Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

The 2019 Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance

This year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance offered a veritable operatic smörgåsbord, presenting sizable excerpts from operas ranging from Gluck to Saint-Saëns, from Mozart to Debussy, by way of some Italian masterpieces, courtesy of Rossini and Verdi.

Cilea's L'arlesiana at Opera Holland Park

In a rank order of suicidal depressives, Federico - the Provençal peasant besotted with ‘the woman from Arles’, L’arlesiana, who yearns to break free from his mother’s claustrophobic grasp, who seeks solace from betrayal and disillusionment in the arms of a patient childhood sweetheart, but who is ultimately broken by deluded dreams and unrequited passion - would surely give many a Thomas Hardy protagonist a run for their money.

Prom 1: Karina Canellakis makes history on the opening night of the Proms 2019

The young American conductor Karina Canellakis made history as the first woman to conduct the First Night of the Proms last night (19 July 2019) as she conducted the BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall with soloists Asmik Grigorian (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano), Ladislav Elgr (tenor), Jan Martiník (bass) and Peter Holder (organ) in Zosha Di Castri's Long is the Journey, Short Is the Memory (the world premiere of a BBC commission), Antonin Dvořák’s The Golden Spinning Wheel and Leoš Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass.

Barbe & Doucet's new production of Die Zauberflöte at Glyndebourne

No one would pretend that Emanuel Schikaneder’s libretto for Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte would go down well with the #MeToo generation. Or with first, second or third wave feminists for that matter.

Three Chamber Operas at the Aix Festival

Along with the celestial Mozart Requiem, a doomed Tosca and a gloriously witty Mahagonny the Aix Festival’s new artistic director Pierre Audi regaled us with three chamber operas — the premiere of a brilliant Les Mille Endormis, the technically playful Blank Out (on a turgid subject), and a heavy-duty Jakob Lenz.

Laurent Pelly's production of La Fille du régiment returns to Covent Garden

French soprano Sabine Devieilhe seems to find feisty adolescence a neat fit. I first encountered her when she assumed the role of a pill-popping nightclubbing ‘Beauty’ - raced from ecstasy-induced wonder to emergency ward - when I reviewed the DVD of Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production of Handel’s Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno at Aix-en-Provence in 2016.

The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in Aix

Make no mistake, this is about you! Jim laid-out dead on the stage floor, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen brought his very loud orchestra (London’s Philharmonia) to an abrupt halt. Black out. The maestro then turned his spotlighted face to confront us and he held his stare. There was no mistake, the music was about us.

Mozart's Travels: Classical Opera and The Mozartists at Wigmore Hall

There was a full house at Wigmore Hall for Classical Opera’s/The Mozartists’ final concert of the 2018-19 season: a musical paysage which chartered, largely chronologically, Mozart’s youthful travels from London to The Hague, on to Paris, then Rome, concluding - following stop-overs in European cultural cities such as Munich and Vienna - with an arrival at his final destination, Prague.

Tosca in Aix

From the sublime — the Mozart Requiem — to the ridiculous, namely stage director Christophe Honoré's Tosca. A ridiculous waste of operatic resources.

A terrific, and terrifying, The Turn of the Screw at Garsington

One might describe Christopher Oram’s set for Louisa Muller’s new production of The Turn of the Screw at Garsington as ‘shabby chic’ … if it wasn’t so sinister.

Mozart Requiem in Aix

Pierre Audi, now the directeur général of the Festival d’Aix as well as the artistic director of New York City’s Park Avenue Armory opens a new era for this distinguished opera festival in the south of France with a new work by the Festival’s signature composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

A Rachmaninov Drama at Middle Temple Hall

It is Rachmaninov’s major works for orchestra - the Second and Third Piano Concertos, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the Symphonic Dances - alongside the All-Night Vespers and the music for solo piano, which have earned the composer a permanent place in the concert repertoire today.

Fun, Frothy, and Frivolous: L’elisir d’amore at Las Vegas

There are a dizzying array of choices for music entertainment in Las Vegas ranging from Celine Dion and Cher to Paul McCartney and Aerosmith. Admittedly, these performers are a far cry from opera, but the point is that Las Vegas residents have many options when it comes to live music.

McVicar's production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro returns to the Royal Opera House

David McVicar's production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, has been a remarkable success since it debuted in 2006. Set with the Count of Almaviva's fearfully grand household in 1830, McVicar's trick is to surround the principals by servants in a supra-naturalistic production which emphasises how privacy is at a premium.

The Cunning Little Vixen at the Barbican Hall

The presence of a large cast of ‘animals’ in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen can encourage directors and designers to create costume-confections ranging from Disney-esque schmaltz to grim naturalism.

Barbe-Bleue in Lyon

Stage director Laurent Pelly is famed for his Offenbach stagings, above all others his masterful rendering of Les Contes d’Hoffmann as a nightmare. Mr. Pelly has staged eleven of Offenbach’s ninety-nine operettas over the years (coincidently this production of Barbe-Bleue is Mr. Pelly’s ninety-eighth opera staging).

The Princeton Festival Presents Nixon in China

The Princeton Festival has adopted a successful and sophisticated operatic programming strategy, whereby the annual opera alternates between a standard warhorse and a less known, more challenging work. Last year Princeton presented Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. This year the choice is Nixon in China by modern American composer John Adams, which opened before a nearly full house of appreciative listeners.

Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel at Grange Park Opera

When Engelbert Humperdinck's sister, Adelheid Wette, wrote the libretto to Hansel and Gretel the idea of a poor family living in a hut near the woods, on the bread-line, would have had an element of realism to it despite the sentimental layers which Wette adds to the tale.

Handel’s Belshazzar at The Grange Festival

What a treat to see members of The Sixteen letting their hair down. This was no strait-laced post-concert knees-up, but a full on, drunken orgy at the court of the most hedonistic ruler in the Old Testament.

Don Giovanni in Paris

A brutalist Don Giovanni at the Palais Garnier, Belgian set designer Jan Versweyveld installed three huge, a vista raw cement towers that overwhelmed the Opéra Garnier’s Second Empire opulence. The eight principals faced off in a battle royale instigated by stage director Ivo van Hove. Conductor Philippe Jordan thrust the Mozart score into the depths of expressionistic conflict.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Brian Anderson as Frederic, Curt Olds as Pirate King and Korby Myrick as Ruth [Photo by Tim Fuller / Arizona Opera]
24 Oct 2010

Gilbert and Sullivan opens Arizona Opera

On 16 October 2010 in Tucson, Arizona Opera opened it’s 2010-2011 season with an operetta, The Pirates of Penzance, by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

Gilbert and Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance

Mabel: Sarah Jane McMahon; Frederic: Brian Anderson; Pirate King: Curt Olds; Major General: Stephen Condy; Police Sergeant: Craig Phillips; Ruth: Korby Myrick; Sam: Kevin Wetzel; Edith: Rebecca Sjöwall; Kate: Stephanie Foley. Conductor: Joel Revzen. Director: David Ira Goldstein.

Above: Brian Anderson as Frederic, Curt Olds as Pirate King and Korby Myrick as Ruth [Photo by Tim Fuller / Arizona Opera]

 

Although the work had been seen once in Britain for copyright purposes, it was officially premiered on New Year’s Eve of 1879 at New York City’s ‘Fifth Avenue Theatre,’ which was actually located at 28th street and Broadway. Reviews were extremely favorable even though some critics noted that Gilbert had used some story elements from his one act piece, Our Island Home, and Sullivan took the music for the chorus, ‘Climbing over Rocky Mountain,’ from his earlier composition, Thespis. In December 1879, Sullivan wrote: ‘I think it will be a great success, for it is exquisitely funny, and the music is strikingly tuneful and catching.’ He may not have been all that modest, but over a century later the statement is still true.

Since, at that time there was no copyright protection in the United States, having the official premiere there allowed Gilbert and Sullivan to keep American theatrical companies from assembling their own productions and stealing the creators’ profits. Of course, American companies did eventually tour with the operetta, but at least the first production’s profits went to the work’s librettist and composer. The Pirates of Penzance opened at the Opera Comique in London on 3 April 1880 and ran for an entire year.

David Ira Goldstein, who has headed The Arizona Theater Company for the past nineteen years, directed Arizona Opera’s presentation. In this, his first stint with an opera company, he told the story in a manner that put a great deal of emphasis on visual values and there were times when he had his singers executing complicated moves while singing. For example, Sarah Jane McMahon who sang Mabel turned cartwheels during an aria. She has a fine voice, however, and her parody of Lucia di Lammermoor made one wonder what she could do with a serious rendition of that role. Brian Anderson has a rich, clear tenor voice and he was a good-looking Frederic who did not perform any acrobatics but proved to be a skilled swordsman. The best dancer of the cast was Curt Olds as the Pirate King who also sang with excellent diction and a secure line.

The real revelation of the evening was hearing veteran mezzo Korby Myrick, who often sings comprimario parts, in the major role of Ruth. Her smooth chocolate tones enveloped the audience in a wonderful elixir while she made use of her precise comic timing to put her zany character across. Hers was definitely the biggest voice on that stage. Baritone Steven Condy, well known for his ability with ‘patter’ songs and his portrayal of buffo characters was a stentorian Major General Stanley who sang the final stanza of his aria at incredible speed. With a bright red jacket covering a well-upholstered figure, he was the picture of a military man who directs his soldiers from afar. Bass baritone Craig Phillips made an impressive debut as the Police Sergeant. In a role that demanded excellence in both dancing and singing, he proved to be the master of both.

With their strong performances in this show, Arizona Opera’s Pullin Studio artists: Rebecca Sjöwall, soprano, as Edith, Stephanie Foley-Davis, mezzo-soprano, as Kate and Kevin Wetzel, tenor, as Sam proved that they are worthy heirs of the operetta stage. We can look forward to hearing Sjöwall as Frasquita in next month’s Carmen. Foley-Davis will be Mercedes in Carmen and Emilia in the March performances of Otello. One of the true joys of this performance was the outstanding choreography by Melissa Lowe, a professor at the University of Arizona School of Dance. The movements she designed melded perfectly with both story and accompaniment. Joel Revzen led twenty-six instrumentalists of the Arizona Opera Orchestra in a virtuoso rendition of Sullivan’s score. Although the players had less rehearsal than usual, they played with admirable precision and brought out the many romantic colors of this venerable work.

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):