Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Florencia in el Amazonas Makes Triumphant Return to LA

On November 22, 2014, Los Angeles Opera staged Francesca Zambello’s updated version of Florencia in el Amazonas.

John Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary

John Adams and his long-standing collaborator Peter Sellars have described The Gospel According to the Other Mary as a ‘Passion oratorio’.

A new Yevgeny Onegin in Zagreb — Prince Gremin’s Fabulous Pool Party

Superb conducting from veteran Croatian maestro Nikša Bareza makes up for an absurd waterlogged new production of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

Nabucco in Novi Sad

After the horrors of Jagoš Marković’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro in Belgrade, I was apprehensive lest Nabucco in Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad on 27th October would be transplanted from 6th century BC Babylon to post-Saddam Hussein Tikrit or some bombed-out kibbutz in Beersheba.

La Bohème in San Francisco

First Toronto, then Houston and now San Francisco, the third stop of a new production of Puccini's La bohème by Canadian born, British nurtured theater director John Caird.

Radvanovsky Sings Recital in Los Angeles

Every once in a while Los Angeles Opera presents an important recital in the three thousand seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

L’elisir d’amore, Royal Opera

This third revival of Laurent Pelly’s production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore needed a bit of a pep up to get moving but once it had been given a shot of ‘medicinal’ tincture things spiced up nicely.

Samling Showcase, Wigmore Hall

Founded in 1996, Samling describes itself as a charity which ‘inspires musical excellence in young people’.

La cenerentola in San Francisco

The good news is that you don’t have to go all the way to Pesaro for great Rossini.

Rameau: Maître à danser — William Christie, Barbican London

Maître à danser: William Christie and Les Arts Florissants at the Barbican, London, presented a defining moment in Rameau performance practice, choreographed with a team of dancers.

Le Nozze di Figaro — or Sex on the Beach?

The most memorable thing (and definitely not in a good way) about this performance of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Serbian National Theatre in Belgrade was the self-serving, infantile, offensive and just plain wrong production by celebrated Serbian theatre director Jagoš Marković.

The Met mounts a well sung but dramatically unconvincing ‘Carmen’

Should looks matter when casting the role of the iconic temptress for HD simulcast?

Maurice Greene’s Jephtha

Maurice Greene (1696-1755) had a highly successful musical career. Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a position to which he was elected when he was just 22 years-old, he later became organist of the Chapel Royal, Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge and, from 1735, Master of the King’s Music.

Tosca in San Francisco

Yet another Tosca is hardly exciting news, if news at all. The current five performances have come just two years after SFO alternated divas Angela Gheorghiu and Patricia Racette in the title role.

Antonin Dvořák: The Cunning Peasant (Šelma Sedlák)

What an enjoyable opportunity to encounter Dvořák’s sixth opera, Šelma Sedlák¸or The Cunning Peasant!

Idomeneo, Royal Opera

Whether biblical parable or mythological moralising, it’s all the same really: human hubris, humility, sacrifice and redemption.

Donizetti’s Les Martyrs — Opera Rara, London

Opera Rara brought a rare performance of Donizetti’s first opera for the Paris Opera to the Royal Festival Hall on 4 November 2014, following recording sessions for the opera.

Luca Pisaroni in San Diego

Bass baritone, Luca Pisaroni, known to opera lovers throughout the world for his excellence in Mozart roles, offered San Diego vocal aficionados a double treat on October 28th: his mellifluous voice, and a recital of German songs.

La bohème, ENO

Jonathan Miller’s production of La bohème for ENO, shared with Cincinnati Opera, sits uneasily, at least as revived by Natascha Metherell, between comedy and tragedy.

Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall - Liszt, Strauss and Schubert

Any Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau performance is superb, but this Wigmore Hall recital surprised, too. Boesch's Schubert is wonderful, but this time, it was his Liszt and Strauss songs which stood out. This year at the Wigmore Hall, we've heard a lot of Liszt and a lot of Richard Strauss everywhere, establishing high standards, but this was special.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Johann Simon Mayr: L’amor coniugale
20 Nov 2008

MAYR: L’amor coniugale

Naxos, in conjunction with SWR, has been releasing recordings from the Rossini in Wildbad Festival, which focuses not just on the titular composer but also on his contemporaries.

Johann Simon Mayr: L’amor coniugale

Zeliska/Malvino (Cinzia Rizzone), Amorveno (Francescantonio Bille), Floreska (Tatjana Charalgina), Peters (Dariusz Machej), Moroski (Giovanni Bellavia), Ardelao (Bradley Trammell). Wurttemberg Philharmonic Orchestra, Christopher Franklin (cond.)

Naxos 8.660198-99 [2CDs]

$16.99  Click to buy

From the 2004 season comes this performance of Simon Mayr’s L’amor coniugale, and it is a fascinating document in many ways — with the rather considerable caveat that the singing doesn’t rise to the inspired levels of either the score or the performance of the Württemberg Philharmonic Orchestra under Christopher Franklin.

A woman adopts male disguise in order to enter the household of the warden of a prison, where her husband is being held. When the warden receives orders from an evil superior to execute the prisoner, the woman must take action to save her husband’s life. Mayr was not the first to use a libretto adopted from Jean Nicolas Bouilly’s 1798 play Léonore, ou L’Amour conjugal, but he did precede the opera that gained this tale a permanent place in the literature, Beethoven’s Fidelio.

The booklet essay explains that a trendy interest in all things Polish at the time convinced Mayr to set the story there, and the political subtext was ditched in favor of a conventional melodramatic twist. In this version, Moroski, the equivalent of Beethoven’s Pizarro, puts away Zeliska’s husband Amorveno (Leonore and Florestan) out of unrequited love for her.

While as a composer Mayr certainly doesn’t command the originality and power of Beethoven, his score possesses drama where needed and great charm elsewhere. The opening sinfonia plays like a lost movement from a Schubert symphony (Schubert also having been an admirer of Rossini). Although his melodies don’t have that inspiration which plants a tune, once heard, forever into one’s head, Mayr had uncommon gifts as an orchestrator. He especially favors individual wind instruments to wind their way around the vocal lines in arias.

The most fascinating juxtaposition between Mayr’s creation and Beethoven’s comes halfway through the one-act work, when the scene changes to the cell where Amorveno languishes. As Beethoven would for Florestan in the dungeon, Mayr begins with a scene-setting instrumental prelude of dark, minor-keyed textures, and Amorveno’s musings also move from despair to a burst of manic elation at the imagined sight of his wife. Is Beethoven’s creation the greater work? Absolutely, but Mayr’s deserves a listen as well.

The impact of this recording would probably be even greater with different lead singers. Both the Zeliska (Cinzia Rizzone) and Amorveno (Francescantonio Bille) have modestly appealing voices with restricted ranges. When their duet reaches ecstatic heights, the two singers make some truly uncomfortable sounds together. As Peters the jailer and Moroski, Dariusz Machej and Giovanni Bellavia make more creditable contributions.

Translated from the German by Neil Coleman into occasionally awkward English, Thomas Lindner’s booklet essay provides ample information on Mayr and the opera. Break out the magnifying glass, however, if one doesn’t want a headache provoked by Naxos’s typically tiny type. The synopsis is not tied to the track listing by numbers, unfortunately, and Naxos only offers an Italian libretto online.

Better vocal performances would have made this a very highly recommended set. As it is, anyone at all curious about a predecessor of Fidelio, or a fan of Rossini-era music, should definitely take a listen.

Chris Mullins

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):