Recently in Performances
Verdi Un ballo in maschera at the Royal Opera House - a masked ball in every sense, where nothing is quite what it seems. On the surface, this new production appears quaint and undemanding. It uses painted flats, for example, pulled back and forth across, as in toy theatre. The scenes painted on them are vaguely generic, depicting neither Boston nor Stockholm, where the tale supposedly takes place. Instead, we focus on Verdi, and on theatre practices of the past. In other words, opera as the art of illusion, not an attempt to replicate reality. Take this production too literally and you'll miss the wit and intelligence behind it.
Small country, small opera house — big ensemble spirit. Internationally acclaimed soprano Natalia Ushakova steps in for indisposed local Violetta with mixed results.
Bulgarian director Vera Nemirova’s production of Otello for the Romanian National Opera in Bucharest was certainly full of new ideas — unfortunately all bad.
For its current revival of the 2006-2007 production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore by Sir David McVicar Lyric Opera has assembled a talented quintet of principal singers whose strengths match this conception of the opera.
O Maria Deo grata — ‘O Mary, pleasing to God’: so begins Robert Fayrfax’s antiphon, one of several supplications to the Virgin Mary presented in this thought-provoking concert by The Cardinall’s Musick at the Wigmore Hall.
Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House, first revival of the 2009 production, one of the first to attract widespread hostility even before the curtain rose on the first night.
On November 22, 2014, Los Angeles Opera staged Francesca Zambello’s updated version of Florencia in el Amazonas.
John Adams and his long-standing collaborator Peter Sellars have described The Gospel According to the Other Mary as a ‘Passion oratorio’.
Superb conducting from veteran Croatian maestro Nikša Bareza makes up for an absurd waterlogged new production of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.
After the horrors of Jagoš Marković’s production of Le Nozze di
Figaro in Belgrade, I was apprehensive lest Nabucco in Serbia’s
second city of Novi Sad on 27th October would be transplanted from
6th century BC Babylon to post-Saddam Hussein Tikrit or some
bombed-out kibbutz in Beersheba.
First Toronto, then Houston and now San Francisco, the third stop of a new production of Puccini's La bohème by Canadian born, British nurtured theater director John Caird.
Every once in a while Los Angeles Opera presents an important recital in the three thousand seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
This third revival of Laurent Pelly’s production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore needed a bit of a pep up to get moving but once it had been given a shot of ‘medicinal’ tincture things spiced up nicely.
Founded in 1996, Samling describes itself as a charity which ‘inspires musical excellence in young people’.
The good news is that you don’t have to go all the way to Pesaro for great Rossini.
Maître à danser: William Christie and Les Arts Florissants at the Barbican, London, presented a defining moment in Rameau performance practice, choreographed with a team of dancers.
The most memorable thing (and definitely not in a good way) about this performance of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Serbian National Theatre in Belgrade was the self-serving, infantile, offensive and just plain wrong production by celebrated Serbian theatre director Jagoš Marković.
Should looks matter when casting the role of the iconic temptress for HD simulcast?
Maurice Greene (1696-1755) had a highly successful musical career. Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a position to which he was elected when he was just 22 years-old, he later became organist of the Chapel Royal, Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge and, from 1735, Master of the King’s Music.
Yet another Tosca is hardly exciting news, if news at all. The current five performances have come just two years after SFO alternated divas Angela Gheorghiu and Patricia Racette in the title role.
27 Nov 2004
Angels in America at Theatre du Chatelet, Paris
Clipping the wings of an apocalyptic epic (Filed: 27/11/2004) Rupert Christiansen reviews Angels in America at Theatre du Chatelet, Paris There are plenty of wonderful operas taken from good plays, and a few (Otello and Wozzeck, for example) taken from...
Clipping the wings of an apocalyptic epic
Rupert Christiansen reviews Angels in America at Theatre du Chatelet, Paris
There are plenty of wonderful operas taken from good plays, and a few (Otello and Wozzeck, for example) taken from great ones. What these all have in common is a sense that music - more specifically, the singing of the text - expands the drama and enriches the characters. It isn't enough simply to reflect what is already there, or to enhance the mood like a film score. Music must be the driving force, the medium of revelation.
This is the hurdle at which the composer Peter Eötvös and his librettist wife Mari Mezei fall flat on their faces. Their adaptation of Angels in America, Tony Kushner's apocalyptic epic of Aids and the spiritual turmoil of the Reagan era, condenses rather than expands the theatrical original, squeezing a gallon of drama into a pint-pot of opera.
It isn't just a matter of cutting too many of Kushner's words or scenes. The problem is that anyone with memories of the play on stage (or in Mike Nichols's excellent screen version, shown on Channel 4 earlier this year) will find its operatic incarnation thinner in every respect: the characters diminished, the plot less rich, the language less resonant.
Out goes the sexiness - Prior's anguish at the loss of Louis, and the latter's affair with the buttoned-up Mormon Joe scarcely register. Out goes the Satanic grandeur of the lawyer Roy Cohn, reduced here to a deluded buffoon. Out goes the Dickensian cumulation of the narrative and its intertwining of disparate human fates.
What is left moves with cartoon-like swiftness, drained of emotional urgency and oddly dated - a bad dream of a crisis now replaced by other terrors.
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