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 Performances

Of Animals and Insects: a musical menagerie at Wigmore Hall

Wigmore Hall was transformed into a musical menagerie earlier this week, when bass-baritone Ashley Riches, a Radio 3 New Generation Artist, and pianist Joseph Middleton took us on a pan-European lunchtime stroll through a gallery of birds and beasts, blooms and bugs.

Hugo Wolf, Italienisches Liederbuch

Nationality is a complicated thing at the best of times. (At the worst of times: well, none of us needs reminding about that.) What, if anything, might it mean for Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook? Almost whatever you want it to mean, or not to mean.

San Jose’s Dutchman Treat

At my advanced age, I have now experienced ten different productions of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in my opera-going lifetime, but Opera San Jose’s just might be the finest.

Mortal Voices: the Academy of Ancient Music at Milton Court

The relationship between music and money is long-standing, complex and inextricable. In the Baroque era it was symbiotically advantageous.

I Puritani at Lyric Opera of Chicago

What better evocation of bel canto than an opera which uses the power of song to dispel madness and to reunite the heroine with her banished fiancé? Such is the final premise of Vincenzo Bellini’s I puritani, currently in performance at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Iolanthe: English National Opera

The current government’s unfathomable handling of the Brexit negotiations might tempt one to conclude that the entire Conservative Party are living in the land of the fairies. In Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1882 operetta Iolanthe, the arcane and Arcadia really do conflate, and Cal McCrystal’s new production for English National Opera relishes this topsy-turvy world where peris consort with peri-wigs.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Marseille

Any Laurent Pelly production is news, any role undertaken by soprano Stephanie d’Oustrac is news. Here’s the news from Marseille.

Riveting Maria de San Diego

As part of its continuing, adventurous “Detour” series, San Diego Opera mounted a deliciously moody, proudly pulsating, wholly evocative presentation of Astor Piazzolla’s “nuevo tango” opera, Maria de Buenos Aires.

La Walkyrie in Toulouse

The Nicolas Joel 1999 production of Die Walküre seen just now in Toulouse well upholds the Airbus city’s fame as Bayreuth-su-Garonne (the river that passes through this quite beautiful, rich city).

Barrie Kosky's Carmen at Covent Garden

Carmen is dead. Long live Carmen. In a sense, both Bizet’s opera and his gypsy diva have been ‘done to death’, but in this new production at the ROH (first seen at Frankfurt in 2016) Barrie Kosky attempts to find ways to breathe new life into the show and resurrect, quite literally, the eponymous temptress.

Candide at Arizona Opera

On Friday February 2, 2018, Arizona Opera presented Leonard Bernstein’s Candide to honor the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Although all the music was Bernstein’s, the text was written and re-written by numerous authors including Lillian Hellman, Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, and Dorothy Parker, as well as the composer.

Satyagraha at English National Opera

The second of Philip Glass’s so-called 'profile' operas, Satyagraha is magnificent in ENO’s acclaimed staging, with a largely new cast and conductor bringing something very special to this seminal work.

Mahler Symphony no 8—Harding, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

From the Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, a very interesting Mahler Symphony no 8 with Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The title "Symphony of a Thousand" was dreamed up by promoters trying to sell tickets, creating the myth that quantity matters more than quality. For many listeners, Mahler 8 is still a hard nut to crack, for many reasons, and the myth is part of the problem. Mahler 8 is so original that it defies easy categories.

Wigmore Hall Schubert Birthday—Angelika Kirchschlager

At the Wigmore Hall, Schubert's birthday is always celebrated in style. This year, Angelika Kirchschlager and Julius Drake, much loved Wigmore Hall audience favourites, did the honours, with a recital marking the climax of the two-year-long Complete Schubert Songs Series. The programme began with a birthday song, Namenstaglied, and ended with a farewell, Abschied von der Erde. Along the way, a traverse through some of Schubert's finest moments, highlighting different aspects of his song output : Schubert's life, in miniature.

Ilker Arcayürek at Wigmore Hall

The first thing that struck me in this Wigmore Hall recital was the palpable sincerity of Ilker Arcayürek’s artistry. Sincerity is not everything, of course; what we think of as such may even be carefully constructed artifice, although not, I think, here.

Lisette Oropesa sings at Tucson Desert Song Festival

On January 30, 2018, Arizona Opera and the Tucson Desert Song Festival presented a recital by lyric soprano Lisette Oropesa in the University of Arizona’s Holsclaw Hall. Looking like a high fashion model in her silver trimmed midnight-blue gown, the singer and pianist Michael Borowitz began their program with Pablo Luna’s Zarzuela aria, “De España Vengo.” (“I come from Spain”).

Schubert songs, part-songs and fragments: three young singers at the Wigmore Hall

Youth met experience for this penultimate instalment of the Wigmore Hall’s Schubert: The Complete Songs series, and the results were harmonious and happy. British soprano Harriet Burns, German tenor Ferdinand Keller and American baritone Harrison Hintzsche were supportively partnered by lieder ‘old-hand’, Graham Johnson, and we heard some well-known and less familiar songs in this warmly appreciated early-afternoon recital.

Brent Opera: Nabucco

Brent Opera’s Nabucco was a triumph in that it worked as a piece of music theatre against some odds, and was a good evening out.

LPO: Das Rheingold

It is, of course, quite an achievement in itself for a symphony orchestra to perform Das Rheingold or indeed any of the Ring dramas. It does not happen very often, not nearly so often as it should; for given Wagner’s crucial musico-historical position, this is music that should stand at the very centre of their repertoires – just as Beethoven should at the centre of opera orchestras’.

William Tell in Palermo

This was the infamous production that was booed to extinction at Covent Garden. Palermo’s Teatro Massimo now owns the production.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Katharine Goeldner as Carmen and Yonghoon Lee as Don José [Photo by Dan Rest courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago]
03 Nov 2010

A Carmen Cast to Strength: Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Revival

For its second production of the current season Lyric Opera of Chicago has staged a modified revival of its Carmen under the direction of Harvey Silverstein.

Georges Bizet: Carmen

Carmen: Katharine Goeldner; Don José: Yonghoon Lee; Micaëla: Elaine Alvarez; Escamillo: Kyle Ketelsen; Zuniga: Craig Irvin; Frasquita: Jennifer Jakob; Mercédès: Emily Fons; Dancaïre: Paul Scholten; Remendado: René Barbera; Moralès: Paul La Rosa. Chicago Children's Chorus. Josephine Lee: Artistic Director. Alain Altinoglu: Conductor. Harry Silverstein: Stage Director. Robin Don: Set Designer. Robert Perdziola: Costume Designer. Jason Brown: Lighting Designer. Chorus Master: Donald Nally. Choreographer & Ballet Mistress: August Tye.

Above: Katharine Goeldner as Carmen and Yonghoon Lee as Don José [Photo by Dan Rest courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago]

 

The principals are assuming their roles for the first time at Lyric, and the conductor Alain Altinoglu makes his house debut in these performances. Katherine Goeldner fits exceptionally well into the production as a dramatically convincing and vocally assured Carmen. Yonghoon Lee projects his alternately confused and devoted emotional state in a forthright depiction of Don José. Elaine Alvarez and Kyle Ketelsen make strong impressions as Micaëla and Escamillo respectively. A well chosen supporting cast from the Ryan Opera Center fulfills the lyrical and dramatic needs of this colorful panorama which ultimately ends in tragedy.

In his approach to the overture Altinoglu encouraged a light touch with effective, percussive elements used to give structural shape. As the curtain rises on a mixture of pale greys and browns -- bathed here in a bright, summery light -- the collected soldiers laze about until Michaëla enters in search of Don José. Moralès leads the men in playful banter with the shy woman: here Paul La Rosa uses his warm, lyrical baritone to good effect as a Moralès whose urging at first assures, then repels Micaëla. In the latter role Ms. Alvarez applies vibrato and liquid notes sensitively to express the feelings she wishes to communicate when she finally locates José. At his entrance Mr. Lee strikes a disciplined pose as both soldier and compatriot to the maiden who has come to search for him. Only gradually during this and the following act does Mr. Lee’s persona show the descent into a world ruled by passion, once he encounters and becomes obsessed with Carmen. As the tempting femme Katherine Goeldner performs her two well-known arias from Act I as a natural extension of the character’s personality. At the words “prends garde” (“beware”), Goeldner sings forte with a convincing dramatic and vocal poise, following this with piano lines that delineate further her seductive and playful attitude. When she repeats her warning, the line is sufficiently varied to command the attention of a transfixed Don José, with Goeldner concluding on a dramatic top note. As the stage is then transformed by red illumination, José’s infatuation is -- in this production -- perhaps all too pointedly revealed to the audience. Ms. Goeldner’s seguidilla later in Act I is sung with equal assurance and admirable attention to linear detail. Despite the appeals so fervently delivered by the Micaëla of Ms. Alvarez, José is ultimately distracted to the point of assisting in Carmen’s escape.

The second and following acts of Lyric Opera’s Carmen make use of a set modified from the first act with altered lighting and effective placement of props. As Frasquita and Mercédès Jennifer Jakob and Emily Fons are exuberant foils to Goeldner’s Carmen, all three giving a sultry impression as they sing and cavort in ensembles. Perhaps most striking in this and subsequent acts is the image created for Escamillo by Kyle Ketelsen. His “Votre Toast” [(“Your toast”), Toreador Song] is a model of declamation, extended lyrical line, and an even projection from secure bass notes to a ringing, exciting top. Mr. Ketelsen’s experience in this role is further evident in the dramatic, convincing ease with which he projects both swagger and the need for adulation. As the rival for Carmen’s interest Mr. Lee soon pays what he presumes to be a brief visit to the gypsy camp. In his aria “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” (“The flower which you threw to me”) Lee invests piano notes with sincerity and tenderness, yet the descriptive and dramatic portions of the aria show an overuse of forte singing. His revised commitment to the camp of smugglers is complete until Micaëla returns to seek him out in the third act. Ms. Alvarez gives an accomplished performance of Micaëla’s prayer-like aria in Act III, her tendency to shade lyrical phrases alternating touchingly with urgent pleas for divine help. Again, it is the Toreador whose melody ends the act and prepares the audience for a final scene of celebration and violence. In that last, brief act Mr. Lee’s desperate tone as Don José are appropriate to his character’s mental state, something which Goeldner’s Carmen refuses to take seriously until, tragically, too late.

Salvatore Calomino

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):