Recently in Performances
Dulce Rosa, a brand new opera, had its world premiere Friday night, May 17, 2013 at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, California. It was produced by Los Angeles Opera, but staged in the smaller theater.
Richard Jones’ 2009 production of Verdi’s Falstaff translates the action from the first Elizabethan age to the start of the second.
Baritone Gareth John is rapidly accumulating a war-chest of honours. Winner of the 2013 Kathleen Ferrier Award, he recently won the Royal Academy of Music Patrons’ Award and was presented the Silver Medal by the Worshipful Company of Musicians.
This second revival of Jonathan Miller’s La bohème was the first time I had caught the production.
It’s Verdi’s bicentenary year and Rolando Villazón has two new CDs to plug — titled somewhat confusingly, ‘Villazón: Verdi’ and ‘Villazón’s Verdi’, the latter a ‘personal selection’ of favourite numbers performed by stars of the past and present.
Nicola Luisotti and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra climbed out of the War Memorial pit, braved the wind whipped bay and held spellbound an audience at Cal Performances’ Zellerbach Auditorium at UC Berkeley.
Utterly mad but absolutely right — Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos started the Glyndebourne 2013 season with an explosion. Strauss could hardly have made his intentions more clear. Ariadne auf Naxos is not “about” Greek myth so much as a satire on art and the way art is made.
“Man is an abyss. It makes one dizzy to look into it.” So utters Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck, repeating what was also a recurring motif in the playwright’s own letters.
National Opera Company of the Rhine has marked this year’s Benjamin Britten celebration with a remarkably compelling, often gripping new production of the seldom-seen Owen Wingrave.
Once upon a time, Frankfurt Opera had the baddest ass reputation in Germany as “the” cutting edge producer of must-see opera.
Productions of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto can serve as a vehicle for individual singers to make a strong impression and become afterward associated with specific roles in the opera.
Just in case we were not aware that the evening’s programme was ‘themed’, the Britten Sinfonia designed a visual accompaniment to their musical exploration of night, sleep and dreams.
Poor Aida! She never seems to have anything go her way.
Is it possible to upstage Jonas Kaufmann? Kaufmann was brilliant in this Verdi Don Carlo at the Royal Opera House, London, but the rest of the cast was so good that he was but first among equals. Don Carlo is a vehicle for stars, but this time the stars were everyone on stage and in the pit. Even the solo arias, glorious as they are, grow organically out of perfect ensemble. This was a performance that brought out the true beauty of Verdi's music.
The big names were absent: Duparc, D’Indy, Debussy, Ravel
and while Fauré, Chausson, Roussel and several members of Les Six put in an appearance, in less than familiar guises, this survey of French song of the early 20th century and interwar years deliberately took us on a journey through infrequently travelled terrain.
Composed between 1718 and 1720, Handel’s Esther is sometimes described as the ‘first English Oratorio’, but is in fact a hybrid form, mixing elements of oratorio, masque, pastoral and opera.
Hector Berlioz's légende dramatique, La Damnation de Faust, exists somewhere between cantata and opera. Berlioz's flexible attitude to dramatic form made the piece unworkable on the stages of early 19th century Paris and his music is so vivid that you wonder whether the piece needs staging at all.
St. John’s Smith Square was the site of Elizabeth Connell’s final London concert, intended as a farewell to London on her moving to Australia. It was rendered ultimately final by her unexpected death.
With the building of the Suez Canal, Egypt became more interesting to Western Europeans. Khedive Ismail Pasha wanted a hymn by Verdi for the opening of a new opera house in Cairo, but the composer said he did not write occasional pieces.
Back for its fourth revival, David McVicar’s 2003 production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte has much charm, beauty and artistry.
01 Dec 2004
Who Said Wagner Didn't Have a Sense of Humor?
Australia forges a 'Ring' with confidence By Shirley Apthorp Published: November 30 2004 Where do the Valkyries meet between battles? At the Wunder Bar, of course. Schwertleite, Grimgerde and sisters are leather-clad punks with a crass sense of humour,...
Australia forges a 'Ring' with confidence
By Shirley Apthorp
Published: November 30 2004
Where do the Valkyries meet between battles? At the Wunder Bar, of course. Schwertleite, Grimgerde and sisters are leather-clad punks with a crass sense of humour, quaffing blue cocktails from beer mugs in their slick neon watering-hole.
The Gods they serve are socialite airheads in fashion-shoot white, though Wotan's garb gets grubbier as the epic progresses. The Niebelungen wear black. Siegfried is a lout in a Mambo T-shirt, the Gibichung vassals sport army fatigues, and Gunther resembles George W. Bush on a bad day.
In the course of its complex performance history, Wagner's Ring has been many things, from sacred myth to racial drama. It was never really comedy. Until now, that is.
Australia's first-ever Ring distinguishes itself on a great many levels. Perhaps most remarkable is the way the State Opera of South Australia's bold new cycle gains a local flavour without compromising on the universality of its themes. Like the city of Adelaide, perched on the southern edge of the island continent's arid centre, and like contemporary Australian culture, this Ring rests lightly on the old earth beneath.
When in doubt, it plays for laughs, not depth. The light is harsh, the colours rich and the visual effects all-important. Though it never takes itself too seriously, it is executed with unfailing excellence. Afraid of falling below European standards, Australia sometimes surpasses them, often without noticing.
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