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 Reviews

Guillaume Tell, Covent Garden

It is twenty-three years since Rossini’s opera of cultural oppression, inspiring heroism and tender pathos was last seen on the Covent Garden stage, but this eagerly awaited new production of Guillaume Tell by Italian director Damiano Micheletto will be remembered more for the audience outrage and vociferous mid-performance booing that it provoked — the most persistent and strident that I have heard in this house — than for its dramatic, visual or musical impact.

Aida, Opera Holland Park

With its outrageous staging demands, you sometimes wonder why opera companies want to produce Verdi’s Aida. But the piece is about far more than pharaohs, pyramids and camels.

Death in Venice, Garsington Opera

Given the enduring resonance and impact of the magnificent visual aesthetic of Visconti’s 1971 film of Thomas Mann’s novella, opera directors might be forgiven for concluding that Britten’s Death in Venice does not warrant experimentation with period and design, and for playing safe with Edwardian elegance, sweeping Venetian vistas and stylised seascapes.

La Rondine Swoops Into St. Louis

If La Rondine (The Swallow) is a less-admired work than rest of the mature Puccini canon, you wouldn’t have known it by the lavish production now lovingly staged by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Emmeline a Stunner in Saint Louis

Few companies have championed new or neglected works quite as fervently and consistently as the industrious Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Luminous Handel in Saint Louis

For Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, “everything old is new again.”

Two Women in San Francisco

Why would an American opera company devote its resources to the premiere of an opera by an Italian composer? Furthermore a parochially Italian story?

Les Troyens in San Francisco

Berlioz’ Les Troyens is in two massive parts — La prise de Troy and Troyens à Carthage.

Dog Days at REDCAT

On Saturday evening June 13, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Dog Days, a new opera with music by David T. Little and a text by Royce Vavrek. In the opera adopted from a story of the same name by Judy Budnitz, thirteen-year-old Lisa tells of her family’s mental and physical disintegration resulting from the ravages of a horrendous war.

Opera Las Vegas Presents Exquisite Madama Butterfly

Audiences at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan first saw Madama Butterfly on February 17, 1904. It was not the success it is these days, and Puccini revised it before its scheduled performances in Brescia.

Yardbird, Philadelphia

Opera Philadelphia is a very well-managed opera company with a great vision. Every year it presents a number of well-known “warhorse” operas, usually in the venerable Academy of Music, and a few more adventurous productions, usually in a chamber opera format suited to the smaller Pearlman Theater.

Giovanni Paisiello: Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Written in 1783, Giovanni Paisiello’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia reigned for three decades as one of Europe’s most popular operas, before being overshadowed forever by Rossini’s classic work.

Princeton Festival: Le Nozze di Figaro

The Princeton Festival has established a reputation for high-quality summer opera. In recent years works by Handel, Britten, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Wagner and Gershwin have been performed at Matthews Theater on Princeton University campus: a 1100-seat auditorium with good sight-lines though a somewhat dry and uneven acoustic.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail,
Glyndebourne

Die Entführung aus dem Serail was Mozart’s first great public success in Vienna, and it became the composer’s most oft performed opera during his lifetime.

German Lieder Is Given a Dramatic Twist by The Ensemble for the Romantic Century

The Ensemble for the Romantic Century offered a thoughtful and well-curated evening in their production of The Sorrows of Young Werther, which is part theatrical performance and part art song concert.

Hans Werner Henze: Ein Landarzt and Phaedra

This was an adventurous double bill of two ‘quasi-operas’ by Hans Werner Henze, performed by young singers who are studying on the postgraduate Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Dido and Aeneas, Spitalfields Festival

High brick walls, a cavernous space, entered via a narrow passage just off a London thoroughfare: Village Underground in Shoreditch is probably not that far removed from the venue in which Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was first performed — whether that was Josiah Priest’s girl’s school in Chelsea or the court of Charles II or James II.

Intermezzo, Garsington Opera

Hats off to Garsington for championing once again some criminally neglected Strauss. I overheard someone there opine, ‘Of course, you can understand why it isn’t done very often.’

Cosi fan tutte, Garsington Opera

Mozart and Da Ponte’s Cosi fan tutte provides little in the way of background or back story for the plot, thus allowing directors to set the piece in a variety settings.

The Queen of Spades, ENO

Based on a play, Chrysomania (The Passion for Money), by the Russian playwright Prince Alexander Shokhovskoy, Pushkin’s short story The Queen of Spades is, in the words of one literary critic, ‘a sardonic commentary on the human condition’.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Magic Flute [Photo courtesy of Theatre Royal Plymouth]
07 Dec 2008

Glyndebourne on Tour — Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Glyndebourne Touring Opera has long been bringing its wares to the further reaches of the southern United Kingdom and its current package of Hansel und Gretel, Carmen and The Magic Flute has been drawing good crowds from Norwich in the east to Plymouth in the south-west.

Glyndebourne on Tour — Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Above: Magic Flute [Photo courtesy of Theatre Royal Plymouth]

 

GTO is all about looking to the future: many of the young singers in the principal roles are getting their first chance to sing with a company of this standard, knowing that from here they may, if good enough, progress to not only the Glyndebourne Festival itself but also other major houses. Also, the operas are supported by the excellent GT Chorus, and a quick look back through their rosters over the years will reveal both in the Chorus and the supporting singers some well known names — the likes of Felicity Lott, Jill Gomez and Ryland Davies, to name just three who have gone on to international careers.

The other great thing about the Glyndebourne “brand” is their reputation for musical quality and long hours of essential rehearsal time, both assets that many similarly-sized outfits struggle to achieve in these straightened times. Young singers need nurturing, and given time to develop their technical and dramatic skills; I this regard I can think of few better companies than GTO. What a touring company can also do is teach them the other vital skill of the successful singer: working to the highest standard in testing circumstances. Long miles on the road, strange theatres, sometimes inadequate facilities, unknown audiences and, for many, the need to learn two or more parts from scratch — and then there is the singing itself.

All these skills were on display recently at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth where this writer caught both Flute and Carmen playing to full enthusiastic houses at the end of GTO’s Autumn Tour. Each was expertly directed, idiomatically conducted and played, and offered a high standard of vocalism. If Mozart’s renowned pot pourri of fairy-tale, panto, myth and Masonic ritual relied almost entirely on elegant 18th century costumes and a clever lighting rig for its effects, GTO brought the versatile set of guardroom/factory with them for Bizet’s Carmen, plus the full chorus in traditional Spanish costume. Each worked well, and if the Plymouth stage seemed a trifle cramped for the latter opera, it was perfect for Magic Flute. As with many of England’s modern “one-size-fits-all” theatres, the needs of versatility can sometimes work against the opera ideal — the Theatre Royal is a good medium-sized hall, comfortable and modern in its facilities both front and back stage, but acoustically offers some challenges to unamplified voices. This showed up most in the recitatives — in both operas — where more projection was needed than was sometimes supplied. Interestingly, this was not a problem once the singers actually sang with orchestra in their arias.

With so many excellent young artists on show over the two nights, one hesitates to mention particular names, as there were absolutely no “duds” in either pack, but this writer was not alone in noticing the fine, resonant, easy tone of the South Korean baritone Yonghoon Lee as Don José in the Bizet. From a hesitant first scene his voice blossomed into something quite special as he mixed bravura passages with finely-wrought pianissimos — a name to watch.

theatre_royalplymouth.pngTheatre Royal, Plymouth. [Photo courtesy of thisisplymouth.co.uk]

Douglas Boyd (Flute) and Jakub Hrusa (Carmen) directed the excellent GT Orchestra who never seemed to put a foot wrong in either ensemble or obbligatos; fine playing on each night.

Sue Loder © 2008

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):