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

Guillaume Tell, Covent Garden

It is twenty-three years since Rossini’s opera of cultural oppression, inspiring heroism and tender pathos was last seen on the Covent Garden stage, but this eagerly awaited new production of Guillaume Tell by Italian director Damiano Micheletto will be remembered more for the audience outrage and vociferous mid-performance booing that it provoked — the most persistent and strident that I have heard in this house — than for its dramatic, visual or musical impact.

Aida, Opera Holland Park

With its outrageous staging demands, you sometimes wonder why opera companies want to produce Verdi’s Aida. But the piece is about far more than pharaohs, pyramids and camels.

Death in Venice, Garsington Opera

Given the enduring resonance and impact of the magnificent visual aesthetic of Visconti’s 1971 film of Thomas Mann’s novella, opera directors might be forgiven for concluding that Britten’s Death in Venice does not warrant experimentation with period and design, and for playing safe with Edwardian elegance, sweeping Venetian vistas and stylised seascapes.

La Rondine Swoops Into St. Louis

If La Rondine (The Swallow) is a less-admired work than rest of the mature Puccini canon, you wouldn’t have known it by the lavish production now lovingly staged by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Emmeline a Stunner in Saint Louis

Few companies have championed new or neglected works quite as fervently and consistently as the industrious Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Luminous Handel in Saint Louis

For Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, “everything old is new again.”

Two Women in San Francisco

Why would an American opera company devote its resources to the premiere of an opera by an Italian composer? Furthermore a parochially Italian story?

Les Troyens in San Francisco

Berlioz’ Les Troyens is in two massive parts — La prise de Troy and Troyens à Carthage.

Dog Days at REDCAT

On Saturday evening June 13, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Dog Days, a new opera with music by David T. Little and a text by Royce Vavrek. In the opera adopted from a story of the same name by Judy Budnitz, thirteen-year-old Lisa tells of her family’s mental and physical disintegration resulting from the ravages of a horrendous war.

Opera Las Vegas Presents Exquisite Madama Butterfly

Audiences at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan first saw Madama Butterfly on February 17, 1904. It was not the success it is these days, and Puccini revised it before its scheduled performances in Brescia.

Yardbird, Philadelphia

Opera Philadelphia is a very well-managed opera company with a great vision. Every year it presents a number of well-known “warhorse” operas, usually in the venerable Academy of Music, and a few more adventurous productions, usually in a chamber opera format suited to the smaller Pearlman Theater.

Giovanni Paisiello: Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Written in 1783, Giovanni Paisiello’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia reigned for three decades as one of Europe’s most popular operas, before being overshadowed forever by Rossini’s classic work.

Princeton Festival: Le Nozze di Figaro

The Princeton Festival has established a reputation for high-quality summer opera. In recent years works by Handel, Britten, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Wagner and Gershwin have been performed at Matthews Theater on Princeton University campus: a 1100-seat auditorium with good sight-lines though a somewhat dry and uneven acoustic.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail,
Glyndebourne

Die Entführung aus dem Serail was Mozart’s first great public success in Vienna, and it became the composer’s most oft performed opera during his lifetime.

German Lieder Is Given a Dramatic Twist by The Ensemble for the Romantic Century

The Ensemble for the Romantic Century offered a thoughtful and well-curated evening in their production of The Sorrows of Young Werther, which is part theatrical performance and part art song concert.

Hans Werner Henze: Ein Landarzt and Phaedra

This was an adventurous double bill of two ‘quasi-operas’ by Hans Werner Henze, performed by young singers who are studying on the postgraduate Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Dido and Aeneas, Spitalfields Festival

High brick walls, a cavernous space, entered via a narrow passage just off a London thoroughfare: Village Underground in Shoreditch is probably not that far removed from the venue in which Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was first performed — whether that was Josiah Priest’s girl’s school in Chelsea or the court of Charles II or James II.

Intermezzo, Garsington Opera

Hats off to Garsington for championing once again some criminally neglected Strauss. I overheard someone there opine, ‘Of course, you can understand why it isn’t done very often.’

Cosi fan tutte, Garsington Opera

Mozart and Da Ponte’s Cosi fan tutte provides little in the way of background or back story for the plot, thus allowing directors to set the piece in a variety settings.

The Queen of Spades, ENO

Based on a play, Chrysomania (The Passion for Money), by the Russian playwright Prince Alexander Shokhovskoy, Pushkin’s short story The Queen of Spades is, in the words of one literary critic, ‘a sardonic commentary on the human condition’.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

David DQ Lee (Radamisto), Inga Kalna (Polissena) and Florian Boesch (Tiridate) [May 2007] Photo © Karl Forster/Hamburg Staatsoper.
15 Oct 2007

Handel’s “Radamisto” revisited with mixed results in Hamburg

A remarkably quick turnaround from only last May when the first run of Handel’s “Radamisto” was blessed with a consistently high level of vocal performance may have been the reason for sparser houses this time round at the Hamburg Staatsoper (October 6th).

G. F. Handel: Radamisto
Hamburg Staatsoper, 6 October 2007

Above: David DQ Lee (Radamisto), Inga Kalna (Polissena) and Florian Boesch (Tiridate) [May 2007]
Photo © Karl Forster/Hamburg Staatsoper.

 

Those first shows had been well received both domestically and internationally, with some outstanding singing from Maite Beaumont, Inga Kalna and David DQ Lee. Unfortunately, the revival only managed to retain the luminously warm-timbre’d Lee in the title role and neither Deborah Humble as Zenobia nor Trine Wilsberg Lund as Polissena could quite match their predecessors, although the latter had some good moments. Also retained from the previous cast were baritone Florian Boesch, required to play the tyrant Tiridate as a ridiculously pantomime villain, bass Tim Mirfin as an elderly King Farasmane, and Hellen Kwon as Prince Tigrane. Christiane Karg stood in at only 3 days notice to play Fraarte.

Marco Arturo Marelli’s intelligent but visually frantic production (he is responsible for direction and the set/lighting) remains little changed and is not singer-friendly; in the great tradition of modern German opera it seems to relegate the music to some minor by-way of the director’s mind. Handelian purists would be best advised to avoid this production where tragedy is degraded to vaudeville, and odd conflations of the plot make an already complex story dramatically questionable. Luckily, Mr. Handel could cope (doesn’t he always?) despite some ragged and sometimes lumpen playing of this marvellous score under the benign and undemanding conducting of Martin Haselböck. One exception: the natural horns were, on the third night, extremely proficient — no easy feat.

Yet there were vocal highlights that rose above this mish-mash of directorial conceits and bland playing, and they included the strong dramatic singing of Boesch, who could colour his upstanding baritone from cooing suitor to bombastic tyrant with ease, the precise and pleasing coloratura of Kwon, not a natural baroque singer, who warmed to her task in the later acts. Wilsberg Lund as a feisty Polissena also sang Sposo ingrate, parto sì with commendable vigour and passion as she strode about the stage packing her things to leave her unfaithful husband — literally a “suitcase aria” in this production. Most impressive of all was the beautifully articulated, warmly sensuous singing of David DQ Lee as the much-troubled Radamisto. He has a free and easy top that cries out for the higher-lying Handelian castrato roles (popping a high B flat with nonchalance during his “rage aria” Vile! Se mi dai vita) and he achieved neatly executed divisions whilst convincing entirely with his acting. If, in his lower range, he fought to be heard on occasion above an orchestra that sounded as if they only had one dynamic in their range, that was partly due to the director’s odd insistence on placing him way upstage for most of his arias. When finally allowed just to sit quietly downstage and sing, his “Qual nave smaritta” would be hard to better by any countertenor singing today and showed what an exciting young talent he is.

Sue Loder © 2007

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):