stupéfiant. Edwards reprend tous les personnages ab ovo, les remet dans leur vérité humaine plutôt que de s’encombrer des confortables convenances pseudo-maçonniques, puis restitue les personnalités telles qu’elles apparaissent dans la vérité de la partition et du livret plutôt que dans les standards imposés par le politiquement correct, tout en proposant aux chanteurs d’assumer pleinement leurs responsabilités de personnage, avec tous les risques que cela comporte de changer d’optique. Qobuz June 2014

CARMEN – Singapore Lyric Opera

“Singapore Lyric Opera’s fourth production of CARMEN…presented new vistas while remaining true to its original spirit…some of the best moments to be witnessed on the Singapore stage. Director David Edwards, of the wackiest Barber of Seville of seasons past, returned with a vengeance, but this time balancing radical ideas with urgent gravitas. Carmen and Jose were no mere singing cardboard cutouts but multilayered characters who ultimately evoked genuine sympathy. Bravo for a unique CARMEN!

Chang Tou Liang, The Straits Times, January 2011

THE SCREAMS OF KITTY GENOVESE – London & Edinburgh

“I’m still reeling from the impact…claustrophobic, terrifying, unsettlingly tuneful and all too human…a brilliantly realised tale for our times. Emotionally deeply uncomfortable…raw, passionate, noisy and dazzling. Brilliant performances from the whole cast.”

Jessica Duchen, Standpoint Magazine, August 2010

DIDO AND AENEAS – Temple Music, London

“A remarkably satisfying and beautiful account…high point of the year-long Temple Festival. I have never heard DIDO so stylishly, eloquently and movingly rendered. Edwards’s direction was never obtrusive. It seemed, rather, a sensitive and subtle

visual animation of the musical drama that was being so strikingly well sung and played.”

Andrew Porter, OPERA, August 2008

THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS – Philharmonia Orchestra, London

“It was one of the most revelatory and moving evenings that I can remember…a summons to proclaim the virtues of truth, faith, hope and charity over the lurid distractions of the world, the flesh and the Devil. That was stunningly clear in David Edwards’ resourceful semi-staging…the intensity was transfixing… ”

Richard Morrison, The Times, June 2008

“It was a knock-out, an overwhelming musical…spiritual adventure. Vaughan Williams would surely have welcomed Edwards’s well-judged, musically sensitive presentation.”

Andrew Porter, Times Literary Supplement, July 2008

IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA – Singapore Lyric Opera

“Not only was this the best Barbiere I have ever seen, it ranks as one of the dozen or so most memorable experiences I have enjoyed in 40 years of attending opera. The producer David Edwards turned this warhorse into a show that was as fresh, zany and relevant as it must have been to Rossini’s audiences nearly 200 years ago.”

Robert Markow, OPERA, November 2007

LA TRAVIATA – Opéra Les Azuriales

“The quality of the shows was so disarmingly good I couldn’t quite believe it – the impact, vitality and stamina of [La Traviata], staged by David Edwards, was exceptional…telling the story with a clarity and conviction that extracted real theatre from simple circumstances…”

Michael White, OPERA NOW, November/December 2007

GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG – Mastersingers, London

“The staging of Hagens Rache…was an ingenious conflation of scenes from Götterdämmerung. It was a triumphant conclusion to the Mastersingers’ four-year project…the Funeral March sequence had indescribable emotional power. The ending was astonishing, unexpected but for me amazingly successful.”

Katie Barnes, WAGNER NEWS, February 2007

 THE SCREAMS OF KITTY GENOVESE  – New York

“An incredibly powerful piece of theatrical story-telling…superbly directed by David G. Edwards” Oscar E. Moore, Talk Entertainment, September 2006“Arranging Will Todd and David Simpatico’s vibrantly lyrical musical-theatre opera…would have been daunting for most creative teams with Broadway-level resources, but director David G. Edwards and musical director Randall Eng have done so without a single detectable misstep”

Matthew Murray, Talkin’ Broadway Off-Broadway, September 2006

 DIE WALKÜRE Mastersingers, London

“David Edwards’ production [DIE WALKÜRE Act 3] was compellingly powerful, far more hard-hitting than any of our subsidised companies would dare to perform….As a one-off presentation of a single act, it was sensational.”

Katie Barnes, WAGNER NEWS, February 2005

LUCREZIA BORGIAMinnesota Opera, Minneapolis

“The Minnesota Opera has a hit on its hands.

Star Tribune, January 30, 2004

 THE BLACKENED MANBuxton Festival

“Lighting was inspired, designs and back-projections intelligent, direction and blocking admirable…”

Roderick Dunnett, OPERA NOW, Nov/Dec 2004

PAGLIACCI/GOYESCAS – Central City Opera, Colorado

“A bold theatrical experiment, stripped bare and presented with uncompromising honesty …an attempt to shake up stuffy operatic convention is always welcome. Edwards’ nervy staging and his desire to dig beneath the surface will generate lively debate…the extraordinary effort both works receive from a terrific cast of singing actors.”

Marc Shugold, Rocky Mountain News July 9, 2003

CARMEN Opera Company of Philadelphia

“Edwards provides a sharply etched staging that matches the intent musical performance. Robert Israel’s simple set creates an effective playing space that Edwards fills with vivid dramatic action, highlighted by the glare of Marcus Dilliard’s lighting. This CARMEN hurtles forward without losing dramatic tension. Edwards strips away the traditional gestures and tiresome clichés that burden many productions of Bizet’s opera.”

Robert Baxter, Philadelphia Courier-Post November 11, 2002

DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER San Diego Opera

“The dramatic elements of the production, which were in the charge of David Edwards, were integrated by means of a psychological concept focusing on Senta, who was treated as profoundly neurotic and alienated from external reality…The effect was to give the action the quality of a dream…everything in the opera carried an aura of visionary experience, as though it were all taking place in the heroine’s mind.”

Jonathan Saville, OPERA December 2002

SIMON BOCCANEGRA – San Francisco Opera

“David Edwards’ production gave this tale of political intrigue and separated families powerful theatrical life. Edwards juxtaposed realistic action with striking passages of symbolic representation…the simplicity of the staging and the careful observation of the ways in which personal emotion and political ambition color and modify each other showed that SIMON BOCCANEGRA is as complete a work of theater as any of Verdi’s other mature works.”

Simon Williams, OPERA NEWS October 2001

DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES Portland Opera, Oregon

“David Edwards’ uncluttered, sensitive staging made CARMÉLITES a particularly uplifting experience…the final tableau was striking…”

Mark Mandel, OPERA NEWS June 2001