Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

ETO Autumn 2020 Season Announcement: Lyric Solitude

English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a season of lyric monodramas to tour nationally from October to December. The season features music for solo singer and piano by Argento, Britten, Tippett and Shostakovich with a bold and inventive approach to making opera during social distancing.

Love, always: Chanticleer, Live from London … via San Francisco

This tenth of ten Live from London concerts was in fact a recorded live performance from California. It was no less enjoyable for that, and it was also uplifting to learn that this wasn’t in fact the ‘last’ LfL event that we will be able to enjoy, courtesy of VOCES8 and their fellow vocal ensembles (more below …).

Dreams and delusions from Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper at Wigmore Hall

Ever since Wigmore Hall announced their superb series of autumn concerts, all streamed live and available free of charge, I’d been looking forward to this song recital by Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper.

Henry Purcell, Royal Welcome Songs for King Charles II Vol. III: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers

The Sixteen continues its exploration of Henry Purcell’s Welcome Songs for Charles II. As with Robert King’s pioneering Purcell series begun over thirty years ago for Hyperion, Harry Christophers is recording two Welcome Songs per disc.

Treasures of the English Renaissance: Stile Antico, Live from London

Although Stile Antico’s programme article for their Live from London recital introduced their selection from the many treasures of the English Renaissance in the context of the theological debates and upheavals of the Tudor and Elizabethan years, their performance was more evocative of private chamber music than of public liturgy.

Anima Rara: Ermonela Jaho

In February this year, Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho made a highly lauded debut recital at Wigmore Hall - a concert which both celebrated Opera Rara’s 50th anniversary and honoured the career of the Italian soprano Rosina Storchio (1872-1945), the star of verismo who created the title roles in Leoncavallo’s La bohème and Zazà, Mascagni’s Lodoletta and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

A wonderful Wigmore Hall debut by Elizabeth Llewellyn

Evidently, face masks don’t stifle appreciative “Bravo!”s. And, reducing audience numbers doesn’t lower the volume of such acclamations. For, the audience at Wigmore Hall gave soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and pianist Simon Lepper a greatly deserved warm reception and hearty response following this lunchtime recital of late-Romantic song.

Requiem pour les temps futurs: An AI requiem for a post-modern society

Collapsology. Or, perhaps we should use the French word ‘Collapsologie’ because this is a transdisciplinary idea pretty much advocated by a series of French theorists - and apparently, mostly French theorists. It in essence focuses on the imminent collapse of modern society and all its layers - a series of escalating crises on a global scale: environmental, economic, geopolitical, governmental; the list is extensive.

The Sixteen: Music for Reflection, live from Kings Place

For this week’s Live from London vocal recital we moved from the home of VOCES8, St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, to Kings Place, where The Sixteen - who have been associate artists at the venue for some time - presented a programme of music and words bound together by the theme of ‘reflection’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny explore Dowland's directness and darkness at Hatfield House

'Such is your divine Disposation that both you excellently understand, and royally entertaine the Exercise of Musicke.’

Ádám Fischer’s 1991 MahlerFest Kassel ‘Resurrection’ issued for the first time

Amongst an avalanche of new Mahler recordings appearing at the moment (Das Lied von der Erde seems to be the most favoured, with three) this 1991 Mahler Second from the 2nd Kassel MahlerFest is one of the more interesting releases.

Paradise Lost: Tête-à-Tête 2020

‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven … that old serpent … Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Max Lorenz: Tristan und Isolde, Hamburg 1949

If there is one myth, it seems believed by some people today, that probably needs shattering it is that post-war recordings or performances of Wagner operas were always of exceptional quality. This 1949 Hamburg Tristan und Isolde is one of those recordings - though quite who is to blame for its many problems takes quite some unearthing.

Joyce DiDonato: Met Stars Live in Concert

There was never any doubt that the fifth of the twelve Met Stars Live in Concert broadcasts was going to be a palpably intense and vivid event, as well as a musically stunning and theatrically enervating experience.

‘Where All Roses Go’: Apollo5, Live from London

‘Love’ was the theme for this Live from London performance by Apollo5. Given the complexity and diversity of that human emotion, and Apollo5’s reputation for versatility and diverse repertoire, ranging from Renaissance choral music to jazz, from contemporary classical works to popular song, it was no surprise that their programme spanned 500 years and several musical styles.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 're-connect'

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields have titled their autumn series of eight concerts - which are taking place at 5pm and 7.30pm on two Saturdays each month at their home venue in Trafalgar Square, and being filmed for streaming the following Thursday - ‘re:connect’.

Lucy Crowe and Allan Clayton join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at St Luke's

The London Symphony Orchestra opened their Autumn 2020 season with a homage to Oliver Knussen, who died at the age of 66 in July 2018. The programme traced a national musical lineage through the twentieth century, from Britten to Knussen, on to Mark-Anthony Turnage, and entwining the LSO and Rattle too.

Choral Dances: VOCES8, Live from London

With the Live from London digital vocal festival entering the second half of the series, the festival’s host, VOCES8, returned to their home at St Annes and St Agnes in the City of London to present a sequence of ‘Choral Dances’ - vocal music inspired by dance, embracing diverse genres from the Renaissance madrigal to swing jazz.

Royal Opera House Gala Concert

Just a few unison string wriggles from the opening of Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro are enough to make any opera-lover perch on the edge of their seat, in excited anticipation of the drama in music to come, so there could be no other curtain-raiser for this Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, the latest instalment from ‘their House’ to ‘our houses’.

Fading: The Gesualdo Six at Live from London

"Before the ending of the day, creator of all things, we pray that, with your accustomed mercy, you may watch over us."

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Mayr Rediscovered
15 Mar 2009

Mayr Rediscovered

Apparently Opera Rara “discovered” Giovanni Simone Mayr some years ago when it included several excerpts from his operas in their multi-volume series, “A Hundred Years of Italian Opera.”

Mayr Rediscovered

Antonino Siragusa, Daniela Barcellona, Marilyn Hill Smith, Della Jones, Eiddwen Harrhy, Nan Christie, Sandra Dugdale, Russell Smythe, Philip Doghan, Yvonne Kenny, Kevin John, Robin Leggate, Diana Montague, Myrna Moreno, Penelope Walker, Bruce Ford. Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestra of the Teatro Liricio ’Giuseppe Verdi’ Triest. Conductors - David Parry (tracks 1, 3-10) and Tiziano Severini (2).

Opera Rara CD ORR244

$24.99  Click to buy

Two complete recordings followed: Medea in Corinto and Ginerva di Scozia. Now comes this single disc set, “Mayr Rediscovered,” which compiles the Mayr music from the “Hundred Years” series with a single selection each from the two complete sets. If Opera Rara finds some more Mayr in their catalog, the next release should be called “Mayr Re-Redisovered.”

Born in Germany as Johann Simon Mayr, the composer came to Italy in his early twenties to study and through hard work established himself as an opera composer and teacher; Donizetti studied under Mayr for some time. Jeremy Commons’s brief but informative booklet notes relates that Rossini “eclipsed” Mayr. Of course, Rossini could not eclipse Mozart. If Mayr’s operas truly had the qualities that make for a standard repertory piece, they could have found an accommodating orbit without Rossini’s work throwing them into darkness.

The above is not meant to say that Mayr’s music is poor. Indeed, the orchestral settings have taste and charm, with a touch of Haydn’s wit from time to time. Opera Rara does not supply texts, but the music always seems to be set to the mood of the piece, with a sensitivity to word and expression. Most of the tracks are between 5 and 10 minutes, which suggests that Mayr excelled in extended scenes while adhering to the formalized patterns of so-called “numbers” operas.

Commons quotes Louis Spohr as admitting that Mayr, as compared to Rossini, lacked “imagination” but had “more knowledge and aesthetic feeling.” What too much of the music on this disc reveals then is that imagination trumps knowledge and aesthetic feeling. As pleasant and refined as much of this music is, the melodic lines tend to wander unmemorably, and the climaxes feel manipulated rather than organic.

Opera Rara snags some very good singers, including Daniella Barcellona, Antonio Siragusa, and on some of the earlier recordings, Bruce Ford, Della Jones and Yvonne Kenny. However, at least two tracks here suffer from the pinched, acidic tones of tenor Russell Smythe, who has one of those voices chosen for its ability to manage high-lying and florid music. It might be preferable to find a singer who would have to compromise a bit on the challenges of the piece but who can provide a more appealing tone. David Parry provides professional support as conductor for all the tracks except the Ginerva di Scozia one, where Tiziano Severini holds the baton.

Finding the earlier Opera Rara sets from which the company drew these selections might not be easy, or even possible, so this disc will be most welcome to lovers of unusual repertory. For others, the highlight might be the same as it was for your reviewer: discovering a picture of Bruce Ford in the booklet where the singer looks like a dead ringer for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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):