Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Aureliano in Palmira in Pesaro

Ossia Il barbiere di Siviglia. Why waste a good tune.

Britten War Requiem - Andris Nelsons, CBSO, BBC Prom 47

In light of the 2012 half-centenary of the premiere in the newly re-built Coventry Cathedral of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, the 2013 centennial celebrations of the composer’s own birth, and this year’s commemorations of the commencement of WW1, it is perhaps not surprising that the War Requiem - a work which was long in gestation and which might be seen as a summation of the composer’s musical, political and personal concerns - has been fairly frequently programmed of late. And, given the large, multifarious forces required, the potent juxtaposition of searing English poetry and liturgical Latin, and the profound resonances of the circumstances of the work’s commission and premiere, it would be hard to find a performance, as William Mann declared following the premiere, which was not a ‘momentous occasion’.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Pesaro

Both by default and by merit Il barbiere di Siviglia is the hit of the thirty-fifth Rossini Opera Festival. But did anyone really want, and did the world really need yet another production of this old warhorse?

Armida in Pesaro

Armida (1817) is the third of Rossini’s nine operas for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, all serious. The first was Elisabetta, regina di Inghilterra (1815), the second was Otello (1816), the last was Zelmira (1822).

Santa Fe Opera Presents an Imaginative Carmen

Santa Fe opera has presented Carmen in various productions since 1961. This year’s version by Stephen Lawless takes place during the recent past in Northern Mexico near the United States border. The performance on August 6, 2014, featured Ana Maria Martinez as a monumentally sexy Gypsy who was part of a drug smuggling group.

Elgar Sea Pictures : Alice Coote, Mark Elder Prom 31

Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra persuasively balanced passion and poetry in this absorbing Promenade concert. Elder’s tempi were fairly relaxed but the result was spaciousness rather than ponderousness, with phrases given breadth and substance, and rich orchestral colours permitted to make startling dramatic impact.

Berio Sinfonia, Shostakovich, BBC Proms

Although far from perfect, the performance of Berio’s Sinfonia in the first half of this concert was certainly its high-point; indeed, I rather wish that I had left at the interval, given the tedium induced by Shostakovich’s interminable Fourth Symphony. Still, such was the programme Semyon Bychkov had been intended to conduct. Alas, illness had forced him to withdraw, to be replaced at short notice by Vasily Petrenko.

Four countertenors : Handel Rinaldo Glyndebourne

Handel's Rinaldo was first performed in 1711 at London's King's Theatre. Handel's first opera for London was designed to delight and entertain, combining good tunes, great singing with a rollicking good story. Robert Carsen's 2011 production of the opera for Glyndebourne reflected this with its tongue-in-cheek Harry Potter meets St Trinian's staging.

Santa Fe Opera Presents The Impresario and Le Rossignol

On August 7, 2014, the Santa Fe Opera presented a double bill of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Impresario and Igor Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol (The Nightingale). The Impresario deals with the casting of an opera and Le Rossignol tells the well-known fairy tale about the plain gray bird with an exquisite song.

Barber in the Beehive State

Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre has gifted opera enthusiasts with a thrilling Barber, and I don’t mean . . . of Seville.

Stravinsky : Oedipus Rex, BBC Proms

In typical Proms fashion, BBC Prom 28 saw Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex performed in an eclectic programme which started with Beethoven's Egmont Overture and also featured Electric Preludes by the contemporary Australian composer Brett Dean. Sakari Oramo,was making the first of his Proms appearances this year, conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Chorus.

Santa Fe Opera Presents a Passionate Fidelio

Santa Fe Opera presented Beethoven’s Fidelio for the first time in 2014. Since the sides of the opera house are open, the audience watched the sun redden the low hanging clouds and set below the Sangre de Cristo mountains while Chief Conductor Harry Bicket led the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra in the rousing overture. At the same time, Alex Penda as the title character readied herself for the ordeal to come as she endeavored to rescue her unjustly imprisoned husband.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail @ Hangar-7

We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.

Rameau Grand Motets, BBC Proms

Best of the season so far! William Christie and Les Arts Florissants performed Rameau Grand Motets at late night Prom 17.

Adriana Lecouvreur, Opera Holland Park

Twelve years after Opera Holland Park's first production of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, the opera made a welcome return.

Back to the Beginnings: Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria at Iford Opera.

The Italianate cloister setting at Iford chimes neatly with Monteverdi’s penultimate opera The Return of Ulysses, as the setting cannot but bring to mind those early days of the musical genre.

Schoenberg : Moses und Aron, Welsh National Opera, London

Once again, we find ourselves thanking an unrepresentable being for Welsh National Opera’s commitment to its mission.

Count Ory, Dead Man Walking
and La traviata in Des Moines

If you don’t have the means to get to the Rossini festival in Pesaro, you would do just as well to come to Indianola, Iowa, where Des Moines Metro Opera festival has devised a heady production of Le Comte Ory that is as long on belly laughs as it is on musical fireworks.

Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, BBC Proms

Composed during just a few weeks of the summer of 1926, Janáček’s Slavonic-text Glagolitic Mass was first performed in Brno in December 1927.

Donizetti and Mozart, Jette Parker Young Artists Royal Opera House, London

With the conclusion of the ROH 2013-14 season on Saturday evening - John Copley’s 40-year old production of La Bohème bringing down the summer curtain - the sun pouring through the gleaming windows of the Floral Hall was a welcome invitation to enjoy a final treat. The Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Showcase offered singers whom we have admired in minor and supporting roles during the past year the opportunity to step into the spotlight.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Gioachino Rossini: Il Turco in Italia
20 Jul 2009

Rossini: Il Turco in Italia

If the economic downturn has canceled some opera lovers plans to attend any of the appealing European summer festivals, perhaps a trip online will find a DVD of a production from a recent year.

Gioachino Rossini: Il Turco in Italia

Selim: Marco Vinco; Fiorilla: Alessandra Marianelli; Geronio: Andrea Concetti; Narciso: Filippo Adami; Prosdocimo: Bruno Taddia; Zaida: Elena Belfiore; Albazar: Daniele Zanfardino. Prague Chamber Choir. Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento. Antonello Allemandi, conductor. Guido De Monticelli, stage director.

Naxos 2.110259 [DVD]

$26.99  Click to buy

Naxos, for example, just released an August 2007 production from the annual Rossini Opera Festival held every summer at the Teatro Rossini in Pesaro. A sort of companion piece to his more popular L’Italiana in Algeri, Il Turco in Italia shares no characters with its better-loved cousin. On the demerit side, it also shares neither L’Italiana’s memorable tunefulness nor relatively comprehensible plot. In Turco, the character of a poet almost serves to break “the fourth wall,” manipulating the other characters into providing the sort of romantic complications that inspire his art. Besides the visiting Turkish prince, a band of gypsies cavorts with the usual young lovers, and “all ends happily,” as the booklet synopsis states.

The booklet essay features too little about this opera in particular, focusing instead on a condensed biography of the composer. It is in the synopsis that Richard Lawrence identifies particular numbers apparently composed by someone other than Rossini, including the opera’s conclusion. Perhaps this particular piece did not elicit from Rossini his top-drawer inspiration, but the score never noticeably sags. A couple of seasons back Covent Garden had a hit with the opera, with a cast led by Cecilia Bartoli. Although mostly attractive and able, a lack of star-power in this Rossini Opera Festival staging mutes some of the piece’s intended charm. As the Turk, Marco Vinco has more voice (a mellow, solid bass) than personality. The roles of the young married couple at the center of the Poet’s amorous shenanigans are performed by Alessandra Marianelli, a pleasant enough voice, and Andrea Concetti, adequate but hardly distinctive. A more impressive tenor appears in the small role of Albazar. Here Daniele Zanfardina shines, especially in a very sweet second act aria. As might come as no surprise, the Poet character wears out his welcome fairly quickly, through no fault of the earnest efforts of Bruno Taddia.

The Teatro Rossini’s small stage is not exactly crowded with Paolo Bregni’s sets. A bare stone platform, perhaps resembling a wharf, serves for most of the action. A more elaborate setting for Donna Fiorella’s home provides the eye with some distraction. Santuzza Cali’s costumes are colorful if conventional. Guido De Monticelli, the director, keeps things moving, if without much inspiration.

Antonello Allemandi conducts an ensemble with the wonderful name of Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento. Naxos provides the musicians with crisp, clean sound for their energetic efforts.

Not an outstanding release, then, but a fine summer distraction, and at the Naxos price, much less damage to one’s pocketbook than a trip to Pesaro.

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):