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L'ospedale - an anonymous opera rediscovered

‘Stay away from doctors; they are bad for your health.’ This seems to be the central message of L’Ospedale - a one-hour opera by an unknown seventeenth-century composer, with a libretto by Antonio Abati which presents a satirical critique of the medical profession of the day and those who had the misfortune to need curative treatment for their physical and mental ills.

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René Pape, Joseph Calleja, Kristine Opolais, Boito Mefistofele, Munich

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Dialogues des Carmélites Revival at Dutch National Opera

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Great Scott at the Dallas Opera

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La Bohème, ENO

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Luigi Rossi: Orpheus

Just as Orpheus embarks on a quest for his beloved Eurydice, so the Royal Opera House seems to be in pursuit of the mythical music-maker himself: this year the house has presented Monteverdi’s Orfeo at the Camden Roundhouse (with the Early Opera Company in January), Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice on the main stage (September), and, in the Linbury Studio Theatre, both Birtwistle’s The Corridor (June) and the Paris-music-hall style Little Lightbulb Theatre/Battersea Arts Centre co-production, Orpheus (September).

64th Wexford Festival Opera

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Christoph Prégardien, Schubert, Wigmore Hall London

Another highlight of the Wigmore Hall complete Schubert Song series - Christoph Prégardien and Christoph Schnackertz. The core Wigmore Hall Lieder audience were out in force. These days, though, there are young people among the regulars : a sign that appreciation of Lieder excellence is most certainly alive and well at the Wigmore Hall. .

The Magic Flute in San Francisco

How did it go? Reactions of my neighbors varied. Some left at the intermission, others remarked that they thought the singing was good.



02 Aug 2005

Donizetti's Rita at the Wiener Kammeroper

On the evening of 28 July, I had the privilege to attend the Wiener Kammeroper's performance of Donizetti's Rita. Subtitled "The Battered Husband," this one act farce revolves around Rita, the owner of a cafe, and her husband Beppe (Jose Aparicio).

Rita, performed by Lusine Azaryan, regularly beats her husband to keep him in tow, whether he needs it or not. Her former husband, it appears, treated her likewise. When Gasparo (Dmitry Ovchinnikov), arrives he instantly recognizes Rita as his supposedly dead wife and she in turn recognizes him as her supposedly dead husband. Beppe discovers Gasparo's identity and he promptly cedes his position to Gasparo. Much commotion follows with a surprise ending reminiscent of many a television sitcoms.

Situated in the Fleischmarkt, the company's home theater is an intimate venue that seats, perhaps, 300 along with standing room space on the balcony. The orchestra is completely out of sight, except for a closed circuit television image of the conductor. The performers wander about freely on stage and off to give added dimension to an otherwise cramped stage.

The singers' performed with panache, their voices being equally weighted such that no one dominated the performance. Ms. Azaryan's soprano is rich and even, while Mr. Aparicio is a light tenor with a brilliant top that is perfect for comic opera. Mr. Ovchinnikov's bass is black as night. Although the waiter (Marco Di Sapia) did not sing until late in the work, his comic acting and mime were singularly outstanding; and, when he did finally sing, his baritone was pure and fluid. High praises go to the orchestra under the able leadership of Daniel Hoyem-Cavazza.

All in all, this was a treat. The librettist, Gustavo Vaez, was clearly ahead of his time.

Gary Hoffman

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