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

Les Indes galantes, Bavarian State Opera

Baroque opera has long been an important part of the Bavarian State Opera’s programming. And beyond the company itself, Munich’s tradition stretches back many years indeed: Kubelík’s Handel with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, for instance.

Don Giovanni, Bavarian State Opera

All told, this was probably the best Don Giovanni I have seen and heard. Judging opera performances - perhaps we should not be ‘judging’ at all, but let us leave that on one side - is a difficult task: there are so many variables, at least as many as in a play and a concert combined, but then there is the issue of that ‘combination’ too.

A dance to life in Munich’s Indes galantes

Can one justly “review” a streamed performance? Probably not. But however different or diminished such a performance, one can—and must—bear witness to such an event when it represents a landmark in the evolution of an art form.

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Glyndebourne Festival Opera at the Proms

For its annual visit to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Glyndebourne brought its new production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, an opera which premiered 200 years ago.

Béatrice and Bénédict at Glyndebourne

‘A caprice written with the point of a needle’: so Berlioz described his opera Béatrice and Bénédict, which pares down Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to its comic quintessence, shorn of the sub-plots, destroyed reputations and near-bloodshed of Shakespeare’s original.

Der fliegende Holländer, Bavarian State Opera

‘This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.’ It is, perhaps, a line quoted too often; yet, even though it may not have been entirely accurate on this occasion, it came to my mind. Its accuracy might be questioned in several respects.

Evergreen Baby in Colorado

Central City Opera celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Ballad of Baby Doe with a hip, canny, multi-faceted new production.

Lean and Mean Tosca in Colorado

Someone forgot to tell Central City Opera that it would be difficult to fit Puccini’s (usually) architecturally large Tosca on their small stage.

Die Walküre, Baden-Baden

A cast worthy of Bayreuth made for an unforgettable Wagnerian experience at the Sommer Festspiele in Baden-Baden.

Des Moines’ Elusive Manon

Loving attention to the highest quality was everywhere evident in Des Moines Metro Opera’s Manon.

Falstaff in Iowa: A Big Fat Hit

Des Moines Metro Opera had (almost) all the laughs in the right places, and certainly had all the right singers in these meaty roles to make for an enjoyable outing with Verdi’s masterpiece

Die Fledermaus, Opera Holland Park

With the thermometers reaching boiling point, there’s no doubt that summer has finally arrived in London. But, the sun seems to have been shining over the large marquee in Holland Park all summer.

Nice, July 14, and then . . .

J.S. Bach’s cerebral Art of the Fugue in Aix, Verdi’s massive Requiem in Orange, Ibn al-Muqaffa’ ‘s fable of the camel, jackal, wolf and crow, Sophocles’ blind Oedipus Rex and the Bible’s triumphant Psalm No. 150 in Aix.

Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance

The champagne corks popped at the close of this year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance at the Royal Opera House, with Prince Orlofsky’s celebratory toast forming a fitting conclusion to some superb singing.

Prom 2: Boris Godunov, ROH

Bryn Terfel is making a habit of performing Russian patriarchs at the Proms.

Des Moines’ Gluck Sets the Standard

What happens when just everything about an operatic performance goes joyously right?

Des Moines: Jewels in Perfect Settings

Two years ago, the well-established Des Moines Metro Opera experimented with a 2nd Stages program, with performances programmed outside of their home stage at Simpson College.

First Night of the Proms 2016

What to make of the unannounced decision to open this concert with the Marseillaise? I am sure it was well intended, and perhaps should leave it at that.

La Cenerentola, Opera Holland Park

In a fairy-tale, it can sometimes feel as if one is living a dream but on the verge of being awoken to a shock. Such is life in these dark and uncertain days.

Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno in Aix

The tense, three hour knock-down-drag-out seduction of Beauty by Pleasure consumed our souls in this triumphal evening. Forget Time and Disillusion as destructors, they were the very constructors of the beauty and pleasure found in this miniature oratorio.

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):