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

Les Indes galantes, Bavarian State Opera

Baroque opera has long been an important part of the Bavarian State Opera’s programming. And beyond the company itself, Munich’s tradition stretches back many years indeed: Kubelík’s Handel with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, for instance.

Don Giovanni, Bavarian State Opera

All told, this was probably the best Don Giovanni I have seen and heard. Judging opera performances - perhaps we should not be ‘judging’ at all, but let us leave that on one side - is a difficult task: there are so many variables, at least as many as in a play and a concert combined, but then there is the issue of that ‘combination’ too.

A dance to life in Munich’s Indes galantes

Can one justly “review” a streamed performance? Probably not. But however different or diminished such a performance, one can—and must—bear witness to such an event when it represents a landmark in the evolution of an art form.

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Glyndebourne Festival Opera at the Proms

For its annual visit to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Glyndebourne brought its new production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, an opera which premiered 200 years ago.

Béatrice and Bénédict at Glyndebourne

‘A caprice written with the point of a needle’: so Berlioz described his opera Béatrice and Bénédict, which pares down Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to its comic quintessence, shorn of the sub-plots, destroyed reputations and near-bloodshed of Shakespeare’s original.

Der fliegende Holländer, Bavarian State Opera

‘This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.’ It is, perhaps, a line quoted too often; yet, even though it may not have been entirely accurate on this occasion, it came to my mind. Its accuracy might be questioned in several respects.

Evergreen Baby in Colorado

Central City Opera celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Ballad of Baby Doe with a hip, canny, multi-faceted new production.

Lean and Mean Tosca in Colorado

Someone forgot to tell Central City Opera that it would be difficult to fit Puccini’s (usually) architecturally large Tosca on their small stage.

Die Walküre, Baden-Baden

A cast worthy of Bayreuth made for an unforgettable Wagnerian experience at the Sommer Festspiele in Baden-Baden.

Des Moines’ Elusive Manon

Loving attention to the highest quality was everywhere evident in Des Moines Metro Opera’s Manon.

Falstaff in Iowa: A Big Fat Hit

Des Moines Metro Opera had (almost) all the laughs in the right places, and certainly had all the right singers in these meaty roles to make for an enjoyable outing with Verdi’s masterpiece

Die Fledermaus, Opera Holland Park

With the thermometers reaching boiling point, there’s no doubt that summer has finally arrived in London. But, the sun seems to have been shining over the large marquee in Holland Park all summer.

Nice, July 14, and then . . .

J.S. Bach’s cerebral Art of the Fugue in Aix, Verdi’s massive Requiem in Orange, Ibn al-Muqaffa’ ‘s fable of the camel, jackal, wolf and crow, Sophocles’ blind Oedipus Rex and the Bible’s triumphant Psalm No. 150 in Aix.

Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance

The champagne corks popped at the close of this year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance at the Royal Opera House, with Prince Orlofsky’s celebratory toast forming a fitting conclusion to some superb singing.

Prom 2: Boris Godunov, ROH

Bryn Terfel is making a habit of performing Russian patriarchs at the Proms.

Des Moines’ Gluck Sets the Standard

What happens when just everything about an operatic performance goes joyously right?

Des Moines: Jewels in Perfect Settings

Two years ago, the well-established Des Moines Metro Opera experimented with a 2nd Stages program, with performances programmed outside of their home stage at Simpson College.

First Night of the Proms 2016

What to make of the unannounced decision to open this concert with the Marseillaise? I am sure it was well intended, and perhaps should leave it at that.

La Cenerentola, Opera Holland Park

In a fairy-tale, it can sometimes feel as if one is living a dream but on the verge of being awoken to a shock. Such is life in these dark and uncertain days.

Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno in Aix

The tense, three hour knock-down-drag-out seduction of Beauty by Pleasure consumed our souls in this triumphal evening. Forget Time and Disillusion as destructors, they were the very constructors of the beauty and pleasure found in this miniature oratorio.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Anita Selvaggio
15 Jun 2009

Haydn’s Bicentenary : 20 Capitals Salute “The Creation” With Standing Ovations

The Austrian Ministry of Culture and the Committee for the Celebrations of Haydn’s Bicentenary had a brilliant idea: on May 31st , the day of the composer’s death, 20 symphony orchestras and/or opera houses performed one of his greatest and best known oratorios Die Schöpfung (The Creation) .

F. J. Haydn: Die Schöpfung (The Creation)

Anita Selvaggio, Soprano; Michael Smallwood, Tenor; David Wilson Johnson, Bass; London Symphony Chorus. Joseph Cullen, Chorus Master. Francesco La Vecchia, Conductor.

Above: Anita Selvaggio

 

Because of different time-zones, Die Schöpfung day started in New Zealand and ended in Honolulu. An earnest radio listener could enjoy the different performances over 24 hours and appreciate the difference in conducting as well as in singing. Opera houses were included because in certain countries (e.g. Germany) Die Schöpfung is also staged as a music drama: computer technology and animation are a superb support to show the initial chaos , the creation of the animals, of the flowers, of the lakes, of the rivers and of the mountain as well as the Eden garden with the passionate Adam and Eve duet.

In Rome, the Orchestra Sinfonica - Fondazione Roma (OsFr) was selected for the task. The OsFr is a peculiarity in the Italian musical landscape: it is the only fully private symphony orchestra. It does not receive any State, Regional., Provincial or Municipal support but it is financed by the Fondazione Roma ( a nonprofit foundation) and by a few companies. It has 90 permanent elements (average age: 30), a budget which is less than one-fifth of that of the main symphony orchestra in the Italian capital (l’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia) and a low- priced ticket policy to attract young and old people with modest income (season tickets for 30 concerts vary from € 260 to € 90 according to the category). Its music director and permanent conductor is Maestro Francesco La Vecchia, who is also principal guest conductor of the Berliner Symphoniker. La Vecchia has been music director of Opera Houses and symphony orchestras in Central Europe (Budapest), Latin America (Rio de Janeiro) and Portugal (Lisbon). The OsFr started some eight years ago after a EU-supported training program for young graduates from European conservatories. It has gained an important place in the international music scenes also due to its tournée in Germany, Poland and China.

In January, the Accademia di Santa Cecilia had offered a different version of Die Schöpfung — performed by Frieburger Barochester conducted by René Jacobs and with Julia Kleiter, Donat Havar and Johanner Weisser as soloists. The difference, of course, is not in the score (both Jacobs and La Vecchia conducted the full score without cuts or intermission) but in the style: dry, albeit almost religious, Jacobs’; passionate (even in the approach to religion) La Vecchia’s .

Die Schöpfung is well known. Thus, there is no need to provide Opera Today readers with background on its composition, on its Austrian and London premières and on its contents. Its three parts are operatic acts. In the first and in the second, the three archangels Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael observe the Creation by following very closely the biblical text. In the third act, we are no longer witnessing from a distance the works of the Creator. The scene is the Eden Garden. After an introduction of Uriel, the act is long love scene of Adam and Eve that includes a duet supported by a choral background. As Haydn planned, there are five characters but three singers: the bass and the soprano are Raphael and Gabriel in the first and second act but become Adam and Eve in the third act. The roles are taxing both for the duration (nearly two hours of music ) and for the “virtuoso” singing — they imply “coloratura”, “agility”, quite a few high Cs and many Fs.

DSC_9258.gif

Maestro La Vecchia recalls that in 1992 he had conducted Die Schöpfung in the Amazonian Forest, at the vey confluence of the Rio Branco with the Rio Petro. Over 10,000 Indios attended the performance thrilled by the Haydn’s score. Most likely, the memory of that performance influenced conducting on May 31st. In the first part, it is noteworthy how conductor, orchestra and singers amplified the transition from the chaos (C minor) to the newly lit world (A major) . In the second act, the emphasis is on the descriptive imagery as in the portrayal of the animals: the cheerful, but rude, trombone blast of the lion, the pouncing tiger, the placing grazing of cattle, the sinuous music for the worm. The third act is less contemplative than normally performed: the love between Adam and Eve is powerful, not merely platonic; their duet is rapturous and timeless, an essential transition to the glorious final chorus.

La Vecchia and the symphony orchestra had three excellent singers to work with. Anita Selvaggio is a “soprano assoluto” better known outside Italy than in her own country. Both as an archangel and as Eve she displayed a a remarkable flexibility in the upper extension and an extraordinary use of messa di voce (a quality that many sopranos seem neither to care for nor to practice enough). Michael Smallwood is an up-and-coming Australian tenor with a delicate sensuous “legato”. David Wilson Johson is the best known of the three soloists. He once again confirmed his talent and versatility.

Giuseppe Pennisi (Based On May 31st Rome Symphony Orchestra Performance)

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):