Recently in Performances
For its annual visit to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Glyndebourne brought its new production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, an opera which premiered 200 years ago.
‘A caprice written with the point of a needle’: so Berlioz described his opera Béatrice and Bénédict, which pares down Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to its comic quintessence, shorn of the sub-plots, destroyed reputations and near-bloodshed of Shakespeare’s original.
‘This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.’ It is, perhaps, a line quoted too often; yet, even though it may not have been entirely accurate on this occasion, it came to my mind. Its accuracy might be questioned in several respects.
Central City Opera celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Ballad of Baby Doe with a hip, canny, multi-faceted new production.
Someone forgot to tell Central City Opera that it would be difficult to fit Puccini’s (usually) architecturally large Tosca on their small stage.
A cast worthy of Bayreuth made for an unforgettable Wagnerian experience at
the Sommer Festspiele in Baden-Baden.
Loving attention to the highest quality was everywhere evident in Des Moines Metro Opera’s Manon.
Des Moines Metro Opera had (almost) all the laughs in the right places, and certainly had all the right singers in these meaty roles to make for an enjoyable outing with Verdi’s masterpiece
With the thermometers reaching boiling point, there’s no doubt that summer has finally arrived in London. But, the sun seems to have been shining over the large marquee in Holland Park all summer.
J.S. Bach’s cerebral Art of the Fugue in Aix, Verdi’s massive Requiem in Orange, Ibn al-Muqaffa’ ‘s fable of the camel, jackal, wolf and crow, Sophocles’ blind Oedipus Rex and the Bible’s triumphant Psalm No. 150 in Aix.
The champagne corks popped at the close of this year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance at the Royal Opera House, with Prince Orlofsky’s celebratory toast forming a fitting conclusion to some superb singing.
Bryn Terfel is making a habit of performing Russian patriarchs at the Proms.
What happens when just everything about an operatic performance goes joyously right?
Two years ago, the well-established Des Moines Metro Opera experimented with a 2nd Stages program, with performances programmed outside of their home stage at Simpson College.
What to make of the unannounced decision to open this concert with the Marseillaise? I am sure it was well intended, and perhaps should leave it at that.
In a fairy-tale, it can sometimes feel as if one is living a dream but on the verge of being awoken to a shock. Such is life in these dark and uncertain days.
The tense, three hour knock-down-drag-out seduction of Beauty by Pleasure consumed our souls in this triumphal evening. Forget Time and Disillusion as destructors, they were the very constructors of the beauty and pleasure found in this miniature oratorio.
Three parallel universes (before losing count) — the ephemeral Debussy/Maeterlinck masterpiece, the Debussy symphonic tone poem, and the twisted intricacies of a moldy, parochially English country estate.
This, alas, was where I had to sign off. A weekend conference on Parsifal (including, on the Saturday, a showing of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s Parsifal film) mean that I missed Götterdämmerung, skipping straight to the sequel.
The culmination of Opera North’s “Ring for Everyone”, this Götterdämmerung showed the power of the condensed movement so necessary in a staged performance - each gesture of each character was perfectly judged - as well as the visceral power of having Wagner’s huge orchestra on stage as opposed to the pit.
24 Dec 2004
Haydn's The Creation at The Sage, Gateshead
Haydn’s Creation couldn’t have been a more appropriate choice for the opening concert at The Sage Gateshead complex, although it must have felt more like “paradise found” for the Northern Sinfonia than Paradise Lost, the Milton poem on which the oratorio is based.
In the performances of the uninhibited soloists – Geraldine McGreevy, Thomas Walker and Michael George (placed, perhaps unwisely, behind the orchestra) – there was a sense of the architectural accomplishment and, more obviously, the human joy contained in Haydn’s great work. The one artistic achievement matched the other splendidly.
The Creation, The Sage, Gateshead
By Lynne Walker
24 December 2004
Haydn's Creation couldn't have been a more appropriate choice for the opening concert at The Sage Gateshead complex, although it must have felt more like "paradise found" for the Northern Sinfonia than Paradise Lost, the Milton poem on which the oratorio is based.
In the performances of the uninhibited soloists - Geraldine McGreevy, Thomas Walker and Michael George (placed, perhaps unwisely, behind the orchestra) - there was a sense of the architectural accomplishment and, more obviously, the human joy contained in Haydn's great work. The one artistic achievement matched the other splendidly.
From the remarkable evocation in "Chaos" of nothingness - except for the dark emptiness that existed before the creation - to the arrival of human life in the universe, which is symbolised at the end of the work, the music's cosmic power grid flickered, then blazed into life.
If it didn't blaze throughout, in the refined reading of the orchestra's musical director, the violinist Thomas Zehetmair, it didn't matter. His tempos felt absolutely right and, in matters of phrasing and articulation, in the music's nuances and wittily picturesque allusions, and in the assured attack of the choir and chamber orchestra, it was an evening of superb recreation, of vision fulfilled.
For the opening concert (given twice, and recorded for broadcast on radio and TV), the orchestra was joined by the Northern Sinfonia Chorus, well-drilled for this occasion by its founder, Alan Fearon.
[Click here for remainder of review.]