Recently in Performances
Desire and deception; Amor and artifice. In Jan Philipp Gloger’s new production of Così van tutte at the Royal Opera House, the artifice is of the theatrical, rather than the human, kind. And, an opera whose charm surely lies in its characters’ amiable artfulness seems more concerned to underline the depressing reality of our own deluded faith in human fidelity and integrity.
On September 22, 2016, Los Angeles Opera presented Darko Tresnjak’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Macbeth. Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave based their opera on Shakespeare’s play of the same name.
On September 18th, at a casual Sunday matinee, Pacific Opera Project presented a surprising choice for a small company. It was Igor Stravinsky’s 1951 three act opera, The Rake’s Progress. It’s a piece made for today's supertitles with its exquisitely worded libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman.
We are nearing the end of Classical Opera’s MOZART 250 sojourn through 1766, a year that the company’s artistic director Ian Page admits was ‘on face value
a relatively fallow year’. I’m not so sure: Jommelli’s Il Vogoleso, performed at the Cadogan Hall in April, was a gem. But, then, I did find the repertoire that Classical Opera offered at the Wigmore Hall in January, ‘worthy rather than truly engaging’ (review). And, this programme of Haydn and his Czech contemporary Josef Mysliveček was stylishly executed but did not absolutely convince.
Globalization finds its way ever more to San Francisco Opera where Italian composer Marco Tutino’s La Ciociara saw the light of day in 2015 and now, 2016, Chinese composer Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber has been created.
Renowned Polish tenor Piotr Beczala and well-known collaborative pianist Martin Katz opened the San Diego Opera 2016–2017 season with a recital at the Balboa Theater on Saturday, September 17th.
San Francisco Opera makes occasional excursions into the operatic big-time, such just now was Giordano’s blockbuster Andrea Chénier, last seen at the War Memorial 23 years ago (1992) and even then after a hiatus of 17 years (1975).
There is no reason why, given the right performers, second-tier Verdi can’t be a top-tier operatic experience, as was the case with this concert version of I Due Foscari.
Since their first appearance in Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s literary master-piece, during the Spanish Golden Age, the ingenuous and imaginative knight-errant, Don Quixote, and his loyal subordinate and squire, Sancho Panza, have touched the creative imagination of composers from Salieri to Strauss, Boismortier to Rodrigo.
Bampton Classical Opera’s 2016 double-bill ‘touched down’ at St John’s Smith Square last night, following performances in The Deanery Garden at Bampton and The Orangery of Westonbirt School earlier this summer.
Daniele Gatti opened the first series of Royal Concertgebouw
Orchestra’s season with a slightly uneven performance of Mahler’s
Resurrection Symphony. With four planned, this staple repertoire for
the RCO meant to introduce Gatti to the RCO subscribers.
Opera San Jose opened a commendably impassioned Lucia di Lammermoor that sets the company’s bar very high indeed as it begins its new season.
The approach of the 2016-17 opera season has brought rising anticipation and expectation for the ROH’s new production - the first at Covent Garden for almost 30 years - of Bellini’s bel canto master-piece, Norma.
Last June, Riccardo Chailly led the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion for his last concert as Principal Conductor.
After its world premiere at Royal Opera House in London last year, the German première of Georg Friedrich Haas’s Morgen und Abend took
place at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
Rarely have I experienced such fabulous singing in such a dreadful
production. With magnificent voices, Andreas Schager and Dorothea
Röschmann rescued Michael Thalheimer’s grotesque staging of von
Weber’s Der Freischütz. At Staatsoper Unter den Linden,
Alexander Soddy led a richly detailed, transparent and brilliantly glowing
For the penultimate BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday 9 September 2016, Marin Alsop conducted the BBC Youth Choir and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Verdi's Requiem with soloists Tamara Wilson, Alisa Kolosova, Dimitri Pittas, and Morris Robinson.
“Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.”
When I look back on the 2016 Proms season, this Opera Rara performance of Semiramide - the last opera that Rossini wrote for Italy - will be, alongside Pekka Kuusisto’s thrillingly free and refreshing rendition of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto - one of the stand-out moments.
Of all the places in Germany, Oper am Rhein at Theater Duisburg staged an
intriguing American double bill of rarities. An experience that was well worth
the trip to this desolate ghost town, remnant of industrial West Germany.
20 Jan 2005
Karita Mattila — A Stunning Leonore
'Fidelio' returns Lyric, cast rise above flawed Beethoven opera By John von Rhein Tribune music critic January 19 2005, 1:00 AM CST "Fidelio" has been missing in action at Lyric Opera for nearly 24 years, much too long for...
Lyric, cast rise above flawed Beethoven opera
By John von Rhein
Tribune music critic
January 19 2005, 1:00 AM CST
"Fidelio" has been missing in action at Lyric Opera for nearly 24 years, much too long for a flawed masterpiece that once held sway on Wacker Drive whenever the great tenor Jon Vickers was available to sing the punishing role of Florestan.
Beethoven's only opera attempts to translate the high-flown democratic ideals he later developed in his Ninth Symphony into credible theatrical form. He didn't fully succeed despite his heroic labors. But dramatic awkwardness finally bows to the music itself: a great score driven by noble sentiment.
Much of that noble sentiment was recognizable in the radiant Finnish soprano Karita Mattila's thrilling portrayal of Leonore, the opera's courageous, larger-than-life heroine, at the Lyric's first performance of the season Tuesday night at the Civic Opera House.
But the Lyric also did itself proud with its casting of the other roles, all of them strongly filled.
Whatever inconsistencies of concept marred German stage director Jürgen Flimm's updated production from the Metropolitan Opera (taken over in his absence by his assistant, Gina Lapinski) were more than offset by the splendidly idiomatic conducting of Christoph von Dohnányi, returning in triumph to the theater that gave him his U.S. operatic debut 36 years ago.
[Click here for remainder of review.]
Beethoven's 'Fidelio' seizes the heart
January 20, 2005
BY WYNNE DELACOMA Classical Music Critic
With all due respect to Beethoven -- creator of those landmark piano sonatas, gripping string quartets and iconic Ninth Symphony -- opera was not his forte. "Fidelio,'' his sole foray into the form, which opened Tuesday night at Lyric Opera of Chicago, has its clunky patches. In Act II, he is so eager to emphasize his points about the value of freedom and selfless love that he belabors them mercilessly.
But such weak spots were easy to overlook, given the powerful musical and theatrical forces at work in this production conducted by the estimable Christoph von Dohnanyi and starring Karita Mattila in the title role, Rene Pape as the jailer Rocco and Kim Begley as the imprisoned Florestan.
"Fidelio's'' story of a wife risking her life to free her unjustly imprisoned husband is universal, and designer Robert Israel has moved the action to the 20th century. The tale of the loving wife, Leonore, who disguises herself as a male prison guard, Fidelio, in an attempt to rescue her husband, Florestan, plays out in a grim concrete prison block. Its gray, forbidding shadow could be falling across God-forsaken stretches of west Texas, Bosnia or South Africa. Originally staged for the Metropolitan Opera by Jurgen Flimm in 2000 and staged for Lyric by Met assistant director Gina Lapinski, this is a world in which important politicians wear well-cut three-piece suits and prison guards sport short-sleeved khaki shirts and brandish billy clubs.
At the center of this barren arena, Mattila's Fidelio glowed like a judiciously hooded but red-hot flame. Previously this season, the Finnish soprano sang a moving Donna Anna in Lyric's "Don Giovanni," and her Leonore/Fidelio offered an even more nuanced blend of glorious singing and riveting acting. Mattila's voice is big and agile, with a bright center and velvety edge, capable of plumbing every facet of Leonore's treacherous emotional journey.
[Click here for remainder of review.]