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

David DiChiera: Cyrano
02 Mar 2008

Cyrano at The Opera Company of Philadelphia

The Opera Company of Philadelphia’s February production is the second staging of David DiChiera’s new opera Cyrano, a co-production with Michigan Opera Theater and Florida Grand Opera.

David DiChiera: Cyrano
The Opera Company of Philadelphia
February 8, 2008

Marian Pop (Cyrano), Evelyn Pollock (Roxane), Stephen Costello (Christian), Peter Volpe (Deguiche), Daniel Teadt (Le Bret), Mark T. Panuccio (Ragueneau), Kathleen Segar (Duegne), Torrance Blaisdell (Capucin), Stefan Lano (conductor), Bernard Uzan (director).

 

The libretto by Bernard Uzan is based on Edmond Rostand’s famous drama Cyrano de Bergerac, and is written in French. Uzan also directed the production. The score was orchestrated by Mark D. Flint, DiChiera’s frequent collaborator, and the orchestra was conducted by Stefan Lano.

Cyrano is DiChiera’s first opera, written relatively late in his life after a long and successful career as an impresario, particularly as founder of Michigan Opera Theater which premiered this production. He studied composition in the 1950’s and 60’s, but his Puccini-influenced style was not in fashion at that time. In this opera he returns to those musical roots. But like first operas by much younger composers, Cyrano seems a bit derivative. Its style has the feel of music from a century ago with touches of Korngold. But, if it breaks no new ground and shows no great originality, it is pleasing, accessible, and celebrates the singers, which is not always true of other modern works or modern productions. The music is weakest in the over-long first act, which seemed to bog down in dense orchestration and lack of a clear sense of musical direction. Had the opera ended after the first act, it would have been a disappointment. However, in the second and third acts the action focuses on the love story and here DiChiera hits his stride. His music carries the romantic story forward in melodic exchanges between the main characters, capturing the poignancy of Cyrano’s unfulfilled love. In these later acts the music was moving and enjoyable. But I could not escape the feeling that the opera was libretto- driven and lacked identifiable musical high points. In most great operas there are clear moments when the music takes over or dominates the story. After Cyrano I could remember dramatic high points, but not musical ones.

The young Romanian baritone Marian Pop sang Cyrano with a clear tone and lovely color, especially in the upper part of his range, and was affecting in portraying the bittersweet nature of Cyrano’s situation as the mouthpiece for his companion Christian. However, one wished for more vocal heft and bravura acting in the first act to convey what Cyrano calls his “panache”. The other two major characters, Roxane and Christian, were played by former students at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts. Soprano Evelyn Pollack could easily be imagined as the object of Christian’s infatuation and she displayed a bright and agile voice overall. However, she did seem to struggle on occasion with some harshness and insecurity in the upper register. And while convincing as the object of Christian’s love, she was less so as a witty précieuses who so easily and cruelly dismisses the supposedly beloved Christian for the banality of his professions of love. Christian is primarily a foil for Cyrano in the opera, and does not have much opportunity to shine, but tenor Stephen Costello sang the role solidly, if sometimes a bit stiffly. In his brief appearances Eric Dubin showed off a rich baritone and an aristocratic manner as the Marquise de Brisaille, Roxane’s would be seducer. The minor roles were ably filled.

After the music and libretto, the third important element of opera is artistic design, and here this production really shone. It is dominated by ornate and elaborate sets and costumes designed by John Pascoe, which are well-suited to the romantic story and music. On several occasions the audience was moved to applaud the set as the curtain rose. The designs also represent a certain vision of what opera should be that matches that found in the music and libretto.

Where this opera succeeds is in its reverent musical adaptation of a classic play and its well-crafted expression of certain operatic virtues. And these deserve praise and may be enough to bring it long-term success. In this regard it is the antithesis of the modern “concept” production in which the music and story are subservient to a directorial “vision.” But, the ultimate moments in opera are musical—moments when the music doesn’t just serve the story, but elevates or transcends it. And, alas, I cannot say I found many such moments in Cyrano.

Stephen Luebke

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):