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 Performances

European premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Le Chant des enfants des étoiles, with works by Biber and Beethoven

Excellent programming: worthy of Boulez, if hardly for the literal minded. (‘I think you’ll find [stroking chin] Beethoven didn’t know Unsuk Chin’s music, or Heinrich Biber’s. So … what are they doing together then? And … AND … why don’t you use period instruments? I rest my case!’)

Rising Stars in Concert 2018 at Lyric Opera of Chicago

On a recent weekend evening the performers in the current roster of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago presented a concert of operatic selections showcasing their musical talents. The Lyric Opera Orchestra accompanied the performers and was conducted by Edwin Outwater.

Arizona Opera Presents a Glittering Rheingold

On April 6, 2018, Arizona Opera presented an uncut performance of Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold. It was the first time in two decades that this company had staged a Ring opera.

Handel's Teseo brings 2018 London Handel Festival to a close

The 2018 London Handel Festival drew to a close with this vibrant and youthful performance (the second of two) at St George’s Church, Hanover Square, of Handel’s Teseo - the composer’s third opera for London after Rinaldo (1711) and Il pastor fido (1712), which was performed at least thirteen times between January and May 1713.

The Moderate Soprano

The Moderate Soprano and the story of Glyndebourne: love, opera and Nazism in David Hare’s moving play

The Spirit of England: the BBCSO mark the centenary of the end of the Great War

Well, it was Friday 13th. I returned home from this moving and inspiring British-themed concert at the Barbican Hall in which the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Sir Andrew Davis had marked the centenary of the end of World War I, to turn on my lap-top and discover that the British Prime Minister had authorised UK armed forces to participate with French and US forces in attacks on Syrian chemical weapon sites.

Thomas Adès conducts Stravinsky's Perséphone at the Royal Festival Hall

This seemed a timely moment for a performance of Stravinsky’s choral ballet, Perséphone. April, Eliot’s ‘cruellest month’, has brought rather too many of Chaucer’s ‘sweet showers [to] pierce the ‘drought of March to the root’, but as the weather finally begins to warms and nature stirs, what better than the classical myth of the eponymous goddess’s rape by Pluto and subsequent rescue from Hades, begetting the eternal rotation of the seasons, to reassure us that winter is indeed over and the spirit of spring is engendering the earth.

Dido and Aeneas: La Nuova Musica at Wigmore Hall

This performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas by La Nuova Musica, directed by David Bates, was, characteristically for this ensemble, alert to musical details, vividly etched and imaginatively conceived.

Bernstein's MASS at the Royal Festival Hall

In 1969, Mrs Aristotle Onassis commissioned a major composition to celebrate the opening of a new arts centre in Washington, DC - the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, named after her late husband, President John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated six years earlier.

Hans Werner Henze : The Raft of the Medusa, Amsterdam

This is a landmark production of Hans Werner Henze's Das Floß der Medusa (The Raft of the Medusa) conducted by Ingo Metzmacher in Amsterdam earlier this month, with Dale Duesing (Charon), Bo Skovhus and Lenneke Ruiten, with Cappella Amsterdam, the Nieuw Amsterdams Kinderen Jeugdkoor, and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, in a powerfully perceptive staging by Romeo Castellucci.

Johann Sebastian Bach, St John Passion, BWV 245

This was the first time, I think, since having moved to London that I had attended a Bach Passion performance on Good Friday here.

Easter Voices, including mass settings by Mozart and Stravinsky

It was a little early, perhaps, to be hearing ‘Easter Voices’ in the middle of Holy Week. However, this was not especially an Easter programme – and, in any case, included two pieces from Gesualdo’s Tenebrae responsories for Good Friday. Given the continued vileness of the weather, a little foreshadowing of something warmer was in any case most welcome. (Yes, I know: I should hang my head in Lenten shame.)

Academy of Ancient Music: St John Passion at the Barbican Hall

‘In order to preserve the good order in the Churches, so arrange the music that it shall not last too long, and shall be of such nature as not to make an operatic impression, but rather incite the listeners to devotion.’

Fiona Shaw's The Marriage of Figaro returns to the London Coliseum

The white walls of designer Peter McKintosh’s Ikea-maze are still spinning, the ox-skulls are still louring, and the servants are still eavesdropping, as Fiona Shaw’s 2011 production of The Marriage of Figaro returns to English National Opera for its second revival. Or, perhaps one should say that the servants are still sleeping - slumped in corridors, snoozing in chairs, snuggled under work-tables - for at times this did seem a rather soporific Figaro under Martyn Brabbins’ baton.

Lenten Choral Music from the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Time was I could hear the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge almost any evening I chose, at least during term time. (If I remember correctly, Mondays were reserved for the mixed voice King’s Voices.)

A New Faust at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s innovative, new production of Charles Gounod’s Faust succeeds on multiple levels of musical and dramatic representation. The title role is sung by Benjamin Bernheim, his companion in adventure Méphistophélès is performed by Christian Van Horn.

Netrebko rules at the ROH in revival of Phyllida Lloyd's Macbeth

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a play of the night: of dark interiors and shadowy forests. ‘Light thickens, and the crow/Makes wing to th’ rooky wood,’ says Macbeth, welcoming the darkness which, whether literal or figurative, is thrillingly and threateningly palpable.

San Diego’s Ravishing Florencia

Daniel Catán’s widely celebrated opera, Florencia en el Amazonas received a top tier production at the wholly rejuvenated San Diego Opera company.

Samantha Hankey wins Glyndebourne Opera Cup

Four singers were awarded prizes at the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup, which reached its closing stage at Glyndebourne on 24th March. The Glyndebourne Opera Cup focuses on a different single composer or strand of the repertoire each time it is held. In 2018 the featured composer was Mozart and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment accompanied the ten finalists.

Handel's first 'Israelite oratorio': Esther at the London Handel Festival

It’s sometimes suggested that it was the simultaneous decline of the popularity of Italian opera seria among Georgian audiences and, in consequence, of the fortunes of Handel’s Royal Academy King’s Theatre, that led the composer to turn his hand to oratorio in English, the genre which would endear him to the hearts of the nation.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Angela Gheorghiu
19 Mar 2007

Angela Gheorghiu, Los Angeles

A near-capacity audience, expectant and enthusiastic, streamed into the Dorothy Chandler for an old-fashioned evening of operatic glamour, as Angela Gheorghiu, with the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra in support, flew into town for a one night concert.

Angela Gheorghiu in Recital

Los Angeles, 17 March 2007

 

The soprano delivered on the glamour big-time, with three gowns, glittering jewelry, and a happy, even flirty manner. She sang beautifully too, if without the total captivation of her physical presence.

French music comprised the first half of the evening, with Eugene Kohn leading the orchestra in a bumptious “Rakoczy March” from Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust. The musicians seemed to need more warming up than the vocalist; the horns in particular struggled, possibly due to their recent exertions with the LAO’s run of Tannhäuser.

Gheorghiu swept on in flaming red, and the ovation that greeted her spoke to the impression she made with local audiences in her previous appearances with the company, as Nedda and Mimi. She launched into the so-called “Jewel song” from Faust, a number that spotlights her easy, bright top. Next was the program’s one rarity, “Pleurez, pleurez, mes Yeux,” from Massenet’s El Cid. Though not the composer’s most memorable tune, the piece has enough dramatic crescendos and darker passages to contrast well with the Gounod aria. After a gown change and the orchestra’s tepid run-through of the Béatrice et Bénédict overture, Ms. Gheorghiu reappeared and sang a tender “Adieu, notre petite table.” The first half ended with Ms. Gheoghiu’s somewhat controversial essay into Carmen, but for a recital, her “Habañera” succeeded wonderfully. She took a light-hearted approach, playful more than siren-ish, and the aria’s range seemed to suit her well.

The second half went to Italian composers, with Kohn choosing the Mascagni overture to Le Maschere, an unsubtle but fun piece. Gheorghiu’s Puccini Manon had a real poignance in “In quelle trine morbide.” Then she offered one of her specialities, “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta,” another opportunity to display her lovely top notes. She left for another gown change, and Kohn led the orchestra, finally sounding like the excellent group that has played for James Conlon recently, in Verdi’s overture to Les Vêpres Siciliennes. Now clad in glamorous black, with a sort of spider web motif, Gheorghiu sang Forza’s “Pace, pace, mio dio” and closed the second half with “Un bel di.”

These last two pointed up the relatively soft volume of Gheorghiu’s middle voice. She can be heard, even in a larger hall such as the Chandler, but it is not until the vocal line takes her higher that the voice has real force. Nevertheless, this listener would not trade the warm textures of her middle voice for a pushed sound.

So a rapturous audience called Ms. Gheorghiu back for several encores. Ironically, it was in the Lerner-Loewe “I Could have Danced All Night” that Ms Gheorghiu’s softer approach teased the ears a bit too much, but her irresistible delight in performing the song could not be denied. She treated the crowd as well to a Romanian song, to “Granada” and Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro,” and finally to “Non ti scordar di me.” She then grasped the first violinist by the hand, and led the musicians off the stage.

A delightful evening, but one that might have left some listeners eager for some heavier fare. Perhaps on her next visit, Ms. Gheorghiu will offer a program of more challenge. And one gown will do fine.

Chris Mullins

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):