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

West Wind: A new song-cycle by Sally Beamish

In a recent article in BBC Music Magazine tenor James Gilchrist reflected on the reason why early-nineteenth-century England produced no corpus of art song to match the German lieder of Schumann, Schubert and others, despite the great flowering of English Romantic poetry during this period.

Florencia en el Amazonas, NYCO

With the New York Premiere of Florencia en el Amazonas, the New York City Opera Steps Out of the Shadows of the Past

Idomeneo, re di Creta, Garsington

Opportunities to see Idomeneo are not so frequent as they might be, certainly not so frequent as they should be.

Don Carlo in San Francisco

Not merely Don Carlo, but the five-act Don Carlo in the 1886 Modena version! The welcomed esotericism of San Francisco Opera’s extraordinary spring season.

Jenůfa in San Francisco

The early summer San Francisco Opera season has the feel of a classy festival. There is an introduction of Spanish director Calixto Bieito to American audiences, a five-act Don Carlo and two awaited, inevitable role debuts, Karita Mattila as Kostelnička and Malin Bystrom as Janacek's Jenůfa.

Musings on the “American Ring

Now that the curtain has long fallen on the third and last performance of the Ring cycle at the Washington National Opera (WNO), it is safe to say that the long-anticipated production has been an unqualified success for the company, director Francesca Zambello, and conductor Philippe Auguin.

Nabucco, Covent Garden

Most of the attention during this revival of Daniele Abbado’s 2013 production of Nabucco has been directed at Plácido Domingo’s reprise of the title role, with the critical reception somewhat mixed.

Tristan, English National Opera

My first Tristan, indeed my first Wagner, in the theatre was ENO’s previous staging of the work, twenty years ago, in 1996. The experience, as it should, as it must, although this is alas far from a given, quite overwhelmed me.

The Cunning Little Vixen, Glyndebourne

Four years ago, almost to the day (13th to 12th), I saw Melly Still’s production of The Cunning Little Vixen during its first Glyndebourne run. I found myself surprised how much more warmly I responded to it this time.

London: A 90th birthday tribute to Horovitz

This recital celebrated both the work of the Park Lane Group, which has been supporting the careers of outstanding young artists for 60 years, and the 90th birthday of Joseph Horovitz, who was born in Vienna in 1926 and emigrated to England aged 12.

Opera Las Vegas: A Blazing Carmen in the Desert

Headed by General Director Luana DeVol, a world-renowned dramatic soprano, Opera Las Vegas is a relatively new company that presents opera with first-rate casts at the University of Las Vegas’s Judy Bayley Theater. In 2014 they presented Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and in 2015, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. This year they offered a blazing rendition of Georges Bizet’s Carmen.

La bohème, Opera Holland Park

Ever since a friend was reported as having said he would like something in return for modern-dress Shakespeare (how quaint that term seems now, as if anyone would bat an eyelid!), namely an Elizabethan-dress staging of Look Back in Anger, I have been curious about the possibilities of ‘down-dating’, as I suppose we might call it. Rarely, if ever, do we see it, though.

Holland Festival: Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, Amsterdam

Leading a very muscular Dutch Radio Philharmonic, Principal Conductor Markus Stenz brilliantly delivered Alban Berg’s Wozzeck with a superb Florian Boesch in the lead and a mesmerising Asmik Grigorian as Marie his wife.

Lalo: Complete Songs

Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement violin concerto), the Symphony in G Minor, and perhaps some movements from his ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.

Pietro Mascagni: Iris

There can’t be that many operas that start with an extended solo for double bass. At Holland Park, the eerie, angular melody for lone bass player which opens Pietro Mascagni’s Iris immediately unsettled the relaxed mood of the summer evening.

L’italiana in Algeri, Garsington Opera

George Souglides’ set for Will Tuckett’s new production of Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri at Garsington would surely have delighted Liberace.

Carmen in San Francisco

Calixto Bieito is always news, Carmen with a good cast is always news. So here is the news.

Eugene Onegin, Garsington Opera

Distinguished theatre director Michael Boyd’s first operatic outing was his brilliant re-invention of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo for the Royal Opera at the Roundhouse in 2015, so what he did next was always going to rouse interest.

Bohuslav Martinů’s Ariane and Alexandre bis

Although Bohuslav Martinů’s short operas Ariane and Alexandre bis date from 1958 and 1937 respectively, there was a distinct tint of 1920s Parisian surrealism about director Rodula Gaitanou’s double bill, as presented by the postgraduate students of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Lohengrin, Dresden

The eyes of the opera world turned recently to Dresden—the city where Wagner premiered his Rienzi, Fliegende Holländer, and Tannhäuser—for an important performance of Lohengrin. For once in Germany it was not about the staging.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

W. A. Mozart: Idomeneo
17 Jun 2009

Mozart: Idomeneo

“Mozart's first mature masterpiece,” Sophie Becker calls Idomeneo in the booklet essay of this DVD set of a June 2008 Bayerische Staatsoper staging.

W. A. Mozart: Idomeneo

Idomeneo: John Mark Ainsley; Idamante: Pavol Breslik; Ilia: Juliane Banse; Elettra: Annette Dasch; Arbace: Rainer Trost; Gran Sacerdote di Nettuno: Guy de Mey; La voce: Steven Humes. Bavarian State Opera Chorus. Bavarian State Orchestra. Kent Nagano, conductor. Uwe Eric Laufenberg, stage director. Recorded live at the Cuvilliés-Theater, Munich on 11 and 14 June 2008.

Medici Arts 2072448 [DVD]

$39.99  Click to buy

Somehow this masterpiece needs director Dieter Dorn to work a “minor miracle” and present the characters of the opera seria as “genuine human beings” (Stewart Spencer translated Ms. Becker’s thoughts). Too bad in his maturity, Mozart and his music weren’t able to accomplish that feat…

Dorn provides a staging that could serve as an encyclopedia entry on regietheater in the opera world. The overture gets a pantomime that ostensibly provides background story but mostly serves to distract from the music. The set is not just bare, but denuded, with the rear of the stage, including rigging and exit doors, visible. A mishmash of costumes (designed by Jürgen Rose) range from a Samurai get-up for John Mark Ainsley’s Idomeneo, to a velvet evening gown for Annette Dasch’s Elettra, and some hideous prints for the other singers and chorus (are the men in Dockers, or the German equivalent?). Granted, Dorn doesn’t titillate with sex as much as he might, but he does have Rainer Trost as Arbace strip to the waist and then cut himself with a knife, letting the stage blood run down his arm. In a regietheater masterstroke, for the ballet sequence Dorn foregoes dancers and has supernumeraries drape white sheets over the props on stage at that point, and then some of the singers amble on to leisurely examine the scene.

Possibly this staging felt fresh and bold seen live. As captured by the cameras of the experienced Brian Large, the affair feels dated and dopey. As is usually the case with failed regietheater stagings (acknowledging that there are successes), Dorn doesn’t trust the material to hold an audience’s attention, and so tries a bit of updating, a bit of anachronism, a lot of unmotivated movement, and hopes it all adds up to a show, coherent or not.

The musical side of things, however, is mostly strong. Kent Nagano finds a nervous energy that moves the score forward while retaining classical form. All Ainsley is asked to do is glower and grimace, but he does that well. His “Fuor del mar” is an angry roar, yet never ugly, and he has the technique for runs that sound heavier with many an other tenor. Annette Dasch doesn’t chew the scenery as so many Elettras have done. Maybe that’s due to the lack of scenery, but Ms. Dasch has fire enough to bring the role off anyway. Nagano uses a tenor as Idamante, and Pavol Breslik is excellent in the role. As Arbace, Rainer Trost has moments of roughness in his delivery, but the weakest link is Juliane Banse as Ilia, who has some beautiful music but whose pitch in unreliable throughout the performance.

The Metropolitan Opera video with Luciano Pavarotti can be slow-moving and undramatic, but much of the singing is as strong, when not superior, to this performance, and the staging, while dull, at least makes a modicum of sense.

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):