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

Les Indes galantes, Bavarian State Opera

Baroque opera has long been an important part of the Bavarian State Opera’s programming. And beyond the company itself, Munich’s tradition stretches back many years indeed: Kubelík’s Handel with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, for instance.

Don Giovanni, Bavarian State Opera

All told, this was probably the best Don Giovanni I have seen and heard. Judging opera performances - perhaps we should not be ‘judging’ at all, but let us leave that on one side - is a difficult task: there are so many variables, at least as many as in a play and a concert combined, but then there is the issue of that ‘combination’ too.

A dance to life in Munich’s Indes galantes

Can one justly “review” a streamed performance? Probably not. But however different or diminished such a performance, one can—and must—bear witness to such an event when it represents a landmark in the evolution of an art form.

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Glyndebourne Festival Opera at the Proms

For its annual visit to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Glyndebourne brought its new production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, an opera which premiered 200 years ago.

Béatrice and Bénédict at Glyndebourne

‘A caprice written with the point of a needle’: so Berlioz described his opera Béatrice and Bénédict, which pares down Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to its comic quintessence, shorn of the sub-plots, destroyed reputations and near-bloodshed of Shakespeare’s original.

Der fliegende Holländer, Bavarian State Opera

‘This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.’ It is, perhaps, a line quoted too often; yet, even though it may not have been entirely accurate on this occasion, it came to my mind. Its accuracy might be questioned in several respects.

Evergreen Baby in Colorado

Central City Opera celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Ballad of Baby Doe with a hip, canny, multi-faceted new production.

Lean and Mean Tosca in Colorado

Someone forgot to tell Central City Opera that it would be difficult to fit Puccini’s (usually) architecturally large Tosca on their small stage.

Die Walküre, Baden-Baden

A cast worthy of Bayreuth made for an unforgettable Wagnerian experience at the Sommer Festspiele in Baden-Baden.

Des Moines’ Elusive Manon

Loving attention to the highest quality was everywhere evident in Des Moines Metro Opera’s Manon.

Falstaff in Iowa: A Big Fat Hit

Des Moines Metro Opera had (almost) all the laughs in the right places, and certainly had all the right singers in these meaty roles to make for an enjoyable outing with Verdi’s masterpiece

Die Fledermaus, Opera Holland Park

With the thermometers reaching boiling point, there’s no doubt that summer has finally arrived in London. But, the sun seems to have been shining over the large marquee in Holland Park all summer.

Nice, July 14, and then . . .

J.S. Bach’s cerebral Art of the Fugue in Aix, Verdi’s massive Requiem in Orange, Ibn al-Muqaffa’ ‘s fable of the camel, jackal, wolf and crow, Sophocles’ blind Oedipus Rex and the Bible’s triumphant Psalm No. 150 in Aix.

Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance

The champagne corks popped at the close of this year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance at the Royal Opera House, with Prince Orlofsky’s celebratory toast forming a fitting conclusion to some superb singing.

Prom 2: Boris Godunov, ROH

Bryn Terfel is making a habit of performing Russian patriarchs at the Proms.

Des Moines’ Gluck Sets the Standard

What happens when just everything about an operatic performance goes joyously right?

Des Moines: Jewels in Perfect Settings

Two years ago, the well-established Des Moines Metro Opera experimented with a 2nd Stages program, with performances programmed outside of their home stage at Simpson College.

First Night of the Proms 2016

What to make of the unannounced decision to open this concert with the Marseillaise? I am sure it was well intended, and perhaps should leave it at that.

La Cenerentola, Opera Holland Park

In a fairy-tale, it can sometimes feel as if one is living a dream but on the verge of being awoken to a shock. Such is life in these dark and uncertain days.

Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno in Aix

The tense, three hour knock-down-drag-out seduction of Beauty by Pleasure consumed our souls in this triumphal evening. Forget Time and Disillusion as destructors, they were the very constructors of the beauty and pleasure found in this miniature oratorio.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Rebecca Choate Beasley as Cloris and Ann Monoyios as Zéphyre [Photo by Julie Lemberger]
21 Oct 2010

Rameau’s Zéphyre, New York

In sports they say, “Winning isn’t the most important thing—it’s the only thing.” In the theater, getting the show on the boards out front is the key.

Jean-Philippe Rameau: Zéphyre

Zéphyre: Ann Monoyios; Cloris: Rebecca Choate Beasley; Diane: Lianne Coble. The New York Baroque Dance Company, Catherine Turocy artistic director. Concert Royal, directed by James Richman. Symphony Space, September 22.

Above: Rebecca Choate Beasley as Cloris and Ann Monoyios as Zéphyre

All photos by Julie Lemberger

 

All else is, if not irrelevant, subservient: the look, the style, the star, the archival accuracy. You can pull any strings you like; just get out there and dance. Or sing.

For instance: You have rehearsed your company of dancers to present a court opera-ballet of mid-eighteenth century Versailles and you have got the proper sort of band to play it, and the dancers trained in the proper style, the graceful mincing steps, half-mime, half-dance, including the sheep and goats who stalk like sheep and goats with a dainty little waver-step, and attendants to the wind god who spread their violet cloaks as they leap into the air—but you have no tenor to sing the title role of the amorous (and, meteorologists tell us, prevailing) West Wind. Now, Rameau is no stand-up-and-belt opera composer. Refinement of accent and affect is called for to put him across. The voice need not—should not—be enormous, but the clarity of feeling as expressed by melody and ornament and pose are necessary to make the proper case for his elegant music. These are skills not often demanded of singers who prepare for opera; they are more suitable to Early Music singers, happily a far from rare breed in this new era.

So Catherine Turocy’s New York Baroque Dance Company, finding itself untenored, constructed its production of Rameau’s Zéphyre around a soprano, Ann Monoyios, once a reigning diva of the local Early Music scene, and got around the story’s mythic inconsideration with the announcement that she was portraying Madame de Pompadour, king’s muse and star of all the local theatricals in her glory days, as she might have presented a little Rameau pastorale for a few invited and exalted guests in the little theater at Versailles. Once that premise is accepted, we don’t even need to dress her in trousers. She’s in charge, she’s paying the bills, and if she wants to sing the boy’s part, God bless her.

Monoyios, whom I had not heard in decades, sounds a much younger woman than she could possibly be. Early Music does not take the toll on the cords that belting does, and her graceful phrasing, curlicue ornaments at meaningful times, and truth of character were extremely pleasing on this occasion, if a dryness did set in by the end of it. Rebecca Choate Beasley, as the object of her/his affections, did not have much to do but showed a sweet lyric line. James Richman’s Concert Royal gave sprightly accompaniment.

unicorn.gifAlexis Silver tempting the Unicorn danced by Valerie Shelton Tabor

Sets and costumes are half the battle in this sort of entertainment; at Symphony Space there was no set to speak of, but the company’s costumes (not credited to any particular designer) accomplished a great deal of scene-setting. Zéphyre was preceded by brief dances from several other Rameau works, including enough mythic animals (unicorns, fauns, gnomes) dancing in courtly but appropriate style to fill a whole new HBO supernatural series.

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):