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The Importance of Being Earnest , Gerald Barry’s fifth opera, was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Barbican, and was first performed in concert, Thomas Adès conducting the London premiere.
‘Beauty is the one form of spirituality that we experience through the senses.’ In Thomas Mann’s, Death in Venice, Plato’s axiom stirs the hopes of the aging, intellectually stale poet, Gustav von Aschenbach, that he may rekindle his creativity.
There is a sense in which it all began in London, Puccini having been seized in 1900 with the idea of an opera on this subject after watching David Belasco’s play here.
The tenor that the audience most wanted to hear, Plácido Domingo, opened the vocal program with “Junto al puente de la peña” (Next to the rock bridge) from La Canción del Olvido (The song of Oblivion) by José Serrano. He sounded rested and his voice soared majestically over the orchestra.
Tucked away somewhere in the San Francisco Opera warehouse was an old John Cox production of Così fan tutte from Monte Carlo. Well, not that old by current standards at San Francisco Opera.
Rossini's Maometto Secondo is a major coup for Garsington Opera at Wormsley, confirming its status as the leading specialist Rossini house in Britain. Maometto Secondo is a masterpiece, yet rarely performed because it's formidably difficult to sing. It's a saga with some of the most intense music Rossini ever wrote, expressing a drama so powerful that one can understand why early audiences needed "happy endings" to water down its impact
I suppose it was inevitable that, in this Britten Centenary year, the 66th Aldeburgh Festival would open with Peter Grimes.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail at Garsington Opera at Wormsley isn’t Mozart as you’d expect but it’s true to the spirit of Mozart who loved witty, madcap japes.
What a pity! On a glorious — well, by recent English standards — summer’s day, there can be few more beautiful English countryside settings
than Glyndebourne, with the added bonus, as alas much of the audience appears
to understand it, of an opera house attached.
Described by one critic as “cosmically gifted”, during her tragically short career, American mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson amazed and delighted audiences with the spellbinding beauty of her singing and the astonishing honesty of her performances.
“I wrote it almost without noticing.” So Verdi declared when reminded of his eighth — and perhaps least frequently performed, opera, Alzira. One might say that, since he composed the work, no-one else has much noticed either.
Just when you thought the protagonist was Hoffmann! Who, rather what stole the show?
When is verismo verily veristic? Or what is a virginal girl dressed in communion white doing in the two murderous acts of the Los Angeles Opera’s current production of Tosca? And why does she sing the shepherd's song?
Wagner’s Lohengrin is not an unfamiliar visitor to the UK thanks,
in the main, to Elijah Moshinsky’s perennial production at Covent Garden.
Philip Glass's The Perfect American at the ENO in London is a visual treat, but the libretto is mind-numbingly anodyne.
Jonathan Dove's Mansfield Park, with libretto by his regular collaborator Alasdair Middleton, has the remarkable distinction of being the first completed operatic adaptation of any Jane Austen novel to be staged.
London’s two principal opera companies have offered a baffling
near-silence as their response to Wagner’s two-hundredth anniversary.
If a recent trio of musically superlative performances at Canadian Opera Company is indicative of their norm, the casting director should get a hefty bonus.
Just when you imagine you’ve got the operatic time-line fixed in your mind
in a clean sweep of what goes where and when and how, you hear another work
from another forgotten corner of the repertory that upends one’s conclusions.
Nothing inspires fable quite like defeat. The great riddle of Spanish
history is how the Christian Visigoths managed to lose the Iberian peninsula to
the Moors in one small battle in 711 and took eight hundred years to get it
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.]