Recently in Performances
Roderick Williams’ and Julius Drake’s English Winter Journey seems such a perfect concept that one wonders why no one had previously thought of compiling a sequence of 24 songs by English composers to mirror, complement and discourse with Schubert’s song-cycle of love and loss.
A historical afternoon at the NTR Saturday Matinee occurred with an epic
concert version of Prokofiev’s Soviet Opera Semyon Kotko.
Opening night at the Metropolitan is a gleeful occasion even when the
composer is long gone, but December 1st was an opening for a living composer who
has been making waves around the world and is, gasp, a woman — the second woman
composer ever to have an opera presented at the Met.
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.
03 Dec 2004
Praises for Rodelinda at the Met
Review: 'Rodelinda' at Met Is Masterpiece MIKE SILVERMAN Associated Press NEW YORK - George Frideric Handel's "Rodelinda" was a huge success at its London premiere in 1725, but it soon vanished from the stage and - like the composer's three...
Review: 'Rodelinda' at Met Is Masterpiece
NEW YORK - George Frideric Handel's "Rodelinda" was a huge success at its London premiere in 1725, but it soon vanished from the stage and - like the composer's three dozen other operas - languished unperformed for nearly 200 years.
Lovely music, went the prevailing assessment, but basically just a long string of arias with no dramatic coherence.
Yet today, "Rodelinda" is recognized as a masterpiece that can enthrall a modern audience if it's cast with first-rate singers and presented in a lively production. Both requirements are met handsomely in the production that premiered Thursday at the Metropolitan Opera, starring soprano Renee Fleming in the title role and directed by Stephen Wadsworth.
Adapting their plot from an obscure eighth-century history, Handel and his librettist streamlined the story to focus on Rodelinda, queen of Milan, and her husband, King Bertarido, who has been overthrown by the tyrant Grimoaldo. When the opera begins, Bertarido is believed dead, and Grimoaldo is plotting to marry Rodelinda, but it turns out the deposed monarch is alive and hoping to reunite with his wife and young son. A subplot involves the king's sister, Eduige, and a villainous court counselor, Garibaldo.
It's true that the opera consists almost entirely of solo arias (28 of them, plus one duet and a final ensemble). But Handel builds the dramatic tension so skillfully that the emotional stakes keep rising during each of the three acts until the happy resolution brings a genuine sense of rejoicing.
Fleming, one of today's operatic superstars, has tackled a diverse repertory at the Met, triumphing in Strauss, Mozart and Verdi, but having less success in Bellini's bel canto relic "Il Pirata." As Rodelinda, she sang with commitment and attention to detail, though her soft-grained voice took awhile to warm up. She hit her stride in Act 2 with a ravishing performance of the aria "Ritorna, o caro" as she awaited her reunion with Bertarido (countertenor David Daniels) then joined him in a meltingly beautiful account of the duet that closes the act before he is led off to prison.
Daniels sang with fire and admirable dexterity throughout the evening, though his middle register at times sounded underpowered. Another bravura countertenor, Bejun Mehta, sang the supporting role of Unulfo, Bertarido's ally in the court. Mezzo Stephanie Blythe was magnificent in her few opportunities to shine as Eduige; as Grimoaldo, South African tenor Kobe van Rensburg made a strong debut, with a voice of modest size but unforced flexibility. Bass John Relyea was compelling as Garibaldo and gets extra points for singing while mounting and riding off on a horse.
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