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

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

The Maid of Pskov (Pskovityanka) , St. Petersburg

I recently spent four days in St. Petersburg, timed to coincide with the annual Stars of the White Nights Festival. Yet the most memorable singing I heard was neither at the Mariinsky Theater nor any other performance hall. It was in the small, nearly empty church built for the last Tsar, Nicholas II, at Tsarskoye Selo.

Prom 11 — Grange Park Opera: Fiddler on the Roof

As I walked up Exhibition Road on my way to the Royal Albert Hall, I passed a busking tuba player whose fairground ditties were enlivened by bursts of flame which shot skyward from the bell of his instrument, to the amusement and bemusement of a rapidly gathering pavement audience.

Saul, Glyndebourne

A brilliant theatrical event, bringing Handel’s theatre of the mind to life on stage

Roberta Invernizzi, Wigmore Hall

‘Here, thanks be to God, my opera is praised to the skies and there is nothing in it which does not please greatly.’ So wrote Antonio Vivaldi to Marchese Guido Bentivoglio d’Aragona in Ferrara in 1737.

Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre Re

Asphyxiations, atrophy by poison, assassination: in Italo Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre Re (The Love of the Three Kings, 1913) foul deed follows foul deed until the corpses are piled high. 

Prom 4: Andris Nelsons

The precision of attack in the opening to Beethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus Overture signalled thoroughgoing excellence in the contribution of the CBSO to this concert.

BBC Proms: The Cardinall’s Musick

When he was skilfully negotiating the not inconsiderable complexities, upheavals and strife of musical and religious life at the English royal court during the Reformation, Thomas Tallis (c.1505-85) could hardly have imagined that more than 450 years later people would be queuing round the block for the opportunity spend their lunch-hour listening to the music that he composed in service of his God and his monarch.

Oberon, Persephone and Iolanta at the Aix Festival

Two of the important late twentieth century stage directors, Robert Carsen and Peter Sellars, returned to the Aix Festival this summer. Carsen’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a masterpiece, Sellars’ strange Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky double bill is simply bizarre.

Betrothal and Betrayal : JPYA at the ROH

The annual celebration of young talent at the Royal Opera House is a magnificent showcase, and it was good to see such a healthy audience turnout.

Jenůfa Packs a Wallop at DMMO

There are few operas that can rival the visceral impact of a well-staged Jenůfa and Des Moines Metro Opera has emphatically delivered the goods.

Des Moines Fanciulla a Minnie-Triumph

The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West) often gets eclipsed when compared to the rest of the mature Puccini canon.

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015 with Sakari Oramo in exuberant form, pulling off William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the theatrical flair it deserves.

Monsters and Marriage at the Aix Festival

Plus an evening by the superb Modigliani Quartet that complimented the brief (55 minutes) a cappella opera for six female voices Svadba (2013) by Serbian composer Ana Sokolovic (b. 1968). She lives in Canada.

Des Moines: A Whole Other Secret Garden

With its revelatory production of Rappaccini’s Daughter performed outdoors in the city’s refurbished Botanical Gardens, Des Moines Metro Opera has unlocked the gate to a mysterious, challenging landscape of musical delights.

Seductive Abduction in Iowa

Des Moines Metro Opera has quite a crowd-pleasing production of The Abduction from the Seraglio on its hands.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Garsington Opera

Even by Shakespeare’s standards A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of his earlier plays, boasts a particularly fantastical plot involving a bunch of aristocrats (the Athenian Court of Theseus), feuding gods and goddesses (Oberon and Titania), ‘Rude Mechanicals’ (Bottom, Quince et al) and assorted faeries and spirits (such as Puck).

Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

What do we call Tristan und Isolde? That may seem a silly question. Tristan und Isolde, surely, and Tristan for short, although already we come to the exquisite difficulty, as Tristan and Isolde themselves partly seem (though do they only seem?) to recognise of that celebrated ‘und’.

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

So this was it, the Pelléas which had apparently repelled critics and other members of the audience on the opening night. Perhaps that had been exaggeration; I avoided reading anything substantive — and still have yet to do so.

Richard Strauss: Arabella

I had last seen Arabella as part of the Munich Opera Festival’s Richard Strauss Week in 2008. It is not, I am afraid, my favourite Strauss opera; in fact, it is probably my least favourite. However, I am always willing to be convinced.

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):