Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Green: Mélodies françaises sur des poèmes de Verlaine

Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and twentieth-century France

J. C. Bach: Adriano in Siria

At this start of the year, Classical Opera embarked upon an ambitious project. MOZART 250 will see the company devote part of its programme each season during the next 27 years to exploring the music by Mozart and his contemporaries which was being written and performed exactly 250 years previously.

Bethan Langford, Wigmore Hall

The Concordia Foundation was founded in the early 1990s by international singer and broadcaster Gillian Humphreys, out of her ‘real concern for building bridges of friendship and excellence through music and the arts’.

Tansy Davies: Between Worlds (world premiere)

An opera dealing with — or at least claiming to deal with — the events of 11 September 2001? I suppose it had to come, but that does not necessarily make it any more necessary.

Arizona Opera Ends Season in Fine Style with Fille du Régiment

On April 10, 2015, Arizona Opera ended its season with La Fille du Régiment at Phoenix Symphony Hall. A passionate Marie, Susannah Biller was a veritable energizer bunny onstage. Her voice is bright and flexible with a good bloom on top and a tiny bit of steel in it. Having created an exciting character, she sang with agility as well as passion.

Il turco in Italia, Royal Opera

This second revival of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser’s 2005 production of Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia seems to have every going for it: excellent principals comprising experienced old-hands and exciting new voices, infinite gags and japes, and the visual éclat of Agostino Cavalca’s colour-bursting costumes and Christian Fenouillat’s sunny sets which evoke the style, glamour and ease of La Dolce Vita.

The Siege of Calais
——
The Wild Man of the West Indies

English Touring Opera’s 2015 Spring Tour is audacious and thought-provoking. Alongside La Bohème the company have programmed a revival of their acclaimed 2013 production of Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais (L’assedio di Calais) and the composer’s equally rare The Wild Man of the West Indies (Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo).

The Met’s Lucia di Lammermoor

Mary Zimmerman’s still-fresh production is made fresher still by Shagimuratova’s glimmering voice, but the acting disappoints

Voices, voices in space, and spaces: Thoughts on 50 years of Meredith Monk

When WNYC’s John Schaefer introduced Meredith Monk’s beloved Panda Chant II, which concluded the four-and-a-half hour Meredith Monk & Friends celebration at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, he described it as “an expression of joy and musicality” before lamenting the fact that playing it on his radio show could never quite compete with a live performance.

St. John Passion by Soli Deo Gloria, Chicago

This year’s concert of the Chicago Bach Project, under the aegis of the Soli Deo Gloria Music Foundation, was a presentation of the St. John Passion (BWV 245) at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park.

Fedora in Genoa

It is not an everyday opera. It is an opera that illuminates a larger verismo history.

The Marriage of Figaro, LA Opera

On March 26, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). The Ian Judge production featured jewel-colored box sets by Tim Goodchild that threw the voices out into the hall. Only for the finale did the set open up on to a garden that filled the whole stage and at the very end featured actual fireworks.

The Tempest Songbook, Gotham Chamber Opera

Gotham Chamber Opera’s latest project, The Tempest Songbook, continues to explore the possibilities of unconventional spaces and unconventional programs that the company has made its hallmark. The results were musically and theatrically thought-provoking, and left me wanting more.

San Diego Opera presents Adams’ Riveting Nixon in China

Nixon in China is a three-act opera with a libretto by Alice Goodman and music by John Adams that was first seen at the Houston Grand Opera on October 22, 1987. It was the first of a notable line of operas by the composer.

Ars Minerva presents Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra in San Francisco

It is thanks to Céline Ricci, mezzo-soprano and director of Ars Minerva, that we have been able to again hear Daniele Castrovillari’s exquisite melodies because she is the musician who has brought his 1662 opera La Cleopatra to life.

An Ideal Cast in Chicago’s Tannhäuser

Lyric Opera of Chicago, in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, has staged a production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser with an estimable cast.

Madame Butterfly, Royal Opera

Puccini and his fellow verismo-ists are commonly associated with explosions of unbridled human passion and raw, violent pain, but in this revival (by Justin Way) of Moshe Leiser’s and Patrice Caurier’s 2003 production of Madame Butterfly, directorial understatement together with ravishing scenic beauty are shown to be more potent ways of enabling the sung voice to reveal the emotional depths of human tragedy.

Tosca in Marseille

Rarely, very rarely does a Tosca come around that you can get excited about. Sure, sometimes there is good singing, less often good conducting but rarely is there a mise en scène that goes beyond stock opera vocabulary.

Poetry beyond words — Nash Ensemble, Wigmore Hall

The Nash Ensemble’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations at the Wigmore Hall were crowned by a recital that typifies the Nash’s visionary mission. Above, the dearly-loved founder, Amelia Freeman, a quietly revolutionary figure in her own way, who has immeasurably enriched the cultural life of this country.

Arizona Opera Presents Magritte Style Magic Flute

On March 7, 2015, Arizona Opera presented Dan Rigazzi’s production of Die Zauberflöte in Tucson. Inspired by the works of René Magritte, designer John Pollard filled the stage with various sizes of picture frames, windows, and portals from which he leads us into Mozart and Schikaneder’s dream world.

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):