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

Jonathan Miller’s “Così” strikes gold again

When did “concept” become a dirty word? In the world of opera, the rot set in innocently, gradually.

Tucson Desert Song Festival Presents Artists from the Met and Arizona Opera

The Tucson Desert Song Festival consists of three weekends of vocal music in orchestral, chamber, choral, and solo formats along with related lectures and master classes.

Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle at the Barbican

Two great operas come from the year 1911 - Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier and Bela Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle. Both are masterpieces, but they are very different kinds of operas and experienced quite asymmetric performance histories.

Puccini’s Tosca at the Royal Opera House

Now on its ninth revival, Jonathan Kent’s classic Tosca for Covent Garden is a study in art, beauty and passion but also darkness, power and empire. Part of the production’s lasting greatness, and contemporary value, is that it looks inwards towards the malignancy of a great empire (in this case a Napoleonic one), whilst looking outward towards a city-nation in terminal decline (Rome).

ROH Return to the Roundhouse

Opera transcends time and place. An anonymous letter, printed with the libretto of Monteverdi’s Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia and written two years before his death, assures the reader that Monteverdi’s music will continue to affect and entrance future generations:

London Schools Symphony Orchestra celebrates Bernstein and Holst anniversaries

One recent survey suggested that in 1981, the average age of a classical concertgoer was 36, whereas now it is 60-plus. So, how pleasing it was to see the Barbican Centre foyers, cafes and the Hall itself crowded with young people, as members of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra prepared to perform with soprano Louise Alder and conductor Sir Richard Armstrong, in a well-balanced programme that culminated with an ‘anniversary’ performance of Holst’s The Planets.

Salome at the Royal Opera House

In De Profundis, his long epistle to ‘Dear Bosie’, Oscar Wilde speaks literally ‘from the depths’, incarcerated in his prison cell in Reading Gaol. As he challenges the young lover who has betrayed him and excoriates Society for its wrong and unjust laws, Wilde also subjects his own aesthetic ethos to some hard questioning, re-evaluating a life lived in avowal of the amorality of luxury and beauty.

In the Beginning ... Time Unwrapped at Kings Place

Epic, innovative and bold, Haydn’s The Creation epitomises the grandeur and spirit of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment.

The Pearl Fishers at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its recent production of Georges Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles Lyric Opera of Chicago assembled an ideal cast of performers who blend well into an imaginative and colorful production.

New Cinderella SRO in San Jose

Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella is most remarkable for one reason and one reason alone: It was composed by a 12-year old girl.

La Cenerentola in Lyon

Like Stendhal when he first saw Rossini’s Cenerentola in Trieste in 1823, I was left stone cold by Rossini’s Cendrillon last night in Lyon. Stendhal complained that in Trieste nothing had been left to the imagination. As well, in Lyon nothing, absolutely nothing was left to the imagination.

Messiah, who?: The Academy of Ancient Music bring old and new voices together

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a Messiah. And, at the Barbican Hall, the Academy of Ancient Music reminded us why … while never letting us settle into complacency.

The Golden Cockerel Bedazzles in Amsterdam

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s fairy tale The Golden Cockerel was this holiday season’s ZaterdagMatinee operatic treat at the Concertgebouw. There was real magic to this concert performance, chiefly thanks to Vasily Petrenko’s dazzling conducting and the enchanting soprano Venera Gimadieva.

Mahler Das Lied von der Erde, London - Rattle, O'Neill, Gerhaher

By pairing Mahler Das Lied von der Erde (Simon O'Neill, Christian Gerhaher) with Strauss Metamorphosen, Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra were making a truly powerful statement. The Barbican performance last night was no ordinary concert. This performance was extraordinary because it carried a message.

David McVicar's Rigoletto returns to the ROH

This was a rather disconcerting performance of David McVicar’s 2001 production of Rigoletto. Not only because of the portentous murkiness with which Paule Constable’s lighting shrouds designer Michael Vale’s ramshackle scaffolding; nor, the fact that stage and pit frequently seemed to be tugging in different directions. But also, because some of the cast seemed rather out of sorts.

Verdi Otello, Bergen - Stuart Skelton, Latonia Moore, Lester Lynch

Verdi Otello livestream from Norway with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edward Garner with a superb cast, led by Stuart Skelton, Latonia Moore, and Lester Lynch and a good cast, with four choirs, the Bergen Philharmonic Chorus, the Edvard Grieg Kor, Collegiûm Mûsicûm Kor, the Bergen pikekor and Bergen guttekor (Children’s Choruses) with chorus master Håkon Matti Skrede. The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1765, just a few years after the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra : Scandinavian musical culture has very strong roots, and is thriving still. Tucked away in the far north, Bergen may be a hidden treasure, but, as this performance proved, it's world class.

Temple Winter Festival: the Gesualdo Six

‘Gaudete, gaudete!’ - Rejoice, rejoice! - was certainly the underlying spirit of this lunchtime concert at Temple Church, part of the 5th Temple Winter Festival. Whether it was vigorous joy or peaceful contemplation, the Gesualdo Six communicate a reassuring and affirmative celebration of Christ’s birth in a concert which fused medieval and modern concerns, illuminating surprising affinities.

Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida at the Wigmore Hall

The journey is always the same, and never the same. As Ian Bostridge remarks, at the end of his prize-winning book Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession, when the wanderer asks Der Leiermann, “Will you play your hurdy-gurdy to my songs?”, in the final song of Winterreise, the ‘crazy but logical procedure would be to go right back to the beginning of the whole cycle and start all over again’.

Turandot in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera wrapped up its 95th fall opera season just now with a bang up Turandot. It has been a season of hopeful hints that this venerable company may regain some of its former luster.

Daniel Michieletto's Cav and Pag returns to Covent Garden

It felt rather decadent to be sitting in an opera house at 12pm. Even more so given the passion-fuelled excesses of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, which might seem rather too sensual and savage for mid-day consumption.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Frances Chiaverini, Ryan Kelly, Emily Langford Johnson (Photo by Richard Termine courtesy of Gotham Chamber Opera)
15 May 2008

Gotham Chamber Opera: Ariadne Unhinged

The Gotham Chamber Opera has been delighting opera fans on the Lower East Side for seven years now, one small audience at a time.

Ariadne Unhinged—Music of Monteverdi, Haydn, and Schoenberg

Above: Frances Chiaverini, Ryan Kelly, Emily Langford Johnson (Ariadne)
All photos by Richard Termine courtesy of Gotham Chamber Opera

 

Only 350 patrons can fit into the Henry Street Settlement Theater at 466 Grand Street, a circumstance which creates an intimacy between performers and audience that is unlike any experience you will have uptown. Brenda Patterson—the title character on the May 11 performance of the Chamber Opera’s most recent production Ariadne Unhinged—created electric moments in this little theatre.

Ariadne Unhinged is not an opera in the traditional sense of the word; rather, it is a collage of three pieces, only one of which was actually drawn from an opera. Claudio Monteverd’s Lamento d’Arianna (from the now-lost 1608 opera Arianna), Franz Josef Haydn’s cantata for solo voice Arianna a Naxos (1790), and Arnold Schoenberg’s melodrama Pierrot Lunaire (1912) were stitched together into a genre-busting performance by Neal Goren, Artistic Director of GCO, along with director and choreographer Karole Armitage of Armitage Gone! Dance.

Ariadne_Unhinged6.pngFrances Chiaverini, Ryan Kelly and Brenda Patterson (Ariadne)
Ariadne Unhinged attempts to delve into the madness of grief that the mythological Ariadne experiences upon being abandoned by her lover Theseus right after she has saved his life and guaranteed him his crown. The palindromic structure of the work nestled the three sections (of seven songs each) of Pierrot Lunaire between sections of the Monteverdi and the Haydn.

All the music was well performed and the juxtaposition of dancers and singer onstage, which can be so awkward if the singer doesn’t move well, was extraordinarily well executed. Vera Lutter’s set design, along with Clifton Taylor’s lighting allowed for a number of transformations of the stage without ever interfering with the action or the continuity of the work.

With sections Monteverdi serving as “bookends” and the middle piece of the performance, I was inclined to regard these moments of monody as Ariadne’s most lucid moments, while the Schoenberg represented her at her most mad and delusional. What struck me as detrimental to the endeavor was a series of less-than-subtle props carted onto the stage for each of the twenty-one Pierrot songs. The props—including huge cardboard roses, two-foot long knitting needles, a “grotesque” violin bow and a fake violin, and a cardboard moon on a stick, among others—appeared so predictably for each that I started wondering what the next prop might look like instead of listening to one of my favorite pieces of music.

Ariadne_Unhinged2.png Emily Langford Johnson (Ariadne) and Ryan Kelly

It seems to me that Schoenberg’s music and Albert Giraud’s poetry (as translated by Otto Erich Hartleben) is so vivid and full of meaning that the addition of wooden props is not only unnecessary, but even injurious to the artwork. In particular, when the dancers came on stage crouched under wrinkled aluminum sheets the effect was only the creation of a major distraction due to the sound of the sheets crinkling and crackling during the entire song. Other parts of the dance were much more effective and added greatly to the experience, notably, the lovely duets that were danced while Ms. Patterson sang the sections of Haydn’s cantata.

The GCO’s orchestra was another highlight of the evening—each composer’s music had a different accompaniment: theorbo for the Monteverdi, piano for the Haydn, and of course, Schoenberg’s Pierrot ensemble for Pierrot Lunaire. All the instrumental music was impeccable, but the Pierrot ensemble brought a particularly enjoyable energy to the performance.

Ariadne_Unhinged7.pngBrenda Patterson (Ariadne) and dancers

Goren’s little company is doing big things for opera, and I eagerly await its next production.

Megan Jenkins

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):