Recently in Performances
For an opera that has never quite made it over the threshold into the ‘canonical’, the adolescent Mozart’s La finta giardiniera has not done badly of late for productions in the UK. In 2014, Glyndebourne presented Frederic Wake-Walker’s take on the eighteen-year-old’s dramma giocoso. Wake-Walker turned the romantic shenanigans and skirmishes into a debate on the nature of reality, in which the director tore off layers of theatrical artifice in order to answer Auden’s rhetorical question, ‘O tell me the truth about love’.
As the German language describes so beautifully, a “Schrei aus
tiefstem Herzen” was felt as Evelyn Herlitzius channelled an Elektra
from the depths of her soul.
Heading to N.Y.C and D.C. for its annual performances, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra invited Semyon Bychkov to return for his Mahler debut with the Fifth Symphony. Having recently returned from Vienna with praise for their rendition, the orchestra now presented it at their homebase.
Igor Stravinsky's lost Funeral Song, (Chante funèbre) op 5 conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky in St Petersburg This extraordinary performance was infinitely more than an ordinary concert, even for a world premiere of an unknown work.
On Tuesday evening this week, I found myself at The Actors Centre in London’s Covent Garden watching a performance of Unknowing, a dramatization of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben and Dichterliebe (in a translation by David Parry, in which Matthew Monaghan directed a baritone and a soprano as they enacted a narrative of love, life and loss. Two days later at the Wigmore Hall I enjoyed a wonderful performance, reviewed here, by countertenor Philippe Jaroussky with Julien Chauvin’s Le Concert de la Loge, of cantatas by Telemann and J.S. Bach.
Here is one of the next new great conductors. That’s a bold statement,
but even the L.A. Times agrees: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s appointment
“is the biggest news in the conducting world.” But Ms. Mirga
Gražinytė-Tyla will be getting a lot of weight on her shoulders.
Manitoba Opera chose to open its 44th season by going for the belly laughs — literally — as it notably presented its inaugural production of Verdi’s Falstaff.
Macabre and moonstruck, Schubert as Goth, with Stuart Jackson, Marcus Farnsworth and James Baillieu at the Wigmore Hall. An exceptionally well-planned programme devised with erudition and wit, executed to equally high standards.
On November 20, 2016, Arizona Opera completed its run of Antonín Dvořák’s fairy Tale opera, Rusalka. Loosely based on Hand Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, Joshua Borths staged it with common objects such as dining room chairs that could be found in the home of a child watching the story unfold.
Consistently overshadowed by the neighboring Bayreuth, the far less stuffy Oper Leipzig (Wagner’s birthplace) programmed after forty years their first complete Ring Cycle.
You didn’t have to know the Bugs Bunny oeuvre to appreciate Opera San Jose’s enchanting Il barbiere di Sivigila, but it sure enhanced your experience if you did.
If there was ever any doubt that Puccini’s Manon is on a road to nowhere, then the closing image of Jonathan Kent’s 2014 production of Manon Lescaut (revived here for the first time, by Paul Higgins) leaves no uncertainty.
Many opera singers are careful to maintain an air of political neutrality. Not so mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who is outspoken about causes she holds dear. Her latest project, a very personal response to the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, puts her audience through the emotional wringer, but also showers them with musical rewards.
I wonder if Karl Amadeus Hartmann saw something of himself in the young Simplicius Simplicissimus, the eponymous protagonist of his three-scene chamber opera of 1936. Simplicius is in a sort of ‘Holy Fool’ who manages to survive the violence and civil strife of the Thirty Years War (1618-48), largely through dumb chance, and whose truthful pronouncements fall upon the ears of the deluded and oppressive.
For its second opera of the 2016-17 season Lyric Opera of Chicago has staged Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in a production seen at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Grand Théâtre de Genève.
Akhnaten is the third in composer Philip Glass’s trilogy of operas about people who have made important contributions to society: Albert Einstein in science, Mahatma Gandhi in politics, and Akhnaten in religion. Glass’s three operas are: Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten.
Shakespeare re-imagined for the very Late Baroque, with Bampton Classical Opera at St John's Smith Square. "Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare....the God of Our Idolatory". So wrote David Garrick in his Ode to Shakespeare (1759) through which the actor and showman marketed Shakespeare to new audiences, fanning the flames of "Bardolatory". All Europe was soon caught up in the frenzy.
David Little composed his one-man opera, Soldier Songs, ten years ago and the International Festival of Arts & Ideas of New Haven, Connecticut, premiered it in 2011. At San Diego Opera, the fifty-five minute musical presentation and the “Talk Back” that followed it were part of the Shiley dētour Series which is held in the company’s smaller venue, the historic Balboa Theatre.
On Saturday evening November 12, 2016, Pacific Opera Project presented Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville in an updated version that placed the action in Hollywood. It was sung in the original Italian but the translation seen as supertitles was specially written to match the characters’ Hollywood identities.
A Butterfly for the ages in a Butterfly marred by casting ineptness and lugubrious conducting.
08 Dec 2004
Handel in Paris: A Review of Hercules
Paris Palais Garnier 12/04/2004 - et 6, 8, 11, 14, 16, 19, 22, 27 décembre 2004 Georg Friedrich Haendel : Hercules Joyce DiDonato (Dejanira), William Shimell (Hercules), Malena Ernman (Lichas), Toby Spence (Hyllus), Indela Bohlin (Iole), Simon Kirkbridge (Pretre de...
12/04/2004 - et 6, 8, 11, 14, 16, 19, 22, 27 décembre 2004
Georg Friedrich Haendel : Hercules
Joyce DiDonato (Dejanira), William Shimell (Hercules), Malena Ernman (Lichas), Toby Spence (Hyllus), Indela Bohlin (Iole), Simon Kirkbridge (Pretre de Jupiter)
Orchestre et Chœur des Arts Florissants, William Christie (direction)
Luc Bondy (mise en scène)
Parmi les nombreux opéras de Haendel, Hercules (1745) concentre le drame comme rarement. C'est la jalousie qui tient ici le premier role au long d'une intrigue très linéaire, la jalousie qui naît (acte I), ronge (acte II) et culmine dans la folie (acte III). Au retour de ses douze travaux, Hercules ramène en effet parmi ses captifs une princesse " à la beauté fatale ", Iole, dont son épouse, Déjanira, soupçonne qu'elle est son amante ; il faudra la mort du héros pour que, sombrant dans la folie, elle se rende compte de son erreur.
Figure centrale de l'opéra, le role de Déjanira nécessite des moyens vocaux et un investissement dramatique à la mesure des grandes héroïaut;nes lyriques (Traviata, Isolde, Elektra ...), pour notre plus grande satisfaction et la réussite de cette production (créée à Aix cet été), Joyce DiDonato se révèle parfaitement à la hauteur. Très convaincante dans les circonvolutions de l'écriture baroque, captivante dans la tragédie du doute affreux qui la ronge, la mezzo américaine signe ici une performance remarquable, on ne souhaite que la voir plus souvent à Paris ! Drame resserré sur six personnages, les autres roles sont également parfaitement tenus, des deux séduisantes suédoises Ingela Bohlin (soprano, Iole) et Malena Ernman (mezzo, Lichas) à l'anglais Simon Kirkbridge (baryton-basse, Pretre de Jupiter), qui tous les trois font leurs débuts à l'Opéra de Paris ; et l'on retrouve avec plaisir les deux anglais William Shimell (baryton, Hercules) et Toby Spence (ténor, Hyllus).
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[NB: Hercules (HWV 60) is classified as neither an opera nor as an oratorio. It is a drama that is performed in oratorio style. Click here for complete information.]