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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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08 Mar 2007

Conlon makes his mark at LA Opera

To his work as music director of the Los Angeles Opera James Conlon brings two commitments that some in music would find incompatible. »

22 Feb 2007

Launch of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2007

Record number of singers auditioned Three countries competing for first time New sponsorship and increased prize money »

14 Feb 2007

The Handel Singing Competition 2007 – Win or Lose?

Singing competitions are a mixed blessing. »

08 Feb 2007

HGO announces season

Two Mozart operas — “Magic Flute” and “Abduction from the Serail” — head the list of works to be performed by the Houston Grand Opera in its 2007- 08 season that opens with Verdi’s “Masked Ball” on October 19. »

15 Nov 2006

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2007

The worldwide search is on for opera’s rising stars to compete for the coveted title BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2007 and a £15,000 prize. »

07 Nov 2006

On The Academy of Vocal Arts

The Academy of Vocal Arts, based in the hub of Philadelphia, has one of the richest traditions of training and nurturing operatic singers. »

16 Oct 2006

Opera at Curtis

Curtis, America’s top fully funded conservatory, is on the move as one of the nation’s leading opera preparatory programs. »

08 Oct 2006

“A voice so beautiful, it will break your heart.”

Mary-Lou Vetere-Borghoff interviews Soprano Jennifer O’Loughlin of the Vienna Volksoper »

08 Oct 2006

Settling the Score — An Interview with Philip Gossett

Introduction: Philip Gossett is one of those rarities in academia: a scholar of the first order and a consummate teacher. »

01 Oct 2006

Pairing and Elaboration

The character configuration in Vivaldi’s Tito Manlio is unusual because of its musical pairing of the prima donna Servilia with the seconda donna Vitellia not just once, but twice in the second act of the opera. »

01 Oct 2006

Pratolino, Venice, Mantua: Musings on Vivaldi’s Tito Manlio

Tito Manlio, Vivaldi’s second opera in Mantua for the 1718/19 season, is fraught with political and familial tensions.1 »

12 Sep 2006

Opera in Paris

What a difference a year makes. Music lovers who rely on their memories to find the right places to hear music in Paris could be for a surprise if they do not check beforehand what France has now to offer. »

01 Sep 2006

The Bostridge Phenomenon

The curious phenomenon of British tenor manqué, Ian Bostridge, continues to astound, as his concert and even operatic dates, primarily in Europe, mount; his recordings increase, and his appeal to a certain section of the classical audience (they would likely call themselves, “cognoscenti”) endures. I have to wonder why? »

23 Jun 2006

"Castrato" — In Search of a Lost Voice

Nestling artistically in a bowl, carefully arranged and lit to suit the camera early in the programme, the testicles seemed to glow softly with their hidden history, their inherent potential and, now, their very lack of future. »

08 May 2006

Hello, cruel world

With its mismatched couples and absurd plot, Cosi Fan Tutte is thought of as Mozart's 'frivolous' opera. »

07 May 2006

Andrew Clark: All the world’s his stage

The scene is an urban wasteland at night. A young man is having sex with a woman in the back of a car while his sidekick keeps watch. An older man appears, hell-bent on attacking his daughter’s seducer. »

20 Apr 2006

Alex Ross on Adriana Mater

A new opera from the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. »

09 Apr 2006

The Guardian on Helen of Troy and Opera

She'll always have ParisSexual icon, dark temptress or a smutty comedienne? Helen of Troy has fascinated writers and composers for centuries. »

07 Apr 2006

Rosie Millard on the price of tickets at Covent Garden

The Royal Opera House is publicly funded - so why does it charge more than £100 per seat, asks Rosie Millard »

03 Apr 2006

Young Man in a Hurry — Iestyn Davies

I met with Iestyn Davies at 1330 hours precisely, on the steps of the Hippodrome theatre, Bristol, England, where he was singing the role of Hamor in Welsh National Opera’s riveting production of Handel’s “Jephtha”. »

20 Mar 2006

ALEX ROSS: SONGS OF EXPERIENCE

Ian Bostridge sings Benjamin Britten. »

20 Mar 2006

Snip judgment

Rupert Christiansen laments the lost art of the castrato »

28 Feb 2006

Fabulous Mister Fat Belly

He's a terrible old rogue - but to opera composers, he's irresistible. Tim Ashley on the deathless appeal of Falstaff »

16 Feb 2006

LA Times: A sense of adventure lost. And found.

Conservatism is once more on the rise in the orchestral world but the starchy old Met, under new boss Peter Gelb, is trying to buck the trend. »

16 Feb 2006

The Guardian Interviews Violeta Urmana: 'My voice decides what's good for me'

First she was forced to sing mezzo roles. Then she was invited to be president of Lithuania. Violeta Urmana tells Tim Ashley why she prefers life as a soprano »

10 Feb 2006

Remembering Schumann

According to Charles K. Moss, "Robert Schumann was one of the driving forces of the young Romantic movement in Germany. And like many in his generation, Schumann did not seem destined to become a composer, let alone one who would be so influential in the development of a new style. But music became all-important to Schumann, and he displayed multiple talents as a performer, composer, and literary exponent of Romanticism, championing new composers and their works and influencing the musical tastes of a generation." This year marks the 150th anniversary of Schumann's death. »

08 Feb 2006

The truth about Shostakovich in his centenary year

Dmitry Shostakovich survived Stalin's rule by the skin of his teeth. But is his music really the Soviet propaganda that many people claim? »

30 Jan 2006

Alex Ross on Beethoven's Great Fugue

Secrets of a Beethoven manuscript. »

17 Jan 2006

IT MUST NOT HAVE BEEN EASY BEING MOZART

It must not have been an easy life, being Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Perhaps even more so after the fact when scholars began to do their research and “wanna bes” began their intimations and psychoanalyzing. In the more seventy-five years of Mozart scholarship and its coming of age, one must ask: How much more is there to learn, to research? »

14 Jan 2006

The Guardian on Dmitri Shostakovich

In from the cold »

13 Jan 2006

The New San Francisco Opera

SAN FRANCISCO OPERA [11 January 2006]: "The San Francisco Opera today unveiled a new visual identity for the Company, heralding the beginning of a new era under the leadership of David Gockley, who became the Company’s sixth general director on January 1, 2006. Elements of San Francisco Opera’s new image include a new logo, a glamorous and sophisticated new look for the print materials, and a major redesign of the Company’s Web site." »

12 Jan 2006

Tributes to Birgit Nilsson

Birgit Nilsson died on 25 December 2005 at age 87. Her death was announced on 11 January 2006. Here are three tributes to this great soprano. »

09 Jan 2006

DNA detectives discover more skeletons in Mozart family closet

Scientists reveal results of tests on skull unearthed by Viennese gravedigger »

07 Jan 2006

The Guardian on Beaumarchais

How to stage a revolutionBeaumarchais, the dramatist behind The Marriage of Figaro and The Barber of Seville, was more than a mere playwright - he shaped the 18th century. »

07 Jan 2006

The Guardian on Lorenzo da Ponte

The phoenixA poet, priest and womaniser, who ended his days as a grocer, he also wrote the words to some of the greatest operas. On the eve of Mozart's 250th anniversary, Anthony Holden looks at the colourful life of his librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte »

01 Jan 2006

A musical genius? No, Mozart was just a hard-working boy

With the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth just weeks away, the source of his brilliance is being disputed. Alice O'Keeffe reports »

20 Dec 2005

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe himself as a musical hero: The case of Lehár’s Friederike

Franz Lehár was not the first to think of Goethe as an opera or operetta hero. There was the precedent of Giacomo Meyerbeer himself who in his old age wrote theatre music for a piece called La Jeunesse de Goethe. The piece was never performed. »

11 Dec 2005

Grammy Award Nominees — Classical Vocal Music

The following are the nominees for the Grammy award in selected categories pertaining to classical vocal music. »

10 Dec 2005

HANDEL'S GIULIO CESARE

Giulio Cesare in Egitto was the fifth of the full-length operas composed by Handel for London’s Royal Academy of Music, the opera company founded in 1719 by a group of noblemen with the objective of staging Italian opera seria. »

08 Dec 2005

A Fresh Look at Giulia Grisi

Giulia Grisi must be, by whatever standard is applied, regarded as one of the greatest and most important soprano singers who ever graced the operatic stage, »

15 Nov 2005

Symphony and Opera take different paths to getting new behinds into those velvet seats

Classical performing organizations are feeling a little antsy nowadays, all except for the ones that are flat-out running scared. »

11 Nov 2005

FeedBlitz Subscribers

For those who are subscribers to FeedBlitz, please take notice that changes have been made to the settings to correct certain errors. Subscribers to Opera Today (All Articles) will receive articles but no news headlines. Subscribers who want both articles... »

01 Nov 2005

vilaine fille: Turandot

Puccini's Turandot is an opera to whose sinister charms I was long immune. I'm not sure what happened in recent years to make me love it. »

29 Oct 2005

The Paris Opera Scene

The city-funded Théâtre du Châtelet, an operatic David to Paris Opera’s Goliath, managed to make the biggest artistic splash of the new season. Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre, which opened October 21, following Das Rheingold by two days, was generally well cast, surely conducted and, as staged by Robert Wilson, brimming with theatrical interest. The two final operas will follow in November/December with two complete cycles offered in April. »

27 Oct 2005

“La Muette de Portici” : a small revolt in Ghent

No opera history is complete without mentioning that Auber’s La Muette de Portici caused Belgium’s revolution against Holland in 1830. As a historian I know there are three falsehoods in that one small sentence. »

23 Oct 2005

The twists and trysts of Tosca

A few years ago, I had the rare experience of attending a performance of Tosca in a small farm community where opera was a fairly new commodity. After the second act ended, with Scarpia's corpse lying center stage, I happened to overhear a young, wide-eyed woman say to her companion, "I knew she was upset, but I didn't think she'd KILL him!" »

17 Oct 2005

Alex Ross on City Opera’s fall season

New York City Opera opened in February, 1944, at the height of the battles of Anzio and Truk. If skeptics thought it frivolous to start an opera company in the middle of a world war, Fiorello LaGuardia straightened them out: the music-loving Mayor believed that opera was essential to city life, and he wanted lower- and middle-class New Yorkers to have it at affordable prices, without pretension. »

10 Oct 2005

The Operatic Pushkin

Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin (1799-1837) is generally considered Russia’s greatest poet. According to Andrew Kahn, his contemporaries held him “above all the master of the lyric poem, verse that is famous for its formal perfection and its reticent lyric persona, and infamous for its resistance to translation.” [Alexander Pushkin, The Queen of Spades and Other Stories, trans. Alan Myers, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997] »