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Recently in Performances

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

The Maid of Pskov (Pskovityanka) , St. Petersburg

I recently spent four days in St. Petersburg, timed to coincide with the annual Stars of the White Nights Festival. Yet the most memorable singing I heard was neither at the Mariinsky Theater nor any other performance hall. It was in the small, nearly empty church built for the last Tsar, Nicholas II, at Tsarskoye Selo.

Prom 11 — Grange Park Opera: Fiddler on the Roof

As I walked up Exhibition Road on my way to the Royal Albert Hall, I passed a busking tuba player whose fairground ditties were enlivened by bursts of flame which shot skyward from the bell of his instrument, to the amusement and bemusement of a rapidly gathering pavement audience.

Saul, Glyndebourne

A brilliant theatrical event, bringing Handel’s theatre of the mind to life on stage

Roberta Invernizzi, Wigmore Hall

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Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre Re

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Prom 4: Andris Nelsons

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BBC Proms: The Cardinall’s Musick

When he was skilfully negotiating the not inconsiderable complexities, upheavals and strife of musical and religious life at the English royal court during the Reformation, Thomas Tallis (c.1505-85) could hardly have imagined that more than 450 years later people would be queuing round the block for the opportunity spend their lunch-hour listening to the music that he composed in service of his God and his monarch.

Oberon, Persephone and Iolanta at the Aix Festival

Two of the important late twentieth century stage directors, Robert Carsen and Peter Sellars, returned to the Aix Festival this summer. Carsen’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a masterpiece, Sellars’ strange Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky double bill is simply bizarre.

Betrothal and Betrayal : JPYA at the ROH

The annual celebration of young talent at the Royal Opera House is a magnificent showcase, and it was good to see such a healthy audience turnout.

Jenůfa Packs a Wallop at DMMO

There are few operas that can rival the visceral impact of a well-staged Jenůfa and Des Moines Metro Opera has emphatically delivered the goods.

Des Moines Fanciulla a Minnie-Triumph

The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West) often gets eclipsed when compared to the rest of the mature Puccini canon.

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015 with Sakari Oramo in exuberant form, pulling off William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the theatrical flair it deserves.

Monsters and Marriage at the Aix Festival

Plus an evening by the superb Modigliani Quartet that complimented the brief (55 minutes) a cappella opera for six female voices Svadba (2013) by Serbian composer Ana Sokolovic (b. 1968). She lives in Canada.

Des Moines: A Whole Other Secret Garden

With its revelatory production of Rappaccini’s Daughter performed outdoors in the city’s refurbished Botanical Gardens, Des Moines Metro Opera has unlocked the gate to a mysterious, challenging landscape of musical delights.

Seductive Abduction in Iowa

Des Moines Metro Opera has quite a crowd-pleasing production of The Abduction from the Seraglio on its hands.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Garsington Opera

Even by Shakespeare’s standards A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of his earlier plays, boasts a particularly fantastical plot involving a bunch of aristocrats (the Athenian Court of Theseus), feuding gods and goddesses (Oberon and Titania), ‘Rude Mechanicals’ (Bottom, Quince et al) and assorted faeries and spirits (such as Puck).

Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

What do we call Tristan und Isolde? That may seem a silly question. Tristan und Isolde, surely, and Tristan for short, although already we come to the exquisite difficulty, as Tristan and Isolde themselves partly seem (though do they only seem?) to recognise of that celebrated ‘und’.

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

So this was it, the Pelléas which had apparently repelled critics and other members of the audience on the opening night. Perhaps that had been exaggeration; I avoided reading anything substantive — and still have yet to do so.

Richard Strauss: Arabella

I had last seen Arabella as part of the Munich Opera Festival’s Richard Strauss Week in 2008. It is not, I am afraid, my favourite Strauss opera; in fact, it is probably my least favourite. However, I am always willing to be convinced.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

28 Jan 2005

Poppea at Palais Garnier

Parisians do not like camp. David McVicar’s production of Monteverdi’s last opera was jeered in October at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées and now David Alden has met the same fate. This is unfair because his use of radical kitsch is altogether more sophisticated and his manipulation of the singers faultlessly choreographed. In any case, this classic staging dates from 1997, when it was first seen in Cardiff and Munich. McVicar’s approach now looks like a pale copy of an industry template.

L'incoronazione di Poppea Paris Opera (Garnier)

By Francis Carlin [Financial Times]
Published: January 28 2005 02:00 | Last updated: January 28 2005 02:00

Parisians do not like camp. David McVicar's production of Monteverdi's last opera was jeered in October at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées and now David Alden has met the same fate. This is unfair because his use of radical kitsch is altogether more sophisticated and his manipulation of the singers faultlessly choreographed. In any case, this classic staging dates from 1997, when it was first seen in Cardiff and Munich. McVicar's approach now looks like a pale copy of an industry template.

Click here for remainder of review.


Un Monteverdi shakespearien

[28 janvier 2005] [Le Figaro]

Les premières se suivent et ne se ressemblent pas à l'Opéra de Paris. Le surlendemain d'une pénible Flute enchantée, Gérard Mortier nous invitait à un grand moment de fascination théâtrale avec le Couronnement de Poppée de Monteverdi, dans une mise en scène de David Alden qui avait déjà triomphé à Munich. Dans les fascinants décors de Paul Steinberg (ce damier aux perspectives fuyantes !), Alden réalise une mise en scène formidablement musicale, ou chaque geste est en adéquation avec le rythme dramatique de Monteverdi. Dans une sorte de palace de luxe stylisé, les personnages habillés à la façon jet set du XXe siècle, existent avec une force d'attraction et de répulsion irrésistible. De chanteurs d'opéra, on a fait de grands acteurs, capables de jouer la comédie et la tragédie, le burlesque et la violence : un jeu physique et sensuel, c'est bien le moins pour le plus érotique des opéras du répertoire.

Ce Néron hagard, incapable de maîtriser ses pulsions, cette Poppée femme fatale qui le tient sous sa dépendance sexuelle et mène les autres par le bout du nez, ces femmes au bord de la crise de nerfs qui cassent leur talon, on ne les oubliera pas. Alden en fait des figures shakespeariennes, n'hésitant pas à outrer ce mélange des genres qui rend Monteverdi si audacieux. Mais Alden reste attentif au point d'équilibre entre grotesque et gravité, entre onirisme et réalisme. Le personnage de Sénèque retrouve ainsi le juste dosage entre véritable compassion et raillerie d'un philosophe alcoolique et sentencieux, dont les disciples serviles notent chaque phrase avec une frénésie ridicule. Bien des images nous resteront, non pour leur seule beauté plastique, mais pour leur expressivité : quand le décor s'évacue pour laisser Poppée s'endormir sur fond vert (magnifiques lumières de Pat Collins), quand Octavie fait ses adieux nus pieds en robe noire, quand l'horloge de Chronos vient surveiller les amants réunis, le temps suspend son vol.

Click here for remainder of review.

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