Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers confirms the composer’s deftness in penning a good tune and spinning a faux-Oriental orchestral fabric. But, opera is more than simply a catchy melody or two, and if it wasn’t for the tenor-baritone friendship duet ‘Au Fond du Temple Saint’, the opera’s one-dimensional characters and dramatic stiltedness would probably see it consigned to the drawer marked ‘lesser-known, justly neglected’.
Thomas Hampson’s first Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House makes this revival of Verdi’s great opera worthwhile. It’s a role which suits a singer of Hampson’s intelligence.
We’ll never know exactly how Handel’s first opera, Almira, Kˆnigin von Castilien, appeared at its 1705 premiere in Hamburg.
Engelbert Humperdinck and his sister Adelheid Wette rather softened the story when they came to write the opera Hansel und Gretel, though sufficient undercurrents remain to allow a director scope for exploration of the more psychological aspects of the story.
A glance at the ROH programme which accompanies this new production of Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana reveals a striking number of ‘role dÈbuts’; evidence that, since its Coronation-commissioned revelation in 1953, this opera has had a relatively quiet 60 years – hyperbolically announced as ‘one of the great disasters of operatic history’ at its troubled opening.
There could be no greater gift to the Wagnerian celebrating the Master’s
Bicentennial than this compilation from Deutsche Grammophon, aptly entitled
Great Wagner Singers.
With the world premiere of Champion, the enterprising Opera Theatre of Saint Louis set the bar very high indeed for the summer festival season.
Those of us of a certain age have fond memories of James Melton, who entertained our parents starting in the 1930s and the rest of us in the 1940s and beyond on recordings, the radio, and films.