Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Commentary

Odyssey Opera Presents the Boston Premiere of Le Cid in One-­Night-­Only Concert Event

(Boston, MA) — Odyssey Opera, a Boston-based opera company dedicated to exploring the full spectrum of adventurous repertoire, presents the Boston premiere of one of France’s great operas, Le Cid (1885), composed by Jules Massenet (1842–1912).

Stefano Mastrangelo — An Italian in Japan

I’m interviewing Stefano Mastrangelo in the immediate aftermath of his conducting La Traviata for the Chofu City Opera in Tokyo on 22 November 2014; he conveys an air at once of tiredness and exhilaration.

Apotheosis Opera to Stage Tannhäuser

Apotheosis Opera is proud to announce their inaugural production will be a fully-staged English translation of Richard Wagner’s early masterpiece TANNHÄUSER on Friday, July 31, 2015, at 7pm and Sunday, August 2, 2015, at 3pm at the theatre of El Museo del Barrio (1230 5th Avenue) .

Operalia 2015

‘Competitions are for horses, not artists.’ The words of Béla Bartók seemed apposite on Sunday night at the Royal Opera House, as 11 soloists walked swiftly onto the Covent Garden stage, performed their chosen aria, briefly acknowledged the applause and then returned summarily to the wings.

The ‘Other’ Così

Twin sisters – one pensive, the other gregarious – are soon to wed their beau, whose contrasting characters – one earnestly introverted, the other a boisterous hedonist – perfectly match their respective betrotheds’.

Scalia/Ginsburg Premiere at Castleton Festival

Derrick Wang is a composer who graduated from law school and has an interest in this country’s highest court.

Sara Gartland Takes on Jenůfa

Sara Gartland is an emerging singer who brings an enormous talent and a delightful personality to the opera stage. Having sung lighter soprano roles such as Juliette in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette and Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata, Gartland is now taking on the title role in Leoš Janáček’s dramatic opera Jenůfa.

Press Release: Welsh National Opera explores Madness for autumn season

Madness descends upon Welsh National Opera for its autumn 2015 season, with three new productions that will explore human turmoil through some of the finest musical expressions of madness and the human condition.

A Chat with Pulitzer Prize Winning Composer Jennifer Higdon

American composer Jennifer Higdon has won many awards for her imaginative music. Her percussion concerto received the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

Falling in love with Wolf-Ferrari — An interview with Friedrich Haider

Bratislava in Slovakia might seem an unlikely place to come across the opera I gioielli della Madonna (The Jewels of the Madonna) a 1911 rarity written by the Italian/German Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, a composer best known for his one-act opera Il segreto di Susanna ( Susanna’s Secret) and his comedies based on Goldoni.

Jac van Steen in Conversation

Last year’s Strauss anniversary year — 150 years since his birth — offered, at least in the United Kingdom, a typical number of opportunities and frustrations.

Jonathan Dove’s Flight, Opera Holland Park

On 6 June, Jonathan Dove’s Flight touches down in Kensington, west London. Opera Holland Park is to stage the first London production of Dove’s operatic presentation of the real-life story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, the Iranian exile who, lacking residency rights or refugee status, was forced to live in the departure lounge of Terminal One at Charles de Gaulle Airport for 18 years.

San Diego Opera Celebrates 50 Years of Great Singing

San Diego Opera, the company that General Manager Ian Campbell had scheduled for demolition, proved that it is alive and singing as beautifully as ever. Its 2015 season was cut back slightly and management has become a bit leaner, but the company celebrated its fiftieth season in fine style with a concert that included many of the greatest arias ever written.

Kathleen Ferrier Awards, Wigmore Hall

Kathleen Ferrier may have been one of the world’s finest contraltos but this year’s Kathleen Ferrier Awards Final, held at the Wigmore Hall, was all about lyric sopranos.

World Premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s opera Cold Mountain at Santa Fe Opera this August

East Coast Premiere at Opera Philadelphia next season. Performances from Cold Mountain at the Guggenheim in New York this Monday, March 30.

Winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Announced

Five Young Singers Named Winners of the 2015 Met National Council Auditions, America’s Most Prestigious Vocal Competition

A Chat with Julia Noulin-Mérat

Julia Noulin-Mérat is the principal designer for the Noulin-Merat Studio, an intrepid New York City production design firm that works in theater, film, and television, but emphasizes opera and immersive site-specific theatre.

Mirabai: New opera, holograms and eternal love

A brand new opera — especially one that is groundbreaking— can really put an opera company on the map. British composer Barry Seaman’s stunning new work, Mirabai, which explores the story of the free thinking, mystic 16th century Hindu princess, Mira, is ambitious on many levels — artistically, technically and creatively.

Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers’ Competition 2015

Bampton Classical Opera has announced that applications are now open for the company’s Young Singers’ Competition 2015. This biennial competition was first launched in 2013 to celebrate Bampton Classical Opera’s 20th birthday, and is aimed at identifying the finest emerging young opera singers currently working in the UK.

A Chat with Anita Rachvelishvili

Anita Rachvelishvili recently performed the title role in Carmen broadcast by The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD. Here she drops by for a little chat with our Maria Nockin.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

23 Aug 2005

SANTA FE — Second Thoughts

For an opera company that boasts a $30-million endowment, and has scheduled funding efforts expected to bring that largesse to $50-million by 2007, its fiftieth anniversary of summer opera performances, plus $10-million more for capital improvements, the question comes up: Santa Fe Opera can afford top quality, but are they providing it? The answer seems to be, sometimes.

The just-concluding season offered one memorable success, Benjamin Britten's haunting 1945 tragedy Peter Grimes. Everything about it worked, from a spare but imaginative production to first rate singing and acting, with quality throughout the big cast. Anthony Dean Griffey, today's specialist in madman tenor roles, excelled in the name part and soprano Christine Brewer presented her role of schoolmarm Ellen Orford with luxurious tone and understated but effective acting. The huge choruses were magnificently done, much honor going to SFO music director Alan Gilbert for his leadership and choral director Gregory Buchalter. Considering the SFO chorus also had major duty in Turandot, and individual members (the opera apprentices) also took part in two evenings of scenes with piano, the young artists had a vigorous work-out over summer 2005. They came through brilliantly.

Mozart's youthful (he was 15) Lucio Silla enjoyed an elegant, stylized production and superb singing from sopranos Celena Shafer, Anna Christie and Susan Graham, as well as tenor Gregory Kunde, but the score holds little of interest, and none of Mozart's mature melodic genius. The adequate conductor was Bernard Labadie from Canada.

The much-booted Ainadamar, a 'new' (read revised) 'opera' (read play with music) by Osvaldo Golijov proved to be 75-minutes of tedium - excessively wordy; most action reported or recollected (difficult as a technique unless you are an ancient Greek master), and a score that dwelt in the land of Latin dance rhythms, but no such steps were ever taken. It was a weird evening considering the talent involved: composer Golijov, librettist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) and director Peter Sellars. Maybe there was just too much talent to come up with one unified artistic vision. I found the effort diffuse and almost entirely ineffective, yet some critics gave it a rave. Perhaps one can charitably say, succes d'estime.

For the record, "Ainadamar" means something like "fountain of tears," in this case at Granada, Spain, where the gay revolutionary poet Garcia Lorca was shot by fascists in 1936 in the Spanish civil war. The central role of actress Margarita, an old, dissolute, lesbian friend to Garcia, was taken by the spruce, coiffed, scrubbed, prettily-singing Dawn Upshaw, in an example of serious mis-casting. With a different singer in the key role, matters might have improved. Since the entire effort was electronically amplified, often to excess, it is hard to say how much contribution was made by music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya, as compared to sound engineers Gustavo Santaolalla and Jeremy Flower. Better luck next time!

Turandot was treated as fairyland kitsch, with 80-year old Willa Kim's imaginative costumes and radical, young Douglas Fitch's goofy set of plastic steps and platforms, variously colored from lighting within their Plexiglas structures, and it was all fun - but it was also mainly nonsense. A routine cast and only so-so conducting from Gilbert contributed to a forgettable performance. I am not much of an advocate for Puccini's final opera - it's a lot of recycled tropes and ideas from the master's earlier, better days. There are more interesting ways for an opera company to spend its Puccini budget. Amidst all the hubbub was the sweet, little lyric Liu of Patricia Racette - the one element of Italianate opera over the evening. Jennifer Wilson, loud through not thrilling, took the title role but did not own it, while beefy Carl Tanner shouted a bit as the Calaf and seemed short on romance. Hard work!

And then there was Stefano Vizioli's take on Rossini's The Barber of Seville. It was frantic - over produced, over acted, over the top and with no memorable singing. Yes, Barber should be fun, but with prissy, unidiomatic conducting from Ken Montgomery and principal singers camping their way thru the show, little pleasure was found. Most surprising was Ana Maria Martinez as Rosina without low or top notes and entirely given over to mugging and dashing about the stage, no doubt as directed by Vizioli. Even last summer as Elvira in a splendid Don Giovanni at Santa Fe, Martinez was eliciting rave reviews from this and other critics, and she was a superb, vocally accomplished Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte the year before. Somewhere along the way Martinez seems to have gotten off the track; I hope she soon returns to the main line.

With its lovely new theatre, a first class orchestra, the ambience of Santa Fe abounding and fine mountain evenings to enjoy, not to mention its mounting assets and strong box office (by some accounts over 95% for this season), America's premiere summer opera festival needs to improve artistically. Glimmerglass is hard on the heels of Santa Fe, and often doing a better job. I wish them both great success, but the artistic vision in New Mexico needs to be sharpened.

Santa Fe repertory for 2006 is Carmen, Salome, The Magic Flute, the Massenet Cinderella and the American premiere of Thos. Ades's The Tempest, only the last two promising much of interest.

J. A. Van Sant
Santa Fe, New Mexico
© 2005

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):