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

Poliuto, Glyndebourne

Donizetti’s Poliuto at Glyndebourne could well become one of of the great Glyndebourne classics.

Carmen by ENO

Dystopic vision of Carmen, brought to life by vibrantly gripping performances

Pacific Opera Project Presents Ariadne auf Naxos

Pacific Opera Project, a small Los Angeles company, presented a production of Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos at the Ebell Club with an excellent group of young singers at the beginning of what should be good careers.

Varispeed pushes the possibilities of opera forward with Robert Ashley’s Crash

Six people, dressed in ordinary clothing, sitting in a row at desks adorned only with microphones and glasses of water, and talking for ninety minutes: is it opera?

Rising Stars in Concert, Lyric Opera of Chicago

The spring concert of Rising Stars in Concert, sponsored by and featuring current members of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, showcased a number of talents that will no doubt continue to grace the stages of the world’s operatic theaters.

The Singers Sparkle in New York Opera Exchange’s Carmen

New York Opera Exchange’s production of Carmen from May 8th to 10th highlighted that which opera devotees have been saying for years: Opera, far from being dead, is vibrant and evolving.

‘Where’er You Walk’: Handel’s Favourite Tenor

I have sometimes lamented the preference of Ian Page’s Classical Opera for concert performances and recordings over staged productions, albeit that their renditions of eighteenth-century operas and vocal works are unfailingly stylish, illuminating and supported by worthy research.

The Pirates of Penzance, ENO

Topsy Turvy, Mike Leigh’s 1999 film starring Timothy Spall and Jim Broadbent, dramatized the fraught working relationship of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan; it won four Oscar nominations (garnering two Academy Awards, for costume and make-up) and is a wonderful exploration of the creative process of bringing a theatrical work to life.

Manitoba Opera: Turandot

There’s little doubt that Puccini’s Turandot is a flawed, illogical fairytale. Yet it continues to resonate today with its undying “love shall conquer all” ethos, where even the most heinous crimes may be forgiven by that which makes the world go ‘round.

Mariachi Opera El Pasado Nunca se Termina Comes to San Diego

On April 25, 2015, San Diego Opera presented it’s second Mariachi opera: El Pasado Nunca se Termina (The Past is Never Finished) by Jose “Pepe” Martinez, Leonard Foglia and Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.

Antonio Pappano: Royal Opera House Orchestral Concerts

Ambition achieved! Antonio Pappano brought the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House out of the pit and onto the stage, the centre of attention in their own right.

Bedřich Smetana: Dalibor, Barbican Hall

Jiří Bělohlávek’s annual Czech opera series at the Barbican, London, with the BBC SO continued with Bedřich Smetana’s Dalibor.

Orlando Explores Art Without Boundaries

R.B. Schlather’s production of Handel’s Orlando asks the enigmatic question: Where do the boundaries of performance art begin, and where do they end?

The Virtues of Things

A good number of recent shorter operas, particularly those performed in this country, made a stronger impression with their libretti than their scores.

Król Roger, Royal Opera

It has taken almost 89 years for Karol Szymanowski’s Król Roger to reach the stage of Covent Garden.

San Diego Opera Celebrates 50 Years of Great Singing

San Diego Opera, the company that General Manager Ian Campbell had scheduled for demolition, proved that it is alive and singing as beautifully as ever. Its 2015 season was cut back slightly and management has become a bit leaner, but the company celebrated its fiftieth season in fine style with a concert that included many of the greatest arias ever written.

Hercules vs Vampires: Film Becomes Opera!

In the early sixties, Italian film director Mario Bava was making pictures with male body builders whose well oiled physiques appeared spectacular on the screen.

J. C. Bach: Adriano in Siria

At this start of the year, Classical Opera embarked upon an ambitious project. MOZART 250 will see the company devote part of its programme each season during the next 27 years to exploring the music by Mozart and his contemporaries which was being written and performed exactly 250 years previously.

Bethan Langford, Wigmore Hall

The Concordia Foundation was founded in the early 1990s by international singer and broadcaster Gillian Humphreys, out of her ‘real concern for building bridges of friendship and excellence through music and the arts’.

Tansy Davies: Between Worlds (world premiere)

An opera dealing with — or at least claiming to deal with — the events of 11 September 2001? I suppose it had to come, but that does not necessarily make it any more necessary.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Waltraut Meier (Sieglinde), Plácido Domingo (Siegmund) [Photo: Antoni Bofill]
15 Jun 2008

Plácido Domingo’s miraculous autumn

On the barren stage: a few chairs, a dark-gold hectoplasm projected on the wood panels of the acoustic chamber - nothing more.

Richard Wagner: Die Walküre

Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona
Semi-staged production
Performance of 1 June 2008

Above: Waltraut Meier (Sieglinde), Plácido Domingo (Siegmund)
Photo © Antoni Bofill

 

The direction was self-managed by the singing company with very few “Italian-style rehearsals” (the pun is reportedly due to Plácido Domingo himself). Despite lacking costumes and props, the bodies kept moving and interacting throughout, so that, in the end, the chairs remained empty most of the time. The “Italian-style” label was also applicable to the tenor’s German diction, with consonants softened and vowels broadly open; probably more gracefully that any native singer would, yet not marring the text’s understanding. Other than a handful of specialists, actually, who really understands Wagner’s language? Ask any educated German for confirmation…

A 67-year-old Siegmund would make news anyway, but Domingo’s is simply a miracle for clarion tones, power and tenderness. This February at La Scala, where he sang the title-role in Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac, I had noticed his intelligence in overcoming the disadvantages of age through the frugal management of his resources until the final act. This was a different case, since Siegmund disappears after Act 2, so no such contrivances were needed and his stage charisma could deploy right from the start in a perfect combination of acting skills and velvety vocal color.

Nobly pathetic when retelling the mishaps of his family, he unsheathed sarcasm and proud challenge during his confrontations with Hundig, conjured delicate emotions in the hymn to Spring and warlike excitement in his appeal to the sword (“Nothung! Nothung!”) at the end of Act 1. Even Evelyn Herlitzius, a mercurial Brünnhilde of no particular firmness in her high tones, could not escape his manly spell during their duet on the battlefield in Act 2. With her beautiful central range, perfect intonation, and the coy passion of certain feminine motions, Waltraud Meier’s Sieglinde proved a worth partner for the hero; as a duly hateful Hundig, young René Pape could well abuse her with his marble bass, but could hardly shake her soft dignity.

Equally well matched (so to say) was the godlike couple in the Walhalla: Alan Held, the experienced Wagnerian from Washburn, Illinois, made an embittered but quite not unsympathetic Wotan, while Jane Henschel was a Fricka of inflexible decision and generous vocal means. In the patrol of Valkyries, Michelle Marie Cook (Gerhilde) and Gemma Coma-Alabert (Rossweisse) emerged for their burnished instruments, while brave Inés Moraleda (Grimgerde) reaped additional applause and flowers from the audience because of her noticeably advanced pregnancy. Conductor Sebastian Weigle, the home orchestra and everybody else were fêted much beyond the Liceu’s usual restraint; as to Don Plácido, his (purposely?) belated appearance for the curtain calls unleashed a standing ovation that was little short of mutinous.

Carlo Vitali

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):