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Macbeth, LA Opera

On Thursday evening October 13, Los Angeles Opera transmitted Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth live from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, in the center of the city, to a pier in Santa Monica and to South Gate Park in Southeastern Los Angeles County. My companion and I saw the opera in High Definition on a twenty-five foot high screen at the park.

Jamie Barton at the Wigmore Hall

“Hi! … I’m at the Wigmore Hall!” American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton’s exuberant excitement at finding herself performing in the world’s premier lieder venue was delightful and infectious. With accompanist James Baillieu, Barton presented what she termed a “love-fest” of some of the duo’s favourite art songs. The programme - Turina, Brahms, Dvořák, Ives, Sibelius - was also surely designed to show-case Barton’s sumptuous and balmy tone, stamina, range and sheer charisma; that is, the qualities which won her the First and Song Prizes at the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.

The Nose: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

“If I lacked ears, it would be bad, but still more bearable; but lacking a nose, a man is devil knows what: not a bird, not a citizen—just take and chuck him out the window!”

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The Pearl Fishers at English National Opera

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At the end of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus delivers a speech which returns to the play’s central themes: illusion, art and the creative imagination. The sceptical king dismisses ‘The poet’s vision - his ‘eye, in a fine frenzy rolling’ - which ‘gives to airy nothing/ A local habitation and a name’; such art, and theatre, is a psychological deception brought about by an excessive, uncontrolled imagination.

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English National Opera: Don Giovanni

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Péter Eötvös’ The Sirens Cycle received its world premiere at the Wigmore Hall, London, on Saturday night with Piia Komsi and the Calder Quartet. An exceptionally interesting new work, which even on first hearing intrigues: imagine studying the score! For The Sirens Cycle is elegantly structured, so intricate and so complex that it will no doubt reveal even greater riches the more familiar it becomes. It works so well because it combines the breadth of vision of an opera, yet is as concise as a chamber miniature. It's exquisite, and could take its place as one of Eötvös's finest works.

Walter Braunfels : Orchestral Songs Vol 1

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Stars of Lyric Opera 2016, Millennium Park, Chicago

On a recent weekend Lyric Opera of Chicago gave its annual concert at Millennium Park during which the coming season and its performers are variously showcased. Several of the performers, who were featured at this “Stars of Lyric Opera” event, are scheduled to make their debuts in Lyric Opera’s new production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold beginning on 1 October.

Così fan tutte at Covent Garden

Desire and deception; Amor and artifice. In Jan Philipp Gloger’s new production of Così van tutte at the Royal Opera House, the artifice is of the theatrical, rather than the human, kind. And, an opera whose charm surely lies in its characters’ amiable artfulness seems more concerned to underline the depressing reality of our own deluded faith in human fidelity and integrity.

Plácido Domingo as Macbeth, LA Opera

On September 22, 2016, Los Angeles Opera presented Darko Tresnjak’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Macbeth. Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave based their opera on Shakespeare’s play of the same name.



Great Operatic Arias with Sir Thomas Allen 2
16 Nov 2008

Great Operatic Arias with Sir Thomas Allen 2

The "2" in this disc's title indicates that this is the second Chandos recital for Sir Thomas Allen.

Great Operatic Arias with Sir Thomas Allen 2

Thomas Allen, baritone, Philharmonia Orchestra, Gareth Hancock: assistant conductor, David Parry: conductor.

Chandos 3155 [CD]

$12.99  Click to buy

The selections (all in English) jump back and forth between Mozart and Verdi until a closing number of Kurt Weill. Even an artist as fine as Sir Thomas can’t quite overcome the challenge of embodying a character with one aria when one track of his Figaro moves to his Papa Germont, which is followed by his Papageno. Listeners might be advised to program the selections by grouping the two different composers’ works together, to keep at least some musical cohesion.

Conductor David Parry’s poky pacing dampens the humor and high spirits of the Flute and Don Giovanni numbers, and the fussy formality of the English translations are a further hindrance. In Verdi, however, Parry and the Philharmonia Orchestra involve themselves more in the drama. Almost 20 minutes go to the act two Traviata duet, with Claire Rutter as Violetta. Once again, the Engish translation’s stilted syntax can be a distraction, but both Sir Thomas and Rutter have the time to deepen their characterizations. Even better are two scenes for Don Carlos (a fine Gwyn Hughes Jones) and Rodrigo, where the voices blend handsomely.

Perhaps Sir Thomas is heard at his charismatic best in the final cut, Kurt Weill’s “September Song.” Allen doesn’t oversing, as classically trained singers tend to do in Broadway numbers, and his feeling for the lyric is natural and affecting.

John Steane’s booklet essay concerns itself with the nature and history of the operatic baritone voice, making key points with the arias of this collection. Some readers will be illuminated, and other may find it dry and didactic. The latter group probably would appreciate an expanded biographical note on the singer, and perhaps some words from Sir Thomas himself. The essay and artists’ notes come in English, German, and Italian, but only English texts are provided.

Chris Mullins

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