The Wigmore Hall’s complete Schubert song series continued with Julian PrÈgardien and Christoph Schnackertz, in a recital deferring from May. Well worth the wait, because PrÈgardian is good, his singing enhanced by very strong musical instincts. In Lieder, sensitivity and musical intelligence are as important as voice. A good recital, is one where you come away feeling you’ve gone deeper into the repertoire thanks to the performer, as opposed to watching celebrity for celebrity sake
The Wigmore Hall’s complete Schubert Songs series of 40 concerts began with a recital by Florian Boesch and Graham Johnson. (Read my review here). If anything, though, the second concert, where Boesch was accompanied by Malcolm Martineau, was even better. The programme was beautifully planned, and the performance exceptional, even by the very high standards of the Wigmore Hall.
It took artistic courage to choose Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtensk to start the ENO’s 2015-2016 season. Shostakovich isn’t an easy sell, and so full of sex and violence that some minds – like Josef Stalin – would be aghast. But Mark Wigglesworth is passionate about Shostakovich , and as new Music Director of the ENO, he’s making a point. Good opera needs artistic vision.
Zurich Opera brought Alban Berg Wozzeck to the Royal Festival Hall, London . Fabio Luisi conducted Philharmonia Zurich and a very good cast in a concert performance. With all pretence at staging removed (apart from natural good acting) we could focus on the sheer musical audacity of Berg’s writing, and pick up on the processes the music employs to create the drama.
Many, many thanks to the Barbican Centre for commissioning Britten’s Phaedra choreographed by Richard Alston Dance Company at the Barbican Theatre. Of the numerous Britten homages this centenary year, this is one of the most inventive. Absolutely, it makes sense to dance Britten, to find new ways into his music through physical, non-verbal expression.The worlds of dance and music don’t mesh nearly as often as they should. so this was stimulating for everyone, though it was by far a better dance performance than a musical experience. But Richard Alston’s danced Phaedra is something that will last, long after this centenary year has passed.
A brand new award to promote opera has been unveiled in London.
Brindley Sherratt sings Sarastro in Mozart Die Zauberflˆte at the Royal Opera House, London. All performances are sold out, though returns are possible. The entire run (which ends 9th May) is dedicated to the memory of Sir Colin Davis who conducted this production, by David McVicar, most recently in 2011.
The 2013 BBC Proms season ahs just been announced. It’s spectacular – almost all of Wagner’s major operas feature either in full performance or as excerpts. Verdi, Britten, Tippett and Birtwistle also feature. And Joyce DiDonato headlines a glorious Last Night of the Proms.
Pl·cido Domingo’s London debut as Nabucco at the Royal Opera House was received with rapture. Domingo’s position in opera is immense. His very presence comes over so well that any performance feels like a historic event. He is a marvel. If Domingo was singing Pl·cido Domingo rather than Nabucco, it hardly mattered. He delivered the big areas well, and was particularly impressive in the typically Verdian dialogues between father and daughter. Domingo isn’t a singer who needs Personenregie. He is simply himself and that’s enough.
Michel van der Aa’s Sunken Garden had its world premiere at the Barbican Theatre, under the auspices of the ENO. Van der Aa is a well respected artist, closely associated with the Nederlandse Opera. His Up Close, presented together with Pierre Audi’s Liebestod in 2011, won a Grawemeyer award. Sunken Garden is a huge leap ahead from Up Close, and also from the earlier After Life, also presented at the Barbican and in Amsterdam. Sunken Garden is altogether more ambitious, and successfully achieves van der Aa’s dreams of linking different art forms to create a Gesammstkunstwerk for the age of technology. It will divide opinion, however, as anything truly experimental usually does.