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Elsewhere

No Time in Eternity: Iestyn Davies discusses Purcell and Nyman

Revolution, repetition, rhetoric. On my way to meet countertenor Iestyn Davies, I ponder if these are the elements that might form connecting threads between the music of Henry Purcell and Michael Nyman, whose works will be brought together later this month when Davies joins the viol consort Fretwork for a thought-provoking recital at Milton Court Concert Hall.

Aïda in Seattle: don’t mention the war!

When Francesca Zambello presented Aïda at her own Glimmerglass Opera in 2012, her staging was, as they say, “ripped from today’s headlines.” Fighter planes strafed the Egyptian headquarters as the curtain rose, water-boarding was the favored form of interrogation, Radames was executed by lethal injection.

Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2018 opens with Annilese Miskimmon's Madama Butterfly

As the bells rang with romance from the tower of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, the rolling downs of Sussex - which had just acquired a new Duke - echoed with the strains of a rather more bitter-sweet cross-cultural love affair. Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s 2018 season opened with Annilese Miskimmon’s production of Madama Butterfly, first seen during the 2016 Glyndebourne tour and now making its first visit to the main house.

Remembering Debussy

This concert might have been re-titled Remembrance of Musical Times Past: the time, that is, when French song, nurtured in the Proustian Parisian salons, began to gain a foothold in public concert halls. But, the madeleine didn’t quite work its magic on this occasion.

Garsington's Douglas Boyd on Strauss and Skating Rinks

‘On August 3, 1941, the day that Capriccio was finished, 682 Jews were killed in Chernovtsy, Romania; 1,500 in Jelgava, Latvia; and several hundred in Stanisławów, Ukraine. On October 28, 1942, the day of the opera’s premiere in Munich, the first convoy of Jews from Theresienstadt arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and 90 percent of them went to the gas chamber.’

A chiaroscuro Orfeo from Iestyn Davies and La Nuova Musica

‘I sought to restrict the music to its true purpose of serving to give expression to the poetry and to strengthen the dramatic situations, without interrupting the action or hampering it with unnecessary and superfluous ornamentations. […] I believed further that I should devote my greatest effort to seeking to achieve a noble simplicity; and I have avoided parading difficulties at the expense of clarity.’

Lessons in Love and Violence: powerful musical utterances but perplexing dramatic motivations

‘What a thrill -/ My thumb instead of an onion. The top quite gone/ Except for a sort of hinge/ Of skin,/ A flap like a hat,/ Dead white. Then that red plush.’ Those who imagined that Sylvia Plath (‘Cut’, 1962) had achieved unassailable aesthetic peaks in fusing pain - mental and physical - with beauty, might think again after seeing and hearing this, the third, collaboration between composer George Benjamin and dramatist/librettist Martin Crimp: Lessons in Love and Violence.

Grands motets de Lalande

Majesté, a new recording by Le Poème Harmonique, led by Vincent Dumestre, of music by Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726) new from Alpha Classics. Le Poème Harmonique are regular visitors to London, appreciated for the variety of their programes. On Friday this week, (11/5) they'll be at St John's Smith Square as part of the London Festival of Baroque, with a programme titled "At the World's Courts".

Perpetual Night - Early English Baroque, Ensemble Correspondances

New from Harmonia Mundi, Perpetual Night. a superb recording of ayres and songs from the 17th century, by Ensemble Correspondances with Sébastien Daucé and Lucile Richardot. Ensemble Correspondances are among the foremost exponents of the music of Versailles and the French royalty, so it's good to hear them turn to the music of the Stuart court.

Les Salons de Pauline Viardot: Sabine Devieilhe at Wigmore Hall

Always in demand on French and international stages, the French soprano Sabine Devieihle is, fortunately, becoming an increasingly frequent visitor to these shores. Her first appearance at Wigmore Hall was last month’s performance of works by Handel with Emmanuelle Haïm’s Le Concert d’Astrée. This lunchtime recital, reflecting the meetings of music and minds which took place at Parisian salon of the nineteenth-century mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot (1821-1910), was her solo debut at the venue.

Jesus Christ Superstar at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago is now featuring as its spring musical Jesus Christ Superstar with music and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The production originated with the Regent’s Park Theatre, London with additional scenery by Bay Productions, U.K. and Commercial Silk International.

Persephone glows with life in Seattle

As a figure in the history of 20th century art, few deserve to be closer to center stage than Ida Rubenbstein. Without her talent, determination, and vast wealth, Ravel’s Boléro, Debussy’s Martyrdom of St. Sebastien, Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake, and Stravinsky’s Perséphone would not exist.

La concordia de’ pianeti: Imperial flattery set to Baroque splendor in Amsterdam

One trusts the banquet following the world premiere of La concordia de’ pianeti proffered some spicy flavors, because Pietro Pariati’s text is so cloying it causes violent stomach-churning. In contrast, Antonio Caldara’s music sparkles and dances like a blaze of crystal chandeliers.

Kathleen Ferrier Awards Final 2018

The 63rd Competition for the Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2018 was an unusually ‘home-grown’ affair. Last year’s Final had brought together singers from the UK, the Commonwealth, Europe, the US and beyond, but the six young singers assembled at Wigmore Hall on Friday evening all originated from the UK.

Affecting and Effective Traviata in San Jose

Opera San Jose capped its consistently enjoyable, artistically accomplished 2017-2018 season with a dramatically thoughtful, musically sound rendition of Verdi’s immortal La traviata.

Brahms Liederabend

At his best, Matthias Goerne does serious (ernst) at least as well as anyone else. He may not be everyone’s first choice as Papageno, although what he brings to the role is compelling indeed, quite different from the blithe clowning of some, arguably much closer to its fundamental sadness. (Is that not, after all, what clowns are about?) Yet, individual taste aside, whom would one choose before him to sing Brahms, let alone the Four Serious Songs?

Angel Blue in La Traviata

One of the most beloved operas of all time, Verdi’s “ La Traviata” has never lost its enduring appeal as a tragic tale of love and loss, as potent today as it was during its Venice premiere in 1853.

Matthias Goerne and Seong-Jin Cho at Wigmore Hall

Is it possible, I wonder, to have too much of a ‘good thing’? Baritone Matthias Goerne can spin an extended vocal line and float a lyrical pianissimo with an unrivalled beauty that astonishes no matter how many times one hears and admires the evenness of line, the controlled legato, the tenderness of tone.

Maria Callas: Tosca 1964: A film by Holger Preusse

When I reviewed Tosca at Covent Garden in January this year for Opera Today, Maria Callas’s 1964 Royal Opera House performance was still fresh in my mind. This is a recording I have grown up with and which, despite its flaws, is one of the greatest operatic statements - a glorious production which Zeffirelli finally agreed to staging, etched in gothic black and white film (albeit just Act II), with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi, if not always as vocally commanding as they once were, acting out their roles like no one has before, or since.

Philip Venables: 4.48 Psychosis

Madness - or perhaps, more widely, insanity - in opera goes back centuries. In Handel’s Orlando (1733) it’s the dimension of a character’s jealousy and betrayal that drives him to the state of delusion and madness. Mozart, in Idomeneo, treats Electra’s descent into mania in a more hostile and despairing way. Foucault would probably define these episodic operatic breakdowns as “melancholic”, ones in which the characters are powerless rather than driven by acts of personal violence or suicide.


OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

Nadine Sierra as Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo. Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
24 Apr 2018

Soprano Nadine Sierra Wins the 2018 Beverly Sills Artist Award

Soprano Nadine Sierra has been named the winner of the 13 th annual Beverly Sills Artist Award for young singers at the Metropolitan Opera.  »

Recently in Commentary

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26 Mar 2005

The Independent Interviews Angela Gheorghiu

“If Puccini were alive today, I’d be in love with him. I am sure of it. He knew how to write for sopranos: he really loved them,” says Angela Gheorghiu. And this soprano knows Puccini’s heroines well, having most of them in her repertoire or in her plans. On her latest CD, a handsomely packaged set from EMI, she steps into the shoes of all his major soprano characters, with the exception of the adulterous Giorgetta in Puccini’s most impressionistic score, Il Tabarro. »

25 Mar 2005

An Interview with Peter Schreier

“200 oder 300” Matthäus-Passionen hat Peter Schreier (69) schon hinter sich, als Sänger, seit den 80er-Jahren in der Doppelfunktion als dirigierender Evangelist. So auch an diesem Karfreitag im Gasteig, wenn er das Opus mit dem Münchener Bach-Chor aufführt (14.30 Uhr, Live-Übertragung auf Bayern 4). Und damit wohl zum letzten Mal hier zu hören sein wird: Zum Jahresende will Schreier, einer der größten Bach-, Mozart- und Schubert-Interpreten unserer Zeit, seine Gesangskarriere beenden. »

24 Mar 2005

Operatic Detritus

In an introduction to the score for his “Darkbloom: Overture for an Imagined Opera,” which will have its premiere with the Boston Symphony Orchestra tonight, John Harbison calls the piece the remnant of a misguided project, an “unproduceable” opera based on a “famous and infamous” American novel. »

21 Mar 2005

James Levine on Opera in Concert

CAMBRIDGE—James Levine doesn’t like pushy producers and stage directors any more than most opera lovers do. In a panel discussion at Harvard last Monday centered on the BSO’s recent performances of Wagner’s ‘’The Flying Dutchman,” the music director spoke about the advantages of opera in concert. »

20 Mar 2005

The Opera That Changed a Career

He was the toast of the new Russian Communist regime, a young composer who had captivated audiences under the banner of the emerging cultural revolution. But in 1936, Dmitry Shostakovich’s reputation plummeted after Stalin attended his immensely popular opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsenk, at the Bolshoi Theater. »

05 Mar 2005

Celebrating Lorin Maazel

Wien ist zwar Stätte vieler seiner künstlerischen Triumphe – und doch auch des vielleicht bitters ten Wermutstropfens in einer formidablen Karriere: Lorin Maazel, der am Sonntag 75 Jahre alt wird, war einer der kürzestdienenden Direktoren der Staatsoper, kapitulierte nach nur zwei Spielzeiten, weil die Angriffe gegen ihn unerträglich geworden waren und die Kulturpolitik, verbündet mit den Angreifern, versagte. Immerhin: Das so genannte “Blocksystem”, eine Spielplangestaltung in “kleinen Serien”, wie sie der Nachfolger Maazels dann nannte, gab zwar den Ausschlag für eine Kampagne gegen den dirigierenden Direktor, doch pflegt die Staatsoper es bis heute. »

04 Mar 2005

A Profile of Brenda Harris

Singing offbeat, nontraditional roles can be a path to oblivion for an opera singer. For Brenda Harris, that road has led to fame, fortune and as much work as she can handle. It also means that Harris often is learning new roles. »

03 Mar 2005

Mozart? Maybe Not.

01. März 2005 Ein Rokokoherr mittleren Alters, Frack, Spitzenjabot, gepudertes Haar – könnte das nicht Mozart sein? Niemand weiß, wie der Komponist wirklich ausgesehen hat. So galt es denn als „Weltsensation”, als die Berliner Gemäldegalerie ihren bisherigen „Herrn im grünen Frack” vor wenigen Wochen aufgrund einer computergestützten Analyse des Musikliebhabers Wolfgang Seiller als neu entdecktes Mozart-Porträt präsentierte. Gemalt hatte es der seinerzeit renommierte Münchner Porträtist Johann Georg Edlinger „vor 1790”, was aber nun auf „um 1790” umfunktioniert wurde. »

02 Mar 2005

James Levine and the 21st Century

We’re undeniably in the era of James Levine. The Cincinnati-born, 61-year-old conductor is right now art music’s Great Enabler. As music director of the Metropolitan Opera for nearly the last 30 years and in the home stretch of his first season as chief conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, his potential for goosing the possibilities of 21st-century classical music performance is unique. »

26 Feb 2005

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau at Berlin Cathedral's 100 Year Jubilee

Der Berliner Bariton Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau gehörte über Jahrzehnte hinweg zu den weltweit gefeierten Liedsängern. Der fast 80jährige ist nach wie vor als Dirigent, Maler, Buchautor, Ehrengast aktiv – und wird heute im Konzert des Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchesters Berlin zum 100jährigen Jubiläum des Berliner Doms als Sprecher auftreten. Volker Blech sprach mit Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. »

26 Feb 2005

Nikolaus Harnoncourt at Zurich Opera

It is the day before the opening night. Zurich is agog for the new production of Monteverdi’s opera L’incoronazione di Poppea, but there is a snag. The Poppea has gone sick. A new one has had to be flown in from Frankfurt, and in only a matter of hours has had to be acclimatised to the radical staging and familiarised with the edition of the score that Zurich Opera is using. »

23 Feb 2005

Die Welt Interviews Rolando Villazón

Der 32-jährige Mexikaner Rolando Villazón hat sich in seinen wenigen Karrierejahren bereits als eine der größten Tenor-Hoffnungen erwiesen. Ein Interview mit dem nie stillsitzenden Lockenkopf ist wie eine Bühnenvorstellung. Manuel Brug hat es erfahren. »

18 Feb 2005

A Star Is Born

Phumzile Sojola got the call less than 36 hours before the concert. University of Kentucky alum Gregory Turay, who was set to be the featured soloist on the Lexington Philharmonic’s Feb. 4 concert, was sick and might not be able to sing. The orchestra needed a tenor in the wings. OK, Sojola thought. He knew the scheduled arias. »

18 Feb 2005

Le Figaro Profiles Valery Gergiev

Pas facile à coincer, Valery Gergiev. Le chef russe le plus charismatique de sa génération a voué sa vie au Kirov de Saint-Pétersbourg, dont il a fait l’un des théâtres lyriques les plus recherchés du monde. Mais il anime aussi trois festivals : les Nuits blanches de Saint-Pétersbourg, le Festival de Pâques de Moscou et celui de Mikkeli en Finlande. N’oublions pas non plus qu’il est directeur musical de l’Orchestre philharmonique de Rotterdam, premier chef invité du Metropolitan Opera de New York, et l’un des maestros préférés du Philharmonique de Vienne, qu’il dirige tant au Musikverein qu’au Festival de Salzbourg et en tournée. Avec un tel calendrier, guère de place pour des invitations à droite et à gauche, et s’il a fait récemment ses débuts aux «Proms» de Londres avec l’Orchestre symphonique de la BBC, c’était une exception dont on se demande si elle va se généraliser, donnant un nouveau tour à une carrière jusqu’ici focalisée sur quatre orchestres. »

17 Feb 2005

Marcello Viotti Has Died

BERLIN – Marcello Viotti, the music director of Venice’s famed La Fenice Theater who also conducted at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and other leading houses, died at a German hospital after falling into a coma. He was 50. Viotti died Wednesday night after being in a coma for several days at a clinic in Munich, Germany, his agent, Paul Steinhauser, said by telephone from Vienna, Austria. »

15 Feb 2005

L'Express Interviews Natalie Dessay

Il y a un miracle Natalie Dessay. Sa Reine de la Nuit (dans La Flûte enchantée, de Mozart) ou son Olympia (des Contes d’Hoffmann, d’Offenbach), irrésistibles de présence et de drôlerie, ont déjà marqué l’histoire de l’opéra. On se régale de sa présence sur scène, de son tempérament explosif, on admire sa voix de soprano léger à la virtuosité sans limites, et on respecte la femme, diva humble et sincère. On aime Natalie, on croit la connaître, mais elle reste un mystère. Après une saison triomphale, couronnée par un enregistrement (Amor, consacré à la musique de Richard Strauss, chez Virgin Classics) et une victoire de la musique, soudain, patatras! Comme il y a deux ans, une opération des cordes vocales oblige la chanteuse à annuler des représentations. Le doute et la peur viennent ébranler ce petit bout de femme d’ordinaire débordant d’énergie. Pourquoi? Natalie Dessay s’en explique ici »

11 Feb 2005

A Profile of Rolando Villazon

Rolando Villazon has the opera world on a string. The young Mexican tenor has just completed a fairy tale year, with acclaimed debuts at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden in London and the Staatsoper in Berlin. He released his first CD, a collection of Italian arias; several critics ranked it among the best classical recordings of 2004. And his face graced the covers of a number of opera periodicals. »

09 Feb 2005

Il Gazzettino Interviews Claudio Scimone

Maestro Scimone, cosa rappresenta per lei questo riconoscimento del consiglio regionale che la indica come come ambasciatore della cultura veneta nel mondo? «In un primo momento, oltre che commosso, sono rimasto anche un po’ stupito soprattutto considerando il libro d’oro molto ristretto di questo premio, assegnato sinora solo a un Patriarca di Venezia e a un eroe. Poi ho pensato che il significato di questa scelta del consiglio regionale è il riconoscere come sia importante per la nostra regione l’arte e la cultura che sono l’elemento di identificazione più importante del Veneto». »

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. »