…This has been a weekend of Wagner, with Anthony Negus conducting
Die Walküre at Longborough and Sir Simon Rattle talking on Tristan – well, act two, anyway – at the Proms last night with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. And which was more radical, more revelatory, more moving? On paper, this looks like a no-brainer: in the red corner, the chance to hear the OAE get their period-instrument chops around Tristan with a cast ouf of the top drawer of international Wagner-singing in the company of the most famous conductor of his generation; and in the blue corner, the latest instalment of Longborough’s shoestring Ring with a cast of relative ingénues, a specially convened festival orchestra, and a conductor who will be familiar only to operatic cognoscenti.
In her review of the Longborough Walküre, Rian Evans talked of the show’s “intimacy and integrity”, and she’s right. But it was Negus’s achievement with his 65-piece orchestra that I found most fascinating. Taking advantage of Longborough’s Bayreuth-in-miniature acoustics, with its ideal balance between the singers and the musicians, Negus lead a faultlessly structured Walküre that flickered and shone with new colour and insight. He was able to create a chamber-like rapport between the stage and the orchestra, to reveal the delicacy of Wagner’s orchestration, as well as revealing the score’s big moments. Even more importantly, he paced the whole evening as well as I’ve ever heard a Wagner opera in performance.
Tom Service – The Guardian
The orchestra is more than 60-strong, the singers are an impressive team, some of them very experienced and above all Anthony Negus, the conductor, gave as ardent, penetrating and concentrated an account of the astonishing score as any I have heard in decades.
Michael Tanner – The Spectator
Longborough…in Anthony Negus, has a British Wagner conductor second to none.
Hugh Canning – Sunday Times
It was wonderful to hear Wagner in such intimate surrounds. Negus conducts a thrilling performance, and his Festival Orchestra, most of whom have worked with him at Longborough for several years, played magnificently. In his choice of singers, Negus also proves what a fine bunch we have in these islands. Given a chance to punch above their weight, all did so…I loved every moment of it and take my hat off to Graham and his cohorts. What a shame there are only three performances this season. But there’s always next year, and a complete Longborough Ring beckons. Every Wagnerite should be thrilled..
David Mellor – Mail on Sunday
…conductor Anthony Negus realises Wagner’s score with great fluency and insight.
Rian Evans – Guardian
What lit up the performance wa Anthony Negus’firmly paced and assured conducting. Negus drove the thing on with an unfailingly vivid sense of drama and kept the orchestra focused on the bigger picture.
Rupert Christiansen – Daily Telegraph
…Ditto the pick-up orchestra, which performs with fierce passion under Anthony Negus’s superbly paced direction.
Richard Morrison –The Times