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Elsewhere

Desert Island Delights at the RCM: Offenbach's Robinson Crusoe

Britannia waives the rules: The EU Brexit in quotes’. Such was the headline of a BBC News feature on 28th June 2016. And, nearly three years later, those who watch the runaway Brexit-train hurtle ever nearer to the edge of Dover’s white cliffs might be tempted by the thought of leaving this sceptred (sceptic?) isle, for a life overseas.

Akira Nishimura’s Asters: A Major New Japanese Opera

Opened as recently as 1997, the Opera House of the New National Theatre Tokyo (NNTT) is one of the newest such venues among the world’s great capitals, but, with ten productions of opera a year, ranging from baroque to contemporary, this publicly-owned and run theatre seems determined to make an international impact.

The Outcast in Hamburg

It is a “a musicstallation-theater with video” that had its world premiere at the Mannheim Opera in 2012, revived just now in a new version by Vienna’s ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wein for one performance at the Vienna Konzerthaus and one performance in Hamburg’s magnificent Elbphilharmonie (above). Olga Neuwirth’s The Outcast and this rich city are imperfect bedfellows!

Leonard Bernstein: Tristan und Isolde in Munich on Blu-ray

Although Birgit Nilsson, one of the great Isolde’s, wrote with evident fondness – and some wit – of Leonard Bernstein in her autobiography – “unfortunately, he burned the candles at both ends” – their paths rarely crossed musically. There’s a live Fidelio from March 1970, done in Italy, but almost nothing else is preserved on disc.

Monarchs corrupted and tormented: ETO’s Idomeneo and Macbeth at the Hackney Empire

Promises made to placate a foe in the face of imminent crisis are not always the most well-considered and have a way of coming back to bite one - as our current Prime Minister is finding to her cost.

Der Fliegende Holländer and
Tannhäuser in Dresden

To remind you that Wagner’s Dutchman had its premiere in Dresden’s Altes Hoftheater in 1843 and his Tannhauser premiered in this same theater in 1845 (not to forget that Rienzi premiered in this Saxon court theater in 1842).

WNO's The Magic Flute at the Birmingham Hippodrome

A perfect blue sky dotted with perfect white clouds. Identikit men in bowler hats clutching orange umbrellas. Floating cyclists. Ferocious crustaceans.

Puccini’s Messa di Gloria: Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra

This was an oddly fascinating concert - though, I’m afraid, for quite the wrong reasons (though this depends on your point of view). As a vehicle for the sound, and playing, of the London Symphony Orchestra it was a notable triumph - they were not so much luxurious - rather a hedonistic and decadent delight; but as a study into three composers, who wrote so convincingly for opera, and taken somewhat out of their comfort zone, it was not a resounding success.

WNO's Un ballo in maschera at Birmingham's Hippodrome

David Pountney and his design team - Raimund Bauer (sets), Marie-Jeanne Lecca (costumes), Fabrice Kebour (lighting) - have clearly ‘had a ball’ in mounting this Un ballo in maschera, the second part of WNO’s Verdi trilogy and which forms part of a spring season focusing on what Pountney describes as the “profound and mysterious issue of Monarchy”.

Super #Superflute in North Hollywood

Pacific Opera Project’s rollicking new take on The Magic Flute is as much endearing fun as a box full of puppies.

Leading Ladies: Barbara Strozzi and Amiche

I couldn’t help wondering; would a chamber concert of vocal music by female composers of the 17th century be able sustain our concentration for 90 minutes? Wouldn’t most of us be feeling more dutiful than exhilarated by the end?

George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill at Wigmore Hall

This week, the Wigmore Hall presents two concerts from George Benjamin and Frankfurt’s Ensemble Modern, the first ‘at home’ on Wigmore Street, the second moving north to Camden’s Roundhouse. For the first, we heard Benjamin’s now classic first opera, Into the Little Hill, prefaced by three ensemble works by Cathy Milliken, Christian Mason, and, for the evening’s spot of ‘early music’, Luigi Dallapiccola.

Marianne Crebassa sings Berio and Ravel: Philharmonia Orchestra with Salonen

It was once said of Cathy Berberian, the muse for whom Luciano Berio wrote his Folk Songs, that her voice had such range she could sing the roles of both Tristan and Isolde. Much less flatteringly, was my music teacher’s description of her sound as akin to a “chisel being scraped over sandpaper”.

Rossini's Elizabeth I: English Touring Opera start their 2019 spring tour

What was it with Italian bel canto and the Elizabethan age? The era’s beautiful, doomed queens and swash-buckling courtiers seem to have held a strange fascination for nineteenth-century Italians.

Chameleonic new opera featuring Caruso in Amsterdam

Micha Hamel’s new opera, Caruso a Cuba, is constantly on the move. The chameleonic score takes on a myriad flavours, all with a strong sense of mood or place.

Ernst Krenek: Karl V, Bayerisches Staatsoper

Ernst Krenek’s Karl V op 73 at the Bayerisches Staatsoper, with Bo Skovhus, conducted by Erik Nielsen, in a performance that reveals the genius of Krenek’s masterpiece. Contemporary with Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, Berg’s Lulu, and Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, Krenek’s Karl V is a metaphysical drama, exploring psychological territory with the possibilities opened by new musical form.

A Sparkling Merry Widow at ENO

A small, formerly great, kingdom, is on the verge of bankruptcy and desperate to prevent its ‘assets’ from slipping into foreign hands. Sexual and political intrigues are bluntly exposed. The princes and patriarchs are under threat from both the ‘paupers’ and the ‘princesses’, and the two dangers merge in the glamorous figure of the irresistibly wealthy Pontevedrin beauty, Hanna Glawari, a working-class girl who’s married up and made good.

Mozart: Così fan tutte - Royal Opera House

Così fan tutte is, primarily, an ensemble opera and it sinks or swims on the strength of its sextet of singers - and this performance very much swam. In a sense, this is just as well because Jan Phillip Gloger’s staging (revived here by Julia Burbach) is in turns messy, chaotic and often confusing. The tragedy of this Così is that it’s high art clashing with Broadway; a theatre within an opera and a deceit wrapped in a conundrum.

Gavin Higgins' The Monstrous Child: an ROH world premiere

The Royal Opera House’s choice of work for the first new production in the splendidly redesigned Linbury Theatre - not unreasonably, it seems to have lost ‘Studio’ from its name - is, perhaps, a declaration of intent; it may certainly be received as such. Not only is it a new work; it is billed specifically as ‘our first opera for teenage audiences’.

Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the first moments of the recent revival of Sir David McVicar’s production of Elektra by Richard Strauss at Lyric Opera of Chicago the audience is caught in the grip of a rich music-drama, the intensity of which is not resolved, appropriately, until the final, symmetrical chords.


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Reviews

17 Mar 2019

Desert Island Delights at the RCM: Offenbach's Robinson Crusoe

Britannia waives the rules: The EU Brexit in quotes’. Such was the headline of a BBC News feature on 28th June 2016. And, nearly three years later, those who watch the runaway Brexit-train hurtle ever nearer to the edge of Dover’s white cliffs might be tempted by the thought of leaving this sceptred (sceptic?) isle, for a life overseas. »

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20 Dec 2004

Kata Kabanova at the Met

Janacek’s Kata Kabanova began this year’s run at the Met on Friday night with a very new cast including two important and highly successful debuts. This is Janacek late in his career, writing on a Russian subject by the playwright Ostrovsky. His admiration for Russian culture and literature may also have led him to follow Anton Chekhov’s example — Kata moves swiftly with the sense that any extraneous word or note has been rigorously pruned away — it is an opera that speaks directly and powerfully to its audience. Last night’s audience — the Met was at least 90% full — reacted with enthusiasm that bordered on delirium when the final curtain rose again for beloved Finnish soprano Karita Mattila’s pride-of-place first solo bow. »

20 Dec 2004

Das Rheingold at Covent Garden

THE slightly unsettling fervour of Wagner adepts as they look forward to the start of another Ring cycle is matched by a religious hush as we sit in the dark waiting — for a good 30 seconds — for the thing to begin. And then it does, soft, impossibly deep rumblings emerging from the void to become the longest E flat chord in history, and a single light lost in the blackness of the stage. You think: this better be good. »

19 Dec 2004

Carmen at Semperoper

Kein Urweib, keine femme fatale – eine “ganzheitliche” Frau mit einem unbändigen Freiheitsdrang soll diese Carmen sein. So stellt sie sich Regisseurin Konstanze Lauterbach laut Programmheft vor. Was man auf der Bühne von Peter Schubert sieht, sind Genreszenen in einem faschistischen Land. Das Eröffnungsbild schon zeigt einen Marktplatz, auf dem es vor lungernden Soldaten nur so wimmelt. Kinder sitzen in dem lindgrün-ockerfarbenen Geviert auf dem terrakotta-farbenen Steinfußboden für ihren Auftritt bereit. Gruppen von schwarz gekleideten Lorca-Frauen huschen über die Bühne. »

18 Dec 2004

Man and Boy: Dada

Schwitters Agonistes: Opera Takes on a Radical By ANNE MIDGETTE Kurt Schwitters. Merz Picture 32A (The Cherry Picture). 1921. Cloth, wood, metal, fabric, cut-and-pasted papers, cork, gouache, oil, and ink on cardboard, 36 1/8 × 27 3/4" (91.8 × 70.5... »

17 Dec 2004

AMOR: Richard Strauss — Opera Scenes and Lieder

French soprano Natalie Dessay sings three roles, all quite different in character and personality -- from Zerbinetta in "Ariadne" to Zdenka in "Arabella" and Sophie in "Rosenkavalier." It is a delicious way to sample the pleasures of this great singer.... »

17 Dec 2004

Andromeda liberata in London

Andromeda liberata, Barbican Hall, London By Richard Fairman Published: December 16 2004 02:00 | Last updated: December 16 2004 02:00 In his prolific career Vivaldi wrote about 38 solo cantatas, 20 motets and 45 operas, of which 21 survive more... »

16 Dec 2004

Rodelinda at the Met

Brilliant, Starlit Night Metropolitan Opera's 'Rodelinda' grants Handel his due By JAMES JORDEN The Metropolitan Opera can be a pretty dreary place when presenting an under-cast and under-rehearsed revival. But their new production of Handel's "Rodelinda" on December 6 was... »

16 Dec 2004

Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria a Brescia

Una spiaggia di sabbia, due muri ai lati, l'ingresso monumentale alla reggia di Itaca sul fondo. E' incredibile come questa scena fissa semplicissima sia riuscita a reggere per le tre ore e mezza di spettacolo, ma non solo, a renderlo... »

15 Dec 2004

Hercules in Paris

Hard luck trails Hercules By David Stevens International Herald Tribune Wednesday, December 15, 2004 Handel opera falls short in Paris From left: Toby Spence, Joyce DiDonato and Malena Ernman in ''Hercules.'' (Eric Mahoudeau) PARIS Hercules had a lot of bad... »

15 Dec 2004

Another View of A Wedding

Bolcom's music humanizes Altman's sardonic 'Wedding' Movie-turned-opera by U-M composer William Bolcom opens in Chicago. By Lawrence B. Johnson / Detroit News Music Critic Image CHICAGO -- Think of the human condition as images in a funhouse -- where individual... »

14 Dec 2004

Falstaff at Strasbourg

Falstaff, Opéra du Rhin, Strasbourg By Francis Carlin Published: December 14 2004 15:54 | Last updated: December 14 2004 15:54 The posters dotted around Strasbourg showed a figure trussed up in pillows and mattresses, to add more protuberance to waist... »

14 Dec 2004

Die tote Stadt at the Wiener Staatsoper

Kritik Staatsoper: Sie war doch nur scheintot VON WILHELM SINKOVICZ Wie Erich Wolfgang Korngolds einstiger Sensationserfolg "Die tote Stadt" zum Repertoirestück wird. Wiederbelebungsversuche startet man seit geraumer Zeit mit vie len Werken, die unter der ära des Nationalsozialismus als "entartet"... »

14 Dec 2004

Rossini's La Pietra del Paragone at Opéra de Fribourg

LA PIETRA DEL PARAGONE (La pierre de touche) Melodramma giocoso en deux actes de Gioacchino Rossini Livret de Luigi Romanelli (1751-1839) Créé à la Scala de Milan le 26 septembre 1812 Le comte Asdrubal est entouré de trois femmes qui... »

14 Dec 2004

Kurt Weill's One Touch of Venus

One Touch of Venus, Grand Theatre, Leeds By Richard Fairman [Financial Times] Published: December 13 2004 02:00 | Last updated: December 13 2004 02:00 It is no surprise that Kurt Weill's One Touch of Venus was one of his bigger... »

14 Dec 2004

Le Monde Reviews First Encounter

Sélection CD L'osmose de deux timbres rares LE MONDE | 13.12.04 | 15h33 First Encounter: Angelika Kirchschlager & Barbara Bonney Classique "Il y a très longtemps, raconte Barbara Bonney, que je fis connaissance avec Angelika Kirchschlager. Ce fut un dimanche... »

13 Dec 2004

Elektra at the Oper Duisburg

Elektra in der Oper Duisburg: Ein Leben für den Tod Rheinoper: In Duisburg zeigen Stein Winge und Johannes Schütz Richard Strauss` "Elektra" in einer Welt, die Kopf steht. Duisburg. Alles ist erfüllt von den Abwesenden. An die Wände hängt Elektra,... »

13 Dec 2004

Lavinia fuggita at Modena

Lavinia la turca Lavinia fuggita Opera da camera in un atto di Matteo D'Amico libretto di Sandro Cappelletto, liberamente tratto dall'omonimo racconto di Anna Banti prima rappresentazione: Modena, Teatro Comunale 12 dicembre 2004 Teatro Comunale via del Teatro 8 Modena... »

13 Dec 2004

A Wedding in Chicago: Two Reviews

Altman opera a fitting renovation By Bill Gowen Daily Herald Classical Music Critic Posted Monday, December 13, 2004 It's rare that a film director has an opportunity for a do-over. But Robert Altman is no ordinary director, having created several... »

13 Dec 2004

Rossini's La Cenerentola at Dallas

Singer is entrancing in a demanding role By Wayne Lee Gay Star-Telegram Classical Music Critic After a weak start with Bizet's Carmen and a strong comeback with Janacek's Jenufa, Dallas Opera was on track for Rossini's La Cenerentola, or Cinderella,... »

12 Dec 2004

Anna Netrebko in Leipzig

Anna Netrebko: Vom Aschenputtel zur Operndiva VON Tobias D. Höhn, 10.12.04, 12:30h Leipzig - Für viele ist sie die zweite Maria Callas. Wenn die russische Opernsängerin Anna Netrebko wie eine Ballerina über die Bühne schwebt, mit einem Lächeln und glockenheller... »

12 Dec 2004

OSBORNE: The Opera Lover's Companion

Every CD collector faces the day (or days, in the case of the truly dedicated collector) when denial no longer suffices — the shelves are sagging and overflowing, and the time has come to purchase yet another storage unit. Perhaps others have done what I did once to forestall that day — I removed all the booklets from my opera sets (and cover boxes as well, of course) and stored them on that increasingly archaic furniture item, a bookshelf. »

12 Dec 2004

Das Weihnachtsoratorium in der Thomaskirche

Alle Jahre wieder - Das Weihnachtsoratorium in der Thomaskirche, mit den Thomaner, dem Gewandhausorchester und Gästen Weihnachtsoratorien sind auch eine Jahrgangsfrage: Frei von der Diskussion um die Herrlichkeit Bachscher Noten, fixiert auf die individuelle Interpretation. Insofern ist Thomaskantor Georg Christoph... »

12 Dec 2004

Don Carlo a Firenze

Firenze, teatro Comunale. Si rappresenta il Don Carlo nell'edizione in cinque atti, con la ricostruzione dello storico allestimento di Luchino Visconti. A metà del secondo atto il sipario si chiude per il cambio di scena. Mezze luci in sala, Zubin... »

10 Dec 2004

Don Carlo at Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

With all of the festivities surrounding the reopening of La Scala, the production of Don Carlo at Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino was left in the shadows. The company is producing both the four-act and five-act editions, the latter being... »

10 Dec 2004

Vita con un idiota at Russkij Festival, Rome

Altro che idiota! Vita con un idiota opera in due atti di Alfred Schinittke libretto di Viktor Erofeev Russkij Festival Auditorium Parco della Musica - Sala Petrassi Viale Pietro De Coubertin Roma 0680241281 10 dicembre 2004 Non è solo un... »

10 Dec 2004

A Month in the Country

We previously reported on the Manhattan School of Music production of Lee Hoiby's A Month in the Country. Here is Anne Midgette's review. A Russian Play, Reimagined by an American Composer By ANNE MIDGETTE "We've lost a few people," said... »

10 Dec 2004

A Double Bill at Juilliard

Prodigal Son and a Brat, a Whimsical Pairing By BERNARD HOLLAND The Juilliard Opera Center's double bill on Wednesday made more nonmusical than musical sense. "L'Enfant Prodigue" by Debussy and "L'Enfant et les Sortilèges" by Ravel fit nicely into an... »

10 Dec 2004

Salieri's Europa Riconosciuta A Wise Choice

Salieri promu chantre de l'Europe [09 décembre 2004] Le Napolitain Riccardo Muti a fait le bon choix avec cette Europa Riconosciuta de Salieri pour rouvrir le théâtre dont il est directeur musical depuis le départ d'Abbado en 1986. L'ouvrage avait,... »

08 Dec 2004

Handel in Paris: A Review of Hercules

Paris Palais Garnier 12/04/2004 - et 6, 8, 11, 14, 16, 19, 22, 27 décembre 2004 Georg Friedrich Haendel : Hercules Joyce DiDonato (Dejanira), William Shimell (Hercules), Malena Ernman (Lichas), Toby Spence (Hyllus), Indela Bohlin (Iole), Simon Kirkbridge (Pretre de... »

08 Dec 2004

Der Rosenkavalier at Helsinki

A triumphant 'Rosenkavalier' By George Loomis International Herald Tribune Wednesday, December 8, 2004 HELSINKI Far be it from me to foment rivalry between sopranos, but Finland has another who is fully worthy of the international acclaim already lavished on the... »

07 Dec 2004

Rigoletto at Amsterdam (and an appraisal of tenor Joseph Calleja)

How does it come about that "modern" productions date so quickly while "traditional" ones can go on for ages ? Probably, because ideas that once were fresh and innovative are immediately picked up by everybody in the business, copied (sometimes... »

07 Dec 2004

RAUTAVAARA: The House of the Sun

The House of the Sun Einojuhani Rautavaara, music and libretto Ondine 1032-2D Oulu Symphony orchestra Mikko Franck, conductor The recording company Ondine, based in Helsinki, has built itself an international reputation, at least arguably, by dedicating itself to the works... »

07 Dec 2004

VERDI: A Masked Ball

A Masked Ball Giuseppe Verdi, music and Antonio Somma, libretto English translation by Amanda Holden Chandos 3116 (2) London Philharmonic Orchestra David Parry, conductor In an era where major record companies seldom produce complete opera sets (and those they do... »

06 Dec 2004

Los Angeles Philharmonic Tristan Project

I spent a spectacular three days in Walt Disney Concert Hall taking in the magnificent music of Richard Wagner in what has been entitled The Tristan Project. At first, when this three day event was announced as part of... »

04 Dec 2004

Berlioz in Boston

Not strictly opera, but so full of the usual suspects . . . My experience of Berlioz's Dramatic Symphony Romeo et Juliette (R&J) came full circle last night at Boston's Symphony Hall. I had first heard the work live in... »

03 Dec 2004

Anne Sofie von Otter at Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris

Troubadour des temps modernes Avec toujours un meme gout pour l'éloquente clarté, Anne Sofie von Otter sait tout faire. Bete de scène inespérée, elle est récitaliste sans appret ni pose. Ballades ou mélodies, Lieder et songs, l'éclectisme du programme n'est... »