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

ETO Autumn 2020 Season Announcement: Lyric Solitude

English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a season of lyric monodramas to tour nationally from October to December. The season features music for solo singer and piano by Argento, Britten, Tippett and Shostakovich with a bold and inventive approach to making opera during social distancing.

Love, always: Chanticleer, Live from London … via San Francisco

This tenth of ten Live from London concerts was in fact a recorded live performance from California. It was no less enjoyable for that, and it was also uplifting to learn that this wasn’t in fact the ‘last’ LfL event that we will be able to enjoy, courtesy of VOCES8 and their fellow vocal ensembles (more below …).

Dreams and delusions from Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper at Wigmore Hall

Ever since Wigmore Hall announced their superb series of autumn concerts, all streamed live and available free of charge, I’d been looking forward to this song recital by Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper.

Treasures of the English Renaissance: Stile Antico, Live from London

Although Stile Antico’s programme article for their Live from London recital introduced their selection from the many treasures of the English Renaissance in the context of the theological debates and upheavals of the Tudor and Elizabethan years, their performance was more evocative of private chamber music than of public liturgy.

A wonderful Wigmore Hall debut by Elizabeth Llewellyn

Evidently, face masks don’t stifle appreciative “Bravo!”s. And, reducing audience numbers doesn’t lower the volume of such acclamations. For, the audience at Wigmore Hall gave soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and pianist Simon Lepper a greatly deserved warm reception and hearty response following this lunchtime recital of late-Romantic song.

The Sixteen: Music for Reflection, live from Kings Place

For this week’s Live from London vocal recital we moved from the home of VOCES8, St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, to Kings Place, where The Sixteen - who have been associate artists at the venue for some time - presented a programme of music and words bound together by the theme of ‘reflection’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny explore Dowland's directness and darkness at Hatfield House

'Such is your divine Disposation that both you excellently understand, and royally entertaine the Exercise of Musicke.’

Paradise Lost: Tête-à-Tête 2020

‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven … that old serpent … Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Joyce DiDonato: Met Stars Live in Concert

There was never any doubt that the fifth of the twelve Met Stars Live in Concert broadcasts was going to be a palpably intense and vivid event, as well as a musically stunning and theatrically enervating experience.

‘Where All Roses Go’: Apollo5, Live from London

‘Love’ was the theme for this Live from London performance by Apollo5. Given the complexity and diversity of that human emotion, and Apollo5’s reputation for versatility and diverse repertoire, ranging from Renaissance choral music to jazz, from contemporary classical works to popular song, it was no surprise that their programme spanned 500 years and several musical styles.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 're-connect'

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields have titled their autumn series of eight concerts - which are taking place at 5pm and 7.30pm on two Saturdays each month at their home venue in Trafalgar Square, and being filmed for streaming the following Thursday - ‘re:connect’.

Lucy Crowe and Allan Clayton join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at St Luke's

The London Symphony Orchestra opened their Autumn 2020 season with a homage to Oliver Knussen, who died at the age of 66 in July 2018. The programme traced a national musical lineage through the twentieth century, from Britten to Knussen, on to Mark-Anthony Turnage, and entwining the LSO and Rattle too.

Choral Dances: VOCES8, Live from London

With the Live from London digital vocal festival entering the second half of the series, the festival’s host, VOCES8, returned to their home at St Annes and St Agnes in the City of London to present a sequence of ‘Choral Dances’ - vocal music inspired by dance, embracing diverse genres from the Renaissance madrigal to swing jazz.

Royal Opera House Gala Concert

Just a few unison string wriggles from the opening of Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro are enough to make any opera-lover perch on the edge of their seat, in excited anticipation of the drama in music to come, so there could be no other curtain-raiser for this Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, the latest instalment from ‘their House’ to ‘our houses’.

Fading: The Gesualdo Six at Live from London

"Before the ending of the day, creator of all things, we pray that, with your accustomed mercy, you may watch over us."

Met Stars Live in Concert: Lise Davidsen at the Oscarshall Palace in Oslo

The doors at The Metropolitan Opera will not open to live audiences until 2021 at the earliest, and the likelihood of normal operatic life resuming in cities around the world looks but a distant dream at present. But, while we may not be invited from our homes into the opera house for some time yet, with its free daily screenings of past productions and its pay-per-view Met Stars Live in Concert series, the Met continues to bring opera into our homes.

Precipice: The Grange Festival

Music-making at this year’s Grange Festival Opera may have fallen silent in June and July, but the country house and extensive grounds of The Grange provided an ideal setting for a weekend of twelve specially conceived ‘promenade’ performances encompassing music and dance.

Monteverdi: The Ache of Love - Live from London

There’s a “slide of harmony” and “all the bones leave your body at that moment and you collapse to the floor, it’s so extraordinary.”

Music for a While: Rowan Pierce and Christopher Glynn at Ryedale Online

“Music for a while, shall all your cares beguile.”

A Musical Reunion at Garsington Opera

The hum of bees rising from myriad scented blooms; gentle strains of birdsong; the cheerful chatter of picnickers beside a still lake; decorous thwacks of leather on willow; song and music floating through the warm evening air.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Piotr Beczala as Roméo and Nino Machaidze as Juliette [Photo by Bill Cooper courtesy of The Royal Opera]
27 Oct 2010

Piotr Beczala: Roméo et Juliette, Royal Opera

Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette is almost more musical than opera. Everyone knows the story, and it would be hard to compete with Shakespeare. Gounod wisely focused on music, rather than drama.

Charles François Gounod : Roméo et Juliette

Roméo: Piotr Beczala; Juliette: Nino Machaidze; Capulet: Darren Jeffrey; Gertrude: Diana Montague; Frère Laurent: Vitalij Kowaljow; Tybalt: Alfie Boe; Mercutio: Stéphane Degout; Stéphano: Ketevan Kemoklidze; Gregorio: James Cleverton; Duke of Verona: Simon Neal; Paris: Zhengzhong Zhou. Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Chorusmaster: Renato Balsadonna. Conductor: Daniel Oren. Revival Director: Stephen Barlow. Set designer: Carlo Tommasi. Lighting: Bruno Boyer. Fight Director: Philip Stafford. Royal Opera House, London. 26 October 2010.

Above: Piotr Beczala as Roméo and Nino Machaidze as Juliette

All photos by Bill Cooper courtesy of The Royal Opera

 

Hence the reputation of this opera has rested on its showpiece arias, and on good performances. Piotr Beczala defined this production at the Royal Opera House, London with an excellent Roméo, well shaped vocally and expressively full of character.

R&J-BC20101022228.gifPiotr Beczala as Roméo

Beczala is relatively new to Roméo, having created it at Salzburg in 2008, and again in August 2010. Nino Machaidze sang Juliette at Salzburg this year too, at later stages of the run, which started with Anna Netrebko and Beczala. Pairing Beczala and Machaidze for the London production was an inspired choice. Although the productions in Salzburg and London are completely different, Beczala and Machaidze carried over what they’d built previously.

The London production is Stephen Barlow’s revival of Nicholas Joel’s production, revived only for the second time since 1994.The sets are like picture postcards, and the pace of movement staid, almost unnatural. It’s worrying when the most vivid scenes are choreographed by the Fight Director, Philip Stafford. Admittedly, Gounod’s treatment of Roméo et Juliette doesn’t lend itself to intellectual depth, but fortunately Beczala amd Machaidze injected enthusiasm into the production.

R&J---BC20101023775.gifNino Machaidze as Juliette

Beczala’s Roméo defined the performance. Excellent pitch control, luscious timbre. A wonderful and deeply expressive “L’ amour, oui, son ardeur a troublé tout mon être!”. The love duets were beautiful, even if Beczala overshadowed Machaidze’s Juliette. Still, that’s not surprising, as he’s just more experienced. With Netrebko he must have been superb. In the last act, Beczala’s “Salut, tombeau sombre et silencieux!,” was well modulated, emotionally profound. marred very slightly when he had to turn backwards, projecting sound awry. I loved Beczala’s Shepherd in Szymanowski’s Król Roger and enjoyed hearing him develop over the years. Romantic Heroes are now his forte, but he has the depth, I think, to eventually tackle Heldentenor territory.

R&J-BC20101023116.gifAlfie Boe as Tybalt

Machaidze looks like Olivia Hussey in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film of Romeo and Juliet, which adds piquancy to her portrayal. Her voice is light and agile, the brightness of her timbre expressing Juliette’s youthful innocence, her firm lower register expressing the wilder parts of Juliette’s character. Like many 14 year olds, Juliette does extremes, as Shakespeare observed. Machaidze may not have the polish of many much more famous and experienced singers but she’s convincing enough. When she sings of waking too soon, holding Tybalt’s bloodstained hand, she sings with such fervour that you realize that this Juliette knows what risks she’s taking. Sweet as she is, Machaidze’s Juliette has a brain.

Good performance standards all round. Darren Jeffrey as Capulet towers physically over the other players, which is as well, for Gounod develops the part well. Vitalij Kowaljow’s Frère Laurent was also notable and Stéphane Degout as Mercutio.

Ketevan Kemoklidze’s Stéphano, Roméo’s Page, makes a delightful impression in the song about doves and vultures, but artistically the vignette adds little.

Alfie Boe as Tybalt received prolonged applause which he acknowledged as if he were a principal. He has a huge following because he does popular song but that adulation might be his undoing. Not long ago a fan complained when he was unwell and couldn’t adequately be replaced. That kind of audience isn’t into opera as such, but in chasing celebrity.

R&J-BC20101022221.gifPiotr Beczala as Roméo and Nino Machaidze as Juliette

Gounod’s choruses are justly celebrated and the Royal Opera House chorus responded well. Here they were directed to maximum advantage, and as usual, their performance was well executed.

For more information, please see the Royal Opera House website.

Anne Ozorio

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):