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Opera review: Xerxes

Superb revival is great to Handel

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I've seen Nicholas Hytner's production of Handel's comic opera at least a dozen times since it opened in 1985. And still I don't feel sated. This is simply one of the greatest opera productions - and it changed forever the perception of Handel as an opera composer. From box office death, Handel now almost guarantees a sell out.

This latest revival doesn't merely seem as fresh as ever. It has the feeling almost of rebirth. Alice Coote's Xerxes even manages to banish memories of Ann Murray. She is a world-class singer whose every move and note is compelling. She dominates the evening. But the rest of the cast is flawless - Sarah Tynan, Rhian Lois, Catherine Young, Andrew Watts and Adrian Powter. Conductor Michael Hofstetter may be no Charles Mackerras, but then who is?

He certainly has a flair for Handel and sets appropriately bracing tempi.

In 40 years of opera going, this is one of top three productions I've seen.

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