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Elsewhere

Kaufmann's first Otello: Royal Opera House, London

Out of the blackness, Keith Warner’s new production of Verdi’s Otello explodes into being with a violent gesture of fury. Not the tempest raging in the pit - though Antonio Pappano conjures a terrifying maelstrom from the ROH Orchestra and the enlarged ROH Chorus hurls a blood-curdling battering-ram of sound into the auditorium. Rather, Warner offers a spot-lit emblem of frustrated malice and wrath, as a lone soldier fiercely hurls a Venetian mask to the ground.

Don Carlo in Marseille

First mounted in 2015 at the Opéra National de Bordeaux this splendid Don Carlo production took stage just now at the Opéra de Marseille with a completely different cast and conductor. This Marseille edition achieved an artistic stature rarely found hereabouts, or anywhere.

Diamanda Galás: Savagery and Opulence

Unconventional to the last, Diamanda Galás tore through her Barbican concert on Monday evening with a torrential force that shattered the inertia and passivity of the modern song recital. This was operatic activism, pure and simple. Dressed in metallic, shimmering black she moved rather stately across the stage to her piano - but there was nothing stately about what unfolded during the next 90 minutes.

Schubert Wanderer Songs - Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

A summit reached at the end of a long journey: Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau at the Wigmore Hall, as the two-year Complete Schubert Song series draws to a close. Unmistakably a high point in the whole traverse. A well-planned programme of much-loved songs performed exceptionally well, with less well known repertoire presented with intelligent flourish.

La Bohème in San Francisco

In 2008 it was the electrifying conducting of Nicola Luisotti and the famed Mimì of Angela Gheorghiu, in 2014 it was the riveting portrayals of Michael Fabbiano’s Rodolfo and Alexey Markov’s Marcelo. Now, in 2017, it is the high Italian style of Erika Grimaldi’s Mimì — and just about everything else!

A heart-rending Jenůfa at Grange Park Opera

Katie Mitchell’s 1998 Welsh National Opera production of Janáček’s first mature opera, Jenůfa, is a good choice for Grange Park Opera’s first season at its new home, West Horsley Place. Revived by Robin Tebbutt, Mitchell and designer Vicki Mortimer’s 1930s urban setting emphasises the opera’s lack of sentimentality and subjectivism, and this stark realism is further enhanced by the narrow horseshoe design of architect Wasfi Kani’s ‘Theatre in the Woods’ whose towering walls and narrow width seem to add further to the weight of oppression which constricts the lives of the inhabitants.

Pelléas et Mélisande at Garsington Opera

“I am nearer to the greatest secrets of the next world than I am to the smallest secrets of those eyes!” So despairs Golaud, enflamed by jealousy, suspicious of his mysterious wife Mélisande’s love for his half-brother Pelléas. Michael Boyd’s thought-provoking new production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande at Garsington Opera certainly ponders plentiful secrets: of the conscience, of the subconscious, of the soul. But, with his designer Tom Piper, Boyd brings the opera’s dreams and mysteries into landscapes that are lit, symbolically and figuratively, with precision.

Carmen: The Grange Festival

The Grange Festival, artistic director Michael Chance, has opened at Northington Grange giving everyone a chance to see what changes have arisen from this change of festival at the old location. For our first visit we caught the opening night of Annabel Arden's new production of Bizet's Carmen on Sunday 11 June 2017. Conducted by Jean-Luc Tingaud with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the pit, the cast included Na'ama Goldman as Carmen, Leonardo Capalbo as Don Jose, Shelley Jackson as Micaela and Phillip Rhodes as Escamillo. There were also two extra characters, Aicha Kossoko and Tonderai Munyevu as Commere and Compere. Designs were by Joanna Parker (costume co-designer Ilona Karas) with video by Dick Straker, lighting by Peter Mumford. Thankfully, the opera comique version of the opera was used, with dialogue by Meredith Oakes.

Don Giovanni in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera revved up its 2011 production of Don Giovanni with a new directorial team and a new conductor. And a blue-chip cast.

Dutch National Opera puts on a spellbinding Marian Vespers

A body lies in half-shadow, surrounded by an expectant gathering. Our Father is intoned in Gregorian chant. The solo voices bloom into a chorus with a joyful flourish of brass.

Into the Wood: A Midsummer Night's Dream at Snape Maltings

‘I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where Oxlips and the nodding Violet grows.’ In her new production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Netia Jones takes us deep into the canopied groves of Oberon’s forest, luring us into the nocturnal embrace of the wood with a heady ‘physick’ of disorientating visual charms.

Rigoletto in San Francisco

Every once in a while a warhorse redefines itself. This happened last night in San Francisco when Rigoletto propelled itself into the ranks of the great masterpieces of opera as theater — the likes of Falstaff and Tristan and Rossini’s Otello.

My Fair Lady at Lyric Opera of Chicago

In its spring musical production of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s My Fair Lady Lyric Opera of Chicago has put together an ensemble which does ample justice to the wit and lyrical beauty of the well-known score.

Henze: Elegie für junge Liebende

Hans Werner Henze’s compositions include ten fine symphonies, various large choral and religious works, fourteen ballets (among them one, Undine, that ranks the greatest of modern times), numerous prominent film scores, and hundreds of additional works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, solo instruments or voice. Yet he considered himself, above all, a composer of opera.

Werther at Manitoba Opera

If opera ultimately is about bel canto, then one need not look any further than Manitoba Opera’s company premiere of Massenet’s Werther, its lushly scored portrait of an artist as a young man that also showcased a particularly strong cast of principal artists. Notably, all were also marking their own role debuts, as well as this production being the first Massenet opera staged by organization in its 44-year history.

Seattle: A seamlessly symphonic L’enfant

Seattle Symphony’s “semi-staged” presentation of L’enfant et les sortilèges was my third encounter with Ravel’s 1925 one-act “opera.” It was incomparably the most theatrical, though the least elaborate by far.

Color and Drama in Two Choral Requiems from Post-Napoleonic France

The Requiem text has brought out the best in many composers. Requiem settings by Mozart, Verdi, and Fauré are among the most beloved works among singers and listeners alike, and there are equally wondrous settings by Berlioz and Duruflé, as well as composers from before 1750, notably Jean Gilles.

Der Rosenkavalier: Welsh National Opera in Cardiff

Olivia Fuchs' new production of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier is a co-production between Welsh National Opera and Theater Magdeburg. The production debuted in Magdeburg last year and now Welsh National Opera is presenting the production as part of its Summer season, the company's first Der Rosenkavalier since 1990 (when the cast included Rita Cullis as the Marschallin and Amanda Roocroft making her role debut as Sophie).

Don Giovanni takes to the waves at Investec Opera Holland Park

There’s no reason why Oliver Platt’s imaginative ‘concept’ for this new production of Don Giovanni at Investec Opera Holland Park shouldn’t work very well. Designer Neil Irish has reconstructed a deck of RMS Queen Mary - the Cunard-White Star Line’s flag-ship cruiser during the 1930s, that golden age of trans-Atlantic cruising. Spanning the entire width of the OHP stage, the deck is lined with port-holed cabin doors - perfect hideaways for one of the Don’s hasty romantic dalliances.

"Recreated" Figaro at Garsington delights

After the preceding evening’s presentation of Annilese Miskimmon’s sparkling production of Handel’s Semele - an account of marital infidelity in immortal realms - the second opera of Garsington Opera’s 2017 season brought us down to earth for more mundane disloyalties and deceptions amongst the moneyed aristocracy of the eighteenth-century, as presented by John Cox in his 2005 production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.


OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

Investec Holland Park 2017
22 May 2017

Elizabeth Llewellyn: Investec Opera Holland Park stages Puccini's La Rondine

It’s six or so years ago since soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn appeared as an exciting and highly acclaimed new voice on the UK operatic stage, with critics praising her ‘ravishing account’ (The Stage) of Mozart’s Countess in Investec Opera Holland Park’s 2011 Le nozze di Figaro in which ‘Porgi, amor’ was a ‘highlight of the evening’.  »

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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. »

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. »