From the House of the Dead is at the Royal Opera House, London, until 24 March. Box office: 020-7304 4000.
Krzysztof Warlikowski’s new Royal Opera staging of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead, the first in the company’s history, opens with silent but subtitled footage of the philosopher Michel Foucaultheatedly discussing the prison system, which he analysed, attacked and attempted to reform throughout much of his life. A startling opening to a radical if flawed interpretation, it immediately exposes the tensions and problems to follow. The footage rolls over Janáček’s prelude, played with ferocious power by the ROH orchestra under Mark Wigglesworth. But reading Foucault pulls us away from the music, and our focus blurs.