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

Bartoli a dream Cenerentola in Amsterdam

With her irresistible cocktail of spontaneity and virtuosity, Cecilia Bartoli is a beloved favourite of Amsterdam audiences. In triple celebratory mode, the Italian mezzo-soprano chose Rossini’s La Cenerentola, whose bicentenary is this year, to mark twenty years of performing at the Concertgebouw, and her twenty-fifth performance at its Main Hall.

Winterreise : a parallel journey

Matthew Rose and Gary Matthewman Winterreise: a Parallel Journey at the Wigmore Hall, a recital with extras. Schubert's winter journey reflects the poetry of Wilhelm Müller, where images act as signposts mapping the protagonist's psychological journey.

Anna Bolena in Lisbon

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, composed in 1830, didn’t make it to Lisbon until 1843 when there were 14 performances at its magnificent Teatro São Carlos (opened 1793), and there were 17 more performances spread over the next two decades. The entire twentieth century saw but three (3) performances in this European capital.

Oh, What a Night in San Jose

It is difficult to know where to begin to praise the stunning achievement of Opera San Jose’s West Coast premiere of Silent Night.

Billy Budd in Madrid

Like Carmen, Billy Budd is an operatic personage of such breadth and depth that he becomes unique to everyone. This signals that there is no Billy Budd (or Carmen) who will satisfy everyone. And like Carmen, Billy Budd may be indestructible because the opera will always mean something to someone.

A riveting Nixon in China at the Concertgebouw

American composer John Adams turns 70 this year. By way of celebration no less than seven concerts in this season’s NTR ZaterdagMatinee series feature works by Adams, including this concert version of his first opera, Nixon in China.

English song: shadows and reflections

Despite the freshness, passion and directness, and occasional wry quirkiness, of many of the works which formed this lunchtime recital at the Wigmore Hall - given by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge, pianist James Baillieu and viola player Guy Pomeroy - a shadow lingered over the quiet nostalgia and pastoral eloquence of the quintessentially ‘English’ works performed.

A charming Pirates of Penzance revival at ENO

'Nobody does Gilbert and Sullivan anymore.’ This was the comment from many of my friends when I mentioned the revival of Mike Leigh's 2015 production of The Pirates of Penzance at English National Opera (ENO). Whilst not completely true (English Touring Opera is doing Patience next month), this reflects the way performances of G&S have rather dropped out of the mainstream. That Leigh's production takes the opera on its own terms and does not try to send it up, made it doubly welcome.

A Relevant Madama Butterfly

On Feb 3, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s dramatic opera Madama Butterfly. Sandra Lopez was the naive fifteen-year-old who falls hopelessly in love with the American Naval Officer.

Johan Reuter sings Brahms with Wiener Philharmoniker

In the last of my three day adventure, I headed to Vienna for the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Musikverein (my first time!) for Mahler and Brahms.

Gatti and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Head to Asia

In Amsterdam legend Janine Jansen and the seventh Principal Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw, Daniele Gatti, came together for their first engagement in a ravishing performance of Berg’s Violin Concerto.

Verdi’s Requiem with the Berliner Philharmoniker

I extravagantly scheduled hearing the Berliner, Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Wiener Philharmoniker, to hear these three top orchestra perform their series programmes opening the New Year.

Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher in Lyon

There is no bigger or more prestigious name in avant-garde French theater than Romeo Castellucci (b. 1960), the Italian metteur en scène of this revival of Arthur Honegger’s mystère lyrique, Joan of Arc at the Stake (1938) at the Opéra Nouvel in Lyon.

A New Look at Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio

On January 28, 2017, Los Angeles Opera premiered James Robinson’s nineteen twenties production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, which places the story on the Orient Express. Since Abduction is a work with spoken dialogue like The Magic Flute, the cast sang their music in German and spoke their lines in English.

Giasone in Geneva

Fecund Jason, father of his wife Isifile’s twins and as well father of his seductress Medea’s twins, does indeed have a problem — he prefers to sleep with and wed Medea. In this resurrection of the most famous opera of the seventeenth century he evidently also sleeps with Hercules.

Falstaff in Genoa

A Falstaff that raised-the-bar ever higher, this was a posthumous resurrection of Luca Ronconi’s masterful staging of Verdi’s last opera, the third from last of the 83 operas Ronconi staged during his lifetime (1933-2015). And his third staging of Falstaff following Salzburg in 1993 and Florence in 2006.

Traviata in Seattle

One of Aidan Lang’s first initiatives as artistic director of Seattle Opera was to encourage his board to formulate a “mission statement” for the fifty-year old company. The document produced was clear, simple, and anodyne. Seattle Opera would aim above all to create work appealing both to the emotions and reason of the audience.

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part II: Kasper Holten’s angelic Lohengrin

Contrary to Stolzi’s multidimensional Parsifal, Holten’s simple setting of Lohengrin felt timeless with its focus on the drama between characters. Premiering in 2012, nothing too flashy and with a clever twist,

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part I: Stölzl’s Psychedelic Parsifal

Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB) consistently serves up superlatively sung Wagner productions. This Fall, its productions of Philipp Stölzl's Parsifal and Kasper Holten's Lohengrin offered intoxicating musical affairs. Annette Dasch, Klaus Florian Vogt, and Peter Seiffert reached for the stars. Even when it comes down to last minute replacements, the casting is topnotch.

Donna abbandonata: Temple Song Series

Donna abbandonata would have been a good title for the first concert of Temple Music’s 2017 Song Series. Indeed, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice seems to be making a habit of playing abandoned women.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

David Carlson: Anna Karenina
20 Sep 2009

Anna Karenina: An Opera by David Carlson, Libretto by Colin Graham

Reading the articles in the booklet for this set, it becomes clear that librettist Colin Graham was the driving force behind this opera's creation.

David Carlson: Anna Karenina
Libretto by Colin Graham

Anna Karenina , wife of Alexei Karenin: Kelly Kaduce; Dolly (Princess Darya Oblonskaya), sister of Kitty Scherbatsky: Christine Abraham; Stiva (Prince Stepan Oblonsky), Anna’s brother and Dolly’s unfaithful husband: William Joyner; Levin (Konstantin Levin, called Kostya), in love with Kitty: Brandon Jovanovich; Betsy (Princess Betsy Tverskoy), a famed St. Petersburg hostess: Josepha Gayer; Vronsky (Count Alexei Vronsky), an officer in love with Anna: Robert Gierlach; Kitty (Princess Ekaterina Scherbatskaya), Dolly’s younger sister, infatuated with Vronsky: Sarah Coburn; Prince Yashvin , Vronsky’s friend: Nicholas Pallesen; Countess Lydia Ivanovna: Dorothy Byrne; Karenin (Alexei Karenin), Anna’s husband: Christian Van Horn; Aga FIa Mikhailovna , Levin’s old nurse: Rosalind Elias; Seriosha , Anna’s son: David Tate; Ann ushka , Anna’s maid: Kimberly Wibbenmeyer; A doctor: Mike Dowdy; Mikhail , Seriosha’s tutor: Brad Lewandowsky. Opera Theatre of St Louis. St Louis Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Stewart Robertson.

Signum Classics SIGCD154 [2CDs]

$41.98  Click to buy

Yet the protocols of the opera business dictate that under the title Anna Karenina on the jewel case cover, the first line states “An Opera by David Carlson,” followed by Graham’s credit. Tolstoy’s name only appears on the back cover. The singers’ names, truly unusually, do not appear on either cover, but only inside the booklet - on page 9!

This has the order of commendation quite backward. A young cast, headed by soprano Kelly Kaduce in the title role, works with energy and authority to try and bring the music drama to life. The grim essence of Tolstoy’s tragedy only makes itself felt intermittently, as librettist Graham works to capture more of the novels’ complexity than earlier adaptations had, while meeting the needs of the operatic stage.

All these admirable efforts, worthy or not, are sunk under the teeming waves of sound that composer David Carlson pours forth. The orchestra always seems to be more excited about the story than the characters. Moments of repose and reflection are too few as strings nervously scatter this way and that, brass barks, and the winds twitter nervously. Some moments might be identified as “aria-like,” if not actually arias, but Carlson has no gift for sustained melodic invention. As conductor, Stewart Robinson (leading the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra), manages all the challenges Carlson’s music presents, but he can’t make it interesting to hear.

The large cast features some names that will become more familiar in the coming years, it is safe to assume. Kaduce works to make Karenina sympathetic, as the condensed nature of an opera libretto flattens much of Tolstoy’s characterization. Christian Van Horn as Anna’s unfortunate husband sings with muted nobility. Robert Gierlach as Vronsky does not have the vocal charisma to suggest the reason’s for Anna’s infatuation, but perhaps live on stage would be a different matter. In smaller roles, Brandon Jovanovich and Sarah Coburn establish attractive vocal identities.

Whether in Carlson’s impatient, hectic music or Graham’s too literal adaptation, the opera Anna Karenina makes the classic mistake of telling, not showing, as the characters and the score always seem to proclaim their feelings without actually conveying them. This would be, then, only for the most committed fans of any contemporary opera, or those already following some of these young singers’ promising careers.

Chris Mullins

[Editor’s Note: Please refer to Kelly Kaduce sings Anna Karenina for an interview of Kelly Kaduce regarding the role of Anna Kareninia.]

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):