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

Così fan tutte at Covent Garden

Desire and deception; Amor and artifice. In Jan Philipp Gloger’s new production of Così van tutte at the Royal Opera House, the artifice is of the theatrical, rather than the human, kind. And, an opera whose charm surely lies in its characters’ amiable artfulness seems more concerned to underline the depressing reality of our own deluded faith in human fidelity and integrity.

Plácido Domingo as Macbeth, LA Opera

On September 22, 2016, Los Angeles Opera presented Darko Tresnjak’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Macbeth. Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave based their opera on Shakespeare’s play of the same name.

The Rake’s Progress: an Opera for Our Time

On September 18th, at a casual Sunday matinee, Pacific Opera Project presented a surprising choice for a small company. It was Igor Stravinsky’s 1951 three act opera, The Rake’s Progress. It’s a piece made for today's supertitles with its exquisitely worded libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman.

Classical Opera: Haydn's La canterina

We are nearing the end of Classical Opera’s MOZART 250 sojourn through 1766, a year that the company’s artistic director Ian Page admits was ‘on face value … a relatively fallow year’. I’m not so sure: Jommelli’s Il Vogoleso, performed at the Cadogan Hall in April, was a gem. But, then, I did find the repertoire that Classical Opera offered at the Wigmore Hall in January, ‘worthy rather than truly engaging’ (review). And, this programme of Haydn and his Czech contemporary Josef Mysliveček was stylishly executed but did not absolutely convince.

Dream of the Red Chamber in San Francisco

Globalization finds its way ever more to San Francisco Opera where Italian composer Marco Tutino’s La Ciociara saw the light of day in 2015 and now, 2016, Chinese composer Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber has been created.

San Diego Opera Opens with Recital by Piotr Beczala

Renowned Polish tenor Piotr Beczala and well-known collaborative pianist Martin Katz opened the San Diego Opera 2016–2017 season with a recital at the Balboa Theater on Saturday, September 17th.

Andrea Chénier at San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera makes occasional excursions into the operatic big-time, such just now was Giordano’s blockbuster Andrea Chénier, last seen at the War Memorial 23 years ago (1992) and even then after a hiatus of 17 years (1975).

A rousing I due Foscari at the Concertgebouw

There is no reason why, given the right performers, second-tier Verdi can’t be a top-tier operatic experience, as was the case with this concert version of I Due Foscari.

A double dose of Don Quixote at the Wigmore Hall

Since their first appearance in Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s literary master-piece, during the Spanish Golden Age, the ingenuous and imaginative knight-errant, Don Quixote, and his loyal subordinate and squire, Sancho Panza, have touched the creative imagination of composers from Salieri to Strauss, Boismortier to Rodrigo.

Bampton Classical Opera: A double bill of divine comedies

Bampton Classical Opera’s 2016 double-bill ‘touched down’ at St John’s Smith Square last night, following performances in The Deanery Garden at Bampton and The Orangery of Westonbirt School earlier this summer.

Mahler’s Second, Concertgebouw

Daniele Gatti opened the first series of Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s season with a slightly uneven performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony. With four planned, this staple repertoire for the RCO meant to introduce Gatti to the RCO subscribers.

Mad About San Jose’s Lucia

Opera San Jose opened a commendably impassioned Lucia di Lammermoor that sets the company’s bar very high indeed as it begins its new season.

ROH, Norma

The approach of the 2016-17 opera season has brought rising anticipation and expectation for the ROH’s new production - the first at Covent Garden for almost 30 years - of Bellini’s bel canto master-piece, Norma.

The Changing of the Guard

Last June, Riccardo Chailly led the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion for his last concert as Principal Conductor.

Morgen und Abend at Berlin

After its world premiere at Royal Opera House in London last year, the German première of Georg Friedrich Haas’s Morgen und Abend took place at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Der Freischütz at Unter den Linden

Rarely have I experienced such fabulous singing in such a dreadful production. With magnificent voices, Andreas Schager and Dorothea Röschmann rescued Michael Thalheimer’s grotesque staging of von Weber’s Der Freischütz. At Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Alexander Soddy led a richly detailed, transparent and brilliantly glowing Berliner Staatskapelle.

Prom 74: Verdi's Requiem

For the penultimate BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday 9 September 2016, Marin Alsop conducted the BBC Youth Choir and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Verdi's Requiem with soloists Tamara Wilson, Alisa Kolosova, Dimitri Pittas, and Morris Robinson.

British Youth Opera: English Eccentrics

“Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.”

Prom 68: a wonderful Semiramide

When I look back on the 2016 Proms season, this Opera Rara performance of Semiramide - the last opera that Rossini wrote for Italy - will be, alongside Pekka Kuusisto’s thrillingly free and refreshing rendition of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto - one of the stand-out moments.

Double Bill by Oper am Rhein

Of all the places in Germany, Oper am Rhein at Theater Duisburg staged an intriguing American double bill of rarities. An experience that was well worth the trip to this desolate ghost town, remnant of industrial West Germany.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

ArtHaus Musik 100 215 [DVD]
10 Feb 2010

Rossini: La Cenerentola

Michael Hampe seems to have been the director of choice in the 1980s for tastefully traditional Rossini productions.

Gioacchino Rossini: La Cenerentola

Angelina (La Cenerentola): Ann Murray; Don Ramiro: Francisco Araiza; Dandini: Gino Quilico; Don Magnifico: Walter Berry; Clorinda: Angela Denning; Tisbe: Daphne Evangelatos; Alidoro: Wolfgang Schöne. Vienna State Opera Chorus. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Riccardo Chailly, conductor. Michael Hampe, stage director. Mauro Pagano, set and costume design. Recorded live from the Kleines Festspielhaus, Salzburg during Salzburg Festival 1988.

ArtHaus Musik 100 215 [DVD]

$26.99  Click to buy

A series of DVDs devoted to Hampe’s stagings of minor Rossini works has been available for awhile: La Scala di Seta, Il Signor Bruschino, for example. Those productions hailed from a small but lovely theater. Now ArtHaus Musik releases what must have been a career highpoint for Hampe - his production of La Cenerentola from the Salzburg Festival, 1982. With the handsome but monochromatic sets and costumes of Mauro Pagano, Hampe stages La Cenerentola as a fairly naturalistic, slightly somber fairy tale. Only in the usual Rossini storm scene, when Don Ramiro races his horse-drawn carriage to claim his princess, does Hampe allow a broader stroke. Machine-driven wind blows the hats off the riders and the legs of the carousel horses swing wildly. The audience breaks out into sustained applause, perhaps desperate at that point for some visual excitement.

After all, La Cenerentola (with libretto by Jacopo Ferretti) takes two and a half hours to tell its familiar tale. This version differs in many details from the familiar “Disney”-ized confection most Americans know, but suspense is out of the question. Although Rossini’s score doesn’t boast the melodic richness of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, beautiful and enjoyable moments come around, with the best saved for last - the aria for the tenor that Rossini had dropped from Barbiere (Juan Diego Florez likes to include it these days) and re-wrote for his Angelina: “Non piu mesta.” Hampe’s approach has undeniable style and grace, but it isn’t much fun. In the end, with a story as slight as this, a little questionable taste would go a long way toward making the length of the opera less noticeable.

Walter Berry, nearing the end of a remarkable career, utilizes his worn but intelligent vocal skills effectively as Don Magnifico, and Gino Quilico makes for a gruff but appealing Dandini. As the two stepsisters, Angela Denning and Daphne Evangelatos don’t camp it up much, in keeping with Hampe’s dictates, with the result that they don’t make much of an impression.

Ann Murray and Francisco Araiza are well-matched as the romantic leads, for both good and bad. On the positive side, they are skilled, pleasant professionals, who know bel canto and can meet each role’s vocal requirements. Both are also able enough stage performers, moving and emoting with naturalness. Murray does better by the put-upon Angelina. In an effort to be gentlemanly, your reviewer will just say that designer Pagano does what he can to make her an appealing fairy tale princess. Araiza pulls off his transformation from servant to prince, but a blandness in his vocal delivery keeps him from total success. Neither lead has that extra factor that makes a performer riveting, fascinating. In the muted colors of Hampe’s staging, they both blend into the surroundings.

Riccardo Chailly later conducted a studio recording of this opera with Cecilia Bartoli, and the sharpness and detail of that performance is already established here, with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, no less.

Recent productions of La Cenerentola tend to be colorful, even cartoonish affairs, and a more subtle staging such as Hampe’s might be seen by some as an antidote for that sort of over-the-top theatricality. It’s all a matter of taste, but a little more star wattage would have made this Salzburg production much more memorable.

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):