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Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, composed in 1830, didn’t make it to Lisbon until 1843 when there were 14 performances at its magnificent Teatro São Carlos (opened 1793), and there were 17 more performances spread over the next two decades. The entire twentieth century saw but three (3) performances in this European capital.
It is difficult to know where to begin to praise the stunning achievement of Opera San Jose’s West Coast premiere of Silent Night.
Like Carmen, Billy Budd is an operatic personage of such breadth and depth that he becomes unique to everyone. This signals that there is no Billy Budd (or Carmen) who will satisfy everyone. And like Carmen, Billy Budd may be indestructible because the opera will always mean something to someone.
American composer John Adams turns 70 this year. By way of celebration no
less than seven concerts in this season’s NTR ZaterdagMatinee series
feature works by Adams, including this concert version of his first opera,
Nixon in China.
Despite the freshness, passion and directness, and occasional wry quirkiness, of many of the works which formed this lunchtime recital at the Wigmore Hall - given by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge, pianist James Baillieu and viola player Guy Pomeroy - a shadow lingered over the quiet nostalgia and pastoral eloquence of the quintessentially ‘English’ works performed.
'Nobody does Gilbert and Sullivan anymore.’ This was the comment from many of my friends when I mentioned the revival of Mike Leigh's 2015 production of The Pirates of Penzance at English National Opera (ENO). Whilst not completely true (English Touring Opera is doing Patience next month), this reflects the way performances of G&S have rather dropped out of the mainstream. That Leigh's production takes the opera on its own terms and does not try to send it up, made it doubly welcome.
On Feb 3, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s dramatic opera Madama Butterfly. Sandra Lopez was the naive fifteen-year-old who falls hopelessly in love with the American Naval Officer.
In the last of my three day adventure, I headed to Vienna for the Wiener
Philharmoniker at the Musikverein (my first time!) for Mahler and Brahms.
In Amsterdam legend Janine Jansen and the seventh Principal Conductor of the
Royal Concertgebouw, Daniele Gatti, came together for their first engagement in
a ravishing performance of Berg’s Violin Concerto.
I extravagantly scheduled hearing the Berliner, Concertgebouw Orchestra, and
Wiener Philharmoniker, to hear these three top orchestra perform their series
programmes opening the New Year.
There is no bigger or more prestigious name in avant-garde French theater than Romeo Castellucci (b. 1960), the Italian metteur en scène of this revival of Arthur Honegger’s mystère lyrique, Joan of Arc at the Stake (1938) at the Opéra Nouvel in Lyon.
On January 28, 2017, Los Angeles Opera premiered James Robinson’s nineteen twenties production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, which places the story on the Orient Express. Since Abduction is a work with spoken dialogue like The Magic Flute, the cast sang their music in German and spoke their lines in English.
Fecund Jason, father of his wife Isifile’s twins and as well father of his seductress Medea’s twins, does indeed have a problem — he prefers to sleep with and wed Medea. In this resurrection of the most famous opera of the seventeenth century he evidently also sleeps with Hercules.
A Falstaff that raised-the-bar ever higher, this was a posthumous resurrection of Luca Ronconi’s masterful staging of Verdi’s last opera, the third from last of the 83 operas Ronconi staged during his lifetime (1933-2015). And his third staging of Falstaff following Salzburg in 1993 and Florence in 2006.
One of Aidan Lang’s first initiatives as artistic director of Seattle
Opera was to encourage his board to formulate a “mission statement”
for the fifty-year old company. The document produced was clear, simple, and
anodyne. Seattle Opera would aim above all to create work appealing both to the
emotions and reason of the audience.
Contrary to Stolzi’s multidimensional Parsifal,
Holten’s simple setting of Lohengrin felt timeless with its
focus on the drama between characters. Premiering in 2012, nothing too flashy
and with a clever twist,
Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB) consistently serves up superlatively sung Wagner
productions. This Fall, its productions of Philipp Stölzl's Parsifal and
Kasper Holten's Lohengrin offered intoxicating musical affairs. Annette Dasch, Klaus Florian Vogt, and Peter Seiffert reached for the stars. Even when it
comes down to last minute replacements, the casting is topnotch.
Donna abbandonata would have been a good title for the first concert of Temple Music’s 2017 Song Series. Indeed, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice seems to be making a habit of playing abandoned women.
The Wigmore Hall complete Schubert song series continued with a recital by Georg Nigl and Andreas Staier. Staier's a pioneer, promoting the use of fortepiano in Schubert song. In Schubert's time, modern concert pianos didn't exist. Schubert and his contemporaries would have been familiar with a lighter, brighter sound. Over the last 30 years, we've come to better understand Schubert and his world through the insights Staier has given us. His many performances, frequently with Christoph Prégardien at the Wigmore Hall, have always been highlights.
On 9 January 2017 the London Festival of Baroque Music (formerly the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music) announced its programme for 2017. The Festival theme for 2017 is Baroque at the Edge. Inspired by the anniversaries of Monteverdi (450th of birth) and Telemann (250th of death) the Festival explores the ways that composers and performers have pushed at the chronological, stylistic, geographical and expressive boundaries of the Baroque era.
08 Mar 2010
Love Triumphs in L’Elisir d’amore at Lyric Opera of Chicago
In its current revival of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production showcases the strengths and foibles of humanity, while assuring the ultimate triumph of love.
The bright and festive staging featured, in its opening cast, Nicole Cabell and
Giuseppe Filianoti as the pair Adina and Nemorino, whom love finally unites.
The rival to Nemorino in his courtship of Adina, Sergeant Belcore, was sung by
baritone Gabriele Viviani. Whereas both suitors of Adina are making their debut
this season at Lyric Opera, the pivotal role of Doctor Dulcamara, who produces
the elixir allegedly causing love, was portrayed by familiar baritone
Alessandro Corbelli. The orchestra was conducted by Bruno Campanella.
In it performance of the overture the Lyric Opera Orchestra yielded a firm
balance of strings and woodwinds, with the oboe and flutes especially standing
out. Campanella led with tempos that allowed for motivic expression of
individual segments while maintaining an overall conception of the orchestral
flow. The first scene of the opera in this production is bathed in sunlight;
the Lyric Opera chorus in its opening number gives the impression of a
nineteenth-century village gathering. Nemorino threads his way through the
crowd of peasants and townspeople in order to snag a glimpse of his beloved
Adnia. She seems to be lost in her reading and, with book in hand, she ascends
to an elevated balcony and seeks out space for concentration. In his first solo
number, “Quanto è bella,” [“How beautiful!”] Nemorino
details his infatuation with ardent lyricism. Mr Filianoti truly gave such an
impression while lacing his verses with an admirable sense for legato.
In his appeals to gain access to Adina’s attentions Filianoti relied,
perhaps more than needed, on forte expression, a more even balance
showing itself once interaction with the other performers began. During the
following, parallel aria Adina reveals that the subject of her reading is the
story of “Tristan and Isolde” whose boundless love was engendered
by a potion. Here Ms. Cabell indicated Adina’s absorption in the tale of
the magical love by, at first, an understated approach with spare use of vocal
decoration. As Adina continues to muse and wishes that she knew more about the
potion, a troop of soldiers enters under the direction of Sergeant Belcore. In
his introductory aria he offers a token of admiration to Adina and sings of his
own love being tantamount to that of a Classical or mythological model of
amor. Mr. Viviani worked his way into this entrance so that his
elaborate decoration was securely applied to suggest an image of
self-importance by the close of his declaration. Adina does not commit herself
as a result of this paean, yet Nemorino feels that he could lose any chance to
win her love. By the point of the trio ending this scene all three principals
had achieved a vocal and dramatic characterization of their roles and
interacted well to express the hauteur of the Sergeant, the desperation of
Nemorino, and the coyness of Adina. The duet which follows this exchange
features the latter two characters in their first scene alone together. As
Adina attempts to dissuade Nemorino from further displays of devotion, he seems
willing to neglect even the fortunes of an ailing uncle. Filianoti sang
graceful arching lines in his description of the unstoppable flow of the river,
in order to describe the futility of trying to stay his emotions [“Chiedi
al rio perchè gemente dalla balza” (“Ask of the river why it parts
from its source and fountain”)]. Ms. Cabell’s voice seemed to bloom
here as she matched the touching bel canto decoration of her suitor,
even though her response to Nemorino essentially denied his entreaties.
In a shift suggesting the scene at the start of the opera numerous villagers
collect around the cart of Dr. Dulcamara, who enters from his travels with
great spectacle. Mr. Corbelli inhabits the role in all its facets convincingly.
From this point until the close of the act Dulcamara’s personality and
his influence have an effect on Nemorino’s hopes and behavior. At first
Dulcamara brags to the villagers of selling a panacea for any possible ill. Mr.
Corbelli handles the doctor’s rapid monologue with idiomatic ease, and he
infuses the words with believable posture. Once the townspeople leave, Nemorino
asks if a potion to induce love is also sold by the doctor. True to
expectations of Dulcmara, a potion akin to Isolde’s is produced: the
doctor sells Nemorino a bottle of wine and suggests that he allow a days’
time for the elixir to take effect. In the well-known duet including
“Obbligato!” [“Much obliged!”] both Filianoti and
Corbelli maintain and enhance their characterizations of a lovelorn youth and a
self-serving charlatan. Their challenging vocal lines were delivered crisply
and with sufficient independence so that each made a distinct impression while,
at the same time, being caught up audibly in the sense of a progressive duet.
Nemorino imbibes from the elixir as instructed and he becomes, of course,
emboldened in his sense of confidence. When he next sees Adina, Nemorino seems
disinterested and he declares that her emotional response will surely be
kindled before long. Ironically Belcore enters and presses his suit again. In
the trio which concludes Act I Adina agrees, at first, to give her consent to
Belcore by the following day. When reminded of the sergeant’s imminent
departure, she agrees to a marriage on this very day. Mindful of the
doctor’s prediction, Nemorino is now aghast that sufficient time will not
have elapsed for Adina’s love to be awakened by the potion. Accompanied
by increasingly rapid tempos, all three principals in this production sailed
toward the finale while communicating individual emotions as part of a larger
canvas in the ensemble. The well-rehearsed chorus contributed to the picture of
unexpected dilemmas at the close of the act.
At the start of Act II festivities for the wedding between Adina and Belcore
have been set up. While Belcore waits for the marriage document to be signed,
Adina regrets the absence of Nemorino. The crowd is entertained by a song
performed in duet by Dulcamara and Adina. At this pont Ms. Cabell and Mr.
Corbelli engaged in play-acting to suggest the amorous tone of the song, a
skillful maneuver which enhanced the tension of love as gradually depicted here
in its development. Once the notary arrives to seal the marriage, Adina finds
further reason to delay her agreement. She leaves Dulcamara alone at the
banquet until Nemorino appears to beg more of the elixir. Since he has no cash
to buy the potion, Nemorino sells his time to the army: Belcore gives him
twenty crowns in exchange for military service. In these two scenes Filianoti
showed a skillful application of vocal colors, first in his exchange with
Dulcamara followed by the pointed duet with the sergeant. Once the news that
Nemorino’s wealthy relative has passed away is communicated by the
village girl Giannetta, the youth returns under the influence of the elixir. In
the role of Giannetta, Angela Mannino gave full-voiced lyrical expression to a
memorable characterization. Now many of the women in the village vie for
Nemorino’s attentions, as Adina must rely on her own charms to settle the
emotional quandary. In their final solo numbers of the act both Filianoti and
Cabell demonstrated their skills at this repertoire. “Una furtiva
lagrima” [“A furtive tear”] was performed with great pathos,
a superior command of legato, and an effective use of
diminuendo toward the close. Ms. Cabell’s ultimate declaration
of her love was sung with appropriate and well-executed decoration as well as
carefully observed shifts in tempo during the course of the aria. The assembly
of well-wishers provided a happy ending as Dulcamara, initiator of the elixir,
departs upon having completed his task.
Click here for a photo gallery and other information regarding this production.