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

Bartoli a dream Cenerentola in Amsterdam

With her irresistible cocktail of spontaneity and virtuosity, Cecilia Bartoli is a beloved favourite of Amsterdam audiences. In triple celebratory mode, the Italian mezzo-soprano chose Rossini’s La Cenerentola, whose bicentenary is this year, to mark twenty years of performing at the Concertgebouw, and her twenty-fifth performance at its Main Hall.

Winterreise : a parallel journey

Matthew Rose and Gary Matthewman Winterreise: a Parallel Journey at the Wigmore Hall, a recital with extras. Schubert's winter journey reflects the poetry of Wilhelm Müller, where images act as signposts mapping the protagonist's psychological journey.

Anna Bolena in Lisbon

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, composed in 1830, didn’t make it to Lisbon until 1843 when there were 14 performances at its magnificent Teatro São Carlos (opened 1793), and there were 17 more performances spread over the next two decades. The entire twentieth century saw but three (3) performances in this European capital.

Oh, What a Night in San Jose

It is difficult to know where to begin to praise the stunning achievement of Opera San Jose’s West Coast premiere of Silent Night.

Billy Budd in Madrid

Like Carmen, Billy Budd is an operatic personage of such breadth and depth that he becomes unique to everyone. This signals that there is no Billy Budd (or Carmen) who will satisfy everyone. And like Carmen, Billy Budd may be indestructible because the opera will always mean something to someone.

A riveting Nixon in China at the Concertgebouw

American composer John Adams turns 70 this year. By way of celebration no less than seven concerts in this season’s NTR ZaterdagMatinee series feature works by Adams, including this concert version of his first opera, Nixon in China.

English song: shadows and reflections

Despite the freshness, passion and directness, and occasional wry quirkiness, of many of the works which formed this lunchtime recital at the Wigmore Hall - given by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge, pianist James Baillieu and viola player Guy Pomeroy - a shadow lingered over the quiet nostalgia and pastoral eloquence of the quintessentially ‘English’ works performed.

A charming Pirates of Penzance revival at ENO

'Nobody does Gilbert and Sullivan anymore.’ This was the comment from many of my friends when I mentioned the revival of Mike Leigh's 2015 production of The Pirates of Penzance at English National Opera (ENO). Whilst not completely true (English Touring Opera is doing Patience next month), this reflects the way performances of G&S have rather dropped out of the mainstream. That Leigh's production takes the opera on its own terms and does not try to send it up, made it doubly welcome.

A Relevant Madama Butterfly

On Feb 3, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s dramatic opera Madama Butterfly. Sandra Lopez was the naive fifteen-year-old who falls hopelessly in love with the American Naval Officer.

Johan Reuter sings Brahms with Wiener Philharmoniker

In the last of my three day adventure, I headed to Vienna for the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Musikverein (my first time!) for Mahler and Brahms.

Gatti and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Head to Asia

In Amsterdam legend Janine Jansen and the seventh Principal Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw, Daniele Gatti, came together for their first engagement in a ravishing performance of Berg’s Violin Concerto.

Verdi’s Requiem with the Berliner Philharmoniker

I extravagantly scheduled hearing the Berliner, Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Wiener Philharmoniker, to hear these three top orchestra perform their series programmes opening the New Year.

Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher in Lyon

There is no bigger or more prestigious name in avant-garde French theater than Romeo Castellucci (b. 1960), the Italian metteur en scène of this revival of Arthur Honegger’s mystère lyrique, Joan of Arc at the Stake (1938) at the Opéra Nouvel in Lyon.

A New Look at Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio

On January 28, 2017, Los Angeles Opera premiered James Robinson’s nineteen twenties production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, which places the story on the Orient Express. Since Abduction is a work with spoken dialogue like The Magic Flute, the cast sang their music in German and spoke their lines in English.

Giasone in Geneva

Fecund Jason, father of his wife Isifile’s twins and as well father of his seductress Medea’s twins, does indeed have a problem — he prefers to sleep with and wed Medea. In this resurrection of the most famous opera of the seventeenth century he evidently also sleeps with Hercules.

Falstaff in Genoa

A Falstaff that raised-the-bar ever higher, this was a posthumous resurrection of Luca Ronconi’s masterful staging of Verdi’s last opera, the third from last of the 83 operas Ronconi staged during his lifetime (1933-2015). And his third staging of Falstaff following Salzburg in 1993 and Florence in 2006.

Traviata in Seattle

One of Aidan Lang’s first initiatives as artistic director of Seattle Opera was to encourage his board to formulate a “mission statement” for the fifty-year old company. The document produced was clear, simple, and anodyne. Seattle Opera would aim above all to create work appealing both to the emotions and reason of the audience.

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part II: Kasper Holten’s angelic Lohengrin

Contrary to Stolzi’s multidimensional Parsifal, Holten’s simple setting of Lohengrin felt timeless with its focus on the drama between characters. Premiering in 2012, nothing too flashy and with a clever twist,

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part I: Stölzl’s Psychedelic Parsifal

Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB) consistently serves up superlatively sung Wagner productions. This Fall, its productions of Philipp Stölzl's Parsifal and Kasper Holten's Lohengrin offered intoxicating musical affairs. Annette Dasch, Klaus Florian Vogt, and Peter Seiffert reached for the stars. Even when it comes down to last minute replacements, the casting is topnotch.

Donna abbandonata: Temple Song Series

Donna abbandonata would have been a good title for the first concert of Temple Music’s 2017 Song Series. Indeed, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice seems to be making a habit of playing abandoned women.

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):