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

Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2016

Having enjoyed superb singing by a young cast of soloists in Classical Opera’s UK premiere of Jommelli’s Il Vogoleso the previous evening, I was delighted that the 2016 Kathleen Ferrier Awards Final at the Wigmore Hall confirmed the strength and depth of talent possessed by the young singers studying in and emerging from our academies and conservatoires.

Pacific Opera Project Recreates Mozart and Salieri Contest

On February 7, 1786, Emperor Joseph II of Austria had brand new one-act operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri performed in the Schönbrunn Palace’s Orangery.

Powerful chemistry in La Cenerentola in Cologne

Those poor opera lovers in Cologne have a never ending problem with the city’s opera house. Together with the rest of city, the construction of the new opera house is mired in political incompetence.

Tannhäuser: Royal Opera House, London

London remains starved of Wagner. This season, its major companies offer but two works, Tannhäuser from the Royal Opera and Tristan from ENO.

The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf

Dmitry Bertman’s hilarious staging of Rimsky-Korsakov’s political sex-comedy The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf.

San Diego Opera Presents a Tragic Madama Butterfly

On April 16, 2016, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s sixth opera, Madama Butterfly, in an intriguing production by Garnett Bruce. Roberto Oswald’s scenery included the usual Japanese styled house with many sliding doors and walls. On either side, however, were blooming cherry trees with rough trunks and gnarled branches that looked as though they had been growing on the property for a hundred years.

Simon Rattle conducts Tristan und Isolde

New Co-Production Tristan und Isolde with Metropolitan: Simon Rattle and Westbroek electrify Treliński’s Opera-Noir.

San Jose’s Smooth Streetcar Ride

In an operatic world crowded with sure-fire bread and butter repertoire, Opera San Jose has boldly chosen to lavish a new production on a dark horse, Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

Roméo et Juliette: Dutch National Opera and Ballet seal merger with leaden Berlioz

Choral symphony, oratorio, symphonic poem — Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette does not fit into any mould. It has the potential to work as an opera-ballet, but incoherent storytelling and uninspired conducting undermined this production.

Donizetti : Lucia di Lammermoor, Royal Opera House

When Kasper Holten took the precaution of pre-warning ticket-holders that the Royal Opera House’s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor featured scene portraying ‘sexual acts’ and ‘violence’, one assumed that he was aiming to avert a re-run of the jeering and hectoring that accompanied last season’s Guillaume Tell. He even went so far as to offer concerned patrons a refund.

Five Reviews of Regina at Maryland Opera Studio

These are five very different reviews by students at the University of Maryland on its Opera Studio production of Regina — an interesting, informative and entertaining read . . .

Three Cheers for the English Touring Opera

‘Remember me, the one who is Pia;/ Siena made me, Maremma undid me.’ The speaker is Pia de’ Tolomei. She appears in a brief episode of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Purgatorio V, 130-136) which was the source for Gaetano Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei - by way of Bartolomeo Sestini’s verse-novella of 1825.

Andriessen's De Materie at the Park Avenue Armory

"The large measure of formalism which forms the basis of De Materie does not in itself offer any guarantee that the work will be beautiful," says Dutch composer Louis Andriessen of his four-movement opera.

Falstaff Makes a Big Splash in Phoenix

On April 1, 2016, Arizona Opera presented Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) in Phoenix. Although Boito based most of his libretto on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, he used material from Henry IV as well. Verdi wrote the music when he was close to the age of eighty. He was concerned about his ability at that advanced age, but he was immensely pleased with Boito’s text and decided to compose his second comedy, despite the fact that his first, Un giorno di regno, had not been successful.

Svadba in San Francisco

The brand new SF Opera Lab opened last month with artist William Kentridge’s staged Schubert Winterreise. Its second production just now, Svadba-Wedding — an a cappella opera for six female voices — unabashedly exposes the space in a different, non-theatrical configuration.

Benvenuto Cellini in Rome

One may think of Tosca as the most Roman of all operas, after all it has been performed at the Teatro Costanzi (Rome’s opera house) well over a thousand times since 1900. Though equally, maybe even more Roman is Hector Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini that has had only a dozen or so performances in Rome since 1838.

Handel : Elpidia - Opera Settecento

Roll up! A new opera by Handel is to be performed, L’Elpidia overo li rivali generosi. It is based upon a libretto by Apostolo Zeno with music by Leonardo Vinci - excepting a couple of arias by Giuseppe Orlandini and, additionally, two from Antonio Lotti’s Teofane (which the star bass, Giuseppe Maria Boschi , on bringing with him from the Dresden production of 1719).

Roberto Devereux in Genova

Radvanovsky in New York, Devia in Genoa — Donizetti queens are indeed in the news! Just now in Genoa Mariella Devia was the Elizabeth I for her beloved Roberto Devereux in a new trilogy of Donizetti queens (Maria Stuarda and Anne Bolena) directed by baritone Alfonso Antoniozzi.

The Importance of Being Earnest, Royal Opera

‘All men become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his.’ ‘Is that clever?’ ‘It is perfectly phrased!’

Mahler’s Third, Concertgebouw

Evolving in Mahler’s Third: Dudamel and L.A. Philharmonic’s impressive adaption to the Concertgebouw

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):