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Probing Bernstein and MacMillan double bill in Amsterdam

The Opera Forward Festival (OFF) in Amsterdam is about new things: new compositions, rediscovered works and new faces. This year’s program included a double bill produced by Dutch National Opera’s talent development wing. Leonard Bernstein’s portrait of a miserable marriage in affluent suburbia, Trouble in Tahiti, was the contrasting companion piece to James McMillan’s Clemency, a study of the sinister side of religious belief.

Macbeth in Lyon

A revival of the Opéra de Lyon’s 2012 Occupy Wall St. production of Verdi’s 1865 Macbeth, transforming naive commentary into strange irony, some high art included.

An Interview with Soprano Lisette Oropesa

Lisette Oropesa sings Eurydice in Los Angeles Opera’s French version of Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice that can currently be seen at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Barber of Seville Is Fun in Tucson

On March 4, 2018, Arizona Opera presented Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in Tucson. Allen Moyer designed the bright and happy scenery for performances at Minnesota Opera,

Moody, Mysterious Morel

Long Beach Opera often takes willing audiences on an unexpected journey and such is undeniably the case with its fascinating traversal of The Invention of Morel.

Acis and Galatea: 2018 London Handel Festival

Katie Hawks makes quite a claim for Handel’s Acis and Galatea when, in her programme article, she describes it as the composer’s ‘most perfect work’. Surely, one might feel, this is a somewhat hyperbolic evaluation of a 90-minute pastoral masque, or serenade, based on an episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which has its origins in a private entertainment?

Oriana, Fairest Queen: Stile Antico celebrate the life and times of Elizabeth I

Stile Antico’s lunchtime play-list, celebrating the Virgin Queen’s long reign, shuffled between sacred and secular works, from penitential to patriotic, from sensual to celebratory.

Daniel Kramer's new La traviata at English National Opera

Verdi's La traviata is one of those opera which every opera company needs to have in its repertoire, and productions need to balance intelligent exploration of the issues raised by the work with the need to reach as wide an audience as possible with an opera which is likely to attract audience members who are not regular opera-goers.

Haydn's Applausus: The Mozartists at Cadogan Hall

Continuing their MOZART 250 series, The Mozartists/ Classical Opera began dipping into the operatic offerings of 1768 at Wigmore Hall in January, when they presented numbers from Mozart’s La finta semplice, Jommelli’s Fetonte, Hasse’s Pirano e Tisbe and Haydn’s Lo speziale.

Schubert Schwanengesang revisited—Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

Schwanengesang isn't Schubert's Swan Song any more than it is a cycle like Die schöne Müllerin or Winterreise. The title was given it by his publishers Haslingers, after his death, combining settings of two very different poets, Ludwig Rellstab and Heinrich Heine. Wigmore Hall audiences have heard lots of good Schwanengesangs, including Boesch and Martineau performances in the past, but this was something special.

Rinaldo: The English Concert at the Barbican Hall

“After such cruel events, I don’t know if I am dreaming or awake.” So says Almirena, daughter of the Crusader Goffredo, when she is rescued by her beloved warrior-hero, Rinaldo, from the clutches of the evil sorceress, Armida.

Hamlet abridged and enriched in Amsterdam

French grand opera and small opera companies are an unlikely combination. Yet OPERA2DAY, a company of modest means, is currently touring the Netherlands with Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas.

Opera in Amsterdam in 2018-2019

The operatic tradition is not as old in the Netherlands as in other European countries, yet opera is a vital part of the Dutch classical landscape. Both Dutch National Opera & Ballet and the Concertgebouw are in Amsterdam, so the capital gets the lion’s share of the opera on offer.

Lyric Opera of Chicago to Premiere Fellow Travelers—A Preview

On 17 March 2018 Lyric Opera of Chicago will premiere the 2016 opera Fellow Travelers by Gregory Spears (with a libretto by Greg Pierce, based on the novel by Thomas Mallon. Mallon’s 2007 novel offered fresh perspectives on the paranoiac investigations of McCarthy-era Washington, DC, through the lens of a gay relationship.

The ROH's first production of From the House of the Dead

Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production for the ROH of From the House of the Dead is ‘new’ in several regards. It’s (astonishingly) the first time that Janáček’s last opera has been staged at Covent Garden; it’s Warlikowski’s debut at Covent Garden; and the production uses a new 2017 critical edition prepared by John Tyrrell.

Così fan tutte at Lyric Opera of Chicago

With artifice, disguise, and questions on fidelity as the basis of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, the composer’s mature opera has returned to the stage at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

WNO's Wheel of Destiny rolls into Birmingham

Welsh National Opera’s wheel of destiny has rolled into Birmingham this week, with Verdi’s sprawling tragedy, La forza del destino, opening the company’s ‘Rabble Rousing’ triptych at the Hippodrome.

A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal College of Music

The gossamer web of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is sufficiently insubstantial and ambiguous to embrace multiple interpretative readings: the play can be a charming comic caper, a jangling journey through human pettiness and cruelty, a moonlit fairy fantasy or a shadowy erotic nightmare, and much more besides.

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV recreated at Versailles

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV, with Ensemble Pygmalion, conducted by Raphaël Pichon now on DVD/Blu -ray from Harmonia Mundi. This captures the historic performance at the Chapelle Royale de Versailles in November 2015, on the 300th anniversary of the King's death.

Robert Carsen's A Midsummer Night's Dream returns to ENO

Having given us Christopher Alden's strangely dystopic production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2011, English National Opera (ENO) has opted for Robert Carsen's bed-inspired vision for the latest revival of the opera at the London Coliseum.



Lisette Oropesa [Photo © Jason Homa]
21 Mar 2018

An Interview with Soprano Lisette Oropesa

Lisette Oropesa sings Eurydice in Los Angeles Opera’s French version of Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice that can currently be seen at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  »

Recently in Commentary

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17 Apr 2012

Chinese Conductor to Lead Italian Opera

The Chinese conductor and pianist Xu Zhong will be the new artistic director of an Italian opera house, the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania.  »

17 Apr 2012

Mishap at the Musikfreunde

Tenor Johan Botha had just started carving his steak when his phone rang. A director of Vienna’s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde was on the line with an emergency request.  »

12 Apr 2012

International HD Broadcast of Rigoletto by Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House started doing opera and ballet broadcasts before many other houses, and is now expanding its schedule. On April 17th, Verdi’s Rigoletto is being streamed live in over 600 cinemas in 21 countries.  »

31 Mar 2012

Gerald Barry: The Importance of Being Earnest

Irish composer Gerald Barry’s opera The Importance of Being Earnest premieres at the Barbican, London on April 26th. It is a joint commission between the Barbican and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  »

24 Mar 2012

Royal Opera House 2012-13 season

“Opera is an emotional fitness centre”, says Kasper Holten, new Director of Opera, announcing the Royal Opera House 2012-13 season which mixes daring with prudence. »

19 Mar 2012

Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals Concert

A major part of the rejuvenation of opera in the 21st century is the cultivation of young singers.  »

09 Mar 2012

The Los Angeles Opera — A Cultural Icon in Downtown LA

Los Angeles is often identified as “tinsel town,” a cultural wasteland. The city has long been considered as artistically irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially with the arrival of the Los Angeles Opera in 1984. »

29 Feb 2012

Gran Teatre del Liceu Reverses Course

Barcelona’s opera, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, has reversed course and restored cuts in the current season made earlier this month.  »

27 Feb 2012

The Opera House that Almost Wasn’t — Le Palais Garnier in Paris

One of the main performing arts venues for opera, ballet and modern dance is Le Palais Garnier in Paris.  »

26 Feb 2012

Bryan Hymel, Rusalka’s Prince

New Orleans native Bryan Hymel is singing the role of The Prince in Antonin Dvořák's Rusalka at the Royal Opera House, London. »

21 Feb 2012

Victoires de la Musique Classique 2012

Last night’s French classical music awards show, the Victoires de la Musique Classique 2012, awarded the “Best Composer of the Year” honors to Philippe Manoury, 59, for his opera, “La Nuit de Gutenberg” (“The Night of Gutenberg”).  »

21 Feb 2012

Natalie Dessay to go on sabbatical

French soprano star Natalie Dessay has announced that she is taking a sabbatical from opera during 2015. She is unhappy with her current work at the Paris Opera, a production of Massenet’s opera “Manon,” and had conflicts with the stage director, French filmmaker Coline Serreau.  »

20 Feb 2012

The Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition: Showcase Concert

Inaugurated in 1995, the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition is a triennial competition, held in the National Concert Hall in Dublin, which takes place over a week in January.  »

17 Feb 2012

Don Pasquale at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées

Critics. Can you get along without us? It is possible to reflect on this when the production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale is shown on television tonight. »

15 Feb 2012

Carmela Remigio as Donna Anna and Donna Elvira

Carmela Remigio is a Mozart specialist, having created Donna Elvira, Donna Anna, The Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Susana, Ilia, Ellettra, Vitellia, Pamina and Fiordigli. She speaks to Mark Berry about her latest Donna Anna at the Royal Opera House. »

13 Feb 2012

Added Drama for Wagner

It might have reminded some in the audience of the finale of Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung.” Saturday evening, during the finale of that same composer’s “Das Rheingold” at the Staatstheater in the German city of Darmstadt when a large section of the scene fell and shattered on stage. »

10 Feb 2012

Opera in Florence Has a New Home

Who says Italian opera is in the doldrums? Contrary to all the recent budget bad news from the country that invented the form, the dramatic new 150 million Euro ($200 million) opera house in Florence projects another view.  »

09 Feb 2012

Another Tenor Drops Down?

In today’s edition of the Viennese newspaper, “Die Presse” a reviewer gushes over Roberto Alagna’s recital yesterday evening at the Vienna State Opera.  »

08 Feb 2012

Lawrence Foster Named Music Director of Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille

February 8, 2012. Los Angeles born conductor Lawrence Foster, the music director of the orchestra and the Opéra National in the French city of Montpellier from September 2009 to the end of this season, has signed on for a similar post with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille starting September 1 of this year. »

07 Feb 2012

Nicola Luisotti Named Music Director of Teatro di San Carlo

February 7, 2012. Italian conductor Nicola Luisotti, the popular music director of the San Francisco Opera, has been appointed to the same position at the historic Teatro di San Carlo in Naples.  »

04 Feb 2012

Chad Shelton Comes to the Rescue

February 4, 2012. A few days before the opening of the production of Verdi’s “La Traviata” at the Houston Grand Opera, tenor David Lomeli, playing Alfredo, took ill.  »

04 Feb 2012

San Francisco Opera — Bad News Tempered by Good

February 4, 2012. With a budget of $71 million dollars, the San Francisco Opera announced a deficit for the FY 2011 year. But the numbers, in the Opera’s press release, contain some good news to offset the negative bottom line.  »

03 Feb 2012

An Aria of Lincoln Center — The Metropolitan Opera

To the dismay of New York opera fans, the original Metropolitan Opera House, located at Broadway and 39th Street, was to be torn down and replaced by a new hall a mere 30 blocks away. »

02 Feb 2012

Barcelona’s Liceo Opera in Financial Crisis

Confronting a financial shortfall, the Gran Theatro del Liceo in Barcelona has announced a reduction in performances this season with two scheduled operas cancelled.  »

02 Feb 2012

Bayreuth Festspielhaus

In an interview, Katharina Wagner, 33, granddaughter of the composer and co-director of the Richard Wagner Bayreuth Festival, spoke of the declining state of the legendary Festival House on the “Green Hill” at Bayreuth.  »

01 Feb 2012

The Smola Prize

A Swiss soprano and an Australian baritone shared the 20,000 Euro Emmerich Smola Prize awarded on Monday.  »

31 Jan 2012

Angela Meade Wins Beverly Sills Artist Award

The seventh annual Beverly Sills Artist Award, carrying with it a $50,000 prize, was awarded to American soprano Angela Meade.  »

31 Jan 2012

Vienna State Opera Keeps It’s Team

Jan. 31, 2012. The recent announcement of the extension of the contract for Dominique Meyer, the General Director of the Vienna State Opera was a firm endorsement of his leadership by the Austrian government. Meyer, 57, the first French person to hold the office, will continue now through August 31, 2020. »

25 Jan 2012

Interview with Lise Lindstrom — An Intelligent Soprano’s Guide to Turandot and Salome

Lise Lindstrom, who made a notable splash in the opera world (debuts at La Scala and at the Met) with her portrayals of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot, has recently undertaken the still more demanding role of Salome.  »

30 Dec 2011

Vivica Genaux — An Interview

I spoke with Vivica Genaux in December 2011, when she stopped in New York at the end of one of her concert tours.  »

28 Dec 2011

The English Oratorio: A Celebration (Barbican Hall, London)

When we think of the ‘English oratorio’, the composer whose name most readily comes to mind is George Frideric Handel, the ‘adopted’ Englishman who in the first half of the eighteenth-century both anticipated and dictated English musical and theatrical taste.  »

27 Nov 2011

Piotr Beczala

Piotr Beczala, the Polish lyric tenor, stars in the current La Traviata at the Royal Opera House, London.  »

12 Oct 2011

Ten Years of Celebrating Song: Oxford Lieder Festival 2011

In just ten years, the Oxford Lieder Festival has become Britain’s most important Lieder festival, with an international following.  »

05 Oct 2011

Wes Blomster 1929-2011

It is with great sadness to report that Wes Blomster has passed on.  »

03 Oct 2011

The Inaugural Cambridge Handel Festival: a rosy dawn?

The haughty beauties that are the ancient colleges of Cambridge were definitely feeling the heat this past weekend, and not even the cooling streams of the Cam and its tributaries could assuage the heat of an Indian summer in the Fens of Eastern England.  »

12 Jul 2011

Raffaele Cardone, Miami Lyric Opera

Remember when opera was all the rage? Remember when you could walk across to any town and experience a whole different opera scene, a different opera house, different orchestras and singers?  »

12 Jul 2011

“Opera is like a tree” — ZhengZhong Zhou

In Gounod’s Faust at the Royal Opera House in October 2011, Zhengzhong Zhou is alternating with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the part of Valentin. Alternating, not covering or substituting. Since Zhou is very young, it’s quite a challenge. »

30 Jun 2011

Luca Pisaroni sings Handel at Glyndebourne

Luca Pisaroni is one of one the more exciting young bass-baritones of his generation. In July 2011, he sings Argante in the first ever Handel Rinaldo at the Glyndebourne Festival. »

27 Jun 2011

Madama Butterfly by Caurier and Leiser

Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser’s Madama Butterfly is such a classic that it is being filmed for the second time at the Royal Opera House, London.  »

22 Jun 2011

Will Crutchfield: Interview with the Director of Opera for the Caramoor Festival

Will Crutchfield made his name as a writer and musicologist in the mid-1980s, becoming the youngest music critic in the history of The New York Times.  »

17 Jun 2011

Jeremy White and the British character singer tradition

Divas make headlines, but character singers are fundamental to the British opera tradition. “Character singing,” says Jeremy White, one of the stalwarts of the Royal Opera House, “is much more than just voice.” »

16 Jun 2011

Jane Henschel — An Interview

Since her first significant and highly acclaimed debut as a guest artist with the Netherlands Opera in 1992, in the taxing role of the Nurse in Richard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, American mezzo-soprano Jane Henschel has triumphed in opera houses across the world, marvelling international audiences with her musical versatility, vocal strength and striking stage presence. »

14 Jun 2011

New directions at the Royal Opera House

John Fulljames has been appointed Associate Director for Opera at the Royal Opera House.  »

10 Jun 2011

Luke Bedford’s Seven Angels

There has been much eager anticipation for Luke Bedford’s opera Seven Angels.  »

31 May 2011

Handel – True or False?

“Germanico del sig. Hendl”. Since 1929 the printed catalogue of the Conservatorio Cherubini in Florence (section “Opere teatrali”, p. 143) has contained a Handel title not mentioned in any other sources.  »

22 May 2011

Liudmyla Monastyrska — An Interview

Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska certainly knows how to make the most of every opportunity.  »

20 May 2011

A Fond Remembrance of Hildegard Behrens

Hildegard Behrens died in August of 2009. Considered one of the great Wagnerian sopranos of her day, many tributes were pubished acclaiming her virtues and accomplishments on and off stage. Previously unknown information, however, has come to light concerning her personal life that spans from before the flowering of her career and thereafter. This is an informal account of events by Charles Pratt as told to Shirley Hessel. »