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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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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] »

05 Oct 2005

Abbé Prévost's Manon Lescaut

The Story of the Chevalier Des Grieux and Manon Lescaut by Abbé Prévost stands as one of the great works of French literature. It first appeared in 1731 as an appendix to the series, Memoirs and Adventures of a Man of Quality. It was later revised in 1753 for independent publication under the title Les Aventures du chevalier Des Grieux et Manon Lescaut with illustrations by Pasquier and Gravelot. »

29 Sep 2005

New World Symphony

By Russell Platt [The Nation, 3 October 2005] Classical music in America, we are frequently told, is in its death throes: its orchestras bled dry by expensive guest soloists and greedy musicians unions, its media presence shrinking, its prestige diminished,... »

24 Sep 2005

SOUNDS FROM THE STUDIO

The EMI label’s new version of “Tristan und Isolde,” starring Plácido Domingo, has received weirdly apocalyptic advance publicity: it has been described as the final large-scale opera recording in history. »

22 Sep 2005

Tom Sutcliffe - Behind the scenes

Sheridan Morley, impressed with Michael Grandage's staging of Schiller's Don Carlos last February, turned to a fellow critic at the Gielgud Theatre and asked if they had known that it was such a terrific piece, adding jocularly that somebody ought to make an opera of it. »

16 Sep 2005

Myth, Muzak and Mozart

As the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth approaches, Proms director Nicholas Kenyon offers a personal guide to enjoying his work »

15 Sep 2005

COME RAIN OR COME SHINE

The bittersweet life of Harold Arlen. The composer Harold Arlen, a dapper man whose songs brought something both dashing and deep to the Republic, liked to tell a story about the time he danced with Marilyn Monroe. »

15 Sep 2005

Paul Kellogg to retire as New York City Opera’s General and Artistic Director at the end of the 2006-07 Season

Paul Kellogg, General and Artistic Director of City Opera, today announced that he will retire from the Company in June, 2007 at the end of the 2006-2007 season, his 12th with the company. »

14 Sep 2005

View from the Top — David Daniels, ten years on

The life of an opera singer is not for the faint-hearted. It’s one of dizzying highs and lows, a crazy roundabout of heart-warming praise and soul-piercing criticism. No-one gets off lightly — even the best in the world — and to survive just a decade of this madness is an achievement in itself. I’ve been following the progress of American star countertenor David Daniels for a while now, so when I was asked to write a ten year retrospective on his career it seemed to me that, with a lot written already about that career, the “how” would be more interesting to discuss than the “what” or “when”. And the viewpoint that would give the most insight into how this exceptional singer came to be where he was would be: his own. »

08 Sep 2005

The Met Broadcasts Have a New Sponsor

Metropolitan Opera General Manager Joseph Volpe announced today that Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder™, will be the corporate sponsor for the Metropolitan Opera Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts which will celebrate their 75th anniversary this season. The twenty-one radio broadcasts will run from December 17 of this year to May 6, 2006, and will be heard over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network, which comprises over 300 stations in the United States and reaches eleven million people in forty-two countries around the globe. The Annenberg Foundation and the Vincent A. Stabile Foundation will continue to provide generous support for this season’s broadcasts as part of their long-term commitments to the future of this program. -------- »

23 Aug 2005

SANTA FE — Second Thoughts

For an opera company that boasts a $30-million endowment, and has scheduled funding efforts expected to bring that largesse to $50-million by 2007, its fiftieth anniversary of summer opera performances, plus $10-million more for capital improvements, the question comes up: Santa Fe Opera can afford top quality, but are they providing it? The answer seems to be, sometimes. »