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 Performances

Sukanya: Ravi Shankar's posthumous opera

What links Franz Xaver Süssmayr, Brian Newbould and Anthony Payne? A hypothetical question for University Challenge contestants elicits the response that they all ‘completed’ composer’s last words: Mozart’s Requiem, Schubert’s Symphony No.8 in B minor (the Unfinished) and Edward Elgar’s Third Symphony, respectively.

Cavalli's Hipermestra at Glyndebourne

‘Make war not love’, might be a fitting subtitle for Francesco Cavalli’s opera Hipermestra in which the eponymous princess chooses matrimonial loyalty over filial duty and so triggers a war which brings about the destruction of Argos and the deaths of its inhabitants.

I Fagiolini's Orfeo: London Festival of Baroque Music

This year’s London Festival of Baroque Music is titled Baroque at the Edge and celebrates Monteverdi’s 450th birthday and the 250th anniversary of Telemann’s death. Monteverdi and Telemann do in some ways represent the ‘edges’ of the Baroque, their music signalling a transition from Renaissance to Baroque and from Baroque to Classical respectively, though as this performance of Monteverdi’s Orfeo by I Fagiolini and The English Cornett & Sackbutt Ensemble confirmed such boundaries are blurred and frequently broken.

The English Concert: a marvellous Ariodante at the Barbican Hall

I’ve been thinking about jealousy a lot of late, as I put the finishing touches to a programme article for Bampton Classical Opera’s summer production of Salieri’s La scuola de' gelosi. In placing the green-eyed monster centre-stage, Handel’s Ariodante surely rivals Shakespeare’s Othello in dramatic clarity and concision, as this terrifically animated and musically intense performance by The English Concert at the Barbican Hall confirmed.

Riel Deal in Toronto

With its new production of Harry Somers’ Louis Riel, Canadian Opera Company has covered itself in resplendent glory.

Concert Introduces Fine Dramatic Tenor

On May 4, 2017, Los Angeles Opera presented a concert starring Russian soprano Anna Netrebko and her husband, Azerbaijani tenor Yusif Eyvazev. Led by Italian conductor Jader Bignamini, members of the orchestra showed their abilities, too, with a variety of instrumental selections played between the singers’ arias and duets.

COC: Tosca’s Cautious Leap

Considering the high caliber of the amassed talent, Canadian Opera Company’s Tosca is a curiously muted affair.

Schubert's 'swan-song': Ian Bostridge at the Wigmore Hall

No song in this wonderful performance by Ian Bostridge and Lars Vogt at the Wigmore Hall epitomised more powerfully, and astonishingly, what a remarkable lieder singer Bostridge is, than Schubert’s Rellstab setting, ‘In der Ferne’ (In the distance).

Stunning power and presence from Lise Davidsen

For Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen this has been an exciting season, one which has seen her make several role and house debuts in Europe and beyond, including Agathe (Der Freischutz) at Opernhaus Zürich, Santuzza (Cavalleria Rusticana) Norwegian National Opera and, just last month, Isabella (Liebesverbot) at Teatro Colón. This Rosenblatt Recital brought her to the Wigmore Hall for her UK recital debut and if the stunning power, shining colour and absolute ease that she demonstrated in a well-chosen programme of song and opera are anything to judge by, Glyndebourne audiences are in for a tremendous treat this summer, when Davidsen appears in the title role of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos.

Three Rossini Operas Serias

Rossini’s serious operas once dominated opera houses across the Western world. In their librettos, the great French author Stendahl—then a diplomat in Italy and the composer’s first biographer—saw a post-Napoleonic “martial vigor” that could spark a liberal revolution. In their vocal and instrumental innovations, he discerned a similar revolution in music.

Tosca: Stark Drama at the Chandler Pavilion

On Thursday evening April 27, 2017, Los Angeles Opera presented a revival of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. In 2013, director John Caird had given Angelinos a production that made Tosca a full-blooded, intense drama as well as a most popular aria-studded opera. His Floria was a dove among hawks.

San Jose’s Bohemian Rhapsody

Opera San Jose has capped a wholly winning season with an emotionally engaging, thrillingly sung, enticingly fresh rendition of Puccini’s immortal masterpiece La bohème.

Fine Traviata Completes SDO Season

On Saturday evening April 22, 2017, San Diego Opera presented Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata at the Civic Theater. Director Marta Domingo updated the production from the constrictions of the nineteenth century to the freedom of the nineteen twenties. Violetta’s fellow courtesans and their dates wore fascinating outfits and, at one point, danced the Charleston to what looked like a jazz combo playing Verdi’s score.

The Exterminating Angel: compulsive repetitions and re-enactments

Thomas Adès’s third opera, The Exterminating Angel, is a dizzying, sometimes frightening, palimpsest of texts (literary and cinematic) and music, in which ceaseless repetitions of the past - inexact, ever varying, but inescapably compulsive - stultify the present and deny progress into the future. Paradoxically, there is endless movement within a constricting stasis. The essential elements collide in a surreal Sartrean dystopia: beasts of the earth (live sheep and a simulacra of a bear) roam, a disembodied hand floats through the air, water spouts from the floor and a burning cello provides the flames upon which to roast the sacrificial lambs. No wonder that when the elderly Doctor tries to restore order through scientific rationalism he is told, “We don't want reason! We want to get out of here!”

Dutch National Opera revives deliciously dark satire A Dog’s Heart

Is A Dog’s Heart even an opera? It is sung by opera singers to live music. Alexander Raskatov’s score, however, is secondary to the incredible stage visuals. Whatever it is, actor/director Simon McBurney’s first stab at opera is fantastic theatre. Its revival at Dutch National Opera, where it premiered in 2010, is hugely welcome.

María José Moreno lights up the Israeli Opera with Lucia di Lammermoor

I kept hearing from knowledgeable opera fanatics that the Israeli Opera (IO) in Tel Aviv was a surprising sure bet. So I made my way to the Homeland to hear how supposedly great the quality of opera was. And man, I was in for treat.

Cinderella Enchants Phoenix

At Phoenix’s Symphony Hall on Friday evening April 7, Arizona Opera offered its final presentation of the 2016-2017 season, Gioachino Rossini’s Cinderella (La Cenerentola). The stars of the show were Daniela Mack as Cinderella, called Angelina in the opera, and Alek Shrader as Don Ramiro. Actually, Mack and Shrader are married couple who met singing these same roles at San Francisco Opera.

LA Opera’s Young Artist Program Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

On Saturday evening April 1, 2017, Placido Domingo and Los Angeles Opera celebrated their tenth year of training young opera artists in the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Program. From the singing I heard, they definitely have something of which to be proud.

Extravagant Line-up 2017-18 at Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, Germany

The town’s name itself “Baden-Baden” (named after Count Baden) sounds already enticing. Built against the old railway station, its Festspielhaus programs the biggest stars in opera for Germany’s largest auditorium. A Mecca for music lovers, this festival house doesn’t have its own ensemble, but through its generous sponsoring brings the great productions to the dreamy idylle.

Gerhaher and Bartoli take over Baden-Baden’s Festspielhaus

The Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden pretty much programs only big stars. A prime example was the Fall Festival this season. Grigory Sokolov opened with a piano recital, which I did not attend. I came for Cecilia Bartoli in Bellini’s Norma and Christian Gerhaher with Schubert’s Die Winterreise, and Anne-Sophie Mutter breathtakingly delivering Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto together with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Robin Ticciati, the ballerino conductor, is not my favorite, but together they certainly impressed in Mendelssohn.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Deborah Voigt as Senta [Photo by Cory Weaver courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera]
26 Apr 2010

Der Fliegende Holländer, New York

Pick the word: soupçon? snippet? tidbit? quark? to describe the infinitesimal bite of Wagner bestowed upon us by the Met this year — and we had to wait till the end of April, to boot!

Richard Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer

Senta: Deborah Voigt; Dutchman: Juha Uusitalo; Daland: Hans-Peter König; Erik: Stephen Gould; Steersman: Russell Thomas. Metropolitan Opera chorus and orchestra conducted by Kazushi Ono. Performance of April 23.

Above: Deborah Voigt as Senta

All photos by Cory Weaver courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera

 

We must be grateful for what we can scrounge, and Der Fliegende Holländer, Wagner’s Weber-like romantic fable of the vampire-like sea captain doomed to sail till he meets the woman faithful to death, in August Everding’s outsize production, provides some sumptuous music-making. Holländer, indeed, has grown sufficiently unfamiliar to New Yorkers that many members of the audience were outraged to find they were expected to sit still for two and a half hours without intermission (though you’d have to go back nearly forty years to find a Met production of the opera that did include intermissions), and several of them walked out during the second scene-changing entr’acte.

HOLLANDER_Gould_as_Erik_850.gifStephen Gould as Erik

The vocal standard of the evening was impressively high. Finnish bass-baritone Juha Uusitalo, who has been singing Wotan around Europe, gave us a suave, passionate Dutchman with a smooth, even, grateful sound. A tall man and a fine actor, he was got up to look pale, raven-haired, huge of eye and lofty of brow, rather like Wagner’s friend, King Ludwig of Bavaria — appropriately; the king drowned.

Uusitalo would have been the star of the evening had not Hans-Peter König been singing the bumptious Daland. König has one of those godlike basses (think Matti Salminen or Kurt Moll), clear and even from top to bottom, enormous but graciously so, never oppressive, never bellowed, as gently nuanced as if he were singing lieder. You will think: if there’s a God, he sounds like this. It was the A-list performance of the night.

Stephen Gould, an American tenor who has been singing Siegfried in Vienna to great acclaim, made his Met debut as Erik. An enormous figure on stage, Gould has a voice as sturdy as his linebacker build and a clarion delivery, but has a tendency to hurl it out brusquely when romantic gentility seems called for, especially in this dreamy role. His bark was not harsh but it was unfinished — which seems right for the half-savage Siegfried but not for Erik. When he sang, one pricked up one’s ears — but when Mr. König sang, pricking up of ears wasn’t necessary — the voice came out into the theater and seduced us. Russell Thomas provided an energetic Steersman, seeming a bit small-scale in such company.

HOLLANDER_Uusitalo_and_Voig.gif Deborah Voigt as Senta and Juha Uusitalo as the Dutchman

Deborah Voigt sang her first staged Senta. She looked good and hurled herself ardently about the room — at one point bringing the house to giggles, unintentionally one supposes: As Erik described his dream of the arrival of the Dutchman, she abruptly “assumed the position,” head back, legs spread, in anticipation. Her voice, though, was not in happy estate, stringy and unattractive for much of the night and occasionally flat. She nailed the “treu” on her final “treue als dem Tod,” but it was a bit late in the evening to rescue this heroic figure. Senta is a young girl with an earth mother coiled audibly within her, bursting out into thrilling cries. Senta — indeed Wagner — is not a good choice for Voigt’s instrument these days.

HOLLANDER_Thomas_and_Konig_.gifHans-Peter König as Daland and Russell Thomas as the Steersman

In the pit, Kazushi Ono, undeterred by occasional intrusive applause and the departure of those unwilling to do without intermissions, kept the oceanic rhythms of this nautical ghost story in driving motion. The only sounds one regretted were not in his department at all — the squeak of the metal gangway as it descended to the stage in Act I. It has indeed been years since its last use (seven by the story, ten at the Met), and we had an undesired squealing obbligato. This however had been oiled away by the final scene — good catch, Met crew!

John Yohalem

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):