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Opera and classical review: La bohème, Royal Opera House; Peter Kellner, Wigmore Hall

Peter Kellner took time off from performances to present his debut song recital at Wigmore Hall last weekend, with the Vienna-based pianist Pedro Costa. For a young singer – currently a member of the Vienna State Opera ensemble – it was bold and challenging programme. It included Schumann’s Belsazar, Heine’s telling of the Belshazzar’s Feast story and the writing on the wall: the six Lenau settings of Op 90, with the somber, quasi-liturgical Requiem; and Dvorak’s 10 Biblical Songs, Op 99.


Kellner’s impressive dark bass and linguistic advantage – his Czech sounded idiomatic, though I can’t vough for that – created a strong sense of a visionary, religious mission. Hu judged the acoustics well, having appeared here in the 2017 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition, and clearly mad a strong impression on the venue’s director, John Gilhooly. He sang the entire programme, admittedly only an hour long, without resourse to the music or words, and is clearly a vivid communicator. Dvorak’s songbook is masterly, but the Czech language presumambly discourages international singers from tackling it. Kellner and Costa projected its prayerful devotions with evangelistic zeal. Even better was his beautifully sung Tchaikovsky group, with the famous (translated from Goethe) None but the Lonely Heart at its centre and the flamboyant Don Juan’s Serenade dashed off with flourish as an encore. Kellner can’t return too soon.

(The Times, 2020)