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

Cast announced for Bampton Classical Opera's 2017 production of Salieri's The School of Jealousy

Following highly successful UK premières of Salieri’s Falstaff (in 2003) and Trofonio’s Cave (2015), this summer Bampton Classical Opera will present the first UK performances since the late 18th century of arguably his most popular success: the bitter comedy of marital feuding, The School of Jealousy (La scuola de’ gelosi). The production will be designed and directed by Jeremy Gray and conducted by Anthony Kraus from Opera North. The English translation will be by Gilly French and Jeremy Gray. The cast includes Nathalie Chalkley (soprano), Thomas Herford (tenor) and five singers making their Bampton débuts:, Rhiannon Llewellyn (soprano), Kate Howden (mezzo-soprano), Alessandro Fisher (tenor), Matthew Sprange (baritone) and Samuel Pantcheff (baritone). Alessandro was the joint winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Competition 2016.

La voix humaine: Opera Holland Park at the Royal Albert Hall

Reflections on former visits to Opera Holland Park usually bring to mind late evening sunshine, peacocks, Japanese gardens, the occasional chilly gust in the pavilion and an overriding summer optimism, not to mention committed performances and strong musical and dramatic values.

London Handel Festival: Handel's Faramondo at the RCM

Written at a time when both his theatrical business and physical health were in a bad way, Handel’s Faramondo was premiered at the King’s Theatre in January 1738, fared badly and sank rapidly into obscurity where it languished until the late-twentieth century.

Brahms A German Requiem, Fabio Luisi, Barbican London

Fabio Luisi conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in Brahms A German Requiem op 45 and Schubert, Symphony no 8 in B minor D759 ("Unfinished").at the Barbican Hall, London.

Káťa Kabanová in its Seattle début

The atmosphere was a bit electric on February 25 for the opening night of Leoš Janàček’s 1921 domestic tragedy, and not entirely in a good way.

Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers’ Competition 2017

Applications are now open for the Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers’ Competition 2017. This biennial competition was first launched in 2013 to celebrate the company’s 20th birthday, and is aimed at identifying the finest emerging young opera singers currently working in the UK.

Festival Mémoires in Lyon

Each March France's splendid Opéra de Lyon mounts a cycle of operas that speak to a chosen theme. Just now the theme is Mémoires -- mythic productions of famed, now dead, late 20th century stage directors. These directors are Klaus Michael Grüber (1941-2008), Ruth Berghaus (1927-1996), and Heiner Müller (1929-1995).

Handel's Partenope: surrealism and sensuality at English National Opera

Handel’s Partenope (1730), written for his first season at the King’s Theatre, is a paradox: an anti-heroic opera seria. It recounts a fictional historic episode with a healthy dose of buffa humour as heroism is held up to ridicule. Musicologist Edward Dent suggested that there was something Shakespearean about Partenope - and with its complex (nonsensical?) inter-relationships, cross-dressing disguises and concluding double-wedding it certainly has a touch of Twelfth Night about it. But, while the ‘plot’ may seem inconsequential or superficial, Handel’s music, as ever, probes the profundities of human nature.

Christoph Prégardien and Julius Drake at the Wigmore Hall

The latest instalment of Wigmore Hall’s ambitious two-year project, ‘Schubert: The Complete Songs’, was presented by German tenor Christoph Prégardien and pianist Julius Drake.

La Tragédie de Carmen at San Diego

On March 10, 2017, San Diego Opera presented an unusual version of Georges Bizet’s Carmen called La Tragédie de Carmen (The Tragedy of Carmen).

Kasper Holten's farewell production at the ROH: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

For his farewell production as director of opera at the Royal Opera House, Kasper Holten has chosen Wagner’s only ‘comedy’, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: an opera about the very medium in which it is written.

AZ Musicfest Presents Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci

The dramatic strength that Stage Director Michael Scarola drew from his Pagliacci cast was absolutely amazing. He gave us a sizzling rendition of the libretto, pointing out every bit of foreshadowing built into the plot.

English Touring Opera Spring 2017: a lesson in Patience

A skewering of the preening pretentiousness of the Pre-Raphaelites and Aesthetes of the late-nineteenth century, Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1881 operetta Patience outlives the fashion that fashioned it, and makes mincemeat of mincing dandies and divas, of whatever period, who value style over substance, art over life.

Tara Erraught: mezzo and clarinet in partnership at the Wigmore Hall

Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught demonstrated a relaxed, easy manner and obvious enjoyment of both the music itself and its communication to the audience during this varied Rosenblatt Series concert at the Wigmore Hall. Erraught and her musical partners for the evening - clarinettist Ulrich Pluta and pianist James Baillieu - were equally adept at capturing both the fresh lyricism of the exchanges between voice and clarinet in the concert arias of the first half of the programme and clinching precise dramatic moods and moments in the operatic arias that followed the interval.

Opera Across the Waves

This Sunday the Metropolitan Opera will feature as part of the BBC Radio 3 documentary, Opera Across the Waves, in which critic and academic Flora Willson explores how opera is engaging new audiences. The 45-minute programme explores the roots of global opera broadcasting and how in particular, New York’s Metropolitan Opera became one of the most iconic and powerful producers of opera.

Premiere: Riders of the Purple Sage

On February 25, 2017, in Tucson and on the following March 3 in Phoenix, Arizona Opera presented its first world premiere, Craig Bohmler and Steven Mark Kohn’s Riders of the Purple Sage.

English Touring Opera Spring 2017: a disappointing Tosca

During the past few seasons, English Touring Opera has confirmed its triple-value: it takes opera to the parts of the UK that other companies frequently fail to reach; its inventive, often theme-based, programming and willingness to take risks shine a light on unfamiliar repertory which invariably offers unanticipated pleasures; the company provides a platform for young British singers who are easing their way into the ‘industry’, assuming a role that latterly ENO might have been expected to fulfil.

A Winter's Tale: a world premiere at English National Opera

The first production of Ryan Wigglesworth’s first opera, based upon Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, is clearly a major event in English National Opera’s somewhat trimmed-down season. Wigglesworth, who serves also as conductor and librettist, professes to have been obsessed with the play for more than twenty years, and one can see why The Winter’s Tale, with its theatrical ‘set-pieces’ - the oracle scene, the tempest, the miracle of a moving statue - and its grandiose emotions, dominated as the play is by Leontes’ obsessively articulated, over-intellectualized jealousy, would invite operatic adaptation.

Wexford Festival Opera announces details of 2017 Festival

Today, Wexford Festival Opera announced the programme and principal casting details for the forthcoming 2017 festival. Now in its 66th year, this internationally renowned festival will run over an extended 18-day period, from Thursday, 19 October to Sunday, 5 November.

Matthias Goerne : Mahler Eisler Wigmore Hall

A song cycle within a song symphony - Matthias Goerne's intriuging approach to Mahler song, with Marcus Hinterhäuser, at the Wigmore Hall, London. Mahler's entire output can be described as one vast symphony, spanning an arc that stretches from his earliest songs to the sketches for what would have been his tenth symphony. Song was integral to Mahler's compositional process, germinating ideas that could be used even in symphonies which don't employ conventional singing.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Scott Hendricks in the title role of Verdi's Rigoletto [Photo by Felix Sanchez courtesy of Houston Grand Opera]
19 Apr 2009

Shagimuratova steals show in HGO’s Rigoletto

On a stormy evening in Houston (both in and outside of the house), Houston Grand Opera’s opening night production of Verdi’s Rigoletto went off with a thunderous bang.

Giuseppe Verdi: Rigoletto

Scott Hendricks: Rigoletto; Eric Cutler: Duke of Mantua: Albina Shagimuratova: Gilda; Andrea Silvestrelli: Sparafucile; Bradley Garvin: Monterone; Maria Markina: Maddalena; Jamie Barton: Giovanna; Adam Cioffari: Count Ceprano; Octavio Moreno: Marullo; Faith Sherman: Countess Ceprano. Houston Grand Opera Chorus and Orchestra. Patrick Summers, conductor. Lindy Hume, director.

Above: Scott Hendricks in the title role of Verdi's Rigoletto

All photos by Felix Sanchez courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

 

The cast boasted Eric Cutler in his role debut as the Duke, Texan Scott Hendricks as Rigoletto, and Houston favorite Andrea Silvestrelli as Sparafucile. While the men acquitted themselves well, none compared to the performance given by Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova as Gilda.

Houston patrons know Shagimuratova well, having heard her in previous seasons when she was a member of the company’s young artist program. Her Gilda, however, gave them a chance to see the soprano after her development—and what a development it was. From the first note of her duet with Hendricks, Shagimuratova sent a clear, full lyric voice into the house that spun line after line of legato with remarkable ease. Her “Caro nome”—the best I’ve ever heard—employed perfectly executed trills and just the right amount of ornamentation. Shagimuratova’s clarity was astounding in both the act three quartet and the storm trio, projecting easily over both the orchestra and the strong voices of her colleagues. Her acting was spot on, and she showed more sensitivity to her role than any of the other characters. Albina Shagimuratova’s Gilda was one to remember.

Eric Cutler, in his role debut, gave a solid assumption of the licentious Duke of Mantua. His voice remained the light instrument it was when he first burst onto the international scene, but he managed to add enough heft to his sound to get past the heavier orchestrated sections of Verdi’s score. Cutler seemed most comfortable in the lyrical sections, showing off a strong top in his act one duet with Gilda and later giving a seamless rendition of “Parmi veder le lagrime.” His Duke isn’t perfect yet; the tenor forgot at least two lines and needs to polish up his phrasing, but with time the role could prove strong for him.

Texan Scott Hendricks gave a mixed performance as Rigoletto. The San Antonio native has the range, heft, and legato for the role, but on opening night his vocal clarity too often gave way to an over darkened, muddy sound. His “Cortigiani” showed great pathos, but that was it—you got the feeling from Hendricks’ portrayal that he was simply imposing a romantic portrayal (from other roles in his repertoire, like Silvio or di Luna) on a father-daughter relationship. It didn’t always work, and was sometimes awkward. More work vocally and theatrically could greatly improve his portrayal.

Italian bass Andrea Silvestrelli gave his usual effortlessly powerful performance. In a production that focused on shadows, fog, and darkness, Silvestrelli bounded in and out of sight, showing up at just the right times and portraying the assassin with just enough dark humor. The Italian’s powerful bass boomed throughout the house to great effect but with careful attention not to overpower his colleagues.

Octavio_Moreno_Ericz_Cutler.gifOctavio Moreno (Marullo) and Eric Cutler (Duke of Mantua)

Silvestrelli’s on-stage sister, Russian mezzo Maria Markina, gave a sexually charged depiction of Maddalena. Markina, a member of HGO’s young artist program, had incredible chemistry with Cutler—the act three quartet was one of the highlights of the night, with Cutler and Markina’s interaction bordering on soft porn while Shagimuratova’s Gilda looked on. Markina’s warm voice showed ample size for the Brown Theater; look for her to grow into larger roles with the company over the next few years. Of the supporting roles, Bradley Garvin as Monterone sang particularly well, projecting a large, ringing bass-baritone into the house in the curse scene.

The subtle production focused mainly on colorful backgrounds and timely scene changes. Several period paintings adorned the backdrops while the sets for acts one and two were sparse. The final act brought out a framed set for Sparafucile’s house which served the quartet action well. Director Lindy Hume could have worked with Hendricks a little more on his acting, which wasn’t so much non-existent as it was misguided and confusing at times. Hume provided some clever touches but mostly let the action carry on in a traditional way. Patrick Summers’ conducting was lethargic in the first act but came to life afterwards.

Scott_Hendricks_Albina_Shag.gifScott Hendricks (Rigoletto) and Albina Shagimuratova (Gilda)

If you’re wondering how good a Rigoletto can be without a perfect baritone, you need look no further than HGO’s production—with a soprano as Gilda who gave one of the most complete performances in recent HGO history combined with a solid supporting cast, the company has a sure hit on its hands.

Paul Wooley

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):