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Elsewhere

Desert Island Delights at the RCM: Offenbach's Robinson Crusoe

Britannia waives the rules: The EU Brexit in quotes’. Such was the headline of a BBC News feature on 28th June 2016. And, nearly three years later, those who watch the runaway Brexit-train hurtle ever nearer to the edge of Dover’s white cliffs might be tempted by the thought of leaving this sceptred (sceptic?) isle, for a life overseas.

Akira Nishimura’s Asters: A Major New Japanese Opera

Opened as recently as 1997, the Opera House of the New National Theatre Tokyo (NNTT) is one of the newest such venues among the world’s great capitals, but, with ten productions of opera a year, ranging from baroque to contemporary, this publicly-owned and run theatre seems determined to make an international impact.

The Outcast in Hamburg

It is a “a musicstallation-theater with video” that had its world premiere at the Mannheim Opera in 2012, revived just now in a new version by Vienna’s ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wein for one performance at the Vienna Konzerthaus and one performance in Hamburg’s magnificent Elbphilharmonie (above). Olga Neuwirth’s The Outcast and this rich city are imperfect bedfellows!

Leonard Bernstein: Tristan und Isolde in Munich on Blu-ray

Although Birgit Nilsson, one of the great Isolde’s, wrote with evident fondness – and some wit – of Leonard Bernstein in her autobiography – “unfortunately, he burned the candles at both ends” – their paths rarely crossed musically. There’s a live Fidelio from March 1970, done in Italy, but almost nothing else is preserved on disc.

Monarchs corrupted and tormented: ETO’s Idomeneo and Macbeth at the Hackney Empire

Promises made to placate a foe in the face of imminent crisis are not always the most well-considered and have a way of coming back to bite one - as our current Prime Minister is finding to her cost.

Der Fliegende Holländer and
Tannhäuser in Dresden

To remind you that Wagner’s Dutchman had its premiere in Dresden’s Altes Hoftheater in 1843 and his Tannhauser premiered in this same theater in 1845 (not to forget that Rienzi premiered in this Saxon court theater in 1842).

WNO's The Magic Flute at the Birmingham Hippodrome

A perfect blue sky dotted with perfect white clouds. Identikit men in bowler hats clutching orange umbrellas. Floating cyclists. Ferocious crustaceans.

Puccini’s Messa di Gloria: Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra

This was an oddly fascinating concert - though, I’m afraid, for quite the wrong reasons (though this depends on your point of view). As a vehicle for the sound, and playing, of the London Symphony Orchestra it was a notable triumph - they were not so much luxurious - rather a hedonistic and decadent delight; but as a study into three composers, who wrote so convincingly for opera, and taken somewhat out of their comfort zone, it was not a resounding success.

WNO's Un ballo in maschera at Birmingham's Hippodrome

David Pountney and his design team - Raimund Bauer (sets), Marie-Jeanne Lecca (costumes), Fabrice Kebour (lighting) - have clearly ‘had a ball’ in mounting this Un ballo in maschera, the second part of WNO’s Verdi trilogy and which forms part of a spring season focusing on what Pountney describes as the “profound and mysterious issue of Monarchy”.

Super #Superflute in North Hollywood

Pacific Opera Project’s rollicking new take on The Magic Flute is as much endearing fun as a box full of puppies.

Leading Ladies: Barbara Strozzi and Amiche

I couldn’t help wondering; would a chamber concert of vocal music by female composers of the 17th century be able sustain our concentration for 90 minutes? Wouldn’t most of us be feeling more dutiful than exhilarated by the end?

George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill at Wigmore Hall

This week, the Wigmore Hall presents two concerts from George Benjamin and Frankfurt’s Ensemble Modern, the first ‘at home’ on Wigmore Street, the second moving north to Camden’s Roundhouse. For the first, we heard Benjamin’s now classic first opera, Into the Little Hill, prefaced by three ensemble works by Cathy Milliken, Christian Mason, and, for the evening’s spot of ‘early music’, Luigi Dallapiccola.

Marianne Crebassa sings Berio and Ravel: Philharmonia Orchestra with Salonen

It was once said of Cathy Berberian, the muse for whom Luciano Berio wrote his Folk Songs, that her voice had such range she could sing the roles of both Tristan and Isolde. Much less flatteringly, was my music teacher’s description of her sound as akin to a “chisel being scraped over sandpaper”.

Rossini's Elizabeth I: English Touring Opera start their 2019 spring tour

What was it with Italian bel canto and the Elizabethan age? The era’s beautiful, doomed queens and swash-buckling courtiers seem to have held a strange fascination for nineteenth-century Italians.

Chameleonic new opera featuring Caruso in Amsterdam

Micha Hamel’s new opera, Caruso a Cuba, is constantly on the move. The chameleonic score takes on a myriad flavours, all with a strong sense of mood or place.

Ernst Krenek: Karl V, Bayerisches Staatsoper

Ernst Krenek’s Karl V op 73 at the Bayerisches Staatsoper, with Bo Skovhus, conducted by Erik Nielsen, in a performance that reveals the genius of Krenek’s masterpiece. Contemporary with Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, Berg’s Lulu, and Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, Krenek’s Karl V is a metaphysical drama, exploring psychological territory with the possibilities opened by new musical form.

A Sparkling Merry Widow at ENO

A small, formerly great, kingdom, is on the verge of bankruptcy and desperate to prevent its ‘assets’ from slipping into foreign hands. Sexual and political intrigues are bluntly exposed. The princes and patriarchs are under threat from both the ‘paupers’ and the ‘princesses’, and the two dangers merge in the glamorous figure of the irresistibly wealthy Pontevedrin beauty, Hanna Glawari, a working-class girl who’s married up and made good.

Mozart: Così fan tutte - Royal Opera House

Così fan tutte is, primarily, an ensemble opera and it sinks or swims on the strength of its sextet of singers - and this performance very much swam. In a sense, this is just as well because Jan Phillip Gloger’s staging (revived here by Julia Burbach) is in turns messy, chaotic and often confusing. The tragedy of this Così is that it’s high art clashing with Broadway; a theatre within an opera and a deceit wrapped in a conundrum.

Gavin Higgins' The Monstrous Child: an ROH world premiere

The Royal Opera House’s choice of work for the first new production in the splendidly redesigned Linbury Theatre - not unreasonably, it seems to have lost ‘Studio’ from its name - is, perhaps, a declaration of intent; it may certainly be received as such. Not only is it a new work; it is billed specifically as ‘our first opera for teenage audiences’.

Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the first moments of the recent revival of Sir David McVicar’s production of Elektra by Richard Strauss at Lyric Opera of Chicago the audience is caught in the grip of a rich music-drama, the intensity of which is not resolved, appropriately, until the final, symmetrical chords.


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Commentary

26 Feb 2019

Handel Singing Competition semi-finalists announced

The Handel Singing Competition has announced its 13 semi-finalists who will be competing in the 2019 Competition. The semi-final is due to take place on 5 March at Grosvenor Chapel, and the final is on 6 April at St George’s, Hanover Square - both in front of a live audience. The Competition this year received over 170 applications from all around the world, from 25 countries as far afield as Argentina, Australia, Israel, the United States and Canada. »

Recently in Commentary

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03 Dec 2004

Joan Sutherland Named as 2004 Kennedy Center Honoree

World of opera graced by the true grande dame By T.L. Ponick SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES Published December 3, 2004 Legendary coloratura soprano Joan Sutherland says she was "bowled over" upon learning that she would be a 2004 Kennedy... »

30 Nov 2004

La Diva Renée

The 'Voice' of the Darling Diva By BARBARA JEPSON November 30, 2004 New York For sheer beauty of sound, no soprano today can match Renee Fleming. Her rich, golden-hued voice shines and seduces; she can sustain a long-lined legato passage,... »

30 Nov 2004

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson at NY Philharmonic

Turning Tragedy into Art By Jeannie Williams 29 Nov 2004 An interview with mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, who makes her New York Philharmonic debut this month. "I am drawn to these characters, the juicier the better, and sometimes that means... »

28 Nov 2004

Natalie Dessay Rehabilitating After Another Surgical Procedure

La chanteuse Natalie Dessay s'explique sur ses nombreuses défections LE MONDE | 27.11.04 | 19h06 La soprano colorature a du subir une nouvelle intervention chirurgicale le 17 novembre. Depuis le début de la saison, les nombreuses défections de la soprano... »

28 Nov 2004

Le Figaro Interviews Peter Eötvös on Angels in America

Eötvös : "Je ne cherche plus, je trouve" Après le lyrisme russe revisité dans Trois Soeurs, chef-d'oeuvre unanimement salué, et Le Balcon de Genet ramené du coté de la chanson française, reçu plus froidement, le troisième opéra de Peter Eötvös... »

26 Nov 2004

On Callas Forever

One for the opera buffs: 'Callas Forever' profiles a diva on the downslope Friday, November 26, 2004 By WILLIAM ARNOLD SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER MOVIE CRITIC At first thought, Fanny Ardant would seem all wrong to play opera diva Maria Callas.... »

21 Nov 2004

On Robert Carsen

He's a smooth operator John Allison [Times Online] Robert Carsen may be a showman but his intent is serious FOR more than a decade Robert Carsen has been one of the operatic world's most visible directors, but right now he... »

18 Nov 2004

On Lulu's Portrait

Ascription of Identity: The Bild Motif and the Character of Lulu Silvio José Dos Santos The most controversial aspect of Alban Berg's opera Lulu — and one that has generated considerable criticism — is the composer's conception of the protagonist's... »

18 Nov 2004

The Biting Kiss

"Pardon me, but your teeth are in my neck": Giambattista Marino, Claudio Monteverdi, and the bacio mordace Massimo Ossi Claudio Monteverdi's "Eccomi pronta ai baci" presents an odd pairing of a first-person female voice with a three-voice low male ensemble;... »

16 Nov 2004

Manhattan School of Music to Present Hoiby's A Month in the Country

LEE HOIBY: A Month in the Country Libretto by William Ball after the play by Ivan Turgenev The Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater presents Lee Hoiby's A Month in the Country on Wednesday, December 8 and Friday, December 10... »

12 Nov 2004

Lebrecht on Gelb

How the Met was fixed By Norman Lebrecht / November 11, 2004 The Metropolitan Opera House in New York regards itself, with some justice, as the world's greatest. In America, it has no close competitor: the Met's annual deficit can... »

10 Nov 2004

Haroun and the Sea of Stories at NYC Opera

An American master premieres at City Opera An interview with Charles Wuorinen 10/26/2004 The world premiere of Haroun and the Sea of Stories features an inspired cross-section of artists among the most respected in their disciplines: Salman Rushdie, one of... »

09 Nov 2004

Biographical Note: Angela M. Brown

For a Fill-In Aida, a Triumph Long in Coming By ANNE MIDGETTE [NY Times] Angela M. Brown grew up singing gospel music in her grandfather's Baptist church in Indianapolis, but her father, an autoworker, didn't see that as the makings... »

08 Nov 2004

Appearing at the Met: Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani

Dubious History - Miraculous Music By John Yohalem [Playbill Arts] November 1, 2004 I Vespri Siciliani, a collaboration between Verdi and librettist Eugène Scribe, produced some astounding music--but historical fact was sacrificed to fit the drama. John Yohalem delves into... »

03 Nov 2004

A New Series on the History of Opera

Signifying Nothing: On the Aesthetics of Pure Voice in Early Venetian Opera Mauro Calcagno1 Operas written in Venice in the 1640s feature surprisingly long melismas often setting seemingly insignificant words, in opposition to (although concurrently with) traditional madrigalisms. This magnification... »

03 Nov 2004

Dario Volonté: A Biographical Note

by Miguel A. DeVirgilio Dario Volonté was born on September 1, 1963, in Buenos Aires, although his family came from a humble household some 250 miles north of the capital, Entre Rios. His musical vocation began late after having discovered... »

03 Nov 2004

An Interview with Ewa Podles

Contralto taking on fresh challenge in 'Il Trovatore' By TOM STRINI Journal Sentinel music critic Posted: Nov. 1, 2004 Ewa Podles, a leading international concert and opera contralto, will make her Milwaukee debut Saturday, courtesy of the Florentine Opera. She... »

02 Nov 2004

Peter Gelb and the Met

In today's Wall Street Journal, Heidi Waleson opines on the future of the Met under Peter Gelb's leadership. She maintains that, given his background with Sony, this is a radical choice. Comparing his work at Sony with the Met, she... »

31 Oct 2004

Obstacles to Celebrity

Brownlee lends voice to the subject of race By Richard Dyer, Globe Staff | October 31, 2004 African-American divas have swept triumphantly across the international operatic stage for decades, and in this country Leontyne Price became a household name and... »

28 Oct 2004

Octavio Roca on Carmen

Carmen Forever By Octavio Roca October 19, 2004 Bizet's legendary heroine still inspires artists and opera lovers. The woman is fascinating, no question about it. Little by little, we are still getting to know Carmen. The fascination is strong, and... »

28 Oct 2004

FT on Countertenor Lawrence Zazzo

US countertenor who is a wow in Europe By Francis Carlin Published: October 28 2004 03:00 | Last updated: October 28 2004 03:00 It is always a good sign when you find a singer attending a performance of something else... »

28 Oct 2004

A Tribute to Robert Merrill (1919-2004)

MEMORIES OF ROBERT MERRILL: AMERICAN OPERATIC ICON by James Engdahl, Engdahl Artists International Robert Merrill, born Moishe Miller in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, passed away last Saturday, October 22, 2004, as he watched the first game of the World... »

27 Oct 2004

FT on the Future of Wexford Opera Festival

Wexford's dilemma for future operas By Andrew Clark Published: October 27 2004 03:00 | Last updated: October 27 2004 03:00 When Wexford's opera festival was young and innocent, audiences used to talk of "one for the head, one for the... »

27 Oct 2004

Looking for Wolfgang in All the Wrong Places

Scientists dig up family skeletons Luke Harding in Berlin Wednesday October 27, 2004 The Guardian It has been a mystery for more than a century - is a skull in an Austrian basement really that of arguably the greatest composer... »

22 Oct 2004

The Guardian Profiles René Jacobs

Not so hippy now Since the 1960s, René Jacobs has been a pioneer of the early music movement. Stephen Everson hears how his vision has evolved Friday October 22, 2004 The Guardian Anyone who still thinks "authentic" performances of baroque... »

21 Oct 2004

An Interview with Michael Kaye on Puccini Rediscovered

*New Repertoire Discoveries for Singers: An Interview with Michael Kaye* by Maria Nockin Did you ever wonder why that last Tales of Hoffmann you sang had all those photocopied sheets added in? Or why the version of "Butterfly" you learned... »

17 Oct 2004

The Independent: John Tavener Rejects Orthodox Faith; To Compose Theatric Work Based on Krishna

Top composer Tavener turns to Islam for inspiration The Orthodox faith inspired him for more than 25 years, but after a rift with his spiritual adviser, the composer has rejected its 'tyranny' in a major work based on the Koran.... »

10 Oct 2004

Ópera Actual Interviews Anne Sofie von Otter

El sexo en la ópera no es sólo vulgar: ya nos aburre Fuera de la escena, la mezzo sueca es áspera y poco acogedora. Sus escasas sonrisas son un premio y sus respuestas son rápidas y precisas. Una evidente robustez... »

10 Oct 2004

Daily Telegraph Interviews Pierre Boulez

Mistakes? I've made a few... (Filed: 04/10/2004) Pierre Boulez, the greatest and most uncompromising composer-conductor of our time, is mellowing as he approaches 80. He talks to Ivan Hewett However hard one normally prepares for interviews, there's always the feeling... »

07 Oct 2004

Deborah Voigt withdraws from Vancouver Opera’s production of Der Rosenkavalier

*Deborah Voigt withdraws from Vancouver Opera's production of Der Rosenkavalier* Vancouver, BC ~ American soprano Deborah Voigt, who was to make her role début as the Marschallin in the company's première production of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, has withdrawn from... »

07 Oct 2004

Licia Albanese at the Opening of the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum's Exhibition "Madame Butterfly: From Puccini to Miss Saigon"

Many a tear was shed when soprano Licia Albanese sang. Now she is celebrating her signature work, 'Madama Butterfly.' Allan Ulrich, Special to The Chronicle Monday, October 4, 2004 Was she or wasn't she? Licia Albanese is adamant. "Diva? Hah!... »

06 Oct 2004

Le Figaro Interviews Felicity Lott

Deux reprises, des tournées, un DVD, le prix de la critique : La Belle Hélène par le tandem Minkowski/Pelly fut l’un des plus grands et des plus durables succès du Châtelet. De quoi donner envie de reconduire l’équipe gagnante dans un autre Offenbach : ce sera La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein. Mais à une condition : que la vedette en soit à nouveau Dame Felicity Lott, la plus française des chanteuses britanniques, dont la classe et le naturel s’imposent de l’opérette viennoise à l’opéra-bouffe français, en passant par la nostalgie du Chevalier à la rose ou le désespoir de La Voix humaine. Nous avons rencontré cette femme délicieuse début septembre, juste avant que le spectacle n’inaugure la nouvelle salle de Grenoble, «rodage» précédant les représentations parisiennes. »

01 Oct 2004

Le Monde on Film Makers and Opera

L'opéra au cinéma, entre chic et surprise LE MONDE | 30.09.04 | 14em5 La mise en scène d'opéra est, pour des cinéastes comme Benoît Jacquot, Atom Egoyan, Robert Altman... l'occasion d'expériences exceptionnelles. "Il y a dans l'opéra un truc qui... »

29 Sep 2004

A Profile of Anna Netrebko

In the October 2004 issue of BBC Music magazine, Amanda Holloway writes: The phrase most often used of Anna Netrebko is a 'package': stunning looks, acting ability and a gorgeous, effortless lyric soprano voice. The following is a profile... »

27 Sep 2004

Pavarotti’s forgotten predecessor: Bruno Prevedi

By Jan Neckers The line of Decca-tenors seems to run straight from Del Monaco to Bergonzi to Pavarotti. Granted there are some intrusions by Giuseppe Campora, Giuseppe Di Stefano and Franco Corelli but their names are not widely associated with... »

22 Sep 2004

Joseph Schmidt (1904-2004)

This is not a biography of the Jewish tenor. Just some personal thoughts on a few interesting aspects. Those interested in a biographical article and an outstanding discography better purchase the June 2000 issue of The Record Collector where your servant and Hansfried Sieben devoted more than sixty small print pages to the tenor. Those able to read German can still buy Alfred Fasbind’s biography published at the Schweizer Verlagshaus in Zürich 1992. It is still available in some German bookshops and maybe with the author himself (Rosenbergstrasse 16, 8630 Rüti, Switzerland). »