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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 Apr 2012

Christopher Koelsch Tapped by LA Opera

Christopher Koelsch has been tapped Wednesday as the new president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Opera. Koelsch, 41, was the opera’s chief financial officer and will take the new post September 15. »

24 Apr 2012

Ignacio Garcia-Belenguer Appointed

Ignacio Garcia-Belenguer, 45, has been named as the new general manager of Madrid’s opera, Teatro Real.  »

24 Apr 2012

Uwe Eric Laufenberg Resigns

The director of the Cologne Opera, Uwe Eric Laufenberg, has confirmed at the press conference this afternoon that he will leave his post at the end of the coming season. His contract runs until 2016. »

23 Apr 2012

Denoke Bows Out of Bayreuth

Soprano Angela Denoke announced on Wednesday that she would not be appearing as Brünnhilde, one of the critically important roles, at the 2013 Bayreuth Festival Ring Cycle.  »

18 Apr 2012

Cologne Opera to Cancel Next Season?

On Tuesday evening, Cologne Opera’s director indicated he was planning to cancel the next season, 2012-2013.  »

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. »