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

Pacific Opera Project Recreates Mozart and Salieri Contest

On February 7, 1786, Emperor Joseph II of Austria had brand new one-act operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri performed in the Schönbrunn Palace’s Orangery.

Powerful chemistry in La Cenerentola in Cologne

Those poor opera lovers in Cologne have a never ending problem with the city’s opera house. Together with the rest of city, the construction of the new opera house is mired in political incompetence.

Tannhäuser: Royal Opera House, London

London remains starved of Wagner. This season, its major companies offer but two works, Tannhäuser from the Royal Opera and Tristan from ENO.

The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf

Dmitry Bertman’s hilarious staging of Rimsky-Korsakov’s political sex-comedy The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf.

San Diego Opera Presents a Tragic Madama Butterfly

On April 16, 2016, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s sixth opera, Madama Butterfly, in an intriguing production by Garnett Bruce. Roberto Oswald’s scenery included the usual Japanese styled house with many sliding doors and walls. On either side, however, were blooming cherry trees with rough trunks and gnarled branches that looked as though they had been growing on the property for a hundred years.

Simon Rattle conducts Tristan und Isolde

New Co-Production Tristan und Isolde with Metropolitan: Simon Rattle and Westbroek electrify Treliński’s Opera-Noir.

San Jose’s Smooth Streetcar Ride

In an operatic world crowded with sure-fire bread and butter repertoire, Opera San Jose has boldly chosen to lavish a new production on a dark horse, Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

Roméo et Juliette: Dutch National Opera and Ballet seal merger with leaden Berlioz

Choral symphony, oratorio, symphonic poem — Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette does not fit into any mould. It has the potential to work as an opera-ballet, but incoherent storytelling and uninspired conducting undermined this production.

Donizetti : Lucia di Lammermoor, Royal Opera House

When Kasper Holten took the precaution of pre-warning ticket-holders that the Royal Opera House’s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor featured scene portraying ‘sexual acts’ and ‘violence’, one assumed that he was aiming to avert a re-run of the jeering and hectoring that accompanied last season’s Guillaume Tell. He even went so far as to offer concerned patrons a refund.

Five Reviews of Regina at Maryland Opera Studio

These are five very different reviews by students at the University of Maryland on its Opera Studio production of Regina — an interesting, informative and entertaining read . . .

Three Cheers for the English Touring Opera

‘Remember me, the one who is Pia;/ Siena made me, Maremma undid me.’ The speaker is Pia de’ Tolomei. She appears in a brief episode of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Purgatorio V, 130-136) which was the source for Gaetano Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei - by way of Bartolomeo Sestini’s verse-novella of 1825.

Andriessen's De Materie at the Park Avenue Armory

"The large measure of formalism which forms the basis of De Materie does not in itself offer any guarantee that the work will be beautiful," says Dutch composer Louis Andriessen of his four-movement opera.

Falstaff Makes a Big Splash in Phoenix

On April 1, 2016, Arizona Opera presented Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) in Phoenix. Although Boito based most of his libretto on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, he used material from Henry IV as well. Verdi wrote the music when he was close to the age of eighty. He was concerned about his ability at that advanced age, but he was immensely pleased with Boito’s text and decided to compose his second comedy, despite the fact that his first, Un giorno di regno, had not been successful.

Svadba in San Francisco

The brand new SF Opera Lab opened last month with artist William Kentridge’s staged Schubert Winterreise. Its second production just now, Svadba-Wedding — an a cappella opera for six female voices — unabashedly exposes the space in a different, non-theatrical configuration.

Benvenuto Cellini in Rome

One may think of Tosca as the most Roman of all operas, after all it has been performed at the Teatro Costanzi (Rome’s opera house) well over a thousand times since 1900. Though equally, maybe even more Roman is Hector Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini that has had only a dozen or so performances in Rome since 1838.

New from Opera Rara : Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe

Two new recordings from highly acclaimed specialists Opera Rara - Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe.

Handel : Elpidia - Opera Settecento

Roll up! A new opera by Handel is to be performed, L’Elpidia overo li rivali generosi. It is based upon a libretto by Apostolo Zeno with music by Leonardo Vinci - excepting a couple of arias by Giuseppe Orlandini and, additionally, two from Antonio Lotti’s Teofane (which the star bass, Giuseppe Maria Boschi , on bringing with him from the Dresden production of 1719).

Roberto Devereux in Genova

Radvanovsky in New York, Devia in Genoa — Donizetti queens are indeed in the news! Just now in Genoa Mariella Devia was the Elizabeth I for her beloved Roberto Devereux in a new trilogy of Donizetti queens (Maria Stuarda and Anne Bolena) directed by baritone Alfonso Antoniozzi.

The Importance of Being Earnest, Royal Opera

‘All men become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his.’ ‘Is that clever?’ ‘It is perfectly phrased!’

Mahler’s Third, Concertgebouw

Evolving in Mahler’s Third: Dudamel and L.A. Philharmonic’s impressive adaption to the Concertgebouw

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Michael Tippett: A Child of our Time
15 Mar 2009

Tippett: A Child of Our Time

Although an ineffable aura of the 1960s emanates from Michael Tippett’s oratorio A Child of Our Time, its composition came at the start of WWII in Europe.

Michael Tippett: A Child of our Time

Indra Thomas, Soprano; Mihoko Fujimura, Alto; Steve Davislim, Tenor; Matthew Rose, Bass. London Symphony Chorus. London Symphony Orchestra. Sir Colin Davis, conductor.

LSO Live LS00670 [SACD]

$19.99  Click to buy

The immediate inspiration was Kristallnacht, the violent Nazi outburst motivated by the assassination of a German official by a desperate Polish Jew. Tippett struggled with a text to encompass this terrible subject, and after T. S. Eliott declined the opportunity to create one, the composer followed the poet’s advice and devised his own, a blend of his own words and those of several spirituals, such as “Deep River.”

Although the composition’s title derives from a novel by a German author (Ein Kind unserer Zeit), Tippett avoids conventional narrative, referring only briefly to the relevant historical event: “He shoots the official - but he shoots only his dark brother.” Most of the text adopts a Kahlil Gibran-type profundity.

Healing springs from the womb of time
The simple-hearted shall exult in the end

In other words, time heals all wounds, and the meek shall inherit the earth. The clarity and direct expression of the words to the spirituals comes as a welcome contrast, even as sung out by the over-enunciated, rich voices of the four soloists and chorus.

What carries the work past any perceived limitations of its text is the power of its music. Tippett sets the spirituals with exquisite taste, and he never chooses the easy route of producing ugly sounds to suggest the pain and horror of the subject. The great model seems to have been Bach’s Matthew Passion, with its urgency and somber beauty.

This live recording from December 2007 at the Barbican in London captures Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra and chorus in crisp sound; the disc is a Hybrid-SACD. Davis conducts with precision, which is most welcome in the faster, fugal passages. However, he can’t find a way to bring the hour-long work to a more forceful conclusion; it’s one of those works that simply seems to stop. Soprano Indra Thomas tends to shrillness at the top; the body of her voice is attractive. Mohoko Fujimara’s alto sound works better for the spirituals. Tenor Steve Daislim and bass Matthew Rose blend well as they join the women in the final number, “Deep River.” Elsewhere they have no choice but to sound a bit fussy when vocalizing Tippett’s text.

Criticizing Tippett’s oratorio almost places one in the painfully uncomfortable position of defending the Nazis or denigrating the artistic value of spirituals when placed alongside art music. Perhaps thankfully, much of the time Tippett’s own awkward text is incomprehensible as sung, particularly by the chorus. LSO Live does provide the text in English, with brief but informative notes by Meiron Bowen and Paul Griffith. Opportunities to hear A Child of Our Time, especially in the U.S., probably will remain rare, which is reason enough to be glad for a recording of this quality.

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):