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

Christine Goerke - Strauss Elektra BBC Proms London

The second day of the Richard Strauss weekend at the BBC Proms saw Richard Strauss's Elektra performed at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 August 2014 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, with Christine Goerke in the title role. Felicity Palmer was Clytemnestra, Gun-Brit Barkmin was Chrysothemis, Robert Kunzli was Aegisthus and Johan Reuter was Orestes. The concert staging was by Justin Way.

Christine Goerke - Strauss Elektra BBC Proms London

The second day of the Richard Strauss weekend at the BBC Proms saw Richard Strauss's Elektra performed at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 August 2014 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, with Christine Goerke in the title role. Felicity Palmer was Clytemnestra, Gun-Brit Barkmin was Chrysothemis, Robert Kunzli was Aegisthus and Johan Reuter was Orestes. The concert staging was by Justin Way.

Powerful Mahler Symphony no 2 Harding, BBC Proms London

Triumphant! An exceptionally stimulating Mahler Symphony No 2 from Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Prom 57 at the Royal Albert Hall. Harding's Mahler Tenth performances (especially with the Berliner Philharmoniker) are pretty much the benchmark by which all other performances are assessed. Harding's Mahler Second is informed by such an intuitive insight into the whole traverse of the composer's work that, should he get around to doing all ten together, he'll fulfil the long-held dream of "One Grand Symphony", all ten symphonies understood as a coherent progression of developing ideas.

Nina Stemme's stunning Strauss Salome, BBC Proms London

The BBC Proms continued its Richard Strauss celebrations with a performance of his first major operatic success Salome. Nina Stemme led forces from the Deutsche Oper, Berlin,at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 30 August 2014,the first of a remarkable pair of Proms which sees Salome and Elektra performed on successive evenings

Santa Fe Opera Presents Updated, at One Point Up-ended, Don Pasquale

On August 9, 2014, Santa Fe Opera presented a new updated production of Don Pasquale that set the action in the 1950s. Chantal Thomas’s Act I scenery showed the Don’s furnishing as somewhat worn and decidedly dowdy. Later, she literally turned the Don’s home upside down!

Dolora Zajick Premieres Composition

At a concert in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in San Jose, California, on August 22, 2014, a few selections preceded the piece the audience had been waiting for: the world premiere of Dolora Zajick’s brand new composition, an opera scene entitled Roads to Zion.

Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice

This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Anthony Michael-Moore (Rigoletto) and Michael Fabiano (Duke of Mantua) [Photo by Chris Christodoulou courtesy of English National Opera]
11 Oct 2009

Rigoletto at ENO

There is something quote refreshing about the fact that a staging as characterful as Jonathan Miller's 27-year-old “New York Mafia” Rigoletto is the nearest thing to a warhorse that ENO has in its repertoire.

Giuseppe Verdi: Rigoletto

Rigoletto: Anthony Michaels-Moore; Duke of Mantua: Michael Fabiano; Gilda: Katherine Whyte; Sparafucile: Brindley Sherratt; Monterone: Iain Paterson; Marullo: Daniel Hoadley; Borsa: Peter Van Hulle; Ceprano: James Gower. Conductor Stephen Lord; Director Jonathan Miller; Designers Patrick Robertson, Rosemary Vercoe; Lighting Designer Robert Bryan; Choreographer Tommy Shaw; Translation James Fenton.

Above: Anthony Michael-Moore (Rigoletto) and Michael Fabiano (Duke of Mantua)

All photos by Chris Christodoulou courtesy of English National Opera

 

It’s doubly refreshing this season to have Miller himself back to direct the revival, as he did last season with his Barber of Seville. It is in the detail that his influence is visible; the character inter-relationships are complex and clearly drawn, and for the first time I can recall, James Fenton’s classic translation is delivered in authentically-accented New York-ese instead of generic English RP. It all makes a difference.

The sets are looking a little dated (recreating the shapes and colours of the 1950s through 1982-tinted spectacles) and the lighting could do with a revamp. Both the backstreet outside Rigoletto's tenement block and the seedy riverside bar where Sparafucile makes his nefarious living are reliant upon lighting for their atmosphere, and at the moment it's all looking a bit dull and disinterested. But it remains a strong, tightly conceived show, with seemingly plenty of life left in it.

rigoletto_005.jpgKatherine Whyte (Gilda)

In the title role was the evening's real star turn: Anthony Michaels-Moore, too long absent from London’s stages and far, far too long absent from the Coliseum. Compared with some of his predecessors in this production whose physical presence have enabled them to dominate the stage overtly, Michaels-Moore is much more subtle; his Rigoletto is a grubby little man with an undercurrent of spite, embodying everything that is wrong with the world in which he lives. And his singing is just spectacular — a masterclass in Verdian line and phrasing.

In a trend becoming increasingly prevalent in ENO’s casting, the conductor and two of the key principals were imported from the other side of the Atlantic. (Don’t British singers have few enough home-grown opportunities as it is?) As Gilda, the young Canadian Katherine Whyte is a charming performer with a lovely limpid soprano and the ideal physique du role, but her voice is a good couple of sizes too small for this house and these colleagues, and instead of soaring over the top of ‘Si, vendetta’ (‘Yes, revenge’) and ‘Bella figlia dell’amore’ (‘If you want a faithful lover’) she was lost in the orchestral texture. I would very much like to hear her in this role again (well, really for the first time!) with one of the UK’s medium-sized companies, or perhaps here at the Coliseum again in a more sparsely scored opera — I see that most of her forthcoming work is in baroque and early classical repertoire.

rigoletto_003.jpgIan Paterson (Monterone) and Anthony Michaels-Moore (Rigoletto)

As the Duke, 25-year-old Michael Fabiano (from the USA) was a great deal more successful; a bright, brash, virile tenor with confidence and macho swagger in abundance. Only his very top notes had a tendency to be too bright, almost detached from the rest of his voice.

Company regulars took the other roles, with Brindley Sherratt’s darkly malevolent Sparafucile particularly outstanding. ENO Young Artist Madeleine Shaw was a credible Maddalena. Bass-baritone Iain Paterson (perhaps the brightest star to have emerged from the Young Artists’ Programme) is a little on the high side for Monterone and he didn’t quite manage the strength and firmness of tone which we are used to hearing from him.

rigoletto_011.jpgAnthony Michaels-Moore (Rigoletto) and Katherine Whyte (Gilda)

Stephen Lord, another American, conducted tautly and with brisk tempi for the most part; the only misjudgement was allowing Fabiano plenty of rubato in ‘La donna e mobile’ (‘Women abandon us’) — not an issue in itself, but inconsistent with Miller’s famous take on it whereby the Duke calls the song up on Sparafucile’s jukebox.

Ruth Elleson © 2009

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):