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

Mortal Voices: the Academy of Ancient Music at Milton Court

The relationship between music and money is long-standing, complex and inextricable. In the Baroque era it was symbiotically advantageous.

I Puritani at Lyric Opera of Chicago

What better evocation of bel canto than an opera which uses the power of song to dispel madness and to reunite the heroine with her banished fiancé? Such is the final premise of Vincenzo Bellini’s I puritani, currently in performance at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Iolanthe: English National Opera

The current government’s unfathomable handling of the Brexit negotiations might tempt one to conclude that the entire Conservative Party are living in the land of the fairies. In Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1882 operetta Iolanthe, the arcane and Arcadia really do conflate, and Cal McCrystal’s new production for English National Opera relishes this topsy-turvy world where peris consort with peri-wigs.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Marseille

Any Laurent Pelly production is news, any role undertaken by soprano Stephanie d’Oustrac is news. Here’s the news from Marseille.

Riveting Maria de San Diego

As part of its continuing, adventurous “Detour” series, San Diego Opera mounted a deliciously moody, proudly pulsating, wholly evocative presentation of Astor Piazzolla’s “nuevo tango” opera, Maria de Buenos Aires.

La Walkyrie in Toulouse

The Nicolas Joel 1999 production of Die Walküre seen just now in Toulouse well upholds the Airbus city’s fame as Bayreuth-su-Garonne (the river that passes through this quite beautiful, rich city).

Barrie Kosky's Carmen at Covent Garden

Carmen is dead. Long live Carmen. In a sense, both Bizet’s opera and his gypsy diva have been ‘done to death’, but in this new production at the ROH (first seen at Frankfurt in 2016) Barrie Kosky attempts to find ways to breathe new life into the show and resurrect, quite literally, the eponymous temptress.

Candide at Arizona Opera

On Friday February 2, 2018, Arizona Opera presented Leonard Bernstein’s Candide to honor the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Although all the music was Bernstein’s, the text was written and re-written by numerous authors including Lillian Hellman, Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, and Dorothy Parker, as well as the composer.

Satyagraha at English National Opera

The second of Philip Glass’s so-called 'profile' operas, Satyagraha is magnificent in ENO’s acclaimed staging, with a largely new cast and conductor bringing something very special to this seminal work.

Mahler Symphony no 8—Harding, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

From the Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, a very interesting Mahler Symphony no 8 with Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The title "Symphony of a Thousand" was dreamed up by promoters trying to sell tickets, creating the myth that quantity matters more than quality. For many listeners, Mahler 8 is still a hard nut to crack, for many reasons, and the myth is part of the problem. Mahler 8 is so original that it defies easy categories.

Wigmore Hall Schubert Birthday—Angelika Kirchschlager

At the Wigmore Hall, Schubert's birthday is always celebrated in style. This year, Angelika Kirchschlager and Julius Drake, much loved Wigmore Hall audience favourites, did the honours, with a recital marking the climax of the two-year-long Complete Schubert Songs Series. The programme began with a birthday song, Namenstaglied, and ended with a farewell, Abschied von der Erde. Along the way, a traverse through some of Schubert's finest moments, highlighting different aspects of his song output : Schubert's life, in miniature.

Ilker Arcayürek at Wigmore Hall

The first thing that struck me in this Wigmore Hall recital was the palpable sincerity of Ilker Arcayürek’s artistry. Sincerity is not everything, of course; what we think of as such may even be carefully constructed artifice, although not, I think, here.

Lisette Oropesa sings at Tucson Desert Song Festival

On January 30, 2018, Arizona Opera and the Tucson Desert Song Festival presented a recital by lyric soprano Lisette Oropesa in the University of Arizona’s Holsclaw Hall. Looking like a high fashion model in her silver trimmed midnight-blue gown, the singer and pianist Michael Borowitz began their program with Pablo Luna’s Zarzuela aria, “De España Vengo.” (“I come from Spain”).

Schubert songs, part-songs and fragments: three young singers at the Wigmore Hall

Youth met experience for this penultimate instalment of the Wigmore Hall’s Schubert: The Complete Songs series, and the results were harmonious and happy. British soprano Harriet Burns, German tenor Ferdinand Keller and American baritone Harrison Hintzsche were supportively partnered by lieder ‘old-hand’, Graham Johnson, and we heard some well-known and less familiar songs in this warmly appreciated early-afternoon recital.

Brent Opera: Nabucco

Brent Opera’s Nabucco was a triumph in that it worked as a piece of music theatre against some odds, and was a good evening out.

LPO: Das Rheingold

It is, of course, quite an achievement in itself for a symphony orchestra to perform Das Rheingold or indeed any of the Ring dramas. It does not happen very often, not nearly so often as it should; for given Wagner’s crucial musico-historical position, this is music that should stand at the very centre of their repertoires – just as Beethoven should at the centre of opera orchestras’.

William Tell in Palermo

This was the infamous production that was booed to extinction at Covent Garden. Palermo’s Teatro Massimo now owns the production.

The Bandits in Rome

AKA I masnadieri, rare early Verdi, though not as rare as Alzira. In 1847 London’s Her Majesty’s Theatre  commissioned the newly famous Verdi to write this opera for the London debut of Swedish soprano Jenny Lind.

Utah’s New Moby Dick Sets Sail

It is cause for celebration that Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s epic Moby Dick has been realized in a handsome new physical production by Utah Opera.

Bevan and Drake travel to 1840s Leipzig

Julius Drake must have had had a lot of fun compiling this lieder programme, which was inspired by a visit to the home of Robert and Clara Schumann on Inselstraße in Leipzig. The couple lived in this classical building during the 1840s and the visitors’ book reads like a roll call of the greatest Romantic artists—composers, poets, performers—of the day.

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):