“The power of sound” wrote Joseph Conrad, “has always been greater than the power of sense.” Verdi’s towering Requiem is all about the power of sound, not least because of all the great sacred works this is the one that least obviously seems sacred when you hear it.
A concert programme that offers a ‘Concerto for coloratura soprano’ and four of Richard Strauss’s orchestral songs promises to tick every box on a lover of the soprano voice’s wish-list.
At the 2018 International Opera Awards, Irish-Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta was named ‘Young Singer of the Year’, having been awarded the same title by The Arts Desk in 2017, a year which also saw her pick up the ‘Breakthrough Artist in UK Opera’ award at the What’s on Stage Opera Awards. At this Cadogan Hall lunchtime chamber recital she was making her Proms debut, and Giunta gave an assured, audience-winning performance which suggested that such accolades are more than deserved and that it won’t be long before she’s invited back.
When this production debuted last summer at Glimmerglass, my Opera Today colleague James Sohre found it a thoroughly
successful mounting of George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward’s noble but
The Hollywood Reporter called it the greatest musical ever produced. Leonard Bernstein had expressed concerns about his first Broadway musical, writing to Aaron Copland, ‘Maybe it will be a great hit, and maybe it will lay the great egg of all time. It’s an enormous gamble’, but in the event, On the Town opened at Broadway’s Adelphi Theatre on 28th December 1944 to rave reviews and laid golden foundation stones for the career paths of its prodigious creators – Bernstein, choreographer Jerome Robbins and writers Adolph Green and Betty Comden, whose average age at the time was twenty-seven.
Oh no, not another Barber! Well, it is the 150th anniversary of the world’s greatest opera composer so what better way to commemorate the occasion than to program his most famous opera! And hope for the best.
Music reigned supreme at Glyndebourne’s production of Handel’s Saul, with warm lyricism and exquisite delicacy offered by its
soloists alongside an impressive powerhouse of a Chorus.
2018 may mark the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death but of more interest is that it marks the 200th anniversary of the two operas he composed in 1818 — the one-act farce Adina, though not performed until 1826 in Lisbon (and rarely since) and the “dramma serio” Ricciardo e Zoraide, “a grotesque mixture of stupidities and improbabilities” according to a 1927 Rossini biographer.
What defines a ‘diva’? The Italian word, which came to be used in an operatic context at the end of the nineteenth century, derives from the Latin divus, meaning ‘goddess’.
Eclectic, even visionary, Proms are one of the great hallmarks of this summer music festival – and this concert certainly fell into that category. On paper, little seemed to unify the first and second halves of the programme: Wagner and Richard Strauss with a (very overdue) UK premiere of Per N¯rgÂrd’s Third Symphony.