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

Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2016

Having enjoyed superb singing by a young cast of soloists in Classical Opera’s UK premiere of Jommelli’s Il Vogoleso the previous evening, I was delighted that the 2016 Kathleen Ferrier Awards Final at the Wigmore Hall confirmed the strength and depth of talent possessed by the young singers studying in and emerging from our academies and conservatoires.

Pacific Opera Project Recreates Mozart and Salieri Contest

On February 7, 1786, Emperor Joseph II of Austria had brand new one-act operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri performed in the Schönbrunn Palace’s Orangery.

Powerful chemistry in La Cenerentola in Cologne

Those poor opera lovers in Cologne have a never ending problem with the city’s opera house. Together with the rest of city, the construction of the new opera house is mired in political incompetence.

Tannhäuser: Royal Opera House, London

London remains starved of Wagner. This season, its major companies offer but two works, Tannhäuser from the Royal Opera and Tristan from ENO.

The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf

Dmitry Bertman’s hilarious staging of Rimsky-Korsakov’s political sex-comedy The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf.

San Diego Opera Presents a Tragic Madama Butterfly

On April 16, 2016, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s sixth opera, Madama Butterfly, in an intriguing production by Garnett Bruce. Roberto Oswald’s scenery included the usual Japanese styled house with many sliding doors and walls. On either side, however, were blooming cherry trees with rough trunks and gnarled branches that looked as though they had been growing on the property for a hundred years.

Simon Rattle conducts Tristan und Isolde

New Co-Production Tristan und Isolde with Metropolitan: Simon Rattle and Westbroek electrify Treliński’s Opera-Noir.

San Jose’s Smooth Streetcar Ride

In an operatic world crowded with sure-fire bread and butter repertoire, Opera San Jose has boldly chosen to lavish a new production on a dark horse, Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

Roméo et Juliette: Dutch National Opera and Ballet seal merger with leaden Berlioz

Choral symphony, oratorio, symphonic poem — Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette does not fit into any mould. It has the potential to work as an opera-ballet, but incoherent storytelling and uninspired conducting undermined this production.

Donizetti : Lucia di Lammermoor, Royal Opera House

When Kasper Holten took the precaution of pre-warning ticket-holders that the Royal Opera House’s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor featured scene portraying ‘sexual acts’ and ‘violence’, one assumed that he was aiming to avert a re-run of the jeering and hectoring that accompanied last season’s Guillaume Tell. He even went so far as to offer concerned patrons a refund.

Five Reviews of Regina at Maryland Opera Studio

These are five very different reviews by students at the University of Maryland on its Opera Studio production of Regina — an interesting, informative and entertaining read . . .

Three Cheers for the English Touring Opera

‘Remember me, the one who is Pia;/ Siena made me, Maremma undid me.’ The speaker is Pia de’ Tolomei. She appears in a brief episode of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Purgatorio V, 130-136) which was the source for Gaetano Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei - by way of Bartolomeo Sestini’s verse-novella of 1825.

Andriessen's De Materie at the Park Avenue Armory

"The large measure of formalism which forms the basis of De Materie does not in itself offer any guarantee that the work will be beautiful," says Dutch composer Louis Andriessen of his four-movement opera.

Falstaff Makes a Big Splash in Phoenix

On April 1, 2016, Arizona Opera presented Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) in Phoenix. Although Boito based most of his libretto on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, he used material from Henry IV as well. Verdi wrote the music when he was close to the age of eighty. He was concerned about his ability at that advanced age, but he was immensely pleased with Boito’s text and decided to compose his second comedy, despite the fact that his first, Un giorno di regno, had not been successful.

Svadba in San Francisco

The brand new SF Opera Lab opened last month with artist William Kentridge’s staged Schubert Winterreise. Its second production just now, Svadba-Wedding — an a cappella opera for six female voices — unabashedly exposes the space in a different, non-theatrical configuration.

Benvenuto Cellini in Rome

One may think of Tosca as the most Roman of all operas, after all it has been performed at the Teatro Costanzi (Rome’s opera house) well over a thousand times since 1900. Though equally, maybe even more Roman is Hector Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini that has had only a dozen or so performances in Rome since 1838.

Handel : Elpidia - Opera Settecento

Roll up! A new opera by Handel is to be performed, L’Elpidia overo li rivali generosi. It is based upon a libretto by Apostolo Zeno with music by Leonardo Vinci - excepting a couple of arias by Giuseppe Orlandini and, additionally, two from Antonio Lotti’s Teofane (which the star bass, Giuseppe Maria Boschi , on bringing with him from the Dresden production of 1719).

Roberto Devereux in Genova

Radvanovsky in New York, Devia in Genoa — Donizetti queens are indeed in the news! Just now in Genoa Mariella Devia was the Elizabeth I for her beloved Roberto Devereux in a new trilogy of Donizetti queens (Maria Stuarda and Anne Bolena) directed by baritone Alfonso Antoniozzi.

The Importance of Being Earnest, Royal Opera

‘All men become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his.’ ‘Is that clever?’ ‘It is perfectly phrased!’

Mahler’s Third, Concertgebouw

Evolving in Mahler’s Third: Dudamel and L.A. Philharmonic’s impressive adaption to the Concertgebouw

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Kurt Streit in Flying Dutchman at Barcelona
01 May 2007

In Barcelona, a Wagner debut without scandals for Àlex Rigola, the rising star in the Catalan school of direction

At Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, a sold-out house marked, for two nights in a row, the weekend introducing la diada de Sant Jordi, the big fiesta celebrated on April 23 in honor of the city’s patron St George.

Above: Kurt Streit as Erik

 

The Flying Dutchman is a frequent guest in this Mediterranean seaport since it premiered here in 1885 as L’Holandès errant; not very surprisingly, since Barcelona is also an early shrine of the Wagner cult in southern Europe. Sure, it’s a long way from Bayreuth: patrons start clapping right after the overture and occasional breaches of etiquette take place after favorite numbers, despite rebuking from connoisseurs. Yet the purest of Wagnerites had more serious grounds for concern this time. The operatic debut of Àlex Rigola, born 1969, since 2003 artistic manager at the trend-making Teatre Liure, made them fear for the worst, as from that seminary for avant-garde directors came both the talented innovator Lluís Pasqual and his former assistant Calíxto Bieito (a notorious champion of deconstruction whom less friendly commentators call “king of Eurotrash”).

Eric Halfvarson as Daland in Flying Dutchman at Barcelona However, those who were afraid of — or possibly hoped for — one more scandal found themselves mystified. Rigola’s Dutchman is moderately postmodern, with a definite flavor of cinema imagery from the 1970s-1990s, but without turning that into a shortcut to relevance. As stipulated by Wagner the librettist, the action is set on the coast of Norway, where Captain Daland NOW owns a small plant of canned fish. Thus chorus girls abstain from turning their spinning wheels while waiting for their betrothed to come back from the sea with costly presents. Donning aprons and plastic caps, they either sit in the firm canteen peeling bananas and digging into yogurt tubs, or tarry on the verandah, smoking and flirting in front of an ever-impending seascape much realistically displayed on laser projection. The Dutchman’s ship, no longer a clipper mounting “blood-red sails and black masts”, towers as a rusty cargo of humongous dimensions. Updating reaches a climax in Act 3, when happy preps with their navels fully exposed dance to disco rhythms waving beer cans high in the air and cuddling a cute golden retriever. Nina was the name of that blonde four-legged diva, embodying her (fortunately) dumb role with unshaken dignity.

Chorus in Act III of Flying Dutchman at BarcelonaAll in all, the time-machine gimmick worked smoothly enough. Gloomy thrill and rural romance, hurricanes and country dances mingled in the visuals as they actually do in the amphibious score produced by the then young Wagner, still hesitating between French opéra-comique and seeds of his Wort-Ton-Drama to come. First-bill Dutchman Alan Titus, still suffering from a recent ailment, was not fully up to his signature role, since his beefy bass emerged a bit muddy in the lower register and feeble in the higher. Skimming the cream from both casts, special honor is due to Tómas Tómasson, a Dutchman perhaps insufficiently sinister but technically faultless in managing his baritone-sounding, flexible and alluring instrument, as well as to Susan Anthony. Her Senta sported girlish innocence and exquisite mezza-voce, though not matched by volume and resolution in the juiciest dramatic spots. As Daland, Eric Halfvarson impersonated a dapper sea captain-cum-industrialist, with his noble Sarastro-like utterances unspoiled by the slight shade of cynicism that the role imposed on him. Both tenors Kurt Streit (Erik) and Norbert Ernst (the Helmsman) contributed clarion tones and romantic passion to their born losers’ characters — yet with some bittersweet vibrancy in it. Under the newly appointed principal conductor Sebastian Weigle, the house ensembles — supplemented by the chamber choir of the Palau de la Música — offered a forceful, clear-cut rendering throughout the two-and-a-half hour stretch without any intervals.

Carlo Vitali

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):