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Elsewhere

David McVicar's Rigoletto returns to the ROH

This was a rather disconcerting performance of David McVicar’s 2001 production of Rigoletto. Not only because of the portentous murkiness with which Paule Constable’s lighting shrouds designer Michael Vale’s ramshackle scaffolding; nor, the fact that stage and pit frequently seemed to be tugging in different directions. But also, because some of the cast seemed rather out of sorts.

Verdi Otello, Bergen - Stuart Skelton, Latonia Moore, Lester Lynch

Verdi Otello livestream from Norway with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edward Garner with a superb cast, led by Stuart Skelton, Latonia Moore, and Lester Lynch and a good cast, with four choirs, the Bergen Philharmonic Chorus, the Edvard Grieg Kor, Collegiûm Mûsicûm Kor, the Bergen pikekor and Bergen guttekor (Children’s Choruses) with chorus master Håkon Matti Skrede. The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1765, just a few years after the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra : Scandinavian musical culture has very strong roots, and is thriving still. Tucked away in the far north, Bergen may be a hidden treasure, but, as this performance proved, it's world class.

French orientalism : songs and arias, Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages : visions of the exotic East, a selection of French opera arias and songs from Sabine Devieilhe, with Alexandre Tharaud and Les Siècles conducted by François-Xavier Roth, new from Erato

Temple Winter Festival: the Gesualdo Six

‘Gaudete, gaudete!’ - Rejoice, rejoice! - was certainly the underlying spirit of this lunchtime concert at Temple Church, part of the 5th Temple Winter Festival. Whether it was vigorous joy or peaceful contemplation, the Gesualdo Six communicate a reassuring and affirmative celebration of Christ’s birth in a concert which fused medieval and modern concerns, illuminating surprising affinities.

Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida at the Wigmore Hall

The journey is always the same, and never the same. As Ian Bostridge remarks, at the end of his prize-winning book Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession, when the wanderer asks Der Leiermann, “Will you play your hurdy-gurdy to my songs?”, in the final song of Winterreise, the ‘crazy but logical procedure would be to go right back to the beginning of the whole cycle and start all over again’.

Turandot in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera wrapped up its 95th fall opera season just now with a bang up Turandot. It has been a season of hopeful hints that this venerable company may regain some of its former luster.

Daniel Michieletto's Cav and Pag returns to Covent Garden

It felt rather decadent to be sitting in an opera house at 12pm. Even more so given the passion-fuelled excesses of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, which might seem rather too sensual and savage for mid-day consumption.

Manitoba Opera: Madama Butterfly

Manitoba Opera opened its 45th season with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly proving that the aching heart as expressed through art knows no racial or cultural divide, with the Italian composer’s self-avowed favourite opera still able to spread its poetic wings across time and space since its Milan premiere in 1904.

Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake celebrate 25 years of music-making

In 1992, concert promoter Heinz Liebrecht introduced pianist Julius Drake to tenor Ian Bostridge and an acclaimed, inspiring musical partnership was born. On Wenlock Edge formed part of their first programme, at Holkham Hall in Norfolk; and, so, in this recital at Middle Temple Hall, celebrating their 25 years of music-making, the duo included Vaughan Williams’ Housman settings for tenor, piano and string quartet alongside works with a seventeenth-century origin or flavour.

Girls of the Golden West in San Francisco

Not many (maybe any) of the new operas presented by San Francisco Opera over the past 10 years would lure me to the War Memorial Opera House a second time around. But for Girls of the Golden West just now I would be there again tomorrow night and the next, and I am eagerly awaiting all future productions.

DiDonato is superb in Semiramide at Covent Garden

It’s taken a while for Rossini’s Semiramide to reach the Covent Garden stage. The last of the operas which Rossini composed for Italian theatres between 1810-1823, Semiramide has had only one outing at the Royal Opera House since 1887, and that was a concert version in 1986.

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Philippe Jaroussky and Ensemble Artaserse at the Wigmore Hall

‘His master’s masterpiece, the work of heaven’: ‘a common fountain’ from which flow ‘pure silver drops’. At the risk of effulgent hyperbole, I’d suggest that Antonio’s image of the blessed governance and purifying power of the French court - in the opening scene of Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi - is also a perfect metaphor for the voice of French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, as it slips through Handel’s roulades like a silken ribbon.

La Rondine Takes Flight in San Jose

Kudos to San Jose Opera for offering up a wholly winning, consistently captivating new production of Puccini’s seldom performed La Rondine.

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Clonter Opera Gala

Clonter’s Opera Gala in the breath-taking beautiful ball-room at the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair was a glamorously glittering smattering of opera – which made me want to run out to every opera in town.  

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

A New Die Walküre at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the start of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s splendid, new production of Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre conflict and resolution are portrayed throughout with moving intensity. The central character Brünnhilde is sung by Christine Goerke and her father Wotan by Eric Owens.

As One a Haunting Success in San Diego

San Diego Opera has mined solid gold with its mesmerizing and affecting production of As One, a part of their innovative ‘Detour Series.’


OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

Melos Sinfonia perform <em>Written on Skin</em> in Cambridge, London and St Petersburg
15 Oct 2017

Written on Skin: the Melos Sinfonia take George Benjamin's opera to St Petersburg

As I approach St Cyprian’s Church in Marylebone, musical sounds which are at once strange and sensuous surf the air. Inside I find seventy or so instrumentalists and singers nestled somewhat crowdedly between the pillars of the nave, rehearsing George Benjamin’s much praised 2012 opera, Written on Skin.  »

Recently in Commentary

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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. »

22 Apr 2011

Cyrano, Florida Grand Opera

To enter into David DiChiera’s space as he talks opera shop is to risk being pulled into his world, rapt by a tractor beam emitting a constant flow of music theater load.  »

13 Apr 2011

Still Dangerous After 181 Years?

The new brochure of the 2011-2012 season at Paris’ Opéra-Comique has only arrived in the past few days and has already caused a stir in two countries.  »

10 Apr 2011

Paata Burchuladze, The Tsar’s Bride, London

“A tale of corruption, passion and poisoning”, as the Royal Opera House, London, describes its first-ever production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride, with Paata Burchuladze, highly experienced in this repertoire.  »

01 Apr 2011

From the Field to the Stage

“All the world’s a stage” and for Morris Robinson the translation was literal. From the football field to the grand opera he managed to make few stage set changes along the way. »

20 Feb 2011

Virginia Arts recalls Civil War

For geography buffs the Rappahannock is a river that flows from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains to Chesapeake Bay.  »

01 Feb 2011

Real Opera In New Jersey

In an episode of the series West Wing, political strategist Josh Lyman (played by Bradley Whitford) visits his friend and speech writer Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) in New York City before heading to New Hampshire for a promising candidate’s campaign speech.  »

31 Jan 2011

Elizabeth Futral — An Interview

Elizabeth Futral has established herself as one of the major coloratura sopranos in the world today. With her stunning vocalism and vast dramatic range, she has embraced a diverse repertoire that includes Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini, Verdi, Glass, and Previn. »

31 Jan 2011

Elisabeth Meister — An Interview

British soprano, Elisabeth Meister, is a rare combination of pragmatism, serious intent, personal warmth and infectious energy.  »

31 Dec 2010

Andrea Clearfield — An Interview

Composer and pianist Andrea Clearfield is a fundamental presence on the contemporary music scene in Philadelphia, with a long collaboration with the Relâche Ensemble to her credit, as well as a monthly salon in her home (with close to 25 years of concerts) that brings together artists from various disciplines, not only music.  »

09 Dec 2010

Renée Fleming Named By Lyric Opera Of Chicago First Ever Creative Consultant

December 9, 2010 CHICAGO – The Board of Directors of Lyric Opera of Chicago announced today that soprano RENÉE FLEMING has been named Creative Consultant, a first in this company’s history.  »

06 Dec 2010

Rodney Waschka — An Interview

Rodney Waschka is a professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where his multifarious activities are fundamental to the presence of contemporary music in the state.  »

18 Nov 2010

Stellan Sagvik: An Interview

Swedish composer Stellan Sagvik is a protean figure with a large and diverse body of work ranging from works for solo flute (most recently written for his wife, Kinga Práda), to chamber music — five string quartets, with another on the way, and symphonies, operas and choral music.  »