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

Santa Fe: Secondary Mozart in First Rate Staging

Impresario Boris Goldovsky famously referred to La finta giardiniera as The Phony Farmerette.

Regimented Daughter in Santa Fe

At Santa Fe Opera, Donizetti’s effervescent The Daughter of the Regiment can’t quite decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

Santa Fe’s Celebratory Jester

Santa Fe Opera noted a landmark two-thousandth performance in their distinguished history with a stylish new production of Rigoletto.

Sibelius Kullervo, BBC Proms, London

Why did Jean Sibelius suppress Kullervo (Op7, 1892)? There are many theories why he didn't allow it to be heard after its initial performance, though he referred to it fondly in private.

Aïda at Aspen

Most opera professionals, including the individuals who do the casting for major houses, despair of finding performers who can match historical standards of singing in operas such as Aïda. Yet a concert performance in Aspen gives a glimmer of hope. It was led by four younger singers who may be part of the future of Verdi singing in America and the world.

Prom 53: Shostakovich — Orango

One might have been forgiven for thinking that both biology and chronology had gone askew at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday evening.

Written on Skin at Lincoln Center

Three years ago I made what may have been my single worst decision in a half century of attending opera. I wasn’t paying close attention when some conference organizers in Aix-en-Provence offered me two tickets to the premiere of a new opera. I opted instead for what seemed like a sure thing: William Christie conducting some Charpentier.

Pesaro’s Rossini Festival 2015

The 36th Rossini Opera Festival in Rossini’s Pesaro! La gazza ladra (1817), La gazzetta (1816) and L'inganno felice (1812) — the little opera that made Rossini famous.

Santa Fe: Placid Princess of Judea

Unlike the brush fire in a distant neighborhood of the John Crosby Theatre, Santa Fe Opera’s Salome stubbornly failed to ignite.

Airy and Bucolic Glimmerglass Flute

As part of a concerted effort to incorporate local color and resonance into its annual festival, Glimmerglass has re-imagined The Magic Flute in a transformative woodland setting.

Glimmerglass Conquers Cato

Bravura singing and vibrant instrumental playing were on ample display in Glimmerglass Festival’s riveting Cato in Utica.

Energetic Glimmerglass Candide

Bernstein’s Candide seems to have more performance versions than Tales of Hoffmann.

Die Eroberung von Mexico in Salzburg

That’s The Conquest of Mexico, an historical music drama composed in 1991 by German composer Wolfgang Rihm (b. 1952). But wait. Wolfgang Rihm construed a few sentences of Artaud’s La Conquête du Mexique (1932) mixed up with bits of Aztec chant and bits of poem(s) by Mexico’s Octavio Paz (d. 1998) to make a libretto.

Scottish Sensation at Glimmerglass

Glimmerglass is celebrating its 40th Festival season with a stylish new production of Verdi’s Macbeth.

Norma in Salzburg

This Salzburg Norma is not new news. This superb production was first seen at the Salzburg Festival’s springtime Whitsun Festival in 2013 with this same cast. It will now travel to a few major European cities.

The power of music: a young cast in a semi-stage account of Monteverdi’s first opera

John Eliot Gardiner conducted a much anticipated performance of Monteverdi’s first opera L’Orfeo at the BBC Proms on 4 August 2015, with his own Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.

Cold Mountain Wows Audience at Santa Fe World Premiere

On August 1, 2015, Santa Fe Opera presented the world premiere of Cold Mountain, a brand new opera composed by Pulizer Prize and Grammy winner Jennifer Higdon.

Review: You Promised Me Everything

Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.

Manon Lescaut, Munich

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. Some will scream in rage but in its austerity it reaches to the heart of the opera.

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Rosemary Joshua [Photo by Ruth Crafer]
19 Jul 2009

Prom 2 — Haydn: The Creation

‘I never left a theatre more contented, and all night I dreamed of The Creation of the world.’ — the view of one of those at the first performance of The Creation in 1799.

Prom 2 — Haydn: The Creation

Rosemary Joshua (Gabriel), Mark Padmore (Uriel), Neal Davies (Raphael), Pater Harvey (Adam), Sophie Bevan (Eve), Chetham's Chamber Choir, Members of Wrocław Philharmonic Choir, Gabrieli Consort & Players. Paul McCreesh (cond.). Concert performance, Royal Albert Hall, London, 18 July 2009.

Above: Rosemary Joshua [Photo by Ruth Crafer]

 

Evidently one shared by the Proms audience last night, although if we dream of the creation of the world it’s probably more likely to be in the more usually heard German edition — given Paul McCreesh’s advocacy of his own revised version it seems churlish to voice this, but there’s something about, say, ‘Mit Würd und Hoheit angetan’ which ‘In native worth and honour clad’ just doesn’t have.

What this performance did have, was stirring singing from the massed forces of Chetham’s Chamber Choir, members of the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir, and the Gabrieli Consort, and mostly stellar playing from the Gabrieli Players, with especially strong contributions from Katy Bircher’s flute and the Fortepiano of Benjamin Bayl. McCreesh has a dynamic view of the piece: it’s all dappled shade followed by blazing light, with tremendous climaxes at the exalted, Handelian closing choruses, ‘Achieved is the glorious work’ being especially powerful. He handles the intimacy of the solo parts well too, giving space to shape the phrases and savour the language.

If I have doubts about this evening, they lie with the singers: far be it from me to argue with how solo passages are managed, but it did seem odd to me that poor old Adam and Eve had to sit there for two thirds of the time before they were created — aren’t those parts usually sung by the Gabriel and Raphael? As for their singing, of course it is always lovely to hear Peter Harvey’s refined bass, and Sophie Bevan has been delighting me for years ever since I heard her RCM debut: their duet ‘With thee is every joy enhanced’ was very engaging.

Rosemary Joshua was the vocal star of course, her genuine Handelian soprano making light work of the onomatopoeic trills of ‘On mighty pens uplifted soars’ and providing exactly the right sense of sparkling lightness at ‘The glorious heav’nly hierarchy.’ Beside her, Neal Davies’ workmanlike Raphael and Mark Padmore’s worthy Uriel tended to seem rather pedestrian, although Padmore as always did his best to sound suitably heroic at ‘In native worth and honour clad.’

The Creation has always seemed to be the poor relation to Handel’s oratorios, but a performance such as this one makes not only a powerful case for its greatness, but shows how accurate Hugo Wolf was when he described Haydn’s music as ‘Sheer nature, artlessness, perception and sensitivity!’

Melanie Eskenazi

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):