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Elsewhere

MOZART 250: the year 1767

Classical Opera’s MOZART 250 project has reached the year 1767. Two years ago, the company embarked upon an epic, 27-year exploration of the music written by Mozart and his contemporaries exactly 250 years previously. The series will incorporate 250th anniversary performances of all Mozart’s important compositions and artistic director Ian Page tells us that as 1767 ‘was the year in which Mozart started to write more substantial works - opera, oratorio, concertos … this will be the first year of MOZART 250 in which Mozart’s own music dominates the programme’.

Monteverdi, Masters and Poets - Imitation and Emulation

‘[T]hey moderated or increased their voices, loud or soft, heavy or light according to the demands of the piece they were singing; now slowing, breaking of sometimes with a gentle sigh, now singing long passages legato or detached, now groups, now leaps, now with long trills, now with short, or again, with sweet running passages sung softly, to which one sometimes heard an echo answer unexpectedly. They accompanied the music and the sentiment with appropriate facial expressions, glances and gestures, with no awkward movements of the mouth or hands or body which might not express the feelings of the song. They made the words clear in such a way that one could hear even the last syllable of every word, which was never interrupted or suppressed by passages or other embellishments.’

Visionary Wagner - The Flying Dutchman, Finnish National Opera

An exceptional Wagner Der fliegende Holländer, so challenging that, at first, it seems shocking. But Kasper Holten's new production, currently at the Finnish National Opera, is also exceptionally intelligent.

Don Quichotte at Chicago Lyric

A welcome addition to Lyric Opera of Chicago’s roster was its recent production of Jules Massenet’s Don Quichotte.

Written on Skin: Royal Opera House

800 years ago, every book was a precious treasure - ‘written on skin’. In George Benjamin’s and Martin Crimp’s 2012 opera, Written on Skin, modern-day archivists search for one such artefact: a legendary 12th-century illustrated vanity project, commissioned by an unnamed Protector to record and celebrate his power.

Madama Butterfly at Staatsoper im Schiller Theater

It was like a “Date Night” at Staatsoper unter den Linden with its return of Eike Gramss’ 2012 production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. While I entered the Schiller Theater, the many young couples venturing to the opera together, and emerging afterwards all lovey-dovey and moved by Puccini’s melodramatic romance, encouraged me to think more positively about the future of opera.

It’s the end of the world as we know it: Hannigan & Rattle sing of Death

For the Late Night concert after the Saturday series, fifteen Berliners backed up Barbara Hannigan in yet another adventurous collaboration on a modern rarity with Simon Rattle. I was completely unfamiliar with the French composer, but the performance tonight made me fall in love with Gérard Grisey’s sensually disintegrating soundscape Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil, or “Fours Songs to cross the Threshold”.

A Vocally Extravagant Saturday Night with Berliner Philharmoniker

One of the things I love about the Philharmonie in Berlin, is the normalcy of musical excellence week after week. Very few venues can pull off with such illuminating star wattage. Michael Schade, Anne Schwanewilms, and Barbara Hannigan performed in two concerts with two larger-than-life conductors Thielemann and Rattle. We were taken on three thrilling adventures.

Les Troyens at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s original and superbly cast production of Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens has provided the musical public with a treasured opportunity to appreciate one of the great operatic achievements of the nineteenth century.

Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock

The Little Opera Company opened its 21st season by championing its own, as it presented the world premiere of Winnipeg composer Neil Weisensel’s Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock.

Bampton Classical Opera 2017

In 2015, Bampton Classical Opera’s production of Salieri’s La grotta di Trofonio - a UK premiere - received well-deserved accolades: ‘a revelation ... the music is magnificent’ (Seen and Heard International), ‘giddily exciting, propelled by wit, charm and bags of joy’ (The Spectator), ‘lively, inventive ... a joy from start to finish’ (The Oxford Times), ‘They have done Salieri proud’ (The Arts Desk) and ‘an enthusiastic performance of riotously spirited music’ (Opera Britannia) were just some of the superlative compliments festooned by the critical press.

The nature of narropera?

How many singers does it take to make an opera? There are single-role operas - Schönberg’s Erwartung (1924) and Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies (1969) spring immediately to mind - and there are operas that just require a pair of performers, such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart i Salieri (1897) or The Telephone by Menotti (1947).

A Christmas Festival: La Nuova Musica at St John's Smith Square

Now in its 31st year, the 2016 Christmas Festival at St John’s Smith Square has offered sixteen concerts performed by diverse ensembles, among them: the choirs of King’s College, London and Merton College, Oxford; Christchurch Cathedral Choir, Oxford; The Gesualdo Six; The Cardinall’s Musick; The Tallis Scholars; the choirs of Trinity College and Clare College, Cambridge; Tenebrae; Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightment.

Fleming's Farewell to London: Der Rosenkavalier at the ROH

As 2016 draws to a close, we stand on the cusp of a post-Europe, pre-Trump world. Perhaps we will look back on current times with the nostalgic romanticism of Richard Strauss’s 1911 paean to past glories, comforts and certainties: Der Rosenkavalier.

Loft Opera’s Macbeth: Go for the Singing, Not the Experience

Ah, Loft Opera. It’s part of the experience to wander down many dark streets, confused and lost, in a part of Brooklyn you’ve never been. It is that exclusive—you can’t even find the performance!

A clipped Walküre in Amsterdam

Let’s start by getting a couple of gripes out of the way. First, the final act of Die Walküre does not constitute a full-length concert, even with a distinguished cast and orchestra, and with animated drawings fluttering on a giant screen.

A Leonard Bernstein Delight

When you combine two charismatic New York stage divas with the artistry of Los Angeles Opera, you have a mix that explodes into singing, dancing and an evening of superb entertainment.

An English Winter Journey

Roderick Williams’ and Julius Drake’s English Winter Journey seems such a perfect concept that one wonders why no one had previously thought of compiling a sequence of 24 songs by English composers to mirror, complement and discourse with Schubert’s song-cycle of love and loss.

History Repeating Itself: Prokofiev’s Semyon Kotko, Amsterdam Concertgebouw

A historical afternoon at the NTR Saturday Matinee occurred with an epic concert version of Prokofiev’s Soviet Opera Semyon Kotko.

L’amour de loin at the Metropolitan Opera

Opening night at the Metropolitan is a gleeful occasion even when the composer is long gone, but December 1st was an opening for a living composer who has been making waves around the world and is, gasp, a woman — the second woman composer ever to have an opera presented at the Met.


OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

Bampton Classical Opera 2017
23 Dec 2016

Bampton Classical Opera 2017

In 2015, Bampton Classical Opera’s production of Salieri’s La grotta di Trofonio - a UK premiere - received well-deserved accolades: ‘a revelation ... the music is magnificent’ (Seen and Heard International), ‘giddily exciting, propelled by wit, charm and bags of joy’ (The Spectator), ‘lively, inventive ... a joy from start to finish’ (The Oxford Times), ‘They have done Salieri proud’ (The Arts Desk) and ‘an enthusiastic performance of riotously spirited music’ (Opera Britannia) were just some of the superlative compliments festooned by the critical press. »

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06 Feb 2005

Roll Over Stockhausen

When did the music die? And why? It will be 30 years in August since the death of Dmitri Shostakovitch. Next year also marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Benjamin Britten. Aaron Copland, older than both of them, lived on until 1990 and Olivier Messiaen until 1992. But apart from these? I can see them already. The protestations on behalf of the half-forgotten and semi-famous, the advocates of Henze and Berio, the followers of Tavener and Adès. Perhaps there will be a good word for Golijov or Gubaidulina, for Piazzola or Saariaho (enthusiasms I share). And maybe, even now, there remains someone who believes that Stockhausen should be mentioned in the same breath as Bach, the last of the true believers clinging to the shipwreck of modernism. »

02 Feb 2005

Jirí Belohlávek Named to Head BBCSO

The BBC Symphony Orchestra confirmed yesterday that its new chief conductor from the first night of the 2006 Proms will be the Czech maestro Jirí Belohlávek. It was known two and a half years ago that Leonard Slatkin would be standing down from the job at the end of last season’s Proms, so the announcement about his successor has been a long time coming, but the welcome news of Belohlávek’s appointment is not a surprise. I floated him as the most likely choice in an article on these pages back in July last year. It was a hunch, but one based on a reasoned study of the form book, since he seemed to have precisely the qualities that the BBC should be looking for. »

01 Feb 2005

Teresa Berganza — Two Interviews

Le coeur des amoureux de bel canto va battre plus fort, mardi soir au Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. La série «Les Grandes Voix» de Jean-Pierre Le Pavec accueille l’une des plus grandes dames de l’histoire de l’opéra au dernier demi-siècle. A un mois de son soixante-et-onzième anniversaire, Teresa Berganza précise qu’il ne faut pas espérer entendre le Chérubin ou la Rosine des années 50 : avec sa voix d’aujourd’hui, elle se consacre maintenant au récital, faisant la part belle au répertoire ibérique, qu’il soit espagnol (de Falla) ou argentin (Piazzolla). Mais elle a toujours la même discipline, la même élégance, le même pétillement : un petit bout de femme vif-argent et intarissable, qui vous donne l’impression qu’on s’est toujours connus. Rencontre avec une immense artiste, qui a participé à l’âge d’or de l’opéra. »

30 Jan 2005

Mozart Here, Mozart There, Mozart Everywhere

Mozart-Tage in Wien, Mozartwoche in Salzburg. Und das alles 2005, wo doch das Mozartjahr erst 2006 droht. Vor lauter Ankündigungen und Vorausschauen, was die Welt, was Österreich im Besonderen im Jubiläumsjahr an Plänen ventiliert, droht Mozarts Musik zur Nebensache zu werden. Das ist ihr Glück. Denn so bleibt sie, während wohlbestallte Koordinatoren und Intendanten über Aktionen von hoch bezahlten Kasperln diskutieren, doch die Hauptsache. »

28 Jan 2005

Encountering David Daniels

``I’m Tom Brady’s best friend,’’ joked David Daniels. ``I’m sure he’d love to read that!’’ OK, the world’s leading countertenor isn’t really Brady’s bud. ``But I did meet him,’’ Daniels continued. ``It was when I sang (Handel’s) `Messiah’ in Ann Arbor.’’ Brady was quarterback for the University of Michigan football team when Daniels, now 38, was a graduate student there. ``A lot of times the football players would come to concerts – they were always trying to enlighten them to the music world, arts and culture – and he came backstage and I got to shake his hand,’’ Daniels recalled. ``If you asked him, he might remember me as this guy who sang like a woman.’‘ »

28 Jan 2005

Denyce Graves Goes to the Treasure Coast

With a voice as strong and clear as the winter wind through the cherry trees, Denyce Graves sang for all America last week at President Bush’s inaugural ceremony. Graves, who was born and raised in Washington, D.C., is something of a musical emissary — she’s had the lead roles in opera houses all over the globe, and is considered one of the most dynamic mezzo-sopranos on the world stage. »

28 Jan 2005

Homage to Marian Anderson

Start buying pieces of fine art this week for 37 cents. The Marian Anderson first-class postage stamp, the 28th in the Black Heritage series, debuted Thursday in Washington, D.C. Richard Sheaff designed the stamp, which is based on an Albert Slark oil painting. Sheaff previously designed nine stamps that include Paul Robeson, Thurgood Marshall, Langston Hughes, Roy Wilkins and Patricia Harris. »

26 Jan 2005

Comparing Tebaldi and de los Angeles

According to popular legend, one great operatic soprano comes along every generation. The years directly following the end of World War II were singularly blessed with the emergence of no fewer than three great divas. The tempestuous and too-short life of Maria Callas, regarded by many as the greatest, ended in 1977. But her two greatest rivals lived into old age, by strange fate – the force of destiny? – dying within less than a month of each other. »

26 Jan 2005

Julia Jones Conducts at the Wiener Staatsoper

VIENNA, Jan. 23 -It was just eight years ago that the Vienna Philharmonic, which doubles as the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, officially admitted the first woman to its august ranks. On Jan. 12, there were at least six in the pit for “Parsifal.” On the 13th, there was one in the pit for “Don Giovanni.” On Saturday, there was one at the head of the orchestra: Julia Jones, an English conductor who made her debut here in 2001, has conducted a number of times here since, and who led a robust “Così Fan Tutte” during the house’s second annual “Vienna Mozart Days” (which ends with a final “Nozze di Figaro” on Jan. 29). »

24 Jan 2005

Le Figaro Interviews Marc Minkovski

A 20 ans, Marc Minkovski fondait les Musiciens du Louvre et, très vite, imprimait sa sensibilité gourmande sur le répertoire baroque, puis sur des Offenbach qui ont fait mouche à Lyon, Grenoble et Paris. On se souvient d’un grand Couronnement de Poppée à Aix-en-Provence, d’un admirable Pelléas et Mélisande, salle Favart, pour le centenaire de l’oeuvre en 2002. A l’Opéra de Paris, Gérard Mortier en fait aujourd’hui un pilier de ce qui ne ressemble pas à de la sagesse : le voici aux commandes musicales d’une nouvelle Flûte enchantée venue du Festival de la Ruhr, et donnée en pâture au délirant groupe catalan La Fura del Baus. Le chef, lui, s’occupe surtout de Mozart. »

21 Jan 2005

John Eliot Gardiner Goes It Alone — Take Two

What is it that urges an eminent musician to spurn the mainstream record industry and set up on his own? Some orchestras have been doing it for quite a while, bypassing the major companies and releasing competitively priced discs of live performances that regularly lead the market and at the same time help to promote the orchestras’ image. Where the London Symphony Orchestra led the way in that field, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, who already has a formidable backlist of recordings to his credit, is now blazing a trail for the individual artist by launching his own label, Soli Deo Gloria, the first two albums of which have just gone on sale. »

21 Jan 2005

So Much For Einstein's Theory

For many years Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s operatic work Zaide was regarded as a fragment. More than an hour of music was preserved but that was only the arias. Originally they were linked by spoken text, none of which survived. The German musicologist and conductor Andreas Kroeper, who now lives in the Czech Republic, says he has found the missing text and has proved it belonged to Zaide. Mozart started to compose the two-act Singspiel, set in a Turkish harem — a popular setting at that time, some time around 1780 in Salzburg. The libretto, developing similar plots of the period, was written by the Salzburg court musician Johann Andreas Schachtner. But Mozart soon realised a serious piece like that would not go down well with the Viennese audience whose tastes had turned to comic operas. »

18 Jan 2005

More Than 2,000 Say Goodbye to Victoria de los Ángeles

The coffin of Spanish Victoria de los Angeles, a distinctive soprano who sang most of the great lyric roles in most of the world’s opera houses, is placed inside the cathedral Nostra Senora del Mar during her funeral in Barcelona, January 17, 2005. Victoria de los Angeles died in hospital on Saturday at the age of 81. »

18 Jan 2005

Fidelio at the Lyric Opera of Chicago

Among history’s crowded pantheon of tormented genius-artists, Beethoven holds an honored spot. Often he composed quickly and with little apparent struggle. But he was no Mozart, who typically composed with a facility and speed that some music scholars have described as “taking dictation from God.” Beethoven filled sketchbooks with musical fragments, doggedly reworking and refining them like a miner scratching for diamonds in a black-walled shaft. With his wild hair, scowling gaze, deafness—a particularly cruel infirmity for a musician—and volcanic temper, he is the very model of a modern angst-ridden artist. »

18 Jan 2005

Mozart's Mass in C Minor Completed

Mozart left comparatively few major (or potentially major) works unfinished, and while it may seem daunting – presumptious even – for another musician to complete these scores, the lure of making an incomplete work whole is clearly too great to resist. Can the results ever be more than hyphenated Mozart? Probably not. A musicologist steeped in Mozart’s musical moves may project what the composer might have done at any point in a work, based on what he did in similar scores, and the completion may sound thoroughly Mozartean. But Mozart often came up with solutions that are completely surprising. Part of what made him Mozart – in fact, part of what makes any great composer great – is unpredictability. »

17 Jan 2005

Le Monde on Victoria de Los Angeles

Elle s’en est allée rejoindre les anges, dont elle portait si bien le nom. Victoria de Los Angeles s’est éteinte samedi 15 janvier, à l’âge de 81 ans, à la clinique Teknon de Barcelone, où elle avait été hospitalisée, à la suite de troubles cardio-pulmonaires, le 31 décembre 2004. Née le 1er novembre 1923 dans la capitale catalane, Victoria Gómez Cima (ou Garcia Lopez), dite Victoria de Los Angeles, avait grandi dans une Espagne meurtrie par les guerres. La fille du concierge de l’université, qui travaillait sa voix dans les salles de cours vides, avait conquis le monde de l’opéra dès 1947 en remportant le grand Concours international de Genève, qui lui valut de débuter l’année suivante à la BBC dans le rôle de Salud de La Vie brève de De Falla. »

15 Jan 2005

Victoria de los Ángeles Has Died

Barcelona.—La decana de los cantantes líricos españoles, Victoria dels Ángeles, ha fallecido hoy a los 81 años en la Clínica Teknon de Barcelona, donde se encontraba ingresada desde el 30 de diciembre como consecuencia de una afección respiratoria. La familia de la soprano ha comunicado que la capilla ardiente se instalará mañana en el Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, entre las 12.00 y las 19.00 horas. El funeral de la cantante, nacida en Barcelona el 1 de noviembre de 1923, tendrá lugar en la Basílica de Santa María del Mar, el lunes a las 11.00 horas. »