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Macbeth, LA Opera

On Thursday evening October 13, Los Angeles Opera transmitted Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth live from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, in the center of the city, to a pier in Santa Monica and to South Gate Park in Southeastern Los Angeles County. My companion and I saw the opera in High Definition on a twenty-five foot high screen at the park.

Jamie Barton at the Wigmore Hall

“Hi! … I’m at the Wigmore Hall!” American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton’s exuberant excitement at finding herself performing in the world’s premier lieder venue was delightful and infectious. With accompanist James Baillieu, Barton presented what she termed a “love-fest” of some of the duo’s favourite art songs. The programme - Turina, Brahms, Dvořák, Ives, Sibelius - was also surely designed to show-case Barton’s sumptuous and balmy tone, stamina, range and sheer charisma; that is, the qualities which won her the First and Song Prizes at the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.

And London Burned: in conversation with Raphaela Papadakis

Raphaela Papadakis seems to like ‘playing with fire’. After her acclaimed performance as the put-upon maid, Anna, in Independent Opera’s production of Šimon Voseček’s Beidermann and the Arsonists at Sadler’s Wells last year, she is currently rehearsing for the premiere this week of And London Burned, a new opera by Matt Rogers which has been commissioned by Temple Music Foundation to commemorate the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire of London.

The Nose: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

“If I lacked ears, it would be bad, but still more bearable; but lacking a nose, a man is devil knows what: not a bird, not a citizen—just take and chuck him out the window!”

Věc Makropulos in San Francisco

A fixation on death at San Francisco Opera. A 337 year-old woman gave it all up just now after only six years since she last gave it all up on the War Memorial stage.

The Pearl Fishers at English National Opera

Penny Woolcock's 2010 production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers returned to English National Opera (ENO) for its second revival on 19 October 2018. Designed by Dick Bird (sets) and Kevin Pollard (costumes) the production remains as spectacular as ever, and ENO fielded a promising young cast with Claudia Boyle as Leila, Robert McPherson as Nadir and Jacques Imbrailo as Zurga, plus James Creswell as Nourabad, conducted by Roland Böer.

Center for Contemporary Opera presents Jane Eyre (World Premiere)

Louis Karchin’s Jane Eyre, a full-length opera in three acts with a libretto by Diane Osen based on Charlotte Bronte’s novel, will receive its world premiere at The Kaye Playhouse (Hunter College) on Thursday, October 20, 7:30pm with a second performance on Saturday, October 22, 8pm. Jane Eyre is Karchin’s second opera, composed in 2014, following his critically acclaimed one-act comic opera Romulus.

A Venetian Double: English Touring Opera

Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto was the composer’s fifteenth opera, and the ninth to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini (1615-1651). First performed at the Teatro Sant’Apollinaire in Venice on 28th November 1651, the opera by might have been sub-titled ‘Gods Behaving Badly’, so debauched are the deities’ dalliances and deviations, so egotistical their deceptions.

Boston Early Music Festival announces the appointment of Melinda Sullivan to the new position of the Lucy Graham Dance Director

Cambridge, MA–The Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Melinda Sullivan to the new position of the Lucy Graham Dance Director.

Academy of Ancient Music: The Fairy Queen at the Barbican Hall

At the end of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus delivers a speech which returns to the play’s central themes: illusion, art and the creative imagination. The sceptical king dismisses ‘The poet’s vision - his ‘eye, in a fine frenzy rolling’ - which ‘gives to airy nothing/ A local habitation and a name’; such art, and theatre, is a psychological deception brought about by an excessive, uncontrolled imagination.

Vaughan Williams and Friends: St John's Smith Square

Following the success of previous ‘mini-festivals’ at St John’s Smith Square devoted to Schubert and Schumann, last weekend pianist Anna Tilbrook curated a three-day exploration of the work of Ralph Vaughan Williams and his contemporaries. The music performed in these six concerts was chosen to reflect the changing contexts in which it was composed and to reveal the vast changes in society, politics and culture which occurred during Vaughan Williams’ long life-time (1872-1958) and which shaped his life and creative output.

Bloodless Manon Lescaut at DNO

Trying to work around Manon Lescaut’s episodic structure, this new production presents the plot as the dying protagonist’s feverish hallucinations. The result is a frosty retelling of what is arguably Puccini’s most hot-blooded opera. Musically, the performance also left much to be desired.

English Touring Opera: Xerxes

It is Herodotus who tells us that when Xerxes was marching through Asia to invade Greece, he passed through the town of Kallatebos and saw by the roadside a magnificent plane-tree which, struck by its great beauty, he adorned with golden ornaments, and ordered that a man should remain beside the tree as its eternal guardian.

English National Opera: Tosca

Poor Puccini. He is far too often treated as a ‘box-office hit’ by our ‘major’ opera houses, at least in Anglophone countries. For so consummate a musical dramatist, that is something beyond a pity. Here in London, one is far better advised to go to Holland Park for interesting, intelligent productions, although ENO’s offerings have often had something to be said for them.

Don Pasquale in San Francisco

With only four singers and a short-story-like plot Don Pasquale is an ideal chamber opera. That chamber just now was the 3200 seat War Memorial Opera House where this not always charming opera buffa is an infrequent visitor (post WWII twice in the 1980’s after twice in the 40’s).

“Written in fire”: Momenta Quartet blazes through an Indonesian chamber opera

“Yang sementara tak akan menahan bintang hilang di bimasakti; Yang bergetar akan terhapus.” (“The transient cannot hold on to stars lost in the Milky Way; that which quivers will be erased.”) As soprano Tony Arnold sang these words of Tony Prabowo’s chamber opera Pastoral, with astonishingly crisp Indonesian diction, the first night of the second annual Momenta Festival approached its end.

English National Opera: Don Giovanni

Some operas seemed designed and destined to raise questions and debates - sometimes unanswerable and irresolvable, and often contentious. Termed a dramma giocoso, Mozart’s Don Giovanni has, historically, trodden a movable line between seria and buffa.

World Premiere Eötvös, Wigmore Hall, London

Péter Eötvös’ The Sirens Cycle received its world premiere at the Wigmore Hall, London, on Saturday night with Piia Komsi and the Calder Quartet. An exceptionally interesting new work, which even on first hearing intrigues: imagine studying the score! For The Sirens Cycle is elegantly structured, so intricate and so complex that it will no doubt reveal even greater riches the more familiar it becomes. It works so well because it combines the breadth of vision of an opera, yet is as concise as a chamber miniature. It's exquisite, and could take its place as one of Eötvös's finest works.

Walter Braunfels : Orchestral Songs Vol 1

New from Oehms Classics, Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 1. Luxury singers - Valentina Farcas, Klaus Florian Vogt and Michael Volle, with the Staatskapelle Weimar, conducted by Hansjörg Albrecht.

Manitoba Underground Opera: Mozart and Offenbach

Manitoba Underground Opera took audiences on a journey — literally and figuratively — as it presented its latest installment of repertory opera between August 19–26.



Jennifer Zetlan [Photo by J & J Photography courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc.]
19 Oct 2016

Center for Contemporary Opera presents Jane Eyre (World Premiere)

Louis Karchin’s Jane Eyre, a full-length opera in three acts with a libretto by Diane Osen based on Charlotte Bronte’s novel, will receive its world premiere at The Kaye Playhouse (Hunter College) on Thursday, October 20, 7:30pm with a second performance on Saturday, October 22, 8pm. Jane Eyre is Karchin’s second opera, composed in 2014, following his critically acclaimed one-act comic opera Romulus.  »

Recently in Commentary

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29 Mar 2005

Le Monde Profiles Rolando Villazon

Rolando Villazon est un ténor à sang chaud. Ce fils de Mexico est capable de vous attendre sur une place venteuse de Vienne, par une après-midi teigneuse, tête et mains nues, dans le grand froid qui tient encore la capitale autrichienne en cette mi-mars. La veille au soir, il incarnait avec une grâce incroyable un fragile et magnifique Roméo dans le Roméo et Juliette de Gounod, monté à la Wiener Staatsoper. »

28 Mar 2005

Deborah Voigt: The Comeback Kid

When the soprano Deborah Voigt was dropped from a Covent Garden production of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos last year she claimed it was her inability to fit into a sleek black dress that prompted her dismissal. »

26 Mar 2005

The Independent Interviews Angela Gheorghiu

“If Puccini were alive today, I’d be in love with him. I am sure of it. He knew how to write for sopranos: he really loved them,” says Angela Gheorghiu. And this soprano knows Puccini’s heroines well, having most of them in her repertoire or in her plans. On her latest CD, a handsomely packaged set from EMI, she steps into the shoes of all his major soprano characters, with the exception of the adulterous Giorgetta in Puccini’s most impressionistic score, Il Tabarro. »

25 Mar 2005

An Interview with Peter Schreier

“200 oder 300” Matthäus-Passionen hat Peter Schreier (69) schon hinter sich, als Sänger, seit den 80er-Jahren in der Doppelfunktion als dirigierender Evangelist. So auch an diesem Karfreitag im Gasteig, wenn er das Opus mit dem Münchener Bach-Chor aufführt (14.30 Uhr, Live-Übertragung auf Bayern 4). Und damit wohl zum letzten Mal hier zu hören sein wird: Zum Jahresende will Schreier, einer der größten Bach-, Mozart- und Schubert-Interpreten unserer Zeit, seine Gesangskarriere beenden. »

24 Mar 2005

Operatic Detritus

In an introduction to the score for his “Darkbloom: Overture for an Imagined Opera,” which will have its premiere with the Boston Symphony Orchestra tonight, John Harbison calls the piece the remnant of a misguided project, an “unproduceable” opera based on a “famous and infamous” American novel. »

21 Mar 2005

James Levine on Opera in Concert

CAMBRIDGE—James Levine doesn’t like pushy producers and stage directors any more than most opera lovers do. In a panel discussion at Harvard last Monday centered on the BSO’s recent performances of Wagner’s ‘’The Flying Dutchman,” the music director spoke about the advantages of opera in concert. »

20 Mar 2005

The Opera That Changed a Career

He was the toast of the new Russian Communist regime, a young composer who had captivated audiences under the banner of the emerging cultural revolution. But in 1936, Dmitry Shostakovich’s reputation plummeted after Stalin attended his immensely popular opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsenk, at the Bolshoi Theater. »

05 Mar 2005

Celebrating Lorin Maazel

Wien ist zwar Stätte vieler seiner künstlerischen Triumphe – und doch auch des vielleicht bitters ten Wermutstropfens in einer formidablen Karriere: Lorin Maazel, der am Sonntag 75 Jahre alt wird, war einer der kürzestdienenden Direktoren der Staatsoper, kapitulierte nach nur zwei Spielzeiten, weil die Angriffe gegen ihn unerträglich geworden waren und die Kulturpolitik, verbündet mit den Angreifern, versagte. Immerhin: Das so genannte “Blocksystem”, eine Spielplangestaltung in “kleinen Serien”, wie sie der Nachfolger Maazels dann nannte, gab zwar den Ausschlag für eine Kampagne gegen den dirigierenden Direktor, doch pflegt die Staatsoper es bis heute. »

04 Mar 2005

A Profile of Brenda Harris

Singing offbeat, nontraditional roles can be a path to oblivion for an opera singer. For Brenda Harris, that road has led to fame, fortune and as much work as she can handle. It also means that Harris often is learning new roles. »

03 Mar 2005

Mozart? Maybe Not.

01. März 2005 Ein Rokokoherr mittleren Alters, Frack, Spitzenjabot, gepudertes Haar – könnte das nicht Mozart sein? Niemand weiß, wie der Komponist wirklich ausgesehen hat. So galt es denn als „Weltsensation”, als die Berliner Gemäldegalerie ihren bisherigen „Herrn im grünen Frack” vor wenigen Wochen aufgrund einer computergestützten Analyse des Musikliebhabers Wolfgang Seiller als neu entdecktes Mozart-Porträt präsentierte. Gemalt hatte es der seinerzeit renommierte Münchner Porträtist Johann Georg Edlinger „vor 1790”, was aber nun auf „um 1790” umfunktioniert wurde. »

02 Mar 2005

James Levine and the 21st Century

We’re undeniably in the era of James Levine. The Cincinnati-born, 61-year-old conductor is right now art music’s Great Enabler. As music director of the Metropolitan Opera for nearly the last 30 years and in the home stretch of his first season as chief conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, his potential for goosing the possibilities of 21st-century classical music performance is unique. »

26 Feb 2005

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau at Berlin Cathedral's 100 Year Jubilee

Der Berliner Bariton Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau gehörte über Jahrzehnte hinweg zu den weltweit gefeierten Liedsängern. Der fast 80jährige ist nach wie vor als Dirigent, Maler, Buchautor, Ehrengast aktiv – und wird heute im Konzert des Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchesters Berlin zum 100jährigen Jubiläum des Berliner Doms als Sprecher auftreten. Volker Blech sprach mit Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. »

26 Feb 2005

Nikolaus Harnoncourt at Zurich Opera

It is the day before the opening night. Zurich is agog for the new production of Monteverdi’s opera L’incoronazione di Poppea, but there is a snag. The Poppea has gone sick. A new one has had to be flown in from Frankfurt, and in only a matter of hours has had to be acclimatised to the radical staging and familiarised with the edition of the score that Zurich Opera is using. »

23 Feb 2005

Die Welt Interviews Rolando Villazón

Der 32-jährige Mexikaner Rolando Villazón hat sich in seinen wenigen Karrierejahren bereits als eine der größten Tenor-Hoffnungen erwiesen. Ein Interview mit dem nie stillsitzenden Lockenkopf ist wie eine Bühnenvorstellung. Manuel Brug hat es erfahren. »

18 Feb 2005

A Star Is Born

Phumzile Sojola got the call less than 36 hours before the concert. University of Kentucky alum Gregory Turay, who was set to be the featured soloist on the Lexington Philharmonic’s Feb. 4 concert, was sick and might not be able to sing. The orchestra needed a tenor in the wings. OK, Sojola thought. He knew the scheduled arias. »

18 Feb 2005

Le Figaro Profiles Valery Gergiev

Pas facile à coincer, Valery Gergiev. Le chef russe le plus charismatique de sa génération a voué sa vie au Kirov de Saint-Pétersbourg, dont il a fait l’un des théâtres lyriques les plus recherchés du monde. Mais il anime aussi trois festivals : les Nuits blanches de Saint-Pétersbourg, le Festival de Pâques de Moscou et celui de Mikkeli en Finlande. N’oublions pas non plus qu’il est directeur musical de l’Orchestre philharmonique de Rotterdam, premier chef invité du Metropolitan Opera de New York, et l’un des maestros préférés du Philharmonique de Vienne, qu’il dirige tant au Musikverein qu’au Festival de Salzbourg et en tournée. Avec un tel calendrier, guère de place pour des invitations à droite et à gauche, et s’il a fait récemment ses débuts aux «Proms» de Londres avec l’Orchestre symphonique de la BBC, c’était une exception dont on se demande si elle va se généraliser, donnant un nouveau tour à une carrière jusqu’ici focalisée sur quatre orchestres. »

17 Feb 2005

Marcello Viotti Has Died

BERLIN – Marcello Viotti, the music director of Venice’s famed La Fenice Theater who also conducted at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and other leading houses, died at a German hospital after falling into a coma. He was 50. Viotti died Wednesday night after being in a coma for several days at a clinic in Munich, Germany, his agent, Paul Steinhauser, said by telephone from Vienna, Austria. »

15 Feb 2005

L'Express Interviews Natalie Dessay

Il y a un miracle Natalie Dessay. Sa Reine de la Nuit (dans La Flûte enchantée, de Mozart) ou son Olympia (des Contes d’Hoffmann, d’Offenbach), irrésistibles de présence et de drôlerie, ont déjà marqué l’histoire de l’opéra. On se régale de sa présence sur scène, de son tempérament explosif, on admire sa voix de soprano léger à la virtuosité sans limites, et on respecte la femme, diva humble et sincère. On aime Natalie, on croit la connaître, mais elle reste un mystère. Après une saison triomphale, couronnée par un enregistrement (Amor, consacré à la musique de Richard Strauss, chez Virgin Classics) et une victoire de la musique, soudain, patatras! Comme il y a deux ans, une opération des cordes vocales oblige la chanteuse à annuler des représentations. Le doute et la peur viennent ébranler ce petit bout de femme d’ordinaire débordant d’énergie. Pourquoi? Natalie Dessay s’en explique ici »

11 Feb 2005

A Profile of Rolando Villazon

Rolando Villazon has the opera world on a string. The young Mexican tenor has just completed a fairy tale year, with acclaimed debuts at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden in London and the Staatsoper in Berlin. He released his first CD, a collection of Italian arias; several critics ranked it among the best classical recordings of 2004. And his face graced the covers of a number of opera periodicals. »

09 Feb 2005

Il Gazzettino Interviews Claudio Scimone

Maestro Scimone, cosa rappresenta per lei questo riconoscimento del consiglio regionale che la indica come come ambasciatore della cultura veneta nel mondo? «In un primo momento, oltre che commosso, sono rimasto anche un po’ stupito soprattutto considerando il libro d’oro molto ristretto di questo premio, assegnato sinora solo a un Patriarca di Venezia e a un eroe. Poi ho pensato che il significato di questa scelta del consiglio regionale è il riconoscere come sia importante per la nostra regione l’arte e la cultura che sono l’elemento di identificazione più importante del Veneto». »

06 Feb 2005

Roll Over Stockhausen

When did the music die? And why? It will be 30 years in August since the death of Dmitri Shostakovitch. Next year also marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Benjamin Britten. Aaron Copland, older than both of them, lived on until 1990 and Olivier Messiaen until 1992. But apart from these? I can see them already. The protestations on behalf of the half-forgotten and semi-famous, the advocates of Henze and Berio, the followers of Tavener and Adès. Perhaps there will be a good word for Golijov or Gubaidulina, for Piazzola or Saariaho (enthusiasms I share). And maybe, even now, there remains someone who believes that Stockhausen should be mentioned in the same breath as Bach, the last of the true believers clinging to the shipwreck of modernism. »

02 Feb 2005

Jirí Belohlávek Named to Head BBCSO

The BBC Symphony Orchestra confirmed yesterday that its new chief conductor from the first night of the 2006 Proms will be the Czech maestro Jirí Belohlávek. It was known two and a half years ago that Leonard Slatkin would be standing down from the job at the end of last season’s Proms, so the announcement about his successor has been a long time coming, but the welcome news of Belohlávek’s appointment is not a surprise. I floated him as the most likely choice in an article on these pages back in July last year. It was a hunch, but one based on a reasoned study of the form book, since he seemed to have precisely the qualities that the BBC should be looking for. »