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The Nose: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

“If I lacked ears, it would be bad, but still more bearable; but lacking a nose, a man is devil knows what: not a bird, not a citizen—just take and chuck him out the window!”

Věc Makropulos in San Francisco

A fixation on death at San Francisco Opera. A 337 year-old woman gave it all up just now after only six years since she last gave it all up on the War Memorial stage.

The Pearl Fishers at English National Opera

Penny Woolcock's 2010 production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers returned to English National Opera (ENO) for its second revival on 19 October 2018. Designed by Dick Bird (sets) and Kevin Pollard (costumes) the production remains as spectacular as ever, and ENO fielded a promising young cast with Claudia Boyle as Leila, Robert McPherson as Nadir and Jacques Imbrailo as Zurga, plus James Creswell as Nourabad, conducted by Roland Böer.

Academy of Ancient Music: The Fairy Queen at the Barbican Hall

At the end of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus delivers a speech which returns to the play’s central themes: illusion, art and the creative imagination. The sceptical king dismisses ‘The poet’s vision - his ‘eye, in a fine frenzy rolling’ - which ‘gives to airy nothing/ A local habitation and a name’; such art, and theatre, is a psychological deception brought about by an excessive, uncontrolled imagination.

Vaughan Williams and Friends: St John's Smith Square

Following the success of previous ‘mini-festivals’ at St John’s Smith Square devoted to Schubert and Schumann, last weekend pianist Anna Tilbrook curated a three-day exploration of the work of Ralph Vaughan Williams and his contemporaries. The music performed in these six concerts was chosen to reflect the changing contexts in which it was composed and to reveal the vast changes in society, politics and culture which occurred during Vaughan Williams’ long life-time (1872-1958) and which shaped his life and creative output.

Bloodless Manon Lescaut at DNO

Trying to work around Manon Lescaut’s episodic structure, this new production presents the plot as the dying protagonist’s feverish hallucinations. The result is a frosty retelling of what is arguably Puccini’s most hot-blooded opera. Musically, the performance also left much to be desired.

English Touring Opera: Xerxes

It is Herodotus who tells us that when Xerxes was marching through Asia to invade Greece, he passed through the town of Kallatebos and saw by the roadside a magnificent plane-tree which, struck by its great beauty, he adorned with golden ornaments, and ordered that a man should remain beside the tree as its eternal guardian.

English National Opera: Tosca

Poor Puccini. He is far too often treated as a ‘box-office hit’ by our ‘major’ opera houses, at least in Anglophone countries. For so consummate a musical dramatist, that is something beyond a pity. Here in London, one is far better advised to go to Holland Park for interesting, intelligent productions, although ENO’s offerings have often had something to be said for them.

Don Pasquale in San Francisco

With only four singers and a short-story-like plot Don Pasquale is an ideal chamber opera. That chamber just now was the 3200 seat War Memorial Opera House where this not always charming opera buffa is an infrequent visitor (post WWII twice in the 1980’s after twice in the 40’s).

“Written in fire”: Momenta Quartet blazes through an Indonesian chamber opera

“Yang sementara tak akan menahan bintang hilang di bimasakti; Yang bergetar akan terhapus.” (“The transient cannot hold on to stars lost in the Milky Way; that which quivers will be erased.”) As soprano Tony Arnold sang these words of Tony Prabowo’s chamber opera Pastoral, with astonishingly crisp Indonesian diction, the first night of the second annual Momenta Festival approached its end.

English National Opera: Don Giovanni

Some operas seemed designed and destined to raise questions and debates - sometimes unanswerable and irresolvable, and often contentious. Termed a dramma giocoso, Mozart’s Don Giovanni has, historically, trodden a movable line between seria and buffa.

World Premiere Eötvös, Wigmore Hall, London

Péter Eötvös’ The Sirens Cycle received its world premiere at the Wigmore Hall, London, on Saturday night with Piia Komsi and the Calder Quartet. An exceptionally interesting new work, which even on first hearing intrigues: imagine studying the score! For The Sirens Cycle is elegantly structured, so intricate and so complex that it will no doubt reveal even greater riches the more familiar it becomes. It works so well because it combines the breadth of vision of an opera, yet is as concise as a chamber miniature. It's exquisite, and could take its place as one of Eötvös's finest works.

Manitoba Underground Opera: Mozart and Offenbach

Manitoba Underground Opera took audiences on a journey — literally and figuratively — as it presented its latest installment of repertory opera between August 19–26.

Stars of Lyric Opera 2016, Millennium Park, Chicago

On a recent weekend Lyric Opera of Chicago gave its annual concert at Millennium Park during which the coming season and its performers are variously showcased. Several of the performers, who were featured at this “Stars of Lyric Opera” event, are scheduled to make their debuts in Lyric Opera’s new production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold beginning on 1 October.

Così fan tutte at Covent Garden

Desire and deception; Amor and artifice. In Jan Philipp Gloger’s new production of Così van tutte at the Royal Opera House, the artifice is of the theatrical, rather than the human, kind. And, an opera whose charm surely lies in its characters’ amiable artfulness seems more concerned to underline the depressing reality of our own deluded faith in human fidelity and integrity.

Plácido Domingo as Macbeth, LA Opera

On September 22, 2016, Los Angeles Opera presented Darko Tresnjak’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Macbeth. Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave based their opera on Shakespeare’s play of the same name.

The Rake’s Progress: an Opera for Our Time

On September 18th, at a casual Sunday matinee, Pacific Opera Project presented a surprising choice for a small company. It was Igor Stravinsky’s 1951 three act opera, The Rake’s Progress. It’s a piece made for today's supertitles with its exquisitely worded libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman.

Classical Opera: Haydn's La canterina

We are nearing the end of Classical Opera’s MOZART 250 sojourn through 1766, a year that the company’s artistic director Ian Page admits was ‘on face value … a relatively fallow year’. I’m not so sure: Jommelli’s Il Vogoleso, performed at the Cadogan Hall in April, was a gem. But, then, I did find the repertoire that Classical Opera offered at the Wigmore Hall in January, ‘worthy rather than truly engaging’ (review). And, this programme of Haydn and his Czech contemporary Josef Mysliveček was stylishly executed but did not absolutely convince.

Dream of the Red Chamber in San Francisco

Globalization finds its way ever more to San Francisco Opera where Italian composer Marco Tutino’s La Ciociara saw the light of day in 2015 and now, 2016, Chinese composer Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber has been created.

San Diego Opera Opens with Recital by Piotr Beczala

Renowned Polish tenor Piotr Beczala and well-known collaborative pianist Martin Katz opened the San Diego Opera 2016–2017 season with a recital at the Balboa Theater on Saturday, September 17th.



15 Nov 2004

Le Figaro Reviews La Traviata at La Fenice: Praises Ciofi, But Not Much Else

Verdi à Las Vegas Venise : de notre envoyé spécial Jacques Doucelin [15 novembre 2004] Un de ces chats comme Venise en a le secret, trone impérial et méprisant au beau milieu d'une place ensoleillée, manteau mité, mais noeud papillon...

Verdi à Las Vegas

Venise : de notre envoyé spécial Jacques Doucelin
[15 novembre 2004]

Un de ces chats comme Venise en a le secret, trone impérial et méprisant au beau milieu d'une place ensoleillée, manteau mité, mais noeud papillon bien dessiné. Soudain, il jaillit à la verticale, moustache en bataille comme si un ressort l'avait projeté : filtrant par un regard, l'eau de la lagune vient d'atteindre son royal séant " Ce qui donne en gaulois : "Venez vite, Anna, l'eau arrive !"

L'aqua alta, la grande affaire des Vénitiens : ils jouent meme à se faire peur. En un tournemain, les planches sont mises en place pour que les touristes - Français à 90% en ce week-end de 11 novembre mâtiné de RTT - puissent circuler à pied sec. Fausse alerte ! L'eau vert amande lèche amoureusement le seuil blanc de l'église San Moïaut;se sans y pénétrer. Puis repart silencieuse comme elle est arrivée. Ainsi va la vie dans le plus beau théâtre du monde qu'est la Sérénissime.

Du théâtre, et du vrai, il y en eut la veille à La Fenice qui renaissait à l'opéra après l'incendie de 1996. Rendue à sa splendeur d'antan, la célèbre salle que l'on voit dans Senso de Visconti, fut inaugurée par un concert de Muti l'an passé (voir nos éditions du 16 décembre 2003), mais attendait toujours sa résurrection lyrique. C'est désormais chose faite avec La Traviata de Verdi, opéra emblématique de son glorieux passé. L'idée de son directeur artistique Sergio Segalini de revenir à la version de la création à Venise en 1853 constitue un attrait non négligeable de ce nouveau spectacle signé par le metteur en scène canadien Robert Carsen.

Si les différences avec l'édition remaniée dès 1854, après l'échec de l'année précédente et après un changement de distribution, ne sautent pas aux oreilles du public, elles sont d'importance pour le role-titre. On a dit souvent qu'il fallait deux voix pour chanter Violetta : dans la version d'origine, celle-ci gagne en homogénéité, l'écriture se révélant plus légère et plus virtuose tout au long de l'ouvrage. Violetta se rapproche ainsi de la Gilda de Rigoletto.

Ce retour à l'original sied à Patrizia Ciofi, magnifique de bout en bout. Décidément, la soprano italienne est vouée aux roles de courtisane après la Poppée de Monteverdi qu'elle vient de chanter au Théâtre des Champs-élysées. Verdi lui va mille fois mieux car il correspond à son tempérament comme aux caractéristiques de sa voix à la fois agile et colorée. Et douée surtout d'une grande sensibilité. Je n'aurai pas le mauvais gout de vanter sa plastique : disons que Robert Carsen a eu beaucoup de chance avec une artiste dont le plumage vaut le ramage.

Elle est malheureusement la seule des trois protagonistes du drame dont on puisse le dire. Les deux Germont de cette première - le ténor italo-germanique Roberto Saccà et le baryton russe Dmitri Hvorostovsky - chantent les notes constamment forte, incapables de la moindre nuance, de la moindre humanité : un comble dans cet écrin sublime ! Lorin Maazel apporte le prestige de son nom et son époustouflante technique d'orchestre sans aller au-delà d'un travail bien fait avec les musiciens comme avec les choristes.

On a connu Carsen mieux inspiré. Moderniser La Traviata n'est plus une nouveauté. Il ne suffit pas de se réclamer de Verdi qui voulait que l'ouvrage soit donné à son époque à lui Il aurait fallu trouver un équivalent. Alors Carsen durcit le trait : sa Violetta est une vraie prostituée qui n'aime que l'argent.

La voilà soeur de Lulu de Berg : expressionnisme et romantisme ne font pas bon ménage. Et cette pluie continue de billets de banque jusque dans le jardin : Carsen doit avoir un problème avec l'argent Non, décidément, La Fenice méritait mieux.

La Fenice : les 16, 18 et 19 novembre à 19 h, les 17 et 20 à 15 h 30. Tél. :, Arte retransmettra en direct la représentation du 18 novembre à 19 h.

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