Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Carmen, Pacific Symphony

On February 19, 2015, Pacific Symphony presented its annual performance of a semi-staged opera. This year’s presentation at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, featured Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Director Dean Anthony used the front of the stage and a few solid set pieces by Scenic Designer Matt Scarpino to depict the opera’s various scenes.

The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, ENO

Although the English National Opera has been decidedly sparing with its Wagner for quite some time now, its recent track record, leaving aside a disastrous Ring, has perhaps been better than that at Covent Garden.

San Diego Opera presents an excellent Don Giovanni

On Friday February 20, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a production by Nicholas Muni originally seen at Cincinnati Opera.

Tosca at Chicago Lyric

In a production first seen in Houston several years ago, and now revised by its director John Caird, Puccini’s Tosca has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago with two casts, partially different, scheduled into March of the present season.

Henri Dutilleux: Correspondances

Henri Dutilleux’s music has its devotees. I am yet to join their ranks, but had no reason to think this was not an admirable performance of his song-cycle Correspondances.

LA Opera Revives The Ghosts of Versailles

In 1980, the Metropolitan Opera commissioned composer John Corigliano to write an opera celebrating the company’s one-hundredth anniversary. It was to be ready in 1983.

La Traviata, ENO

English National Opera’s revival of Peter Konwitschny’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata had many elements in common with the production’s original outing in 2013 (The production was a co-production with Opera Graz, where it had debuted in 2011).

Idomeneo in Lyon

You might believe you could go to an opera and take in what you see at face value. But if you did that just now in Lyon you would have had no idea what was going on.

Der fliegende Holländer, Royal Opera

I wonder whether we need a new way of thinking — and talking — about operatic ‘revivals’. Perhaps the term is more meaningful when it comes to works that have been dead and buried for years, before being rediscovered by subsequent generations.

Iphigénie en Tauride in Geneva

Hopefully this brilliant new production of Iphigénie en Tauride from the Grand Théâtre de Genève will find its way to the new world now that Gluck’s masterpiece has been introduced to American audiences.

Tristan et Isolde in Toulouse

Tristan first appeared on the stage of the Théâtre du Capitole in 1928, sung in French, the same language that served its 1942 production even with Wehrmacht tanks parked in front of the opera house.

Arizona Opera presents Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin

Arizona Opera presented Eugene Onegin during and 1999-2000 season and again on February 1 of this year as part of the 2014-2015 season. In this country Onegin is not a crowd pleaser like La Bohème or Carmen, but its story is believable and its music melodic and memorable. Just hum the beginning of the “Polonaise” and your friends will know the music, if not where it comes from.

Ernst Krenek: Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen, Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

Florian Boesch and Roger Vignoles at the Wigmore Hall in Ernst Krenek’s Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen. Matthias Goerne has called Hanns Eisler’s Hollywooder Liederbuch the Winterreise of the 20th century. Boesch and Vignoles showed how Krenek’s Reisebuch is a journey of discovery into identity at an era of extreme social change. It is a parable, indeed, of modern times.

Anna Bolena at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new Anna Bolena, a production shared with Minnesota Opera, features a distinguished cast including several notable premieres.

San Diego Celebrates 50th Year with La Bohème

On Tuesday January 27, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme. It is the opera with which the company opened in 1965 and a work that the company has faithfully performed every five years since then.

English Pocket Opera Company: Verdi’s Macbeth

Last year we tracked Orfeo on his desperate search for his lost Euridice, through the labyrinths and studio spaces of Central St Martin’s; this year we were plunged into Macbeth’s tragic pursuit of power in the bare blackness of the CSM’s Platform Theatre.

Béla Bartók: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle

Béla Bartók’s only opera, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, composed in 1911 and based upon a libretto by the Hungarian writer Béla Balázs, was not initially a success.

Katia Kabanova in Toulon

Káťa Kabanová is, they say, Janáček's first mature opera — it comes a mere 20 years after his masterpiece, Jenůfa.

Peter Grimes in Nice

Nice’s golden winter light is not that of England’s North Sea coast. Nonetheless the Opéra de Nice’s new production of Peter Grimes did much to take us there.

Guillaume Tell in Monaco

Peasants revolt in a sea of Maserati and Ferrari’s.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

The Ogre [Photo by Richard Termine]
08 Oct 2010

El Gato con Botas: Gotham Chamber Opera

Haven’t you always secretly felt that singers who reach for high notes (and make them) ought to levitate and maintain themselves in mid-air when they do it?

Xavier Montsalvatge: El Gato con Botas

Cat: Ginger Costa-Jackson; Princess: Nadine Sierra; Miller: Craig Verm; King: Kyle Pfortmiller; Ogre: Kevin Burdette. Production by Moisés Kaufman and Tectonic Theater Project; Gotham Chamber Opera, conducted by Neal Goren. Performance of October 1.

Above: The Ogre

All photos by Richard Termine

 

And quiver with emotion and vibrato when they sing on the ground? The title character of Xavier Montsalvatge’s El Gato con Botas (Puss in Boots) does just that, in the delicious production Gotham Chamber Opera has put together at the New Victory Theater just off Times Square, under the direction of Moisés Kaufman, with the Tectonic Theater Project creating the marionettes and other special effects. You hardly notice the singers at times, good as they are; the Cat (and, later, the Ogre), singing in the manner of Avenue Q, occupy all your attention.

On the evidence of this score, Xavier Montsalvatge, a Catalan modernist, was more national than modern. El Gato con Botas, delicately played by piano, strings, a few almost incidental woodwinds, is tuneful, angular, swift-moving, with a Spanish rhythmic pulse. There is much witty scene-painting and dancing, and the harmonies are attractive and piquant without falling into cliché. The piece has character, but its scenic demands no doubt give opera companies pause. There’s a lively cat who dresses very well—sword, cape, plume, boots and, in an underwater ballet in this production, snorkel. There’s a rescue from the river. There’s an Ogre who transforms himself into a lion, a parrot, and a rat. (El Gato has evidently attended Das Rheingold to pick up fairy tale stratagems—or else Wagner had read his Perrault.) There’s a rabbit hunt, and lots of rabbits.

None of the magic gives the production team at the New Victory any difficulty—scene-changing interlude music just provides more opportunities for madcap special effects, and transformations are what the game is all about. There is some kowtowing to the idea that it’s a kids’ show, and several matinees in English translation are part of the run (I preferred to attend one of the performances in the original Spanish), but the kids ae just a cover story. The sophistication of the humor, the charm of the musical presentation, the dizzy delights of the occasion are much too good to waste on kids, however much they are sure to love it.

Gotham has provided multiple casts. On opening night, Ginger Costa-Jackson “voiced” El Gato, standing self-effacingly aside as the scrawny marionette leaped to capture notes high in the air. Nadine Sierra sang a dulcet princess; Craig Verm a heroically befuddled miller/marquis with a pleasant growl to alarm any cat to heroic deeds; Kyle Pfortmiller made a smug monarch, his head atop a tiny, strutting body; and Kevin Burdette was unusually serene for an Ogre whose body starts in disassembled body parts, before he comes together to threaten our feline hero. (You know the kids are going to love singing, twirling, headless body parts.)

_MG_0072A copy small.pngJonothan Lyons; Aaron Schroeder and Stefano Brancato (puppeteers); Craig Verm (Miller vocalist) and Ginger Costa-Jackson (Cat vocalist)

Where has this delicious little score with its spoof-ballets and arias been hiding all these years? I guess it’s been waiting, like a princess in a tower, for a company creative enough to set it free.

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):