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

MOZART 250: the year 1767

Classical Opera’s MOZART 250 project has reached the year 1767. Two years ago, the company embarked upon an epic, 27-year exploration of the music written by Mozart and his contemporaries exactly 250 years previously. The series will incorporate 250th anniversary performances of all Mozart’s important compositions and artistic director Ian Page tells us that as 1767 ‘was the year in which Mozart started to write more substantial works - opera, oratorio, concertos … this will be the first year of MOZART 250 in which Mozart’s own music dominates the programme’.

Monteverdi, Masters and Poets - Imitation and Emulation

‘[T]hey moderated or increased their voices, loud or soft, heavy or light according to the demands of the piece they were singing; now slowing, breaking of sometimes with a gentle sigh, now singing long passages legato or detached, now groups, now leaps, now with long trills, now with short, or again, with sweet running passages sung softly, to which one sometimes heard an echo answer unexpectedly. They accompanied the music and the sentiment with appropriate facial expressions, glances and gestures, with no awkward movements of the mouth or hands or body which might not express the feelings of the song. They made the words clear in such a way that one could hear even the last syllable of every word, which was never interrupted or suppressed by passages or other embellishments.’

Visionary Wagner - The Flying Dutchman, Finnish National Opera

An exceptional Wagner Der fliegende Holländer, so challenging that, at first, it seems shocking. But Kasper Holten's new production, currently at the Finnish National Opera, is also exceptionally intelligent.

Don Quichotte at Chicago Lyric

A welcome addition to Lyric Opera of Chicago’s roster was its recent production of Jules Massenet’s Don Quichotte.

Written on Skin: Royal Opera House

800 years ago, every book was a precious treasure - ‘written on skin’. In George Benjamin’s and Martin Crimp’s 2012 opera, Written on Skin, modern-day archivists search for one such artefact: a legendary 12th-century illustrated vanity project, commissioned by an unnamed Protector to record and celebrate his power.

Madama Butterfly at Staatsoper im Schiller Theater

It was like a “Date Night” at Staatsoper unter den Linden with its return of Eike Gramss’ 2012 production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. While I entered the Schiller Theater, the many young couples venturing to the opera together, and emerging afterwards all lovey-dovey and moved by Puccini’s melodramatic romance, encouraged me to think more positively about the future of opera.

It’s the end of the world as we know it: Hannigan & Rattle sing of Death

For the Late Night concert after the Saturday series, fifteen Berliners backed up Barbara Hannigan in yet another adventurous collaboration on a modern rarity with Simon Rattle. I was completely unfamiliar with the French composer, but the performance tonight made me fall in love with Gérard Grisey’s sensually disintegrating soundscape Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil, or “Fours Songs to cross the Threshold”.

A Vocally Extravagant Saturday Night with Berliner Philharmoniker

One of the things I love about the Philharmonie in Berlin, is the normalcy of musical excellence week after week. Very few venues can pull off with such illuminating star wattage. Michael Schade, Anne Schwanewilms, and Barbara Hannigan performed in two concerts with two larger-than-life conductors Thielemann and Rattle. We were taken on three thrilling adventures.

Les Troyens at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s original and superbly cast production of Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens has provided the musical public with a treasured opportunity to appreciate one of the great operatic achievements of the nineteenth century.

Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock

The Little Opera Company opened its 21st season by championing its own, as it presented the world premiere of Winnipeg composer Neil Weisensel’s Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock.

Bampton Classical Opera 2017

In 2015, Bampton Classical Opera’s production of Salieri’s La grotta di Trofonio - a UK premiere - received well-deserved accolades: ‘a revelation ... the music is magnificent’ (Seen and Heard International), ‘giddily exciting, propelled by wit, charm and bags of joy’ (The Spectator), ‘lively, inventive ... a joy from start to finish’ (The Oxford Times), ‘They have done Salieri proud’ (The Arts Desk) and ‘an enthusiastic performance of riotously spirited music’ (Opera Britannia) were just some of the superlative compliments festooned by the critical press.

The nature of narropera?

How many singers does it take to make an opera? There are single-role operas - Schönberg’s Erwartung (1924) and Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies (1969) spring immediately to mind - and there are operas that just require a pair of performers, such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart i Salieri (1897) or The Telephone by Menotti (1947).

A Christmas Festival: La Nuova Musica at St John's Smith Square

Now in its 31st year, the 2016 Christmas Festival at St John’s Smith Square has offered sixteen concerts performed by diverse ensembles, among them: the choirs of King’s College, London and Merton College, Oxford; Christchurch Cathedral Choir, Oxford; The Gesualdo Six; The Cardinall’s Musick; The Tallis Scholars; the choirs of Trinity College and Clare College, Cambridge; Tenebrae; Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightment.

Fleming's Farewell to London: Der Rosenkavalier at the ROH

As 2016 draws to a close, we stand on the cusp of a post-Europe, pre-Trump world. Perhaps we will look back on current times with the nostalgic romanticism of Richard Strauss’s 1911 paean to past glories, comforts and certainties: Der Rosenkavalier.

Loft Opera’s Macbeth: Go for the Singing, Not the Experience

Ah, Loft Opera. It’s part of the experience to wander down many dark streets, confused and lost, in a part of Brooklyn you’ve never been. It is that exclusive—you can’t even find the performance!

A clipped Walküre in Amsterdam

Let’s start by getting a couple of gripes out of the way. First, the final act of Die Walküre does not constitute a full-length concert, even with a distinguished cast and orchestra, and with animated drawings fluttering on a giant screen.

A Leonard Bernstein Delight

When you combine two charismatic New York stage divas with the artistry of Los Angeles Opera, you have a mix that explodes into singing, dancing and an evening of superb entertainment.

An English Winter Journey

Roderick Williams’ and Julius Drake’s English Winter Journey seems such a perfect concept that one wonders why no one had previously thought of compiling a sequence of 24 songs by English composers to mirror, complement and discourse with Schubert’s song-cycle of love and loss.

History Repeating Itself: Prokofiev’s Semyon Kotko, Amsterdam Concertgebouw

A historical afternoon at the NTR Saturday Matinee occurred with an epic concert version of Prokofiev’s Soviet Opera Semyon Kotko.

L’amour de loin at the Metropolitan Opera

Opening night at the Metropolitan is a gleeful occasion even when the composer is long gone, but December 1st was an opening for a living composer who has been making waves around the world and is, gasp, a woman — the second woman composer ever to have an opera presented at the Met.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Carlos Kalmar [Photo by Michael Jones]
18 Aug 2010

Mozart and Rossini Finales at Grant Park, Chicago

During a recent concert at the Grant Park Music Festival, held on this occasion in the adjacent Harris Theater, members of the Ryan Opera Center of Lyric Opera of Chicago presented ensembles from four operas, two each by Mozart and by Rossini.

Rossini: La Cenerentola, Finale Act 1; Mozart: Don Giovanni, Finale; Rossini: L’Italiana in Algieri, Finale Act 1; Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro, Finale Act 2.

Click here for program notes with cast lists.

Above: Carlos Kalmar [Photo by Michael Jones]

 

The finales from Act I of Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Act II of Don Giovanni were featured in the fist half of the program; after intermission, the finales from Act I of L’Italiana in Algeri and Act II of Le Nozze di Figaro concluded the program. Carlos Kalmar conducted the Grant Park Orchestra.

Already in the first ensemble from La Cenerentola a strong impression was made by the individual voices and their abilities to interact in the collective spirit of the composition. Tenor René Barbera and baritone Paul La Rosa began the famous “Zitto, zitto: piano, piano” [“Hush, hush: softly, softly”] as the characters Don Ramiro and Dandini evaluate Cinderella’s step-sisters. Both men showed appropriate dramatic sensitivity, just as the sisters Clorinda and Tisbe, sung by Jennifer Jakob and Katherine Lerner, entered with their frenetic appeals and comments. Ms. Jakob and Ms. Lerner acted well with their accomplished voices, with the others all leading to an announcement by Alidoro that a “dama incognita” [“an unknown woman”] had arrived at the festivity. In the role of Alidoro, Evan Boyer displayed a sonorous and eloquent bass-baritone voice which he used to good effect in this important role. Attention then centered on the Cenerentola of Emily Fons, who entered the stage with both lyrical and physical grace. As her presence increased, Ms. Fons enhanced the impression she gave with an assured vocal technique and a mezzo-soprano range with an upper extension equal to the demands of so many female Rossinian lead roles. Her decorations on “Sprezzo” [“I scorn”] and “rispetto” [“respect”] were impeccable and sung with a florid and clearly traced line. Don Ramiro’s reaction to the unknown woman led to a well-rehearsed conclusion in which all delivered their impressions of confused gaiety.

In the finale from Don Giovanni several of the above singers were joined by additional members of the Ryan Center. After a bright orchestral introduction under Kalmar’s direction Mr. La Rosa gave a lyrical and confident assumption of the role of Don Giovanni. His Leporello was sung by Sam Handley, whose deeper and equally well-schooled bass-baritone made him a believable foil to the Don. Ms. Fons took on the role of Donna Elvira with superbly dramatic top notes in her fervent appeals; Amanda Majeski sang Donna Anna with an exquisite sense of pitch and believable dramatic poise, both qualities so vital to the wronged noblewoman. Craig Irvin gave solid and even intonation to the role of the statue, and Ms. Jakob was a sprightly, memorable Zerlina.

In the second half of the program several singers shifted to leading roles in the excerpt from L’Italiana in Algeri. Ms. Lerner delighted as Isabella with her combination of acting and descent to a lower register, while Ms. Fons and Ms. Jakob sang smaller yet important roles contributing to the atmosphere of the Eastern court where Isabella, the Italiana, is captive. Perhaps most impressive in this scene was Mr. Handley’s fluid, seamless approach to the bass role of the Mustafá. So often taken simply as a comic part, it is refreshing to hear a truly fine, young basso cantante give lyrical expression to the ruler’s yearnings. The onomatopoetic conclusion received a dramatically disciplined and comic touch.

The final selection from Act II of Le Nozze di Figaro featured Mr. La Rosa as the Count and Ms. Majeski as the Countess. Both sang committed, believable performances as the noble couple caught in their own misunderstandings and comic, marital deceptions. The supporting characters, especially the Susanna of Ms. Jakob, lent a sense of collective confusion in the spirit of Mozart’s delightful ensemble writing. The Grant Park Music Festival is to be commended for showcasing the talents of these performers who have distinguished themselves in such a variety of operatic roles.

Salvatore Calomino

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):