Many Puccini cognoscenti will speak of La fanciulla del West as Puccini’s finest opera – or at least his most musically interesting. In the latter case, I think I can hear what they mean, even if I do not agree. I continue to struggle, with the former claim, although this performance at the Munich Opera Festival made the most convincing case I have yet heard for the work. Its virtues were predominantly musical, in keeping with the work’s general valuation.
The enchanting grounds of West Green House in the heart of rural Hampshire offer the ideal venue for Rossini’s fairy-tale-based opera, La Cenerentola. Glass side panels bring the 400-seater auditorium’s leafy surroundings a little closer and heighten the impact of a derelict Renault and no less shabby looking Land Rover that front the stage with a boldness redolent of Banksy’s ‘Monet with Shopping Trolley’.
This lunchtime Prom at Cadogan Hall celebrated the 400th anniversary of the Venetian singer, composer and poet, Barbara Strozzi, but it might equally have been announced as a tribute to the musical form which underpinned so much of the exquisite invention and rhetoric during Strozzi’s era – the circular bass pattern of the ground, chaconne and passacaglia.
Des Moines Metro Opera closed their wholly winning 47th festival season with a wondrously sung, theatrical vivid, and emotionally bewitching treatment of
Puccini’s evergreen masterpiece, La bohËme.
The version of Bernstein’s and (too-many-collaborators-to-mention) Candide that inhabited the Des Moines Metro Opera festival had a great deal to recommend it.
If any further proof were needed that Des Moines Metro Opera is at the forefront of operatic excellence in America, their theatrically searing, musically impeccable Wozzeck would cement this assertion.
Des Moines Metro Opera delights in coming up with site-specific operatic presentations, and Bon Appetit was triumphantly produced in the handsome hall of the Iowa Culinary Institute.
Where might you hear medieval monophony by the late 12th-century French composer PÈrotin, Renaissance polyphony by William Byrd, a vocal arrangement of the stirring theme from Sibelius’s tone poem Finlandia, alongside a newly commissioned work, ‘Vertue’ (2019) by Jonathan Dove, followed by an arrangement of the Irish folksong ‘Danny Boy’ and a snappy rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘One Note Samba’ arr. for eight voices by Naomi Crellin, all within 90 minutes?
In an essay published in 1868, Tolstoy wrote: ‘What is War and Peace? It is not a novel, still less a poem, still less a historical chronicle. War and Peace is that which the author wished and was able to express in the form in which it has been expressed.’
Glyndebourne’s major new international singing competition returns in 2020 with a renewed commitment to supporting diversity in opera. The Glyndebourne Opera Cup – the international competition for opera singers is designed to discover and spotlight the best young singers around the world, offering a top prize of £15,000 and a guaranteed role at a leading international opera house. The final will once again be broadcast live on Sky Arts on 7 March 2020 and the series is produced by Factory Films.