Recently in Performances
If Strauss’s operas of the 1920s receive far too little performing attention, especially in the Anglosphere, those of the 1930s seem to fare worse still.
The 67th edition of the prestigious Festival d’Aix-en-Provence opened on July 2 with an explosive production of Handel’s Alcina followed the next night by an explosive production of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
O/MODƏRNT is Swedish for ‘un/modern’. It is also the name of the festival — curated by artistic director Hugo Ticciati and held
annually since 2011 at the Ulriksdal’s Palace Theatre, Confidencen — which aims to look back and celebrate the past ‘by
exploring the relationships between the work of old composers and the artistic and intellectual creations of modern culture’.
Matthias Goerne and Menahem Pressler at the Wigmore Hall, London, an intriguing recital on many levels. Goerne programmes are always imaginative, bringing out new perspectives, enhancing our appreciation of the depth and intelligence that makes Lieder such a rewarding experience. Menahem Pressler is extremely experienced as a soloist and chamber musician, but hasn't really ventured into song to the extent that other pianists, like Brendel, Eschenbach or Richter, for starters. He's not the first name that springs to mind as Lieder accompanist. Therein lay the pleasure !
It is twenty-three years since Rossini’s opera of cultural oppression, inspiring heroism and tender pathos was last seen on the Covent Garden stage, but this eagerly awaited new production of Guillaume Tell by Italian director Damiano Micheletto will be remembered more for the audience outrage and vociferous mid-performance booing that it provoked — the most persistent and strident that I have heard in this house — than for its dramatic, visual or musical impact.
With its outrageous staging demands, you sometimes wonder why opera companies want to produce Verdi’s Aida. But the piece is about far more than pharaohs, pyramids and camels.
Given the enduring resonance and impact of the magnificent visual aesthetic of Visconti’s 1971 film of Thomas Mann’s novella, opera directors might be forgiven for concluding that Britten’s Death in Venice does not warrant experimentation with period and design, and for playing safe with Edwardian elegance, sweeping Venetian vistas and stylised seascapes.
If La Rondine (The Swallow) is a less-admired work than rest of the mature Puccini canon, you wouldn’t have known it by the lavish production now lovingly staged by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Few companies have championed new or neglected works quite as fervently and consistently as the industrious Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
For Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, “everything old is new again.”
Why would an American opera company devote its resources to the premiere of an opera by an Italian composer? Furthermore a parochially Italian story?
Berlioz’ Les Troyens is in two massive parts — La prise de Troy and Troyens à Carthage.
On Saturday evening June 13, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Dog Days, a new opera with music by David T. Little and a text by Royce Vavrek. In the opera adopted from a story of the same name by Judy Budnitz, thirteen-year-old Lisa tells of her family’s mental and physical disintegration resulting from the ravages of a horrendous war.
Audiences at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan first saw Madama Butterfly on February 17, 1904. It was not the success it is these days, and Puccini revised it before its scheduled performances in Brescia.
Opera Philadelphia is a very well-managed opera company with a great vision. Every year it presents a number of well-known “warhorse” operas, usually in the venerable Academy of Music, and a few more adventurous productions, usually in a chamber opera format suited to the smaller Pearlman Theater.
Written in 1783, Giovanni Paisiello’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia reigned for three decades as one of Europe’s most popular operas, before being overshadowed forever by Rossini’s classic work.
The Princeton Festival has established a reputation for high-quality summer opera. In recent years works by Handel, Britten, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Wagner and Gershwin have been performed at Matthews Theater on Princeton University campus: a 1100-seat auditorium with good sight-lines though a somewhat dry and uneven acoustic.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail was Mozart’s ﬁrst great public success in Vienna, and it became the composer’s most oft performed opera during his lifetime.
The Ensemble for the Romantic Century offered a thoughtful and well-curated evening in their production of The Sorrows of Young Werther, which is part theatrical performance and part art song concert.
This was an adventurous double bill of two ‘quasi-operas’ by Hans Werner Henze, performed by young singers who are studying on the postgraduate Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
17 Nov 2004
WSJ Reviews Le Grande Macabre and The Flying Dutchman at the SFO
Waiting for the End of the World
By HEIDI WALESON [WSJ]
November 17, 2004
Many listeners know Gyorgy Ligeti from the creepily futuristic orchestral music in the soundtrack of the 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” His opera “Le Grand Macabre” (1978, revised in 1996), given its American premiere this month by the San Francisco Opera, is a thoroughly different creature, yet it is just as much an artifact of its time. Though carefully crafted and full of compositional references, the score is mostly an elbow-in-the-ribs accompaniment to a nihilistic black comedy. Beginning with an opening fanfare for car horns that sounds like Harpo Marx multiplied and continuing with a parody of the “Dies Irae,” the prophecy of the Day of Judgment, the opera is a soulless and often scatological joke.
Waiting for the End of the World
By HEIDI WALESON [WSJ]
November 17, 2004
Many listeners know Gyorgy Ligeti from the creepily futuristic orchestral music in the soundtrack of the 1968 movie "2001: A Space Odyssey." His opera "Le Grand Macabre" (1978, revised in 1996), given its American premiere this month by the San Francisco Opera, is a thoroughly different creature, yet it is just as much an artifact of its time. Though carefully crafted and full of compositional references, the score is mostly an elbow-in-the-ribs accompaniment to a nihilistic black comedy. Beginning with an opening fanfare for car horns that sounds like Harpo Marx multiplied and continuing with a parody of the "Dies Irae," the prophecy of the Day of Judgment, the opera is a soulless and often scatological joke.
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Cast information (Le Grande Macabre):
Piet The Pot — Graham Clark
Amando — Sara Fulgoni
Amanda — Anne-Sophie Duprels
Nekrotzar — Willard White
Astradamors — Clive Bayley
Mescalina — Susanne Resmark
Venus/Gepopo — Caroline Stein
Prince Go-Go — Gerald Thompson
White Politician — John Duykers
Black Politician — Joshua Bloom
Additional information on Le Grande Macabre here.
Cast information (The Flying Dutchman):
The Dutchman — Juha Uusitalo
Senta — Nina Stemme
Erik — Christopher Ventris
Daland — Walter Fink
Additional information on The Flying Dutchman here.