Longborough’s Ring cycle continues to trail clouds of glory. The many challenges of Siegfried are surmounted with an ease that makes me wonder why so many heavily subsidized opera companies make such a mess of it…
How does Longborough do it? On nothing but the dedication of owner Martin Graham, this entire undertaking is a triumph. And it shows what talented British singers can do when given the chance so often denied them by our national companies.
Let me leave the best till last: the conductor Anthony Negus. His mentor, the great British Wagnerian Reginald Goodall, would have been proud of him, and would have struggled to do better. Inspired by torrential applause at the beginning of Act 3, he galvanized his orchestra into an opening that was Furtwanglerish in its intensity; one of many dazzling moments.
David Mellor – Mail on Sunday
It is two decades since Martin and Lizzie Graham, opera-loving entrepreneurs of the most down-to-earth yet dreamy variety, started staging opera in a disused cowshed. After rudimentary beginnings they built a proper theatre 10 years ago and are making constant improvements…Their goal is a complete Ring cycle in 2013. This season they reached the third opera, Siegfried…Musical standards are astonishingly high. There’s a world-class shortage of tenors who can sing Siegfried. In the American Daniel Brenna, Longborough appears to have found one…With the self-effacing wizard Anthony Negus in the pit and a deft orchestra, Longborough is in musically secure hands. Now they must raise funds for 2013. If you like nonconformity or Wagner or both, send them a cheque.
Fiona Maddocks – The Observer
Much of the music-making achieves a remarkably high level. Anthony Negus, a disciple and assistant of the late, great Reginald Goodall, is the linchpin of the enterprise. Here is an under-appreciated conductor who really knows how to shape Wagner’s long, quasi-symphonic musical narratives, to create genuine dramatic combustion in the orchestra pit and to draw a spellbinding quality from his orchestra.
Hugh Canning – Sunday Times
As Longborough Festival Opera reaches the third stage in its Ring cycle, it is once again a matter of wonder that any sense of Wagner’s forbiddingly epic enormity is swept away by the essential clarity of director Alan Privett’s concept. Both words and plot were delivered with an immediacy in itself refreshing and often witty, allowing conductor Anthony Negus to reveal the further motivations and machinations embedded in the infinite layers of Wagner’s musical characterisations. Kjell Torriset’s set contrasts hard scaffolding with the softness of fabric, Guy Hoare’s lighting adds depth and the balance of stark simplicity against the richness of the score, with all its psychological and metaphorical allusions was always artful…
For the past few years, Martin and Lizzie Graham have busily been laying the foundations of what may in time become a British Bayreuth, the Longborough Festival Opera, in a privately built, small but delightful opera house in the Cotswolds. On Saturday, Longborough unveiled Siegfried, the third part of its increasingly acclaimed Ring cycle, compellingly conducted by the splendid Anthony Negus, who learned his trade with the legendary English Wagnerian Reginald Goodall in the 1970s. Next year, Longborough plans Götterdämmerung, while in 2013 two complete Ring cycles are scheduled. True, nothing can compare with experiencing the Ring in the Bayreuth theatre where it was premiered in 1876. But Negus’s Ring at Longborough is building into an epic experience too – and it’s a lot easier to get to.
Martin Kettle – Leader in The Guardian