Recently in Performances
Matthias Goerne and Menahem Pressler at the Wigmore Hall, London, an intriguing recital on many levels. Goerne programmes are always imaginative, bringing out new perspectives, enhancing our appreciation of the depth and intelligence that makes Lieder such a rewarding experience. Menahem Pressler is extremely experienced as a soloist and chamber musician, but hasn't really ventured into song to the extent that other pianists, like Brendel, Eschenbach or Richter, for starters. He's not the first name that springs to mind as Lieder accompanist. Therein lay the pleasure !
It is twenty-three years since Rossini’s opera of cultural oppression, inspiring heroism and tender pathos was last seen on the Covent Garden stage, but this eagerly awaited new production of Guillaume Tell by Italian director Damiano Micheletto will be remembered more for the audience outrage and vociferous mid-performance booing that it provoked — the most persistent and strident that I have heard in this house — than for its dramatic, visual or musical impact.
With its outrageous staging demands, you sometimes wonder why opera companies want to produce Verdi’s Aida. But the piece is about far more than pharaohs, pyramids and camels.
Given the enduring resonance and impact of the magnificent visual aesthetic of Visconti’s 1971 film of Thomas Mann’s novella, opera directors might be forgiven for concluding that Britten’s Death in Venice does not warrant experimentation with period and design, and for playing safe with Edwardian elegance, sweeping Venetian vistas and stylised seascapes.
If La Rondine (The Swallow) is a less-admired work than rest of the mature Puccini canon, you wouldn’t have known it by the lavish production now lovingly staged by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Few companies have championed new or neglected works quite as fervently and consistently as the industrious Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
For Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, “everything old is new again.”
Why would an American opera company devote its resources to the premiere of an opera by an Italian composer? Furthermore a parochially Italian story?
Berlioz’ Les Troyens is in two massive parts — La prise de Troy and Troyens à Carthage.
On Saturday evening June 13, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Dog Days, a new opera with music by David T. Little and a text by Royce Vavrek. In the opera adopted from a story of the same name by Judy Budnitz, thirteen-year-old Lisa tells of her family’s mental and physical disintegration resulting from the ravages of a horrendous war.
Audiences at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan first saw Madama Butterfly on February 17, 1904. It was not the success it is these days, and Puccini revised it before its scheduled performances in Brescia.
Opera Philadelphia is a very well-managed opera company with a great vision. Every year it presents a number of well-known “warhorse” operas, usually in the venerable Academy of Music, and a few more adventurous productions, usually in a chamber opera format suited to the smaller Pearlman Theater.
Written in 1783, Giovanni Paisiello’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia reigned for three decades as one of Europe’s most popular operas, before being overshadowed forever by Rossini’s classic work.
The Princeton Festival has established a reputation for high-quality summer opera. In recent years works by Handel, Britten, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Wagner and Gershwin have been performed at Matthews Theater on Princeton University campus: a 1100-seat auditorium with good sight-lines though a somewhat dry and uneven acoustic.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail was Mozart’s ﬁrst great public success in Vienna, and it became the composer’s most oft performed opera during his lifetime.
The Ensemble for the Romantic Century offered a thoughtful and well-curated evening in their production of The Sorrows of Young Werther, which is part theatrical performance and part art song concert.
This was an adventurous double bill of two ‘quasi-operas’ by Hans Werner Henze, performed by young singers who are studying on the postgraduate Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
High brick walls, a cavernous space, entered via a narrow passage just off a London thoroughfare: Village Underground in Shoreditch is probably not that far removed from the venue in which Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was first performed — whether that was Josiah Priest’s girl’s school in Chelsea or the court of Charles II or James II.
Hats off to Garsington for championing once again some criminally neglected Strauss. I overheard someone there opine, ‘Of course, you can understand why it isn’t done very often.’
Mozart and Da Ponte’s Cosi fan tutte provides little in the way of background or back story for the plot, thus allowing directors to set the piece in a variety settings.
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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