Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

J. C. Bach: Adriano in Siria

At this start of the year, Classical Opera embarked upon an ambitious project. MOZART 250 will see the company devote part of its programme each season during the next 27 years to exploring the music by Mozart and his contemporaries which was being written and performed exactly 250 years previously.

Bethan Langford, Wigmore Hall

The Concordia Foundation was founded in the early 1990s by international singer and broadcaster Gillian Humphreys, out of her ‘real concern for building bridges of friendship and excellence through music and the arts’.

Tansy Davies: Between Worlds (world premiere)

An opera dealing with — or at least claiming to deal with — the events of 11 September 2001? I suppose it had to come, but that does not necessarily make it any more necessary.

Arizona Opera Ends Season in Fine Style with Fille du Régiment

On April 10, 2015, Arizona Opera ended its season with La Fille du Régiment at Phoenix Symphony Hall. A passionate Marie, Susannah Biller was a veritable energizer bunny onstage. Her voice is bright and flexible with a good bloom on top and a tiny bit of steel in it. Having created an exciting character, she sang with agility as well as passion.

Il turco in Italia, Royal Opera

This second revival of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser’s 2005 production of Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia seems to have every going for it: excellent principals comprising experienced old-hands and exciting new voices, infinite gags and japes, and the visual éclat of Agostino Cavalca’s colour-bursting costumes and Christian Fenouillat’s sunny sets which evoke the style, glamour and ease of La Dolce Vita.

The Siege of Calais
——
The Wild Man of the West Indies

English Touring Opera’s 2015 Spring Tour is audacious and thought-provoking. Alongside La Bohème the company have programmed a revival of their acclaimed 2013 production of Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais (L’assedio di Calais) and the composer’s equally rare The Wild Man of the West Indies (Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo).

The Met’s Lucia di Lammermoor

Mary Zimmerman’s still-fresh production is made fresher still by Shagimuratova’s glimmering voice, but the acting disappoints

Voices, voices in space, and spaces: Thoughts on 50 years of Meredith Monk

When WNYC’s John Schaefer introduced Meredith Monk’s beloved Panda Chant II, which concluded the four-and-a-half hour Meredith Monk & Friends celebration at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, he described it as “an expression of joy and musicality” before lamenting the fact that playing it on his radio show could never quite compete with a live performance.

St. John Passion by Soli Deo Gloria, Chicago

This year’s concert of the Chicago Bach Project, under the aegis of the Soli Deo Gloria Music Foundation, was a presentation of the St. John Passion (BWV 245) at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park.

Fedora in Genoa

It is not an everyday opera. It is an opera that illuminates a larger verismo history.

The Marriage of Figaro, LA Opera

On March 26, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). The Ian Judge production featured jewel-colored box sets by Tim Goodchild that threw the voices out into the hall. Only for the finale did the set open up on to a garden that filled the whole stage and at the very end featured actual fireworks.

The Tempest Songbook, Gotham Chamber Opera

Gotham Chamber Opera’s latest project, The Tempest Songbook, continues to explore the possibilities of unconventional spaces and unconventional programs that the company has made its hallmark. The results were musically and theatrically thought-provoking, and left me wanting more.

San Diego Opera presents Adams’ Riveting Nixon in China

Nixon in China is a three-act opera with a libretto by Alice Goodman and music by John Adams that was first seen at the Houston Grand Opera on October 22, 1987. It was the first of a notable line of operas by the composer.

Ars Minerva presents Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra in San Francisco

It is thanks to Céline Ricci, mezzo-soprano and director of Ars Minerva, that we have been able to again hear Daniele Castrovillari’s exquisite melodies because she is the musician who has brought his 1662 opera La Cleopatra to life.

An Ideal Cast in Chicago’s Tannhäuser

Lyric Opera of Chicago, in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, has staged a production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser with an estimable cast.

Madame Butterfly, Royal Opera

Puccini and his fellow verismo-ists are commonly associated with explosions of unbridled human passion and raw, violent pain, but in this revival (by Justin Way) of Moshe Leiser’s and Patrice Caurier’s 2003 production of Madame Butterfly, directorial understatement together with ravishing scenic beauty are shown to be more potent ways of enabling the sung voice to reveal the emotional depths of human tragedy.

Tosca in Marseille

Rarely, very rarely does a Tosca come around that you can get excited about. Sure, sometimes there is good singing, less often good conducting but rarely is there a mise en scène that goes beyond stock opera vocabulary.

Poetry beyond words — Nash Ensemble, Wigmore Hall

The Nash Ensemble’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations at the Wigmore Hall were crowned by a recital that typifies the Nash’s visionary mission. Above, the dearly-loved founder, Amelia Freeman, a quietly revolutionary figure in her own way, who has immeasurably enriched the cultural life of this country.

Arizona Opera Presents Magritte Style Magic Flute

On March 7, 2015, Arizona Opera presented Dan Rigazzi’s production of Die Zauberflöte in Tucson. Inspired by the works of René Magritte, designer John Pollard filled the stage with various sizes of picture frames, windows, and portals from which he leads us into Mozart and Schikaneder’s dream world.

Henry Purcell: A Retrospective

There are some concert programmes which are not just wonderful in their execution but also delight and satisfy because of the ‘rightness’ of their composition. This Wigmore Hall recital by soprano Carolyn Sampson and three period-instrument experts of arias and instrumental pieces by Henry Purcell was one such occasion.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Roxana Constantinescu as La Cenerentola (Angelina) [Photo by Michal Daniel courtesy of Minnesota Opera]
07 Nov 2010

La Cenerentola, Minnesota Opera

Minnesota Opera’s recent production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola certainly is a fantastical, comical portrayal of the classical fairy tale.

Gioachino Rossini: Cinderella (La Cenerentola)

La Cenerentola (Angelina), Don Magnifico's stepdaughter: Roxana Constantinescu; Don Ramiro, Prince of Salerno: John Tessier; Dandini, valet to Don Ramiro: Andrew Wilkowske; Don Magnifico, Baron of Monte Fiascone: Donato DiStefano; Clorinda, his daughter: Angela Mortellaro; Tisbe, his daughter: Victoria Vargas; Alidoro, tutor to Don Ramiro: Daniel Mobbs. Conductor: Christopher Franklin. Stage Director and Choreographer: Doug Varone. Set Designer: Erhard Rom. Costume Designer: James Schuette. Lighting Designer: Jane Cox.

Above: Roxana Constantinescu as La Cenerentola (Angelina)

All photos by Michal Daniel courtesy of Minnesota Opera

 

However, true to Minnesota Opera fashion of exploring creative boundaries in time-honored operatic classics, this production successfully synthesized Rossini’s repetitive musical ideas with stylized, slightly buffo choreography, which brought life to an opera that too often becomes a boring museum relic. With this dash of whimsy, coupled with a stellar ensemble cast, even a fairy godmother couldn’t have concocted a more magical show!

Rossini’s music is notorious for its repetitive melodic material as he layers the orchestral texture with each succession. Stage director and choreographer, Doug Varone, uses this evolving musical medium as inspiration for his stage movement and choreography to further the drama throughout the opera. In his notes, he states, “Staging an opera is very similar to choreographing a dance. If it is done very well, movement ideas are wedded beautifully to the score and can be used to tell the story in much the same way a libretto does… By following my instinctive responses to the music, I allow myself to create a movement scenario that imaginatively brings this aural world to life.”

0885.gifDonato DiStefano as Don Magnifico

Varone wastes no time in bringing the magical world of Cinderella to life. From the overture downbeat, the curtain rises on a sleeping Cinderella in a dusty kitchen. The frantic rhythms in the orchestral texture highlight the busy day ahead for Cinderella as she hurriedly cleans the kitchen, prepares breakfast, and tries to ready her two comatose stepsisters for the day. The music of the overture is often completely bypassed or only partially staged, however in this production, we are allowed a unique look into Cinderella’s world, and are even more informed than we would have been if this additional staging were completely ignored.

Though this production was touted as Roxana Constantinescu’s (Angelina) American debut, Minnesota brought in many incredible headliners and supporting singers that truly allowed this ensemble opera to run seamlessly. A wonderful surprise came from MN Opera’s Resident Artists, Victoria Vargas (Tisbe) and Angela Mortellaro (Clorinda). Both performers embodied their buffa characters completely — Vargas maintained a lovely, full mezzo-tone in her vocal delivery, yet had wonderful physical comic timing, while Mortellaro allowed her voice to become slightly shrill in some of her recitatives to fully evoke her spoiled character.

4339.gifAngela Mortellaro as Clorinda, Roxana Constantinescu as La Cenerentola (Angelina) and Victoria Vargas as Tisbe

Roxana Constantinescu’s performance as Angelina will certainly open more doors for her in the states. Constantinescu has recently been performing in the Vienna Opera’s ensemble for the 2009-2010 season, singing roles such as Zerlina and Rosina. The role of Angelina has been part of her repertory since her debut at the Teatro Politeama di Lecce. Constatinescu played an endearing Angelina, highlighted by a warm, velvety tone full of connection and lyricism. Her performance of the lyric canzone “Una volta c'era un re” executed exquisite long lines coupled with impeccable phrasing. Her tour de force aria of Act II, “Nacqui all'affanno, al pianto,” shimmered with impeccable, perfectly rhythmic coloratura lines, no doubt influenced by her percussionist background. Unfortunately, her final high notes in the ensemble texture of Act II lacked warmth and finesse found in her lower lyric lines and coloratura. It was unclear whether Constatinescu was vocally exhausted by the demands of Act II, or felt she had to power over the ensemble.

John Tessier (Don Ramiro) had such honesty and simplicity in both his stage presence and his vocal ability. Tessier is certainly put to the test in his aria, “Si, ritrovarla io giuro.” As he sings of his love for this mystery woman, the prince’s valet entourage lifts him up to be undressed and re-dressed into his proper attire. This is all done, of course, as Tessier executes one flawless coloratura line after another, followed by crystal clear high C’s. Truly one of Varone’s more daring staging ideas, but Tessier made the whole ordeal seam like simple child’s play.

3755.gifRoxana Constantinescu as La Cenerentola (Angelina) and John Tessier as Don Ramiro

Daniel Mobbs (Alidoro) is the final surprise in this stellar ensemble cast. With a rich bass-baritone, Mobbs astounds with his flexible and incredibly accurate coloratura and command of the bel canto line. With an unshakeable stage presence, Mobbs seemed to command attention in each scene.

An attentive male chorus, executing complicated group staging throughout, rounded out the ensemble. Timing and Italian diction did seem to be sloppy at times, especially in the more parlando sections, but overall supported the scenes well. The Minnesota Opera Orchestra did especially well, determined to keep up with Maetro Christopher Franklin’s demanding tempi.

Sarah Luebke

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):