Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Wigmore Hall

Commenting on her recent, highly acclaimed CD release of late-nineteenth-century song, Chansons Perpétuelles (Naive: V5355), Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux remarked ‘it’s that intimate side that interests me … I wanted to emphasise the genuinely embodied, physical side of the sensuality [in Fauré]’.

Eine florentinische Tragödie and I pagliacci in Monte-Carlo

An evening of strange-bedfellow one-acts in high-concept stagings, mindbogglingly delightful.

Carmen, Pacific Symphony

On February 19, 2015, Pacific Symphony presented its annual performance of a semi-staged opera. This year’s presentation at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, featured Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Director Dean Anthony used the front of the stage and a few solid set pieces by Scenic Designer Matt Scarpino to depict the opera’s various scenes.

The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, ENO

Although the English National Opera has been decidedly sparing with its Wagner for quite some time now, its recent track record, leaving aside a disastrous Ring, has perhaps been better than that at Covent Garden.

San Diego Opera presents an excellent Don Giovanni

On Friday February 20, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a production by Nicholas Muni originally seen at Cincinnati Opera.

Tosca at Chicago Lyric

In a production first seen in Houston several years ago, and now revised by its director John Caird, Puccini’s Tosca has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago with two casts, partially different, scheduled into March of the present season.

Henri Dutilleux: Correspondances

Henri Dutilleux’s music has its devotees. I am yet to join their ranks, but had no reason to think this was not an admirable performance of his song-cycle Correspondances.

LA Opera Revives The Ghosts of Versailles

In 1980, the Metropolitan Opera commissioned composer John Corigliano to write an opera celebrating the company’s one-hundredth anniversary. It was to be ready in 1983.

La Traviata, ENO

English National Opera’s revival of Peter Konwitschny’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata had many elements in common with the production’s original outing in 2013 (The production was a co-production with Opera Graz, where it had debuted in 2011).

Idomeneo in Lyon

You might believe you could go to an opera and take in what you see at face value. But if you did that just now in Lyon you would have had no idea what was going on.

Der fliegende Holländer, Royal Opera

I wonder whether we need a new way of thinking — and talking — about operatic ‘revivals’. Perhaps the term is more meaningful when it comes to works that have been dead and buried for years, before being rediscovered by subsequent generations.

Iphigénie en Tauride in Geneva

Hopefully this brilliant new production of Iphigénie en Tauride from the Grand Théâtre de Genève will find its way to the new world now that Gluck’s masterpiece has been introduced to American audiences.

Tristan et Isolde in Toulouse

Tristan first appeared on the stage of the Théâtre du Capitole in 1928, sung in French, the same language that served its 1942 production even with Wehrmacht tanks parked in front of the opera house.

Arizona Opera presents Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin

Arizona Opera presented Eugene Onegin during and 1999-2000 season and again on February 1 of this year as part of the 2014-2015 season. In this country Onegin is not a crowd pleaser like La Bohème or Carmen, but its story is believable and its music melodic and memorable. Just hum the beginning of the “Polonaise” and your friends will know the music, if not where it comes from.

Ernst Krenek: Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen, Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

Florian Boesch and Roger Vignoles at the Wigmore Hall in Ernst Krenek’s Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen. Matthias Goerne has called Hanns Eisler’s Hollywooder Liederbuch the Winterreise of the 20th century. Boesch and Vignoles showed how Krenek’s Reisebuch is a journey of discovery into identity at an era of extreme social change. It is a parable, indeed, of modern times.

Anna Bolena at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new Anna Bolena, a production shared with Minnesota Opera, features a distinguished cast including several notable premieres.

San Diego Celebrates 50th Year with La Bohème

On Tuesday January 27, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme. It is the opera with which the company opened in 1965 and a work that the company has faithfully performed every five years since then.

English Pocket Opera Company: Verdi’s Macbeth

Last year we tracked Orfeo on his desperate search for his lost Euridice, through the labyrinths and studio spaces of Central St Martin’s; this year we were plunged into Macbeth’s tragic pursuit of power in the bare blackness of the CSM’s Platform Theatre.

Béla Bartók: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle

Béla Bartók’s only opera, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, composed in 1911 and based upon a libretto by the Hungarian writer Béla Balázs, was not initially a success.

Katia Kabanova in Toulon

Káťa Kabanová is, they say, Janáček's first mature opera — it comes a mere 20 years after his masterpiece, Jenůfa.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Macbeth in Istanbul
14 Nov 2007

Macbeth in Istanbul

Attending the opera may not be the first thing you think of when visiting Istanbul, but opera is to be found (if less well advertised than the local Bach Festival) at the Ataturk Cultural Center on Taksim Square, the heart of modern Istanbul.

Giuseppe Verdi: Macbeth
Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, Ataturk Center, 23 October 2007

Perihan Nayır Artan (Lady), Murat Güney (Macbeth), Hüseyin Likos (Macduff), Gökhan Ürben (Banquo). Conducted by Markus Baisch. Production by Yekta Kara.

 

Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, loved opera, ballet and theater and recommended them strongly – along with such Western artifacts as the Roman alphabet, the panama hat, and votes – and scarfless hair – for women. He saw the theater as a key to entering the modern world – and isn’t it?

You will know you have come to the right place on Taksim because colorful posters for the opera season cover the wall to the left of the Ataturk Center. (Tickets are sold at a kiosk to the right of the building.) The Center was built in 1969 and is sedately modern, neither flamboyant nor hideous – 1969 was a dull time for international architecture from New York to New Delhi. The auditorium is comfortable and of a comfortable size.

A Turkish friend who sings himself spoke unkindly of opera in his native land, but I thought, if their Macbeth is as good as the Forza del Destino (or Moč Sudbine) I heard in Zagreb seven years ago – honest, idiomatic, provincial Verdi starring the stoutest woman in Croatia, lovely voice, no top notes, and only the basso embarrassing – then I’ll enjoy myself. It was my last night in Istanbul, and much as I delight in Turkish folk music, I longed for an evening free of the Middle Eastern wail. To my great pleasure, what I got was honest, idiomatic, provincial Verdi, in a production set on telling the story, not some director’s interpretation of the story, with an all-Turkish cast who knew how to sing Italian opera and did so, led by a soprano with a lovely voice (including the top) who was easily the stoutest woman I saw in Turkey.

Perihan Nayır Artan knew her business. Passionate in her entrance without fudging the coloratura, keyed up during the duet, her pretty voice abruptly hard at such moments as “Dammi al ferro,” when she demands Macbeth give her the bloody daggers, and convincingly lost in an inner hell during the sleepwalk, when the voice floated, contradicting the horrors she sang of. I’d like to hear her Aida someday. Murat Güney gracefully sang a somewhat distanced Macbeth, regretful but not exactly tormented as his world falls apart, still a warrior despite an aluminum sword that bent at the first blow. Tenor Hüseyin Likos, Macduff, seemed ready for Verdi’s shriller leading roles like Radames and Manrico. After a few rough spots in the overture, Markus Baisch kept the orchestra pumping if not exactly eldritch in this score’s often highly original use of winds and strings to produce uncanny – in 1847, unprecedented – effects.

Yekta Kara’s production was basic but not risible. (From house photos, I gather the real money is saved to dazzle in Arabian Nights operas like Mozart’s Sihirli Flüt and S. Ada’s Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. They also give Mozart’s Seraglio every summer – in the Topkapi seraglio.) Special effects were minimal, but the story was clearly and effectively told. The witches wore white – appearing to be surgical nurses, with bloody aprons they lent to Banquo’s murderers. The men were in black and only Lady M got to wear a color – guess which. The direction rather privileged the witches, who were shown manipulating all the other characters, even in scenes where they do not usually appear (Lady M’s cabaletta invoking “ye spirits that tend on mortal thoughts” and also, their fingers dripping blood down a wall, during “Le luce langue”). The witches handed Macbeth paper and pen to write home, delivered the letter, rescued Fleance, undermined victorious Malcolm, and sang the lines behind the apparitions in the cauldron scene – forces of chaos, enemies to all human effort. This, I think, gives them too much power and takes it from Macbeth – in Shakespeare, he is clearly the author of his own misfortunes, committing his crimes though imaginatively aware of how how disastrous this choice will be. In Kara’s production, he has an alibi – the devil makes him do it – and thus his own character becomes less interesting.

The words were easily comprehensible to anyone familiar with opera Italian, but there were no surtitles – which may be why the story was so clearly told. There was also no prompter’s box – instead lines were hissed from stage right. This would annoy hell out of me in Wagner or Mozart, but in a creep show like Macbeth, it rather added to the atmosphere.

John Yohalem

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):