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Elsewhere

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.

Hubert Parry and the birth of English Song

British music would not be where it is today without the influence of Charles Hubert Parry. His large choral and orchestral works are well known, and his Jerusalem is almost the national anthem. But in the centenary of his death, we can re-appraise his role in the birth of modern British song.


OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Repertoire

Eugène Delacroix, Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard (1827–28) [Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
22 Oct 2015

THOMAS: Hamlet, Moscow 2015

Hamlet: Opéra in five acts. Music composed by Ambroise Thomas. Libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier after The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare. »

Recently in Repertoire

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11 Jun 2006

MOZART: Così fan tutte — La Scala 1956

Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti (K. 588). Opera buffa in two acts.Music composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. »

08 Jun 2006

ROSSINI: La Cenerentola

La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo. Dramma giocoso in two acts.Music composed by Gioacchino Rossini (1792–1868). Libretto by Jacopo Ferretti after Perrault. »

21 May 2006

DONIZETTI: Poliuto

Poliuto, Tragedia lirica in three acts.Music composed by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848). Libretto by Salvatore Cammarano, after the tragedy Polyeucte (1640) by Pierre Corneille. »

18 May 2006

GLUCK: Alceste

Alceste. Tragedia in three acts (Italian version).Alceste. Tragédie opéra in three acts (French version). »

15 May 2006

GLUCK: Orfeo ed Euridice

Orfeo ed Euridice. Azione teatrale in three acts (Italian version).Orphée et Eurydice. Tragédie opéra in three acts (French version). »

09 May 2006

MARTÍN Y SOLER: Una cosa rara

Una cosa rara, ossia Bellezza ed onestà. Dramma giocoso in two acts.Music composed by Vicente Martín y Soler (1754–1806). Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte from the comedy La luna de la Sierra by Luis Vélez de Guevara. »

30 Apr 2006

HANDEL: Giulio Cesare in Egitto

Giulio Cesare in Egitto (HWV 17), Drama in three acts.Music composed by Georg Friedrich Handel (1685–1759). Libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym after an earlier libretto by Giacomo Francesco Bussani. »

20 Apr 2006

BELLINI: I puritani

I puritani, opera seria in three actsMusic composed by Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835). Libretto by Carlo Pepoli from Têtes rondes et Cavaliers (1833) by Jacques Ancelot and Xavier Saintine. »

17 Apr 2006

BELLINI: Norma — Trieste 1953

Norma: Tragedia lirica in due atti »

09 Apr 2006

BELLINI: La sonnambula — La Scala 1955

La sonnambula, Melodramma in due attiMusic composed by Vincenzo Bellini (1801–1835). Libretto by Felice Romani, based on La Sonnambule ou L'arrivée d'un nouveau Seigneur (1827) by Eugène Scribe. »

07 Apr 2006

BELLINI: I Capuleti e i Montecchi

I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Tragedia lirica in due atti e quattro parti.Music composed by Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835). Libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play Giulietta e Romeo (1818) by Luigi Scevola. »

26 Mar 2006

SMETANA: Die verkaufte Braut

Die verkaufte Braut (The Bartered Bride; Prodaná nevěsta)Comic opera in three acts.Music composed by Bedřich Smetana. Libretto by Karel Sabina »

23 Mar 2006

DONIZETTI: Don Pasquale

Don Pasquale, Dramma buffo in three acts. Music by Gaetano Donizetti. Libretto by Giovanni Ruffini and the composer after Angelo Anelli’s libretto for Stefano Pavesi’s Ser Marcantonio (1810), which was derived from Epicœne or The Silent Woman by Ben Jonson (1609). »

20 Mar 2006

GOUNOD: Roméo et Juliette

Roméo et Juliette, Opéra en cinq actes Music composed by Charles François Gounod. Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, based on the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. »

12 Mar 2006

CIMAROSA: Il Matrimonio Segreto

Il Matrimonio Segreto, Melodramma giocoso in two acts.Music composed by Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801). Libretto by Giovanni Bertati after The Clandestine Marriage (1766) by George Colman the Elder and David Garrick. »

02 Mar 2006

WEBER: Oberon

Oberon, Romantic opera in three actsMusic by Carl Maria von Weber. Libretto by James Robinson Planché after Oberon by Christoph Martin Wieland and the 13th-century French romance Huon de Bordeaux »

18 Feb 2006

WEBER: Der Freischütz

Der Freischütz, Romantische Oper in drei Aufzügen.Music composed by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826). Libretto by Friedrich Kind. »

15 Feb 2006

ROSSINI: Armida — Venice 1970

Armida, Dramma per musica in tre atti. »

12 Feb 2006

WEBER: Euryanthe

Euryanthe, Romantische Oper in drei AufzügenMusic composed by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826). Libretto by Wilhelmina Christiane von Chézy. »

22 Jan 2006

WAGNER: Parsifal

Parsifal. Bühnenweihfestspiel ("stage dedication play") in three acts.Music and libretto by Richard Wagner. »

15 Jan 2006

MOZART: La clemenza di Tito

La clemenza di Tito. Opera seria in due atti (K. 621).Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Libretto by Caterino Mazzolà based on a text by Pietro Metastasio. »

08 Jan 2006

MOZART: Idomeneo

Idomeneo, rè di Creta. Dramma per musica in tre atti (K. 366).Music composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Libretto by Giovanni Battista Varesco after Idomenée by Antoine Danchet. »

06 Jan 2006

MOZART: Requiem

Requiem in D Minor (K. 626)Music composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Text based on the Mass for the Dead (Requiem Mass). »

01 Jan 2006

HAYDN: Die Schöpfung

Die Schöpfung, Oratorium in drei TeilenMusic composed by Franz Joseph Haydn. Libretto by Gottfried van Swieten based on selections from the Book of Genesis and Paradise Lost by John Milton. »

28 Dec 2005

GOUNOD: Faust

Faust, Opéra en cinq actesMusic composed by Charles Gounod. Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré after Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe »

25 Dec 2005

BERLIOZ: La damnation de Faust

La damnation de Faust, Légende dramatique en quatre partiesMusic composed by Hector Berlioz. Libretto by Hector Berlioz, Almire Gandonanière and Gérard de Nerval after Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe »

16 Dec 2005

BOITO: Mefistofele

Mefistofele, Opera in un prologo, quattro atti e un epilogoMusic and libretto by Arrigo Boito (1842-1918), based on Faust: Eine Tragödie by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe »

11 Dec 2005

VERDI: La Forza del Destino

La Forza del Destino, a melodramma in quattro attiMusic composed by Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave based on the drama Don Alvaro o La fuerza del sino by Angel Perez de Saavedra »

04 Dec 2005

FLOTOW: Martha — Berlin 1944

Martha, an opera in four acts.Music composed by Friedrich von Flotow. Libretto by Wilhelm Friedrich.First performance: 25 November 1847 at Theater an der Wien, Vienna. »

01 Dec 2005

PERGOLESI: La serva padrona

La serva padrona, intermezzo in two partsMusic composed by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Libretto by Gennar'antonio Frederico.First performance: 28 August 1733, Teatro San Bartolomeo, Naples. »

27 Nov 2005

BEETHOVEN: Fidelio — Munich 1978

Fidelio, an opera in two acts »

24 Nov 2005

Maria Callas Performs Lady Macbeth

Here we offer three selections from Macbeth with Maria Callas performing the role of Lady Macbeth. These are from a live performance given on 7 December 1952 at La Scala. Victor de Sabata conducts the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano. »

20 Nov 2005

VERDI: Macbeth

VERDI: Macbeth, melodramma in quattro parti.Music composed by Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play by William Shakespeare. »

12 Nov 2005

STRAUSS: Die Fledermaus

Music composed by Johann Strauss II.Libretto by Richard Genée based on Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy/Karl Haffner.First performance: 5 April 1874 at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna. »

29 Oct 2005

GIORDANO: Fedora

Fedora, a melodrama in three acts.Umberto Giordano, composer. Arturo Colautti, librettist, based on the play with the same name by Victorien SardouFirst performance: 17 November 1898 at Teatro Lirico Internazionale, Milan »

24 Oct 2005

PUCCINI: Tosca

Tosca, a melodrama in three acts Giacomo Puccini, composer. Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on the play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou. First performance: 14 January 1900 at Teatro Costanzi, Rome »

24 Oct 2005

Victorien Sardou — A Tale of Two Operas

Victorien Sardou (1831-1908) was a popular French dramatist during the later half of the 19th Century. He, along with Eugène Scribe, combined melodrama and realism to a produce a more serious form of drama that emphasized careful plot construction. »

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!" »

22 Oct 2005

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Mozart and Salieri

Mozart and Salieri, an opera in one act consisting of two scenes. Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), composer. Libretto derived from Alexander Puskhin's play of the same name. First performance: 7 December 1898 in Moscow. »

19 Oct 2005

MUSSORGSKY: Boris Godunov

Boris Godunov, an opera in four acts with prologue Modest Mussorgsky, composer. Libretto by the composer, based on Alexander Pushkin's drama Boris Godunov and Nikolai Karamazin's History of the Russian Empire First performance: 8 February 1874 at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg »

15 Oct 2005

TCHAIKOVSKY: Eugene Onegin

Eugene Onegin, lyrical scenes in three acts and seven tableaux. Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, composer. Libretto by the composer, based on the verse novel by Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin. First performance: 29 March 1879 at the Maliy Theatre, Moscow. »

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] »

10 Oct 2005

TCHAIKOVSKY: The Queen of Spades

The Queen of Spades (Pique Dame), an opera in three acts. Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, composer. Modest Tchaikovsky and composer, librettists. First performance: 19 December 1890 at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg. »

05 Oct 2005

PUCCINI: Manon Lescaut

Manon Lescaut, dramma lirico in quattro atti Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), composer. Luigi Illica and Domenico Oliva, librettists. First performance: 1 February 1893 at Teatro Regio, Turin. »

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. »

25 Sep 2005

Ariadne auf Naxos

Only a few months following the premiere of Der Rosenkavalier, Hugo von Hofmannsthal proposed a new opera to Richard Strauss based on Molière’s comedy-ballet, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (in German, Der Bürger als Edelmann). »

18 Sep 2005

Sappho and the Leucadian Leap

Sappho (also spelled Sapho, Saphon, Saffo and Psappha), is said to have been born on the island of Lesbos in the second half of the 7th Century (B.C.E.).  »

11 Sep 2005

Das Rheingold — An Overview

Das Rheingold is the first of the four works that constitute Der Ring des Nibelungen. On the title page of Der Ring des Nibelungen, Wagner refers to Das Rheingold as a Vorabend (a preliminary evening). Nevertheless, Das Rheingold sets the foundation on which the remainder of the Ring is built. »

05 Sep 2005

The Nibelungen-Myth. As Sketch for a Drama

From the womb of Night and Death was spawned a race that dwells in Nibelheim (Nebelheim), i.e. in gloomy subterranean clefts and caverns: Nibelungen are they called; with restless nimbleness they burrow through the bowels of the earth, like worms in a dead body; they smelt and smith hard metals.  »