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Verismo Double Header in Los Angeles

LA Opera got its season off to an auspicious beginning with starry revivals of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci.

Viva Verdi at Opera Las Vegas

On September 9, 2015, Opera Las Vegas presented James Sohre’s production of Viva Verdi at the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz. It was a delightful evening of arias, duets and ensembles by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). The program included many of the composer’s blockbuster arias and scenes from famous operas such as Aida, La traviata, and Macbeth.

Barbera Sings a Fascinating Recital in San Diego

On Saturday, September 19, San Diego Opera opened its 2015-2016 season with a recital by tenor René Barbera. This was the first Polly Puterbaugh Emerging Artist Award Recital and no artist could have been more deserving than the immensely talented Barbera.

Sweeney Todd at the San Francisco Opera

Did the iconic “off-beat” and “serious” American musical hold the stage of the War Memorial Opera House? The excited audience (standees three deep) thought so and roared their appreciation.

Wigmore Hall Complete Schubert Song Series begins with Boesch and Johnson

The Wigmore Hall, London, has launched Schubert : The Complete Songs, a 40-concert series to run through the 2015 and 2016 seasons. There have been Schubert marathons before, like BBC Radio 3's all-Schubert week and The Oxford Lieder Festival's Schubert series last year, but the Wigmore Hall series will be a major landmark because the Wigmore Hall is the Wigmore Hall, the epitome of excellence.

Luisa Miller in San Francisco

Luisa Miller sits on the fringes of the repertory, and since its introduction into the modern repertory in the 1970’s it comes around every 15 or so years. Unfortunately this 2015 San Francisco occasion has not bothered to rethink this remarkable opera.

Salieri: La grotta di Trofonio (Trofonio’s Cave)

Demonised by Pushkin and Peter Shaffer, Antonio Salieri lives in the public imagination as the embittered rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — whose genius he lamented and revered in equal measure, and against whom he schemed and plotted at the Emperor Joseph II’s Viennese court.

Chicago Lyric’s Stars Shine at Millennium Park

The annual concert given by Lyric Opera of Chicago as an outdoor event previewing the forthcoming season took place on 11 September 2015 at Millennium Park.

Gluck: Orphée et Eurydice

Orpheus — that Greek hero whose songs could enchant both deities and beasts, whose lyre has become a metaphor for the power of music itself, and whose journey to the Underworld to rescue his wife, Eurydice, kick-started the art of opera in Mantua in 1607 — has been travelling far and wide around the UK in 2015.

Vaughan Williams and Holst Double Bill

One is a quasi-verbatim rendering of J.M. Synge’s bleak tale of a Donegal family’s fateful dependency on and submission to the deathly power of the sea.

Iestyn Davies at Wigmore Hall

Is there anything that countertenor Iestyn Davies cannot do with his voice?

Prom 75: The Dream of Gerontius

BBC Proms Youth Choir shines in a performance notable for its magical transparency

Prom 67: Bernstein — Stage and Screen

The John Wilson Orchestra have been annual summer visitors to the Royal Albert Hall since their Proms debut in 2009 and, with their seductive blend of technical precision, buoyant glitziness and relaxed insouciance, their concerts have become a hugely anticipated fixture and a sure highlight of the Promenade season.

Prom 65: Alice Coote sings Handel

Disappointing staging mars Alice Coote’s vibrant if wayward musical performance

Santa Fe: Secondary Mozart in First Rate Staging

Impresario Boris Goldovsky famously referred to La finta giardiniera as The Phony Farmerette.

Regimented Daughter in Santa Fe

At Santa Fe Opera, Donizetti’s effervescent The Daughter of the Regiment can’t quite decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

Santa Fe’s Celebratory Jester

Santa Fe Opera noted a landmark two-thousandth performance in their distinguished history with a stylish new production of Rigoletto.

Sibelius Kullervo, BBC Proms, London

Why did Jean Sibelius suppress Kullervo (Op7, 1892)? There are many theories why he didn't allow it to be heard after its initial performance, though he referred to it fondly in private.

Aïda at Aspen

Most opera professionals, including the individuals who do the casting for major houses, despair of finding performers who can match historical standards of singing in operas such as Aïda. Yet a concert performance in Aspen gives a glimmer of hope. It was led by four younger singers who may be part of the future of Verdi singing in America and the world.

Prom 53: Shostakovich — Orango

One might have been forgiven for thinking that both biology and chronology had gone askew at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday evening.



Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799)
04 Feb 2006

Le Nozze di Figaro at ROH — Four Reviews

ROYAL OPERA HOUSE: "To mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Royal Opera mounts a new production of his setting of the second of Beaumarchais' domestic but politically charged 'Figaro' comedies, as adapted by librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. "

Le Nozze di Figaro

Richard Morrison at Covent Garden [Times Online, 2 February 2006]

Few of the trillion Mozart celebrations this year will match David McVicar’s new Royal Opera staging of Figaro for insight or passion. It isn’t a perfect show. Act IV sags, and seems untidily staged in comparison with the meticulously observed domestic warfare that has gone before. Dorothea Röschmann sings the Countess’s despairing arias with touching intensity, but also intermittent waywardness.

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Cleverness with a hole in it

By Andrew Clark [Financial Times, 2 February 2006]

No one could possibly object. The Royal Opera's new Figaro, directed by David McVicar, looks good and sounds good. The set-changes are breathtakingly clever. The costumes seem vaguely in period (1820s actually). The conducting is fluent, the casting strong. Everyone can go home satisfied, then, can't they? Not really. There is a hole at the heart of this Figaro, a gaping void of ideas, a mentality that puts surface-dressing above interpretation. We get no flavour of why the work had such incendiary implications for its day, or what it might say to us now. What Covent Garden is marketing here is reproduction opera.

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Le Nozze di Figaro

Tim Ashley [The Guardian, 2 February 2006]

David McVicar's new production transposes Mozart's comedy from its usual 18th century setting to a French chateau on the eve of the July 1830 revolution that saw the restored Bourbon monarchy replaced by the liberal bourgeois era of Louis Philippe. The events of that summer were famously commemorated by Delacroix in Liberty Leading the People. The production charts the transformation of Figaro, gloriously incarnated by Erwin Schrott, from naive, liveried flunky to a politically engaged figure who belongs on Delacroix's barricades.

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For Better or Worse, a Bourgeois 'Figaro' in London

By DANIEL J. WAKIN [NY Times, 4 February 2006]

LONDON, Feb. 3 — In this European musical capital, the highest-profile homage to Mozart during his anniversary year came about with surprising casualness.

"We have strong productions of 'Così Fan Tutte,' 'Don Giovanni,' " said Antonio Pappano, the music director of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, "as well as 'The Magic Flute.' " But the existing version of "Le Nozze di Figaro" had been put to rest, and it was time to bring the opera back.

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