22 Mar 2010
Changing conductors bring color to Dresden Ring
It was a bit of intrigue that recalled the Wagners at home back in Bayreuth’s Haus Wahnfried.
On March 24, 2017, Los Angeles Opera revived its co-production of Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann which has also been seen at the Mariinsky Opera in Leningrad and the Washington National Opera in the District of Columbia.
Ermonela Jaho is fast becoming a favourite of Covent Garden audiences, following her acclaimed appearances in the House as Mimì, Manon and Suor Angelica, and on the evidence of this terrific performance as Puccini’s Japanese ingénue, Cio-Cio-San, it’s easy to understand why. Taking the title role in the first of two casts for this fifth revival of Moshe Leiser’s and Patrice Caurier’s 2003 production of Madame Butterfly, Jaho was every inch the love-sick 15-year-old: innocent, fresh, vulnerable, her hope unfaltering, her heart unwavering.
Calliope Tsoupaki’s latest opera, Fortress Europe, premiered as spring began taming the winter storms in the Mediterranean.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary New Sussex Opera has set itself the challenge of bringing together the six scenes - sometimes described as six discrete ‘tone poems’ - which form Delius’s A Village Romeo and Juliet into a coherent musico-dramatic narrative.
Following highly successful UK premières of Salieri’s Falstaff (in 2003) and Trofonio’s Cave (2015), this summer Bampton Classical Opera will present the first UK performances since the late 18th century of arguably his most popular success: the bitter comedy of marital feuding, The School of Jealousy (La scuola de’ gelosi). The production will be designed and directed by Jeremy Gray and conducted by Anthony Kraus from Opera North. The English translation will be by Gilly French and Jeremy Gray. The cast includes Nathalie Chalkley (soprano), Thomas Herford (tenor) and five singers making their Bampton débuts:, Rhiannon Llewellyn (soprano), Kate Howden (mezzo-soprano), Alessandro Fisher (tenor), Matthew Sprange (baritone) and Samuel Pantcheff (baritone). Alessandro was the joint winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Competition 2016.
Reflections on former visits to Opera Holland Park usually bring to mind late evening sunshine, peacocks, Japanese gardens, the occasional chilly gust in the pavilion and an overriding summer optimism, not to mention committed performances and strong musical and dramatic values.
Written at a time when both his theatrical business and physical health were in a bad way, Handel’s Faramondo was premiered at the King’s Theatre in January 1738, fared badly and sank rapidly into obscurity where it languished until the late-twentieth century.
Fabio Luisi conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in Brahms A German Requiem op 45 and Schubert, Symphony no 8 in B minor D759 ("Unfinished").at the Barbican Hall, London.
The atmosphere was a bit electric on February 25 for the opening night of Leoš Janàček’s 1921 domestic tragedy, and not entirely in a good way.
Applications are now open for the Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers’ Competition 2017. This biennial competition was first launched in 2013 to celebrate the company’s 20th birthday, and is aimed at identifying the finest emerging young opera singers currently working in the UK.
Each March France's splendid Opéra de Lyon mounts a cycle of operas that speak to a chosen theme. Just now the theme is Mémoires -- mythic productions of famed, now dead, late 20th century stage directors. These directors are Klaus Michael Grüber (1941-2008), Ruth Berghaus (1927-1996), and Heiner Müller (1929-1995).
Handel’s Partenope (1730), written for his first season at the King’s Theatre, is a paradox: an anti-heroic opera seria. It recounts a fictional historic episode with a healthy dose of buffa humour as heroism is held up to ridicule. Musicologist Edward Dent suggested that there was something Shakespearean about Partenope - and with its complex (nonsensical?) inter-relationships, cross-dressing disguises and concluding double-wedding it certainly has a touch of Twelfth Night about it. But, while the ‘plot’ may seem inconsequential or superficial, Handel’s music, as ever, probes the profundities of human nature.
The latest instalment of Wigmore Hall’s ambitious two-year project, ‘Schubert: The Complete Songs’, was presented by German tenor Christoph Prégardien and pianist Julius Drake.
On March 10, 2017, San Diego Opera presented an unusual version of Georges Bizet’s Carmen called La Tragédie de Carmen (The Tragedy of Carmen).
For his farewell production as director of opera at the Royal Opera House, Kasper Holten has chosen Wagner’s only ‘comedy’, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: an opera about the very medium in which it is written.
The dramatic strength that Stage Director Michael Scarola drew from his Pagliacci cast was absolutely amazing. He gave us a sizzling rendition of the libretto, pointing out every bit of foreshadowing built into the plot.
A skewering of the preening pretentiousness of the Pre-Raphaelites and Aesthetes of the late-nineteenth century, Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1881 operetta Patience outlives the fashion that fashioned it, and makes mincemeat of mincing dandies and divas, of whatever period, who value style over substance, art over life.
Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught demonstrated a relaxed, easy manner and obvious enjoyment of both the music itself and its communication to the audience during this varied Rosenblatt Series concert at the Wigmore Hall. Erraught and her musical partners for the evening - clarinettist Ulrich Pluta and pianist James Baillieu - were equally adept at capturing both the fresh lyricism of the exchanges between voice and clarinet in the concert arias of the first half of the programme and clinching precise dramatic moods and moments in the operatic arias that followed the interval.
This Sunday the Metropolitan Opera will feature as part of the BBC Radio 3 documentary, Opera Across the Waves, in which critic and academic Flora Willson explores how opera is engaging new audiences. The 45-minute programme explores the roots of global opera broadcasting and how in particular, New York’s Metropolitan Opera became one of the most iconic and powerful producers of opera.
On February 25, 2017, in Tucson and on the following March 3 in Phoenix, Arizona Opera presented its first world premiere, Craig Bohmler and Steven Mark Kohn’s Riders of the Purple Sage.
It was a bit of intrigue that recalled the Wagners at home back in Bayreuth’s Haus Wahnfried.
Fabio Luisi, music director of Dresden’s Semper Opera with a contract that was to run through the 2010-2011 season, was slated to conduct two spring cycles of Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen with the company.
In February, however, Semper administrators signed a contract with German television for a New Year’s Eve concert by the Saxon State Orchestra, the pit band at the Semper Opera. Conductor will be Christian Thielemann, already named to succeed Luisi in Dresden in 2012. Luisi, told nothing about the contract, was understandably miffed and resigned his Dresden position — including the Ring engagement — immediately. This left the opera with less than a month to find replacement conductors the Wagner cycles.
Scene from Siegfried
In a world poor in great Wagnerians, the Opera did amazingly well by engaging several maestros, each of whom brought his particular stamp to the performances. Jonas Alber, who has conducted numerous Ring cycles at lesser houses, stepped in on short notice for the March 10 Rheingold, the opening opera of the tetralogy.
With the Saxon State Orchestra at his disposal, of course, Alber could hardly do anything wrong. Dating back to 1548, it is Germany’s oldest orchestra and among opera ensembles without its equal. Alber proved himself an experienced craftsman who brought coherence to the fragmented drama that Rheingold is.
Things moved in quite another direction when John Fiore took over the podium for Walküre. The still-youthful American, now at home at Germany’s Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the joint venture that serves both Düsseldorf and Duisberg, is a passionate conductor who brought vivid animation to the tangled passions of the chapter of the story focused on the incestuous love match of twins Sieglinde and Siegmund.
Scene from Die Walküre
Next in line was Israel’s Ascher Fisch, who although not allowed to conduct Wagner in his homeland, has built a reputation as a major interpreter of his works in other countries. (Fisch conducts the new Tristan slated for Seattle in August.)
Alber returned to go beyond himself in making the final Götterdämmerung on March 17 overwhelming.
Watching the 100-plus musicians of the Saxon orchestra from the balcony in the fury of Act Three of the opera made clear that when Wagner is on stage in Dresden the ensemble is simply a member of the cast. The impassioned involvement experienced here — four harps, eight horns! — confirmed the world-class quality of the Semper Opera, currently celebrating its 25th season in the rebuilt historic house reduced — like the rest of Dresden — to ruins in the night of February 13, 1945.
Scene from Das Rheingold
This Ring is further the first complete staging of the cycle in Dresden since World War Two. (In the earlier spring Ring Fisch conducted both Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.)