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

West Wind: A new song-cycle by Sally Beamish

In a recent article in BBC Music Magazine tenor James Gilchrist reflected on the reason why early-nineteenth-century England produced no corpus of art song to match the German lieder of Schumann, Schubert and others, despite the great flowering of English Romantic poetry during this period.

Florencia en el Amazonas, NYCO

With the New York Premiere of Florencia en el Amazonas, the New York City Opera Steps Out of the Shadows of the Past

Idomeneo, re di Creta, Garsington

Opportunities to see Idomeneo are not so frequent as they might be, certainly not so frequent as they should be.

Don Carlo in San Francisco

Not merely Don Carlo, but the five-act Don Carlo in the 1886 Modena version! The welcomed esotericism of San Francisco Opera’s extraordinary spring season.

Jenůfa in San Francisco

The early summer San Francisco Opera season has the feel of a classy festival. There is an introduction of Spanish director Calixto Bieito to American audiences, a five-act Don Carlo and two awaited, inevitable role debuts, Karita Mattila as Kostelnička and Malin Bystrom as Janacek's Jenůfa.

Musings on the “American Ring

Now that the curtain has long fallen on the third and last performance of the Ring cycle at the Washington National Opera (WNO), it is safe to say that the long-anticipated production has been an unqualified success for the company, director Francesca Zambello, and conductor Philippe Auguin.

Nabucco, Covent Garden

Most of the attention during this revival of Daniele Abbado’s 2013 production of Nabucco has been directed at Plácido Domingo’s reprise of the title role, with the critical reception somewhat mixed.

Tristan, English National Opera

My first Tristan, indeed my first Wagner, in the theatre was ENO’s previous staging of the work, twenty years ago, in 1996. The experience, as it should, as it must, although this is alas far from a given, quite overwhelmed me.

The Cunning Little Vixen, Glyndebourne

Four years ago, almost to the day (13th to 12th), I saw Melly Still’s production of The Cunning Little Vixen during its first Glyndebourne run. I found myself surprised how much more warmly I responded to it this time.

London: A 90th birthday tribute to Horovitz

This recital celebrated both the work of the Park Lane Group, which has been supporting the careers of outstanding young artists for 60 years, and the 90th birthday of Joseph Horovitz, who was born in Vienna in 1926 and emigrated to England aged 12.

Opera Las Vegas: A Blazing Carmen in the Desert

Headed by General Director Luana DeVol, a world-renowned dramatic soprano, Opera Las Vegas is a relatively new company that presents opera with first-rate casts at the University of Las Vegas’s Judy Bayley Theater. In 2014 they presented Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and in 2015, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. This year they offered a blazing rendition of Georges Bizet’s Carmen.

La bohème, Opera Holland Park

Ever since a friend was reported as having said he would like something in return for modern-dress Shakespeare (how quaint that term seems now, as if anyone would bat an eyelid!), namely an Elizabethan-dress staging of Look Back in Anger, I have been curious about the possibilities of ‘down-dating’, as I suppose we might call it. Rarely, if ever, do we see it, though.

Holland Festival: Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, Amsterdam

Leading a very muscular Dutch Radio Philharmonic, Principal Conductor Markus Stenz brilliantly delivered Alban Berg’s Wozzeck with a superb Florian Boesch in the lead and a mesmerising Asmik Grigorian as Marie his wife.

Lalo: Complete Songs

Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement violin concerto), the Symphony in G Minor, and perhaps some movements from his ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.

Pietro Mascagni: Iris

There can’t be that many operas that start with an extended solo for double bass. At Holland Park, the eerie, angular melody for lone bass player which opens Pietro Mascagni’s Iris immediately unsettled the relaxed mood of the summer evening.

L’italiana in Algeri, Garsington Opera

George Souglides’ set for Will Tuckett’s new production of Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri at Garsington would surely have delighted Liberace.

Carmen in San Francisco

Calixto Bieito is always news, Carmen with a good cast is always news. So here is the news.

Eugene Onegin, Garsington Opera

Distinguished theatre director Michael Boyd’s first operatic outing was his brilliant re-invention of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo for the Royal Opera at the Roundhouse in 2015, so what he did next was always going to rouse interest.

Bohuslav Martinů’s Ariane and Alexandre bis

Although Bohuslav Martinů’s short operas Ariane and Alexandre bis date from 1958 and 1937 respectively, there was a distinct tint of 1920s Parisian surrealism about director Rodula Gaitanou’s double bill, as presented by the postgraduate students of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Lohengrin, Dresden

The eyes of the opera world turned recently to Dresden—the city where Wagner premiered his Rienzi, Fliegende Holländer, and Tannhäuser—for an important performance of Lohengrin. For once in Germany it was not about the 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):