The folks at Paris Opera are having a stellar few years. Who failed to get excited when reading a recent New York Timesarticle about their extraordinary ability to attract youthful audiences? The average age of those hanging out in a parterre box is 48, compared with 54 at the Berlin State Opera and 58 at the Met. Musical standards are top-notch, they’re attracting some of the biggest stars that aren’t making the trek to the States anymore (cough, Jonas Kaufmann, cough), and directors are taking risks and mounting productions ambitious in scale and scope. 

Boris Godounov. Photo © courtesy of Palace Opera 

Belgian Ivo Van Hove, whose stunning Kings of Warplayed at this year’s Adelaide Festival, is one of these directors. Known for his highly thoughtful and compelling stagings, he’s had success after success in the theatre and can point to a good track record when it comes tackling opera’s biggest beasts – his recent Salomefor Dutch National Opera was a knockout, traces of his trademark coolness mingling with Strauss’ penchant for blood and sex.

Audiences can now catch his production of Mussorgsky’s brilliant...