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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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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.  »

07 Nov 2010

New Adriana Lecouvreur in London — Alessandro Corbelli

A completely new production of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur is coming to the Royal Opera House, London.  »

03 Nov 2010

Overture to London’s Handel Festival 2011

The small but perfectly formed Grosvenor Chapel in London’s exclusive Mayfair was the venue last Monday night for a programme of Handel vocal and instrumental music of considerable quality — if minimal quantity.  »

03 Nov 2010

Marcela Pavia — An Interview

Composer Marcela Pavia was born and raised in Rosario, Argentina, and comes from a family of Italian immigrants.  »

13 Oct 2010

Joan Sutherland: My Starter Diva

I was sixteen and knew nothing about opera, had just seen my first Traviata at the City Opera (Patricia Brooks, Placido Domingo), was entranced by the melodies — especially the Brindisi and “Sempre libera” — and wanted more.  »

10 Oct 2010

Oxford Lieder Festival 2010

The Oxford Lieder Festival is small, but is extremely important. It's quite an achievement, extremely well organized and comprehensive, a model for intelligently-presented festivals of any kind.  »

24 Sep 2010

Pierre Jalbert: An Interview

Composer Pierre Jalbert (b.1967), of French Canadian ancestry, was born and raised in northern New England, and studied composition at Oberlin Conservatory and at the University of Pennsylvania, where he worked with George Crumb.  »

13 Sep 2010

Kate Lindsey: An Interview

This season Santa Fe Opera offered new productions that ranged from standard repertoire (Madame Butterfly and The Magic Flute) to a world premiere (Lewis Spratlan’s Life is a Dream) with The Tales of Hoffmann and Albert Herring falling somewhere amidst.  »

13 Sep 2010

Bruce Adolphe: An Interview

Bruce Adolphe, born and raised in the New York area, a student of composition at Juilliard in the sixties and seventies, has an impressive body of work commissioned by artists known on every continent, and was chosen by the Music Library Association to write a piece for brass (Triskelion) marking the sixtieth anniversary of the Association, premiered by the American Brass Quintet at the national meeting in Indianapolis in February, 1991.  »

12 Sep 2010

Mohammed Fairouz: An Interview

As one of the most sought after composers of the young generation, Mohammed Fairouz has many commissions and a substantial body of work, and maintains a busy performance schedule. »

09 Sep 2010

Jacques Imbrailo, Malatesta at the Royal Opera House

Jacques Imbrailo sings Dr Malatesta in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale at the Royal Opera House, London »

24 Aug 2010

Robert Baksa — An Interview by Tom Moore

Robert Baksa is a name that is well-known to lovers of contemporary chamber music, with a hundred chamber works to his credit.  »

07 Jul 2010

Daniel Catán: An Interview by Maria Nockin

“You want to frame the voice in such a way that it shines.”— Daniel Catán »

01 Jul 2010

Baritone Austin Kness on his way

Baritone Austin Kness, an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera recently spoke with Opera Today critic Michael Milenski.  »

28 Jun 2010

Jay Reise: An Interview by Tom Moore

Jay Reise is one of the senior musical figures in Philadelphia, serving on the composition faculty of the University of Pennsylvania since 1980.  »

19 Jun 2010

Christine Brewer: An Interview by Maria Nockin

On 7 June 2010, I spoke with Christine Brewer who was enjoying a relatively free week at her home near St. Louis, Missouri, after long months of air travel between concerts, recitals and operatic performances.  »

17 Jun 2010

Polishing Gemstones — Jette Parker Young Artists

Opera stars are made as well as born. The Royal Opera House Jette Parker Young Artists Programme shapes the stars of the future.  »

07 Jun 2010

Jurgita Adamonytė: An Interview

‘Focussed and pure of tone’, ‘beautifully steady’, ‘pure clarity and note perfection’ — just some of the accolades bestowed on the Lithuanian mezzo soprano Jurgita Adamonytė for her recent performances of Mozart.  »

04 Jun 2010

Aris Argiris debuts as Escamillo in the Royal Opera House's Carmen

Aris Argiris makes his debut at Covent Garden as Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen. But this is unusually high-profile because it's a first, being filmed in 3D. »

03 Jun 2010

Olja Jelaska: An Interview by Tom Moore

Olja Jelaska (b. 1967) is an important figure in the younger generation of composers from Croatia.  »

01 Jun 2010

Juan Trigos: An Interview by Tom Moore

Juan Trigos, composer and conductor, was born and raised in Mexico City, where his father, also Juan Trigos, is a noted playwright and novelist.  »

18 May 2010

Robert Maggio — An Interview by Tom Moore

Composer Robert Maggio is professor of composition at West Chester University (in suburban Philadelphia).  »

17 May 2010

Elena Ruehr: An Interview by Tom Moore

According to her web site, Elena Ruehr has been called a “composer to watch” by Opera News, and her music has been described as “stunning...beautifully lighted by [a] canny instinct for knowing when and how to vary key, timbre, and harmony” by The Boston Globe. »

03 May 2010

Central City: the little opera company that can

You don’t have to be Asian to sing Madama Butterfly, but if you’ve got a top soprano from that part of the world, it adds another dimension of reality to Puccini’s tear-drenched verismo.  »

24 Apr 2010

Shadowboxer, the opera

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland — College Park is presenting Shadowboxer, an opera based on the life of Joe Louis, with music composed by Frank Proto to a libretto by John Chenault. »

22 Apr 2010

Stephen Jaffe: an Interview by Tom Moore

Composer Stephen Jaffe is the Mary and James H. Semans Professor of Music Composition at Duke University. We spoke in his office there in Durham NC on June 25, 2007. »

22 Apr 2010

Micaela Carosi sings Aida in a new production at the Royal Opera House, London

Micaela Carosi, the Verdi specialist, has created Aida many times, so she’s closely attuned to the role. The new production, at the Royal Opera House, London, though, is different. “It’s like singing Aida for the first time”, she says, her eyes sparkling. »

20 Apr 2010

Osmo Tapio Räihälä: An interview by Tom Moore

Osmo Tapio Räihälä is a Finnish composer of contemporary music, and was the founder of Uusinta, a collaborative group of composers and musicians. »

10 Apr 2010

Lance Hulme: An interview by Tom Moore

Composer Lance Hulme studied composition at the University of Minnesota, Yale University, and the Eastman School of Music, and returned to the United States recently, where he lives presently in Greensboro, North Carolina, after two decades in Mitteleuropa, where he founded and directed the contemporary music ensemble Ensemble Surprise.  »

10 Apr 2010

Anna Weesner: An interview by Tom Moore

Anna Weesner is an American composer who grew up in rocky New Hampshire, and now teaches in historic Philadelphia.  »

10 Apr 2010

Timothy Andres: An interview by Tom Moore

Composer and pianist Timothy Andres is in his mid-twenties, with an impressive catalog of works to his credit, many of which can be heard at his website.  »

03 Mar 2010

Sophia Serghi — An Interview

Composer Sophia Serghi is presently professor of music at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where she has taught since 1998, with two years away in 2000-2002. »