© Alexandra Coghlan – “(…) the sheer variety and colour of orchestral textures on offer would have kept any listener entertained on Friday night, even without Johan Engels’ magical set and costume designs.”

© Rupert Christiansen – The Telegraph: “Martin Duncan’s staging, designed by Johan Engels, is simple and elegant. Using sumptuously brocaded and paniered costumes against a setting of plain panels, (…) this is a floor show never intended as more than sophisticated entertainment, and here it’s been gorgeously realised.”

© Edward Seckerson – Independent: “It looks an absolute treat. A midnight blue box festooned with twinkling starlights descends into a pristine white orchestral pit while faceless figures quite literally manoeuvre the six principal characters into position, mirroring their gestures and even manipulating their limbs and bodies into appropriately expressive attitudes. In the intimate space of the Linbury Studio we can admire the sumptuous detail of Johan Engels’ beautiful costumes presented on occasions against screens of vivid colour to intensify the mood of the moment. Think Ancient Persia and all the exquisite paintings you’ve ever seen animated in the manner of elaborate 18th century mechanical dolls.”

© Anne Ozorio – Opera Today: “The costumes, by Johan Engels, are amazing. They look vaguely 18th century yet are made of Japanese brocade and silk, lime green, neon pink, electric blue, colours that rarely exist in nature, with samurai-like shoulderpads and helmets. European, but with a distinctly alien flamboyance.

© “Martin Duncan’s new production of Arne’s Artaxerxes is one of the most exquisitely-costumed operas I have ever seen. It’s almost worth the price of admission simply to gaze on Johan Engels’ vast panniered skirts, covered in acres of richly-embroidered vintage kimono fabric and split to reveal equally sumptuous velvet zouave pants in all the colours of a Persian miniature. One of the costumes even turns into a throne, Transformers-style, and you can’t get much cooler than that.”