"A scalpel-sharp satire on the medical profession brought uncomfortably up to date in director James Hurley's slick production."
"L'Ospedale is translated into a Brass-Eye style satire on 21st-century mental health provision by Hurley... The humour is savagely politicised (Abati's prologue and epilogue become speeches from a duplicitous minister in the House of Commons, complete with baying backbenchers.) The singing and playing is sublime, and the acting is fearless in its physicality"
"...an operatic version of Carry on Matron, only darker... an amiable curiosity, done with imagination."
"In James Hurley's up-to-the-minute production, with Rachel Szmukler's hospital ward setting, the allegorical figure of Sanita (Health), is incarnated by Jeremy Hunt, promulgating policies uncannily similar to the doctor's remedies... The newly refurbished Wilton's Music Hall is the ideal space for this spookily topical and entertaining endeavour."
"...a sharply observed piece of social commentary - an operatic Private Eye, with its gaze turned mercilessly on the healthcare system...given a pretty un-improvable contemporary premiere"
THE ARTS DESK
"Don Giovanni is a masterpiece, but, constantly shifting in tone and momentum, it needs skilful handling. James Hurley cunningly located his production for British Youth Opera...in the 1970s. There are moments of sleazy period glamour, but violence is never far away. Hurley traps the characters in the hotel foyer, the basement car park and Giovanni's suite before dumping them in a chiaroscuro urban wasteland for the tricky sequence that opens Act II. The action is smartly and coherently organised..."
"a highly physical comedy of institutional and individual insanity... Hurley played cleverly with our sympathies, trapping us in the act of laughing at, as well as with, the lunatics taking over the asylum... Lamenting the death of a golden age is something of a tradition in these pages. How nice, then, to hear something of a future golden age, at least in early opera, with healthy vocal production, expressive singing, dynamic playing and fearless acting."
"...a frisky account of one of the few genuinely comic operas, Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia... James Hurley's production buzzes with rude energy... and the singers commit to the comedy while skilfully negotiating Rossini's outrageous vocalism."
"Using just a handful of props, director James Hurley creates a contemporary gangland setting, riven by revenge and brutality. He also draws some impressively detailed acting from the performers... [the] tomb scene is as emotionally wrenching as in any staging I've seen. Some of the audience were openly sobbing; my own eyes were pricking. Bellini must have been looking down in delight... It's opera without the frills, pared down to the thrills."
"...alters Rossini's creation to an extent that even Calixto Bieito, given entirely free rein by English National Opera, would not contemplate...but its cleverness derives from the fact that for all its innovation it parallels the original very closely... James Hurley's production is tight and the touches throughout amusing."
"James Hurley... sets Idomeneo in our time. With modern references carefully thought-through and the immediacy of no audience-member being more than four rows from the action, this Idomeneo hits home with the visceral force of a live TV news-story from a beleaguered war zone beset by pestilence. It is absolutely thrilling."
"Hurley's strength as a director is his ability to inject energy and dramatic commitment into an opera. As with the last Pop-Up production of his that I saw, a Tarantino-esque I Capuleti e i Montecchi, his stage (here a church chancel, although it could be anywhere and any configuration) fizzes with attention to detail and an understanding of pace."
"James Hurley's staging [of Idomeneo]... integrated chorus and extras into a brutal contemporary reading of the piece, with lots of security-police aggro and the "sea monster" replaced by diseased incomers puking blood... Thrilling."
"...director James Hurley confronted us with a beach society in crisis, insinuating his immense chorus into the action at every point. It was all about the people. Marooned in the sand dunes, mixing compassion with brutality, the leaderless Cretans could barely cope with an influx of Trojan 'boat people' refugees, not least the children. When Neptune's plague strikes, a graphic presentation of buckets and bloody bandages hints at Ebola. With the monster on the loose, emergency services - improvised under the designer Rachel Szmukler's sputtering arc-lamps - teeter on the brink. There is no money, no order and only a tenuous thread of community spirit. All this made for an immersive, in-the-round theatrical experience... When opera is presented on this scale and with this directness, it's hard not to be moved."
"Director James Hurley's staging updates the action to the present... the satire was certainly au courant, the gags inventive, and the polemic provocative... exuberant fun... it communicated directly and with thought-provoking candour."
"Hurley's efficient contemporary production relies on its children to imagine us into Humperdinck's fairy-tale fantasy. A fridge, assorted mops and buckets and some cardboard boxes offer an unpromising set of tools, but the cast conjure plenty of magic from them... [Mother] and Father tread a careful line between near-tragedy (there's an almost Wozzeck-like edge to their domestic scene, powerfully sung) and broad comedy, giving the tale the dangerous edge it needs"
THE ARTS DESK
"Figaros bryllup, denne klassiske forviklingskomedien som Mozart gjorde udødelig opera av, er i Kilden blitt en sann fest for folk flest... Denne omplasseringen av miljø og roller er meget godt gjennomført, til ytterste konsekvens, og gjør faktisk handlingen både troverdig og ikke minst forståelig. I 2016 er forhold mellom overordnet og underordnet mer begripelig enn forholdet mellom adel og tjenerskap på 1700-tallet."
["The Marriage of Figaro, this classic situation comedy that Mozart made into an immortal opera has become a joy for everyone......the action is made contemporary... Transplanting place and roles in this way has been very well carried through, to the utmost detail, and makes the plot both credible and not least comprehensible. In 2016 the relationship between superior and subordinate is easier to grasp than that of aristocracy and servants in the 18th century."]
"...director James Hurley ensured that the production was always on the move and busy with natural, well-integrated movement that explored the full range of possibilities in the space. The cast were apparently fully relaxed and enjoying themselves...[a] wonderful, life-affirming production"
James Hurley’s imaginative production of Semele at the Gatehouse lays bare all the emotional content and adds some extra touches... The 1950’s setting for the Cadmus, Semele, Ino family suggested an era of sexual repression, making the cavorting in Arcadia all the more shocking or liberating, depending on your point of view.”
"James Hurley’s production works effectively in Rachel Szmukler’s straightforward sets and each of the five singers makes an appreciable mark… a new opera company makes an auspicious debut"