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 Reviews

'Secrets and Lies': a terrific double bill at Opera Holland Park

If you need a sweet bonbon to accompany the canapés and champagne on a sparkling summer evening, then Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s one-act trifle is a safe bet, especially if presented, as at Opera Holland Park by director John Wilkie and designer takis, as a confection of pink and purple, and performed by two splendid singing actors.

Gerald Finzi Choral Works

From Hyperion, Gerald Finzi choral works with the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, conducted by Stephen Layton. An impressive Magnificat (1952) sets the tone.

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.

Pavarotti: A Film by Ron Howard

Ron Howard’s latest music documentary after The Beatles: Eight Days a Week and Made in America is a poignant tribute that allows viewers into key moments of Pavarotti’s career – but lacks a deeper, more well-rounded view of the artist.

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.

Herbert Howells: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge has played a role in the evolution of British music. This recording honours this heritage and Stephen Cleobury’s contribution in particular by focusing on Herbert Howells, who transformed the British liturgical repertoire in the 20th century.

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).

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):