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Recently in Performances

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

The Maid of Pskov (Pskovityanka) , St. Petersburg

I recently spent four days in St. Petersburg, timed to coincide with the annual Stars of the White Nights Festival. Yet the most memorable singing I heard was neither at the Mariinsky Theater nor any other performance hall. It was in the small, nearly empty church built for the last Tsar, Nicholas II, at Tsarskoye Selo.

Prom 11 — Grange Park Opera: Fiddler on the Roof

As I walked up Exhibition Road on my way to the Royal Albert Hall, I passed a busking tuba player whose fairground ditties were enlivened by bursts of flame which shot skyward from the bell of his instrument, to the amusement and bemusement of a rapidly gathering pavement audience.

Saul, Glyndebourne

A brilliant theatrical event, bringing Handel’s theatre of the mind to life on stage

Roberta Invernizzi, Wigmore Hall

‘Here, thanks be to God, my opera is praised to the skies and there is nothing in it which does not please greatly.’ So wrote Antonio Vivaldi to Marchese Guido Bentivoglio d’Aragona in Ferrara in 1737.

Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre Re

Asphyxiations, atrophy by poison, assassination: in Italo Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre Re (The Love of the Three Kings, 1913) foul deed follows foul deed until the corpses are piled high. 

Prom 4: Andris Nelsons

The precision of attack in the opening to Beethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus Overture signalled thoroughgoing excellence in the contribution of the CBSO to this concert.

BBC Proms: The Cardinall’s Musick

When he was skilfully negotiating the not inconsiderable complexities, upheavals and strife of musical and religious life at the English royal court during the Reformation, Thomas Tallis (c.1505-85) could hardly have imagined that more than 450 years later people would be queuing round the block for the opportunity spend their lunch-hour listening to the music that he composed in service of his God and his monarch.

Oberon, Persephone and Iolanta at the Aix Festival

Two of the important late twentieth century stage directors, Robert Carsen and Peter Sellars, returned to the Aix Festival this summer. Carsen’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a masterpiece, Sellars’ strange Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky double bill is simply bizarre.

Betrothal and Betrayal : JPYA at the ROH

The annual celebration of young talent at the Royal Opera House is a magnificent showcase, and it was good to see such a healthy audience turnout.

Jenůfa Packs a Wallop at DMMO

There are few operas that can rival the visceral impact of a well-staged Jenůfa and Des Moines Metro Opera has emphatically delivered the goods.

Des Moines Fanciulla a Minnie-Triumph

The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West) often gets eclipsed when compared to the rest of the mature Puccini canon.

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015 with Sakari Oramo in exuberant form, pulling off William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the theatrical flair it deserves.

Monsters and Marriage at the Aix Festival

Plus an evening by the superb Modigliani Quartet that complimented the brief (55 minutes) a cappella opera for six female voices Svadba (2013) by Serbian composer Ana Sokolovic (b. 1968). She lives in Canada.

Des Moines: A Whole Other Secret Garden

With its revelatory production of Rappaccini’s Daughter performed outdoors in the city’s refurbished Botanical Gardens, Des Moines Metro Opera has unlocked the gate to a mysterious, challenging landscape of musical delights.

Seductive Abduction in Iowa

Des Moines Metro Opera has quite a crowd-pleasing production of The Abduction from the Seraglio on its hands.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Garsington Opera

Even by Shakespeare’s standards A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of his earlier plays, boasts a particularly fantastical plot involving a bunch of aristocrats (the Athenian Court of Theseus), feuding gods and goddesses (Oberon and Titania), ‘Rude Mechanicals’ (Bottom, Quince et al) and assorted faeries and spirits (such as Puck).

Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

What do we call Tristan und Isolde? That may seem a silly question. Tristan und Isolde, surely, and Tristan for short, although already we come to the exquisite difficulty, as Tristan and Isolde themselves partly seem (though do they only seem?) to recognise of that celebrated ‘und’.

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

So this was it, the Pelléas which had apparently repelled critics and other members of the audience on the opening night. Perhaps that had been exaggeration; I avoided reading anything substantive — and still have yet to do so.

Richard Strauss: Arabella

I had last seen Arabella as part of the Munich Opera Festival’s Richard Strauss Week in 2008. It is not, I am afraid, my favourite Strauss opera; in fact, it is probably my least favourite. However, I am always willing to be convinced.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

28 Dec 2004

Die Presse Reviews Das Rheingold at Covent Garden

Covent Garden: über 193 Stufen nach Walhall VON PETRA HAIDERER Mit "Rheingold" begann der neue "Ring"-Zyklus in Londons Covent Garden Opera - Bryn Terfel sang erstmals den Wotan. This is Covent Garden!", sagt die me lodische Frauenstimme in der Londoner...

Covent Garden: über 193 Stufen nach Walhall

VON PETRA HAIDERER

Mit "Rheingold" begann der neue "Ring"-Zyklus in Londons Covent Garden Opera - Bryn Terfel sang erstmals den Wotan.

This is Covent Garden!", sagt die me lodische Frauenstimme in der Londoner U-Bahn. Die Station der Piccadilly Line rechtfertigt den Namen "Underground" wie keine zweite. 193 Stufen wendelt sich der Opernfreund nach oben. Zwar gibt es einen (zu kleinen) Lift und die Treppe soll laut Ansage nur im Notfall benutzt werden. Doch Jung und Alt drängelt beherzt frischer Luft entgegen.

Auch im Royal Opera House ist der Andrang gross. Die Neuinszenierung von Wagners "Ring" - "Walküre" folgt im März, "Siegfried" und "Götterdämmerung" nächste Saison - ist das grösste Projekt seit der Wiedereröffnung des renovierten Hauses vor fünf Jahren. Der letzte "Ring" unter Bernard Haitink liegt acht Jahre zurück. Seit Wochen ist die Premiere des "Rheingold" ausverkauft. Auf der Homepage des Hauses erzählen die Protagonisten via Videoclip von den Hochs und Tiefs der Probenarbeit - allen voran Bryn Terfel, der erstmals als Wotan auf der Bühne steht.

Am Anfang: das Nichts. Kein Auftrittsapplaus für Dirigent Antonio Pappano. Aus dunkler Stille lässt der musikalische Chef von Covent Garden Wagners einleitende, schier endlose Es-Dur-Harmonie emporwachsen. Pappano unterstreicht vor allem das Lyrische, sucht das Kammermusikalische. Die Sänger, ein homogenes Ensemble auf hervorragendem Niveau, singen stets mit exquisiter Wortdeutlichkeit, können sich feinsinnigen Details widmen. Fasolts (Franz-Josef Selig) sachtes Bekenntnis zu des "Weibes Wonne und Wert" - dynamisch und im Tempo fein abgemischt - wird so zu einem besonders berührenden Augenblick.

An die kantige Plastizität von Wagners vielschichtig charakterisierender Klangsprache wagt sich der Maestro aber vielleicht zu vorsichtig heran. Zu sehr ist er offenbar dem reinen Schönklang verpflichtet. Alberich (Günter von Kannen) etwa fehlt die verzweifelte Wucht, das plötzlich hervorbrechende, dann wieder schleichend schwelende Böse, aus dem sich das dräuende Drama zum fatalen Untergang der Götter entwickelt.

[Click here for remainder of review.]

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