Recently in Performances
Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. Some will scream in rage but in its austerity it reaches to the heart of the opera.
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.)
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
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.
A brilliant theatrical event, bringing Handel’s theatre of the mind to
life on stage
‘Here, thanks be to God, my opera is praised to the skies and there is nothing in it which does not please greatly.’ So wrote Antonio Vivaldi to Marchese Guido Bentivoglio d’Aragona in Ferrara in 1737.
Asphyxiations, atrophy by poison, assassination: in Italo Montemezzi’s
L’amore dei tre Re (The Love of the Three Kings, 1913) foul deed
follows foul deed until the corpses are piled high.
The precision of attack in the opening to Beethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus Overture signalled thoroughgoing excellence in the contribution
of the CBSO to this concert.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 with Sakari Oramo in exuberant form, pulling off William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the theatrical flair it deserves.
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.
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.
Des Moines Metro Opera has quite a crowd-pleasing production of The Abduction from the Seraglio on its hands.
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).
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’.
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.
28 Mar 2005
Krassimira Stoyanova at the Rousse Festival
Her occasional home-coming always turns into a music event in her native Bulgaria. This time Krassimira Stoyanova appeared at the Rousse March Music days in a recital including twenty melodies and songs by opera composers: Gounod, Donizetti, Puccini in the first part and Tchaikovsky and Rahmaninov in the second plus two “encores” by Bulgarian composers Dobri Hristov and Liubomir Pipkov. She performed this same recital at Carnegie Hall on January 18, 2005, accompanied by Yelena Kurdina.
Krassimira Stoyanova In Recital At The 45th March Music Days
Rousse, Bulgaria, 24 March 2005
Her occasional home-coming always turns into a music event in her native Bulgaria. This time Krassimira Stoyanova appeared at the Rousse March Music days in a recital including twenty melodies and songs by opera composers: Gounod, Donizetti, Puccini in the first part and Tchaikovsky and Rahmaninov in the second plus two "encores" by Bulgarian composers Dobri Hristov and Liubomir Pipkov. She performed this same recital at Carnegie Hall on January 18, 2005, accompanied by Yelena Kurdina.
French and Italian opera repertoire is the strong point of this fine Bulgarian soprano who, since 1999, has been a regular at the Vienna National opera on which stage Stoyanova can be seen between April 2 and May, 16 in "La Bohème," "Simone Boccanegra," "Falstaff" and "Les Contes d'Hoffman."
Krassimira Stoyanova is a "sparkly" performer who "catches" the audience from the beginning, making it experience all the drama of the works. From the most dramatic fullness of sorrow and despair like Donizetti's "La mère et l'enfant" through Gounod's "A une jeune fille," Tchaikovsky's "Ni slovo, o moi drug," "Snovo kak prezhde, odin" and Rachmaninov's "Poliubila ya pechal svoiu," "Ne poi krassavitsa..." to the radiant "Ma belle rebelle" et "Venise" (Gounod), Puccini's baroque-like "Salve Regina," "Terra e mare," "Storiella d'amore," "Sole e amore" and Rachmaninov's "Vessennie void," Stoyanova suggests all the range of emotions with her moving vibrato, lighter in the French melodies and darker in the rest of the songs, large amplitude and subtlety of singing. Some Russian performers could take lessons from her approach to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov: dynamic phrasing, clear diction, observed measure of emotion, sincerity and naturalness, as well as pleasure of singing. Both Donizeti's songs "La Sultana" and "Ah! Rammenta o bella Irene" (genuine arias), Rachmaninov's "Ne poi krassavitsa..." and all five Tchaikovsky's songs were of her best. On the other hand, the variety of the program and, perhaps, because of some problems with the acoustics, some vowels in the French melodies seemed lacking in control of pronunciation.
Both Bulgarian "encores" "Devoiche" by Dobri Hristov and "Lullaby" by Liubomir Pipkov were polar opposites from the point of view of dynamics of phrasing and emotions. The first one was performed with much humor and vitality that thrilled the audience; and the second with great control of the voice and heavenly floated pianissimi.
Maria Prinz was an expressive and careful accompanist who demonstrated a good knowledge of all the three different styles of music, although sometimes her tone sounded a bit loud and hard perhaps due to the peculiarity of the acoustics. Nevertheless, this evening was a great experience for both performers and audience at Rousse, Bulgaria.