There was a decided nip in the air as I made my way to the opening night of the Royal Opera House’s 2017/18 season, eagerly anticipating the House’s first new production of La bohËme for over forty years. But, inside the theatre in took just a few moments of magic for director Richard Jones and his designer, Stewart Laing, to convince me that I had left autumnal London far behind.
The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career
in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply
G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to
It must be a Director’s nightmare. After all the months of planning, co-ordinating and facilitating, you are approaching the opening night of a new concert season, at which one of the world’s leading baritones is due to perform, accompanied by a pianist who is one of the world’s leading chamber musicians. And, then, appendicitis strikes. You have 24 hours to find a replacement vocal soloist or else the expectant patrons will be disappointed.
The courtly palace may have been opera’s first home but nowadays it gets out and about, popping up in tram-sheds, car-parks, night-clubs, on the beach, even under canal bridges. So, I wasn’t that surprised to find myself following The Opera Box down the shaft of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Thames Tunnel at Rotherhithe for a double bill which brought together the gothic and the farcical.
It’s hard to imagine that Peter Maxwell Davies’ dramatic monologue, Eight Songs for a Mad King, can bear, or needs, any further contextualisation or intensification, so traumatic is its depiction – part public history, part private drama – of the descent into madness of King George III. It is a painful exposure of the fracture which separates the Sovereign King from the human mortal.
Sergei Prokofiev’s Cantata for the Twentieth Anniversary of the October Revolution, Op 74, with Valery Gergiev conducting the Mariinsky Orchestra and Chorus. One Day That Shook the World to borrow the subtitle from Sergei Eisenstein’s epic film October : Ten Days that Shook the World.
In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne
presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of
both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death. Goerne
adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that
underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker
Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category – Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach – Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Ges‰nge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.
This Prom was all about places: geographical, physical, pictorial, poetic, psychological. And, as we journeyed through these landscapes of the mind, there was plenty of reminiscence and nostalgia too, not least in Samuel Barber’s depiction of early twentieth-century Tennessee – Knoxville: Summer of 1915.