Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

The Met’s ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ a happy marriage of ensemble singing and acting

The cast of supporting roles was especially strong in the company’s new production of Mozart’s matchless masterpiece

Syracuse Opera’s ‘Die Fledermaus’ bubbles over with fun, laughter and irresistible music

The company uncorks its 40th Anniversary season with a visually and musically satisfying production of Johann Strauss Jr.’s farcical operetta

Capriccio at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Although performances of Richard Strauss’s last opera Capriccio have increased in recent time, Lyric Opera of Chicago has not experienced the “Konversationsstück für Musik” during the past twenty odd years.

Anna Netrebko, now a dramatic soprano, shines in the Met’s dark and murky ‘Macbeth’

The former lyric soprano holds up well — and survives the intrusive close-up camerawork of the ‘Live in HD’ transmission

Arizona Opera Presents First Mariachi Opera

Houston Grand Opera commissioned Cruzar la Cara de la Luna from composer José “Pepe” Martínez, music director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, who wrote the text together with Broadway and opera director Leonard Foglia. The work had its world premier in 2010. Since then, it has traveled to several cities including Paris, Chicago, and San Diego.

Plácido Domingo: I due Foscari, London

“Why should I go to hear Plácido Domingo” someone said when Verdi’s I due Foscari was announced by the Royal Opera House. There are very good reasons for doing so.

Philip Glass’s The Trial

Music Theatre Wales presented the world premiere of Philip Glass’s The Trial (Kafka) last night at the Linbury, Royal Opera House. Music Theatre Wales started doing Glass in 1989. Their production of Glass’s In the Penal Colony in 2010 was such a success that Glass conceived The Trial specially for the company.

Joyce DiDonato: Alcina, Barbican, London

To say that the English Concert’s performance of Handel’s Alcina at the Barbican on 10 October 2014 was hotly anticipated would be an understatement. Sold out for weeks, the performance capitalised on the draw of its two principals Joyce DiDonato and Alice Coote and generated the sort of buzz which the work did at its premiere.

Un ballo in maschera in San Francisco

The subject is regicide, a hot topic during the Italian risorgimento when the Italian peninsula was in the grip of the Hapsburgs, the Bourbons, the House of Savoy and the Pontiff of the Catholic Church.

A New Don Giovanni and Anniversary at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago opened its sixtieth anniversary season with a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni directed by Artistic Director of the Goodman Theater, Robert Falls.

Grande messe des morts, LSO

It was a little over two years ago that I heard Sir Colin Davis conduct the Berlioz Requiem in St Paul’s Cathedral; it was the last time I heard — or indeed saw — him conduct his beloved and loving London Symphony Orchestra.

Guillaume Tell, Welsh National Opera

Part of their Liberty or Death season along with Rossini’s Mose in Egitto and Bizet’s Carmen, Welsh National Opera performed David Pountney’s new production of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell (seen 4 October 2014).

Mose in Egitto, Welsh National Opera

Welsh National Opera’s production of Rossini’s Mose in Egitto was the second of two Rossini operas (the other is Guillaume Tell) performed in tandem for their autumn tour.

L’incoronazione di Poppea, Barbican Hall

In Monteverdi’s first Venetian opera, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse (1641), Penelope’s patient devotion as she waits for the return of her beloved Ulysses culminates in the triumph of love and faithfulness; in contrast, in L’incoronazione di Poppea it is the eponymous Queen’s lust, passion and ambition that prevail.

Rameau’s Les Paladins, Wigmore Hall

After the triumphs of love, the surprises: Les Paladins, under their director Jérôme Correas, and soprano Sandrine Piau are following their tour of material from their 2011 CD, ‘Le Triomphe de L’amour’, with a new amatory arrangement.

Puccini : The Girl of the Golden West, ENO London

At the ENO, Puccini's La fanciulla del West becomes The Girl of the Golden West. Hearing this opera in English instead of Italian has its advantages, While we can still hear the exotic, Italianate Madama Butterfly fantasies in the orchestra, in English, we're closer to the original pot-boiler melodrama. Madama Biutterfly is premier cru: The Girl of the Golden West veers closer, at times, to hokum. The new ENO production gets round the implausibility of the plot by engaging with its natural innocence.

Anna Caterina Antonacci, Wigmore Hall, London

Presenting a well-structured and characterful programme, Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci demonstrated her prowess in both soprano and mezzo repertoire in this Wigmore Hall recital, performing European works from the early years of the twentieth century. Assuredly accompanied by her regular pianist Donald Sulzen, Antonacci was self-composed and calm of manner, but also evinced a warmly engaging stage presence throughout.

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Royal Opera

Bold, bright and brash, Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s Il barbiere di Siviglia tells its story clearly in complementary primary colours.

Gluck and Bertoni at Bampton

Bampton Classical Opera’s 2014 double bill neatly balanced drollery and gravity. Rectifying the apparent prevailing indifference to the 300th centenary of Christoph Willibald Gluck birth, Bampton offered a sharp, witty production of the composer’s Il Parnaso confuso, pairing this ‘festa teatrale’ with Ferdinando Bertoni’s more sombre Orfeo.

Purcell: A Retrospective

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra launched the Wigmore Hall’s two-year series, ‘Purcell: A Retrospective’, in splendid style. Flexibility, buoyancy and transparency were the watchwords.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Karita Mattila — Helsinki Recital
18 Nov 2010

Karita Mattila: Helsinki Recital

Ondine provides a nice bonus for fans of Karita Mattila in its recent DVD release of a 2006 Helsinki recital with accompanist Martin Katz.

Karita Mattila — Helsinki Recital

Martin Katz, piano; Karita Mattila, soprano; Ilmo Ranta, piano

Ondine ODV 4004 [DVD plus bonus CD]

$33.49  Click to buy

Besides the DVD of the full recital and encores, Ondine provides a second disc basically constituting a sampler of studio Ondine recitals from the 1990s. Ms. Mattila is in gorgeous voice in these earlier recordings, singing Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms with exquisite tone and reserved but affecting emotion, and pouring out idiomatic splendor in songs from countrymen Jean Sibelius, Toivo Kuula, and Erkki Melartin (with Ilmo Ranta at the keyboard).

But does Ondine do any favors to Ms. Mattila with the inclusion of this second disc? The voice in the 2006 recital is not the same liquid, flexible instrument heard ten years earlier. The Finnish National Opera house looks to be a relatively intimate concert space, but it’s still a hall, as opposed to the confines of a recording studio with sensitive equipment that allowed Mattila to employ a wide range of dynamic effects. The opening set of the 2006 recital, Duparc songs, often finds Mattila’s voice hardening by the middle of a song, and even a sort of Slavic thickness developing. This is less of a hindrance in the Kaija Saaraiho set “Quatre instants,” dedicated to Ms. Mattila. Here the soprano’s instrument is put to more dramatic, mechanical use. Martin Katz gets to shine in the Saaraiho music, and the director often focuses on the pianist's hands at the keyboard as he deals with wild jumps, booming bass lines and skittering steps across the high keys. At the end of the set Ms. Mattila clutches the score to her chest and then welcomes the composer to the stage. It must be quite an honor to have a preeminent contemporary composer fashion a piece for oneself; nonetheless, anyone who wants to hear this set of songs more than once has a greater appetite for the gnarly and self-consciously arty than your reviewer does.

The second half makes for a more enjoyable experience, with that Slavic tinge put to fine use in some lovely Rachmaninoff settings and then the Dvořäk “Gipsy Songs.” Your reviewer actually saw a 2003 recital appearance by Ms. Mattila, in a shamefully under-attended recital at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles back in 2003. The program was virtually the same, only with the cherishable exception of Sibelius songs in place of the not-yet-completed Saaraiho. As fine an actress as Ms. Mattila can be, she does enjoy well-considered effects, and after a few years of doing this recital set, it seems fair to say that any spontaneity has gone out of the evening. She did the same tacky but fun encore back then (Victor Young’s “Golden Earrings”), as well as the sweet Finnish traditional that closes the evening. In Helsinki Ms. Mattila looks stunning, it should be noted, almost uncomfortably smooth-faced and glamorized in hair and make-up. The porcelain surface of her face barely creases, no matter how much effort she brings to certain passages.

Ondine’s presentation is immaculate, and the camerawork couldn’t be better, as we enter the gorgeous Helsinki house form outside and see the handsome crowd gather in the lobby, champagne glasses in hand. Your reviewer would have preferred subtitles to the translated texts in the booklet, but some people love nothing more than to rustle programs at a recital, so here’s their chance to do it at home.

If the DVD recital slightly disappoints, therefore, rejoice in the artistry caught forever in the bonus disc of Ms. Mattila’s 1990s recordings.

Chris Mullins

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):