Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

San Diego Opera Opens 2014-2015 Season

On Friday evening September 5, 2014, tenor Stephen Costello and soprano Ailyn Pérez gave a recital to open the San Diego Opera season. After all the threats to close the company down, it was a great joy to great San Diego Opera in its new vibrant, if slightly slimmed down form.

Otello at ENO

English National Opera’s 2014-15 season kicked off with an ear-piercing orchestral thunderbolt. Brilliant lightning spears sliced through the thick black night, fitfully illuminating the Mediterranean garret-town square where an expectant crowd gather to welcome home their conquering hero.

Anna Nicole, back with a bang!

It is now three and a half years since Anna Nicole was unleashed on the world at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Norma in San Francisco

It was a Druid orgy that overtook the War Memorial. Magnificent singing, revelatory conducting, off-the-wall staging (a compliment, sort of).

Joyce DiDonato starts Wigmore Hall new season

There was a quasi-party atmosphere at the Wigmore Hall on Monday evening, when Joyce DiDonato and Antonio Pappano reprised the recital that had kicked off the Hall’s 2014-15 season with reported panache and vim two nights previously. It was standing room only, and although this was a repeat performance there certainly was no lack of freshness and spontaneity: both the American mezzo-soprano and her accompanist know how to communicate and entertain.

Aida at Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival

In strict architectural terms, the stupendous 2nd century Roman theatre of Aspendos near Antalya in southern Turkey is not an arena or amphitheatre at all, so there are not nearly as many ghosts of gored gladiators or dismembered Christians to disturb the contemporary feng shui as in other ancient loci of Imperial amusement.

St Matthew Passion, Prom 66

Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra brought their staging of Bach's St Matthew Passion to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday, 6 September 2014.

Glimmerglass: Butterfly Leads the Pack

Every so often an opera fan is treated to a minor miracle, a revelatory performance of a familiar favorite that immediately sweeps all other versions before it.

Operalia, the World Opera Competition, Showcases 2014 Winners

On August 30, Los Angeles Opera presented the finals concert of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, the world opera competition. Founded in 1993, the contest endeavors to discover and help launch the careers of the most promising young opera singers of today. Thousands of applicants send in recordings from which forty singers are chosen to perform live in the city where the contest is being held. Last year it was Verona, Italy, this year Los Angeles, next year London.

Elektra at Prom 59

The second day of the Richard Strauss weekend at the BBC Proms saw Richard Strauss's Elektra performed at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 August 2014 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, with Christine Goerke in the title role.

Powerful Mahler Symphony no 2 Harding, BBC Proms London

Triumphant! An exceptionally stimulating Mahler Symphony No 2 from Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Prom 57 at the Royal Albert Hall. Harding's Mahler Tenth performances (especially with the Berliner Philharmoniker) are pretty much the benchmark by which all other performances are assessed. Harding's Mahler Second is informed by such an intuitive insight into the whole traverse of the composer's work that, should he get around to doing all ten together, he'll fulfil the long-held dream of "One Grand Symphony", all ten symphonies understood as a coherent progression of developing ideas.

Nina Stemme's stunning Strauss Salome, BBC Proms London

The BBC Proms continued its Richard Strauss celebrations with a performance of his first major operatic success Salome. Nina Stemme led forces from the Deutsche Oper, Berlin,at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 30 August 2014,the first of a remarkable pair of Proms which sees Salome and Elektra performed on successive evenings

Santa Fe Opera Presents Updated, at One Point Up-ended, Don Pasquale

On August 9, 2014, Santa Fe Opera presented a new updated production of Don Pasquale that set the action in the 1950s. Chantal Thomas’s Act I scenery showed the Don’s furnishing as somewhat worn and decidedly dowdy. Later, she literally turned the Don’s home upside down!

Dolora Zajick Premieres Composition

At a concert in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in San Jose, California, on August 22, 2014, a few selections preceded the piece the audience had been waiting for: the world premiere of Dolora Zajick’s brand new composition, an opera scene entitled Roads to Zion.

Santa Fe Opera Presents Huang Ruo's Sun Yat-sen

By emphasizing the love between Sun Yat-sen and Soong Ching-ling, Ruo showed us the human side of this universally revered modern Chinese leader. Writer Lindsley Miyoshi has quoted the composer as saying that the opera is “about four kinds of love.” It speaks of affection between friends, between parents and children, between lovers, and between patriots and their country.

Britten War Requiem - Andris Nelsons, CBSO, BBC Prom 47

In light of the 2012 half-centenary of the premiere in the newly re-built Coventry Cathedral of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, the 2013 centennial celebrations of the composer’s own birth, and this year’s commemorations of the commencement of WW1, it is perhaps not surprising that the War Requiem - a work which was long in gestation and which might be seen as a summation of the composer’s musical, political and personal concerns - has been fairly frequently programmed of late. And, given the large, multifarious forces required, the potent juxtaposition of searing English poetry and liturgical Latin, and the profound resonances of the circumstances of the work’s commission and premiere, it would be hard to find a performance, as William Mann declared following the premiere, which was not a ‘momentous occasion’.

Santa Fe Opera Presents an Imaginative Carmen

Santa Fe opera has presented Carmen in various productions since 1961. This year’s version by Stephen Lawless takes place during the recent past in Northern Mexico near the United States border. The performance on August 6, 2014, featured Ana Maria Martinez as a monumentally sexy Gypsy who was part of a drug smuggling group.

Elgar Sea Pictures : Alice Coote, Mark Elder Prom 31

Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra persuasively balanced passion and poetry in this absorbing Promenade concert. Elder’s tempi were fairly relaxed but the result was spaciousness rather than ponderousness, with phrases given breadth and substance, and rich orchestral colours permitted to make startling dramatic impact.

Berio Sinfonia, Shostakovich, BBC Proms

Although far from perfect, the performance of Berio’s Sinfonia in the first half of this concert was certainly its high-point; indeed, I rather wish that I had left at the interval, given the tedium induced by Shostakovich’s interminable Fourth Symphony. Still, such was the programme Semyon Bychkov had been intended to conduct. Alas, illness had forced him to withdraw, to be replaced at short notice by Vasily Petrenko.

Four countertenors : Handel Rinaldo Glyndebourne

Handel's Rinaldo was first performed in 1711 at London's King's Theatre. Handel's first opera for London was designed to delight and entertain, combining good tunes, great singing with a rollicking good story. Robert Carsen's 2011 production of the opera for Glyndebourne reflected this with its tongue-in-cheek Harry Potter meets St Trinian's staging.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Italian soprano Paoletta Marrocu (Leonora) and Argentinean tenor Darío Volonté (Manrico) in San Diego Opera’s production of Verdi’s Il trovatore. Photo © Ken Howard
02 Apr 2007

San Diego Opera — Il Trovatore

Verdi's magnificent melodrama Il Trovatore may be the most masculine of his creations, but the production that San Diego Opera presented as the third opera of its 2007 season was a triumph for the ladies.

Il Trovatore

San Diego Opera
1 April 2007

ABOVE: Italian soprano Paoletta Marrocu (Leonora) and Argentinean tenor Darío Volonté (Manrico) in San Diego Opera’s production of Verdi’s Il trovatore.
All photos © Ken Howard, courtesy of San Diego Opera

 

The company seemed to know this in advance, when they chose to highlight Paulette Marrocou's Leonora on the posters. A striking woman, she began rather low-key, but by the convent scene of act two, she had found her comfort zone in Leonora's growing desperation. While not conventionally beautiful, Marocou's soprano has an alluring edge, and her top, as heard at Sunday April's first matinee, rang out in the cavernous Civic Center acoustic with power.

American mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti is Azucena in San Diego Opera’s production of Verdi’s Il trovatore. Photo © Ken HowardThe greatest ovation at final curtain, however, went to Marianne Cornetti, who sang Azucena with the sort of wild abandon and penetration of the role's greatest contemporary exponent, Dolora Zajick (there's is also a slight physical resemblance). Unlike Zajick, however, Cornetti's strength lies mostly at the top, and the middle voice has less punch. Furthermore, Cornetti's audience-pleasing contribution did not have the subtler touches of Marrocou's Leonora, but subtlety may not always be what an audience wants from a Il Trovatore performer. In the smaller role of Inez, Priti Gandhi had some affecting moments.

As for the men, the show started with veteran Hao Jiang Tin's Ferrando. His is a solid bass sound, but it takes more fire and drama to make this exposition-heavy first scene truly effective. Alexandra Agache equalled Cornetti in sheer lung power. If only the voice itself were more interesting. "Il Balen" started well enough but soon the monochromatic tone of Agache's baritone dimmed its success. On the other hand, he gave a good physical performance, and his confrontation with Marrocou's Leonora in act four may have been the best scene of the day.

And the title role? San Diego Opera had announced Nicola Rossi Giordani as its Manrico, and only a few weeks ago revealed that Dario Volonté would take the lead. Volonté had sung a creditable Calaf in San Diego a couple seasons back, with the concern then being that he undersang too much of the evening to give his all to the big moments. Sunday's performance, unfortunately, increased that concern. Volonté's basic sound has a warmth and sweetness that makes one want to hear more of it, but he seems unable or unwilling to fulfill that desire. Your reviewer thought he was hoarding his resources for his big act three scene, but even there, the volume did not appear. Nonetheless, a solid, though smallish, high note (reportedly a high C) capping "Di quella pira" earned the tenor a thunderous ovation. The foot stamp that accompanied the note was regrettable, however, and your reviewer would have enjoyed hearing some cries of "Madre infelice!" as well.

Edoardo Müller has led some strong performances for San Diego, especially in the Italian repertory, but Sunday's felt decidedly low-energy. Faced with a cast of varying decibel-level, perhaps this is understandable, but there were also a couple of spots of poor pit-stage coordination.

Indian-born mezzo-soprano Priti Gandhi is Inez and Italian soprano Paoletta Marrocu is Leonora in San Diego Opera’s production of Verdi’s Il trovatore. Photo © Ken HowardThe physical production, by Benoit Dugardyn, is handsome enough (it has also been seen in Los Angeles and Houston). Shifting walls of ragged, burnt wood quickly take us from scene to scene. Otherwise, Stephen Lawless's direction came across as perfunctory, and the choreographed swordfight with clanging blades where anvils should be is still a very silly sight.

So count this Trovatore as a success for Cornetti and especially Marrocou. Next in San Diego, the bold choice of Wozzeck, directed by Des McAnuff. It opens April 14th.

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):