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

Solomon’s Knot: Charpentier - A Christmas Oratorio

When Marc-Antoine Charpentier returned from Rome to Paris in 1669 or 1670, he found a musical culture in his native city that was beginning to reject the Italian style, which he had spent several years studying with the Jesuit composer Giacomo Carissimi, in favour of a new national style of music.

A Baroque Odyssey: 40 Years of Les Arts Florissants

In 1979, the Franco-American harpsichordist and conductor, William Christie, founded an early music ensemble, naming it Les Arts Florissants, after a short opera by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

Miracle on Ninth Avenue

Gian Carlo Menotti’s holiday classic, Amahl and the Night Visitors, was the first recorded opera I ever heard. Each Christmas Eve, while decorating the tree, our family sang along with the (still unmatched) original cast version. We knew the recording by heart, right down to the nicks in the LP. Ever since, no matter what the setting or the quality of a performance, I cannot get through it without tearing up.

Detlev Glanert: Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch (UK premiere)

It is perhaps not surprising that the Hamburg-born composer Detlev Glanert should count Hans Werner Henze as one of the formative influences on his work - he did, after all, study with him between 1984 to 1988.

Death in Venice at Deutsche Oper Berlin

This death in Venice is not the end, but the beginning.

Saint Cecilia: The Sixteen at Kings Place

There were eighteen rather than sixteen singers. And, though the concert was entitled Saint Cecilia the repertoire paid homage more emphatically to Mary, Mother of Jesus, and to the spirit of Christmas.

Liszt Petrarca Sonnets complete – Andrè Schuen, Daniel Heide

An ambitious new series focusing on the songs of Franz Liszt, starting with all three versions of the Tre Sonetti del Petrarca, (Petrarca Sonnets), S.270a, S.270b and S.161 with Andrè Schuen and Daniel Heide for Avi-music.de.

Insights on Mahler Lieder, Wigmore Hall, Andrè Schuen

At the Wigmore Hall, Andrè Schuen and Daniel Heide in a recital of Schubert and Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Rückert-Lieder. Schuen has most definitely arrived, at least among the long-term cognoscenti at the Wigmore Hall who appreciate the intelligence and sensitivity that marks true Lieder interpretation.

Ermelinda by San Francisco's Ars Minerva

It’s an opera by Vicentino composer Domenico Freschi that premiered in 1681 at the country home of the son of the doge of Venice. Villa Contarini is a couple of hours on horseback from Vicenza, and a few hours by gondola from Venice).

Wozzeck in Munich

It would be an extraordinary, even an unimaginable Wozzeck that failed to move, to chill one to the bone. This was certainly no such Wozzeck; Marie’s reading from the Bible, Wozzeck’s demise, the final scene with their son and the other children: all brought that particular Wozzeck combination of tears and horror.

Une soirée chez Berlioz – lyrical rarities, on Berlioz’s own guitar

Une soirée chez Berlioz – an evening with Berlioz, songs for voice, piano and guitar, with Stéphanie D’Oustrac, Thibaut Roussel (guitar), and Tanguy de Williencourt (piano).

Korngold's Die tote Stadt in Munich

I approached this evening as something of a sceptic regarding work and director. My sole prior encounter with Simon Stone’s work had not been, to put it mildly, a happy one. Nor do I count myself a subscriber or even affiliate to the Korngold fan club, considerable in number and still more considerable in fervency.

Exceptional song recital from Hurn Court Opera at Salisbury Arts Centre

Thanks to the enterprise and vision of Lynton Atkinson - Artistic Director of Dorset-based Hurn Court Opera - two promising young singers on the threshold of glittering careers gave an outstanding recital at Salisbury’s prestigious Art Centre.

Lohengrin in Munich

An exceptional Lohengrin, this. I had better explain. Yes, it was exceptional in the quality of much of the singing, especially the two principal female roles, yet also in luxury casting such as Martin Gantner as the King’s Herald.

Hansel and Gretel in San Francisco

This Grimm’s fairytale in its operatic version found its way onto the War Memorial stage in the guise of a new “family friendly” production first seen last holiday season at London’s Royal Opera House.

An hypnotic Death in Venice at the Royal Opera House

Spot-lit in the prevailing darkness, Gustav von Aschenbach frowns restively as he picks up an hour-glass from a desk strewn with literary paraphernalia, objects d’art, time-pieces and a pair of tall candles in silver holders - by the light of which, so Thomas Mann tells us in his novella Death in Venice, the elderly writer ‘would offer up to art, for two or three ardently conscientious morning hours, the strength he had garnered during sleep’.

A Baroque Christmas from Harmonia Mundi

A baroque Christmas from Harmonia Mundi, this year’s offering in their acclaimed Christmas series. Great value for money - four CDs of music so good that it shouldn’t be saved just for Christmas. The prize here, though is the Pastorale de Noël by Marc-Antoine Charpentier with Ensemble Correspondances, with Sébastien Daucé, highly acclaimed on its first release just a few years ago.

Philip Glass's Orphée at English National Opera

Jean Cocteau’s 1950 Orphée - and Philip Glass’s chamber opera based on the film - are so closely intertwined it should not be a surprise that this new production for English National Opera often seems unable to distinguish the two. There is never a shred of ambiguity that cinema and theatre are like mirrors, a recurring feature of this production; and nor is there much doubt that this is as opera noir it gets.

Rapt audience at Dutch National Opera’s riveting Walküre

“Don’t miss this final chance – ever! – to see Die Walküre”, urges the Dutch National Opera website.

Christmas at St George’s Windsor

Christmas at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, with the Choir of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, James Vivian, organist and conductor. New from Hyperion, this continues their series of previous recordings with this Choir. The College of St George, founded in 1348, is unusual in that it is a Royal Peculiar, a parish under the direct jurisdiction of the monarch, rather than the diocese.

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):