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

Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida at the Wigmore Hall

The journey is always the same, and never the same. As Ian Bostridge remarks, at the end of his prize-winning book Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession, when the wanderer asks Der Leiermann, “Will you play your hurdy-gurdy to my songs?”, in the final song of Winterreise, the ‘crazy but logical procedure would be to go right back to the beginning of the whole cycle and start all over again’.

Turandot in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera wrapped up its 95th fall opera season just now with a bang up Turandot. It has been a season of hopeful hints that this venerable company may regain some of its former luster.

Daniel Michieletto's Cav and Pag returns to Covent Garden

It felt rather decadent to be sitting in an opera house at 12pm. Even more so given the passion-fuelled excesses of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, which might seem rather too sensual and savage for mid-day consumption.

Manitoba Opera: Madama Butterfly

Manitoba Opera opened its 45th season with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly proving that the aching heart as expressed through art knows no racial or cultural divide, with the Italian composer’s self-avowed favourite opera still able to spread its poetic wings across time and space since its Milan premiere in 1904.

Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake celebrate 25 years of music-making

In 1992, concert promoter Heinz Liebrecht introduced pianist Julius Drake to tenor Ian Bostridge and an acclaimed, inspiring musical partnership was born. On Wenlock Edge formed part of their first programme, at Holkham Hall in Norfolk; and, so, in this recital at Middle Temple Hall, celebrating their 25 years of music-making, the duo included Vaughan Williams’ Housman settings for tenor, piano and string quartet alongside works with a seventeenth-century origin or flavour.

Girls of the Golden West in San Francisco

Not many (maybe any) of the new operas presented by San Francisco Opera over the past 10 years would lure me to the War Memorial Opera House a second time around. But for Girls of the Golden West just now I would be there again tomorrow night and the next, and I am eagerly awaiting all future productions.

DiDonato is superb in Semiramide at Covent Garden

It’s taken a while for Rossini’s Semiramide to reach the Covent Garden stage. The last of the operas which Rossini composed for Italian theatres between 1810-1823, Semiramide has had only one outing at the Royal Opera House since 1887, and that was a concert version in 1986.

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Philippe Jaroussky and Ensemble Artaserse at the Wigmore Hall

‘His master’s masterpiece, the work of heaven’: ‘a common fountain’ from which flow ‘pure silver drops’. At the risk of effulgent hyperbole, I’d suggest that Antonio’s image of the blessed governance and purifying power of the French court - in the opening scene of Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi - is also a perfect metaphor for the voice of French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, as it slips through Handel’s roulades like a silken ribbon.

La Rondine Takes Flight in San Jose

Kudos to San Jose Opera for offering up a wholly winning, consistently captivating new production of Puccini’s seldom performed La Rondine.

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Clonter Opera Gala

Clonter’s Opera Gala in the breath-taking beautiful ball-room at the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair was a glamorously glittering smattering of opera – which made me want to run out to every opera in town.  

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

A New Die Walküre at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the start of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s splendid, new production of Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre conflict and resolution are portrayed throughout with moving intensity. The central character Brünnhilde is sung by Christine Goerke and her father Wotan by Eric Owens.

As One a Haunting Success in San Diego

San Diego Opera has mined solid gold with its mesmerizing and affecting production of As One, a part of their innovative ‘Detour Series.’

OLF: Songs by Tchaikovsky, Anton Rubinstein, Rachmaninov and Georgy Sviridov

Compared to the oft-explored world of German lieder and French chansons, the songs of Russia are unfairly neglected in recordings and in the concert hall. The raw emotion and expansive lyricism present in much of this repertoire was clearly in evidence at the Holywell Music Room for the penultimate day of the celebrated Oxford Lieder Festival.

Stockhausen’s STIMMUNG and COSMIC PULSES at the Barbican.

This concert was an event on several levels - marking a decade since the death of Stockhausen, the fortieth anniversary (almost to the day) since Singcircle first performed STIMMUNG (at the Round House), and their final public performance of the piece. It was also a rare opportunity to hear (and see) Stockhausen’s last completed purely electronic work, COSMIC PULSES - an overwhelming visual and aural experience that anyone who was at this concert will long remember.

Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers’ Competition 2017 - Winner Announced

Bampton Classical Opera is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2017 Young Singers’ Competition is mezzo-soprano Emma Stannard and the runner-up is tenor Wagner Moreira. The winner of the accompanists’ prize, a new category this year, is Keval Shah.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Christine Brewer [Photo by Tim Fuller / Arizona Opera]
17 Mar 2010

Concert of Arias by Arizona Opera

Advertised as ‘ A night of powerful music with today’s superstars,’ Arizona Opera’s concert of opera arias definitely lived up to those words.

Arias by Arizona Opera

Christine Brewer, Dolora Zajick (March 6, 12, 14), Daveda Karanas (March 7, 13), Richard Margison and Gordon Hawkins. Arizona Opera. Joel Revzen: Conductor.

Above: Christine Brewer

All photos by Tim Fuller / Arizona Opera

 

Generally, one goes to the opera to hear an entire masterwork, but here we were treated to a succession of the arias and ensembles that have helped to make the operas which contain them famous. It was a perfect program for introducing people to opera and quite a few young faces were to be seen in both the Tucson and Phoenix theaters.

On March 6 in Tucson and March 12 in Phoenix, Arizona Opera presented this evening of arias and ensembles together with a few orchestral excerpts. At the Tucson concert, mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas substituted for Dolora Zajick who was ill. Karanas won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2008 and was later awarded an Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera. She has a smooth, buttery quality to her voice and she sang the aria, ‘La luce langue,’ from Verdi’s Macbeth with considerable dramatic power. Her rendition of ‘O don fatale' from the same composer’s Don Carlo soared over the orchestration with sumptuous tones as did her lines in the Bellini duet ‘Mira, o Norma’

On March 12, the Phoenix concert featured soprano Christine Brewer, mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick, tenor Richard Margison and baritone Gordon Hawkins along with the Arizona Opera Orchestra directed by Joel Revzen. The opening selection was the overture to Wagner’s Die Meistersinger and it served to show that this group of players has become an excellent orchestra capable of playing the most complex music with ease. The brass instruments, in particular, produced a sumptuous expanse of blended sound.

AZ_Opera_01.gifGordon Hawkins and Richard Margison

The vocal program opened with Christine Brewer singing a rousing version of ‘Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin?’ from Beethoven’s Fidelio and she set a very high standard for the rest of the concert. She and Richard Margison then sang the duet from the last act of that same opera with great intensity and resonance.

Gordon Hawkins sang ‘Eri tu’ from Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera with dark and robust tonal colours. Later, he would perform Jack Rance’s aria ‘Minnie dalla mia casa’ from Puccini’s La fanciulla del west and join Margison in the duet ‘Dio, che nell’alma infondere’ from Verdi’s Don Carlo. All of Hawkins’ singing was powerful and passionate but, unfortunately, he had a persistent excess of vibrato on his top notes.

Dolora Zajick first sang ‘La luce langue’ from Verdi’s Macbeth. Her ability to act with the voice is legendary, and she put it to good use here. Later her luminous, powerful voice was heard in a riveting ‘O don Fatale’ and a resplendent rendition of the duet ‘Mira o Norma’ with Brewer. Richard Margison delved into Puccini for ‘Nessun dorma’ from Turandot and concluded with the Prize Song from Die Meistersinger. He delivered both selections with keen intelligence and blazing high notes.

The orchestra, seated on stage instead of hidden in the pit for a change, played several pieces that its members might not normally get to perform: the overture to Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, the overture to Verdi’s Luisa Miller and the Intermezzo from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Revzen is a fine interpreter of Russian music and he brought out all the fine points of the Tchaikovsky. The Luisa Miller is a very difficult piece and it served to show that this group could perform the most detailed music with consummate accuracy. Although Puccini wrote his Manon at the beginning of his career, his unique sonorities cut right to the emotions of the listener.

Brewer brought this wonderful concert to a close with a lyrical but full-powered rendition of the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Needless to say, the applause at the end was deafening, but it only started after a moment in which the listeners continued to absorb the emotional impact of the music. Next season Arizona Opera will perform five fully staged operas instead of four and a concert. Perhaps in a future year they will again give us a concert similar to this truly memorable evening.

Maria Nockin

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):