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

Kaufmann's first Otello: Royal Opera House, London

Out of the blackness, Keith Warner’s new production of Verdi’s Otello explodes into being with a violent gesture of fury. Not the tempest raging in the pit - though Antonio Pappano conjures a terrifying maelstrom from the ROH Orchestra and the enlarged ROH Chorus hurls a blood-curdling battering-ram of sound into the auditorium. Rather, Warner offers a spot-lit emblem of frustrated malice and wrath, as a lone soldier fiercely hurls a Venetian mask to the ground.

Don Carlo in Marseille

First mounted in 2015 at the Opéra National de Bordeaux this splendid Don Carlo production took stage just now at the Opéra de Marseille with a completely different cast and conductor. This Marseille edition achieved an artistic stature rarely found hereabouts, or anywhere.

Diamanda Galás: Savagery and Opulence

Unconventional to the last, Diamanda Galás tore through her Barbican concert on Monday evening with a torrential force that shattered the inertia and passivity of the modern song recital. This was operatic activism, pure and simple. Dressed in metallic, shimmering black she moved rather stately across the stage to her piano - but there was nothing stately about what unfolded during the next 90 minutes.

Schubert Wanderer Songs - Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

A summit reached at the end of a long journey: Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau at the Wigmore Hall, as the two-year Complete Schubert Song series draws to a close. Unmistakably a high point in the whole traverse. A well-planned programme of much-loved songs performed exceptionally well, with less well known repertoire presented with intelligent flourish.

La Bohème in San Francisco

In 2008 it was the electrifying conducting of Nicola Luisotti and the famed Mimì of Angela Gheorghiu, in 2014 it was the riveting portrayals of Michael Fabbiano’s Rodolfo and Alexey Markov’s Marcelo. Now, in 2017, it is the high Italian style of Erika Grimaldi’s Mimì — and just about everything else!

A heart-rending Jenůfa at Grange Park Opera

Katie Mitchell’s 1998 Welsh National Opera production of Janáček’s first mature opera, Jenůfa, is a good choice for Grange Park Opera’s first season at its new home, West Horsley Place. Revived by Robin Tebbutt, Mitchell and designer Vicki Mortimer’s 1930s urban setting emphasises the opera’s lack of sentimentality and subjectivism, and this stark realism is further enhanced by the narrow horseshoe design of architect Wasfi Kani’s ‘Theatre in the Woods’ whose towering walls and narrow width seem to add further to the weight of oppression which constricts the lives of the inhabitants.

Pelléas et Mélisande at Garsington Opera

“I am nearer to the greatest secrets of the next world than I am to the smallest secrets of those eyes!” So despairs Golaud, enflamed by jealousy, suspicious of his mysterious wife Mélisande’s love for his half-brother Pelléas. Michael Boyd’s thought-provoking new production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande at Garsington Opera certainly ponders plentiful secrets: of the conscience, of the subconscious, of the soul. But, with his designer Tom Piper, Boyd brings the opera’s dreams and mysteries into landscapes that are lit, symbolically and figuratively, with precision.

Carmen: The Grange Festival

The Grange Festival, artistic director Michael Chance, has opened at Northington Grange giving everyone a chance to see what changes have arisen from this change of festival at the old location. For our first visit we caught the opening night of Annabel Arden's new production of Bizet's Carmen on Sunday 11 June 2017. Conducted by Jean-Luc Tingaud with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the pit, the cast included Na'ama Goldman as Carmen, Leonardo Capalbo as Don Jose, Shelley Jackson as Micaela and Phillip Rhodes as Escamillo. There were also two extra characters, Aicha Kossoko and Tonderai Munyevu as Commere and Compere. Designs were by Joanna Parker (costume co-designer Ilona Karas) with video by Dick Straker, lighting by Peter Mumford. Thankfully, the opera comique version of the opera was used, with dialogue by Meredith Oakes.

Don Giovanni in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera revved up its 2011 production of Don Giovanni with a new directorial team and a new conductor. And a blue-chip cast.

Dutch National Opera puts on a spellbinding Marian Vespers

A body lies in half-shadow, surrounded by an expectant gathering. Our Father is intoned in Gregorian chant. The solo voices bloom into a chorus with a joyful flourish of brass.

Into the Wood: A Midsummer Night's Dream at Snape Maltings

‘I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where Oxlips and the nodding Violet grows.’ In her new production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Netia Jones takes us deep into the canopied groves of Oberon’s forest, luring us into the nocturnal embrace of the wood with a heady ‘physick’ of disorientating visual charms.

Rigoletto in San Francisco

Every once in a while a warhorse redefines itself. This happened last night in San Francisco when Rigoletto propelled itself into the ranks of the great masterpieces of opera as theater — the likes of Falstaff and Tristan and Rossini’s Otello.

My Fair Lady at Lyric Opera of Chicago

In its spring musical production of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s My Fair Lady Lyric Opera of Chicago has put together an ensemble which does ample justice to the wit and lyrical beauty of the well-known score.

Henze: Elegie für junge Liebende

Hans Werner Henze’s compositions include ten fine symphonies, various large choral and religious works, fourteen ballets (among them one, Undine, that ranks the greatest of modern times), numerous prominent film scores, and hundreds of additional works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, solo instruments or voice. Yet he considered himself, above all, a composer of opera.

Werther at Manitoba Opera

If opera ultimately is about bel canto, then one need not look any further than Manitoba Opera’s company premiere of Massenet’s Werther, its lushly scored portrait of an artist as a young man that also showcased a particularly strong cast of principal artists. Notably, all were also marking their own role debuts, as well as this production being the first Massenet opera staged by organization in its 44-year history.

Seattle: A seamlessly symphonic L’enfant

Seattle Symphony’s “semi-staged” presentation of L’enfant et les sortilèges was my third encounter with Ravel’s 1925 one-act “opera.” It was incomparably the most theatrical, though the least elaborate by far.

Der Rosenkavalier: Welsh National Opera in Cardiff

Olivia Fuchs' new production of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier is a co-production between Welsh National Opera and Theater Magdeburg. The production debuted in Magdeburg last year and now Welsh National Opera is presenting the production as part of its Summer season, the company's first Der Rosenkavalier since 1990 (when the cast included Rita Cullis as the Marschallin and Amanda Roocroft making her role debut as Sophie).

Don Giovanni takes to the waves at Investec Opera Holland Park

There’s no reason why Oliver Platt’s imaginative ‘concept’ for this new production of Don Giovanni at Investec Opera Holland Park shouldn’t work very well. Designer Neil Irish has reconstructed a deck of RMS Queen Mary - the Cunard-White Star Line’s flag-ship cruiser during the 1930s, that golden age of trans-Atlantic cruising. Spanning the entire width of the OHP stage, the deck is lined with port-holed cabin doors - perfect hideaways for one of the Don’s hasty romantic dalliances.

"Recreated" Figaro at Garsington delights

After the preceding evening’s presentation of Annilese Miskimmon’s sparkling production of Handel’s Semele - an account of marital infidelity in immortal realms - the second opera of Garsington Opera’s 2017 season brought us down to earth for more mundane disloyalties and deceptions amongst the moneyed aristocracy of the eighteenth-century, as presented by John Cox in his 2005 production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.

Semele: star-dust and sparkle at Garsington Opera

To open the 2017 season at Garsington Opera, director Annilese Miskimmon and designer Nicky Shaw offer a visually beautifully new production of Handel's Semele in which comic ribaldry and celestial feuding converge and are transfigured into star-dust.

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):