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 Commentary

Jean-Paul Scarpitta in Montpellier

I met with the embattled artistic director of the Opéra et Orchestre National de Montepellier not to talk about his battles. I simply wanted to know the man who had cast and staged a truly extraordinary Mozart/DaPonte trilogy.

Interview: Tenor Saimir Pirgu — From Albania to Italy to LA

Maria Nockin interviews tenor Saimir Pirgu.

Claudio Abbado, Italian conductor, dies aged 80

Italian conductor Claudio Abbado, former principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, has died aged 80

Matthew Polenzani — Des Grieux, Manon, Royal Opera House

Matthew Polenzani reprises the role of the Chevalier des Grieux in Jules Massenet’s Manon at the Royal Opera House. “I love coming back to London”, he says, “It’s a very good house and they take care of you as a singer. And the level of music making is unbelievably high”.

Season 2014 at San Diego Opera

On Saturday evening January 25, San Diego Opera opens its 2014 season with Ruggero Leoncavallo’s verismo blockbuster Pagliacci (Clowns).

Maestro Joseph Rescigno Discusses The Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman is a transitional piece because Wagner was only beginning to establish his style. He took some aspects from Carl Maria von Weber and others from Italian composers like Vincenzo Bellini.

Royal Opera House Announces Digital Theatre

The Royal Opera House has its own DVD arm, Opus Arte, and is developing quite a global following with its cinema broadcasts.

Patricia Racette on Dolores Claiborne

On a personal level, I feel that Dolores is almost like Emmeline grown up. Their circumstances are not exactly parallel, but they are both women at very different points in their lives whose stories involve dilemmas with life-changing outcomes.

Tobias Picker Talks About His New Opera Dolores Claiborne

With the help of Andrew Welch, a London theatrical producer who had adapted several of King’s works for the stage, including this one, I got the rights to both Dolores Claiborne and Misery.

Dolora Zajick on New Opera Written for Her

On September 18, 2013, San Francisco Opera will present the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s opera, Dolores Claiborne, which has a libretto by J. D. McClatchy based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name.

Ermonela Jaho — Singing and Character

Ermonela Jaho caused a sensation at Covent Garden in London five years ago, when she took over Violetta at short notice from Anna Netrebko.

Ignite at Wigmore Hall

What do you get if you cross Benjamin Britten, ‘one-page scores’, an innovative performing ensemble and ‘Wigmore Learning’ — the Wigmore Hall’s imaginative outreach programme which aims to provide access to chamber music and song through innovative creative programmes, online resources and events?

Marseille, Capital of European Culture

Marseille woke up this past January 11 stunned to find itself number two on the New York Times list of 46 places you should visit in 2013 (Rio was number one, Paris just made the list at number 46).

Rossini Maometto Secondo at Garsington Opera - David Parry speaks

Garsington Opera at Wormsley is producing the British premiere of Giacomo Rossini´s Maometto Secondo. Garsington Opera is well-known for its role in reviving Rossini rarities in Britain. Since 1994, there have been 14 productions of 12 Rossini operas, and David Parry has conducted eleven since 2002. He´s very enthusiastic about Maometto Secondo.

Michele Mariotti conducts La donna del lago

Rossini’s La donna del Lago at the Royal Opera House boasts a superstar cast. Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez are perhaps the best in these roles in the business at this time. Yet the conductor Michele Mariotti is also hot news.

Kate Lindsey at Glyndebourne

It would seem a logical step for the mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey to take on the role of the Composer in Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos.

Douglas Boyd on Garsington Opera at Wormsley

“Aim for excellence”, says Douglas Boyd, new Artistic Director of Garsington Opera at Wormsley, “and the audience will follow you”.

A Chat with Aida Designer Zandra Rhodes

When I spoke with Zandra Rhodes, she was in her large San Diego workspace, which she described as having walls decorated with her own huge black and white drawings.

An Interview with Virginia Zeani

Palm Beach audiences are famous for their glamour, but in recent years a special star has sparkled amid the jewels, sequins, feathers and furs (whatever the weather).

Bel Canto Queen Jessica Pratt

When the soprano Jessica Pratt first arrived in Italy, she had yet to learn the language or sing in a staged opera.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

Emmanuel Villaume (Photo: William Struhs)
25 May 2007

Opera on the move at Spoleto USA

Charleston, S.C. — For over 20 years it was two operas a season here at Spoleto USA, the all-arts festival brought to this cultural capital of the Old South by Gian Carlo Menotti in 1977.

The Christel DeHaan Music Director for Opera & Orchestra Emmanuel Villaume will lead the Ginn Resorts Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra in two orchestral concerts and the opera production Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny during the 2007 Spoleto Festival USA, May 25 - June 10.
Photo by: William Struhs.

 

Backbone of the program were then the twice-daily chamber music concerts hosted by venerable Charles Wadsworth in the Dock Street Theatre, an intimate venue that in various incarnations dates back to Mozart’s youth. Diverse programs in dance and theater and in orchestral, choral music and jazz filled the rest of the day - along with the two operas, a blockbuster in the cavernous Gailliard Auditorium and a more modest work - Baroque or modern - in the Dock Street.

Opera at Spoleto took on new life with the arrival of Emmanuel Villaume as music director of opera and orchestra events seven seasons ago. In a dynamic re-thinking of the role of opera at the festival French-born Villaume has increased the number of production from two to three and he has abandoned the Gailliard in favor of more hospitable venues.

 “Opera buffs will not come to Charleston for only two operas,” Villaume says. “We need three to make this a destination city — and festival — for them. “And we program them so that visitors can see all three on a single weekend.” Those changes, however, involve only externals. More crucial is the energy and the spirit of adventure that Villaume has brought to Spoleto in a choice of operas that would astonish — and challenge — audiences elsewhere in this country.

He opens the 2007 season that opens on May 25 and runs for 17 days with Weill’s 1930 “Mahagonny” and then moves on to the American premieres of Gluck’s 18th-century “L’ile du Merlin (ou le monde renversé” and “Faustus, the Last Night” by Pascal Dusapin, premiered at Berlin’s Staatsoper only months ago. Diverse and distant from each other in time as the trio of works on stage this season might seem, Villaume points to common ground. “Take ‘Magahonny,’ the work that took music in a new direction,” he says. “it’s about the building of a city and its decline. “But at its center is the meaning of community — of how people can work together.” And although this in no ways defines a theme that runs through the three works, each reflects on this subject. “They are all concerned with the definition of values — not just political values, but ethical values as well. “They are works of incredible power, and each enriches the experience of the other two.”

Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier serve a co-directors of “Mahagonny,” to which — Villaume points out — there is much more than the “Alabama Song,” recorded both by David Bowie and the rock group The Doors. The text for “Mahagonny,” of course, is by Bert Brecht, now celebrated as the top German dramatist of the 20th century.

When Villaume, now at home in the world’s leading opera houses, began his search for an opera for the 500-seat Dock Street, he not only did not know “Merlin”; he did not even know that Gluck had written a comic opera. “It’s a perfect counterpart of ‘Mahagonny,’” he says. “Pierrot and Scapin, shipwrecked on Merlin’s island, ask themselves what a society ought to be. “It’s a strong work — and highly ironic.” The fact that there was no video or even a recording of the work enhanced its appeal, for Villaume realized that an adaption of the score — indeed, a total reconstruction of it — would be necessary.

“I didn’t know whether I could find someone willing to do it,” he says. “And then I thought of Baroque specialist Harry Bicket. “He’s come up with a very modern and witty ‘take’ on the work, which we’ll sing in the original French.” Bicket conducts “Merlin.” Christopher Alden directs the staging.

For his new opera on one of the oldest themes in European literature French composer Dusapin turned to Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus,” written two centuries before Goethe’s classic drama on the man who made a contract with the Devil. In his last night Faust — somewhere between memory and forgetfulness, between dream and reality — seeks answers from a mocking Mephisto and an angel who is blind. Dusapin wrote his own libretto for a score described by critics as “dark and somber,” as “a great lament” and rich in “sweet angular melodies.” And Villaume points out that here too the question of community is central.

Director of “Faustus” is David Herskovits; Dusapin will be present for its American premiere.

Ticket sales for all three works are robust, for, as Villaume points out, “we have won the trust of our audience — both those at home in Charleston and those who come from elsewhere. “They have learned to like what we do.”

For information on the Spoleto USA season and for tickets, call 843-579-3100 or visit www.spoletousa.org.

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):