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

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. Sakari Oramo considers Kullervo "a masterpiece", and, at Prom 58 at the Royal Albert Hall, London, conducted it with such conviction that there can be little doubt about its unique place in Sibelius's output, and indeed in music history.

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.)

The Maid of Pskov (Pskovityanka) , St. Petersburg

I recently spent four days in St. Petersburg, timed to coincide with the annual Stars of the White Nights Festival. Yet the most memorable singing I heard was neither at the Mariinsky Theater nor any other performance hall. It was in the small, nearly empty church built for the last Tsar, Nicholas II, at Tsarskoye Selo.

Prom 11 — Grange Park Opera: Fiddler on the Roof

As I walked up Exhibition Road on my way to the Royal Albert Hall, I passed a busking tuba player whose fairground ditties were enlivened by bursts of flame which shot skyward from the bell of his instrument, to the amusement and bemusement of a rapidly gathering pavement audience.

Saul, Glyndebourne

A brilliant theatrical event, bringing Handel’s theatre of the mind to life on stage

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):