Recently in Reviews
As the Britten centenary events draw to a close, the Birmingham Royal Ballet are offering one final highlight: a new version of Britten’s only ballet, The Prince of the Pagodas, with choreography by David Bintley.
Nashville Opera Artistic Director John Hoomes set the opera as Violetta’s dying dream, so colors and other aspects of the backgrounds were symbolic and bright.
Will wonders never cease? Wheat stalks 6 meters high? Rats 2 meters tall. Setting Donizetti’s little comedy amidst biological mutations engendered by Chernobyl does seem a bit farfetched.
Handel’s great opus, Rodelinda, at English National Opera on
Friday night was the latest in the Coliseum’s recent run of new and
co-produced productions, and also renowned director Peter Jones’ latest foray
into the world of opera.
On Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2014, San Diego Opera presented The Elixir of Love in a traditional production by Stephen Lawless.
Billy Budd, portrayed by handsome lyric tenor Liam Bonner, is a charismatic embodiment of innocence.
This was in almost every respect an excellent performance — which therefore exacerbates the problem lying at the heart, or whatever it is that lies in its place, of the work itself.
Bilbao is always news, Calixto Bieito is always news, Carmen with a good cast is always news. So here is the news.
French mistresses are much in the news these days, and now the Théâtre du Capitole’s new production of Donizetti’s La Favorite has added considerable fuel to the fire.
In a 1960 BBC interview, Britten explained to Lord Harewood: ‘I was very much influenced by [W.H.] Auden
Michael Tippett’s opera King Priam premiered as part of the
same arts festival in Coventry for which Britten’s War Requiem was
written and in fact the two works have something in common, dealing with the
issues of war and its consequences.
In Lyric Opera of Chicago’s recent performances of Johann Strauss’s
Die Fledermaus several debuts are notable to both American and Chicago
One wonders if it wasn’t rather risky of ENO to stage a new version of Rigoletto when Jonathan Miller’s ‘mafioso’ production, which served the company so well for a quarter of a century, is still fresh in opera-goers’ minds and hearts?
Its soothing wooden walls gently bathed in aquamarine light, the very modern Hall at King’s Place made a surprisingly fitting venue for a musical journey to the intimate Elizabethan chamber.
A handsome new production, beautifully staged in Marseille’s fine old opera house cried out for a cast to make the opera bel canto.
Harry Bicket and the English Concert brought Handel's wonderful late oratorio Theodora to the Barbican on Saturday 8 February 2014 after a Tour in America and now taking in Birmingham, London and Paris.
Opera in the British Isles might seem a rather sparse subject in the period 1875 to 1918. Notoriously described as the land without music, even the revival of the native tradition of composers did not include a strong vein of opera.
It is not often that a Aaron Copland's The Tender Land comes along with resources like those of the Opéra de Lyon, one of Europe's finest. So carpe diem!
Kasper Holten’s new production of Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera
House risks laying the house’s Director of Opera open to charges of
antiquated mores and misogyny: for he seems to suggest that the women are just
as bad, if not worse, than their seducer — and that a soulful man who seeks
genuine love is likely to find his ‘ideal beloved’ forever out of reach.
On January 28, San Diego Opera presented Pagliacci as the opening production of the 2014 season. Often staged along with another opera, such as Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, this Pagliacci faced the opera world alone.
31 Dec 2010
Adriana Lecouvreur at Teatro Regio Torino 2009
The Royal Opera at Covent Garden just made something of a splash in international opera news with a star-encrusted revival of an opera once quite popular and yet in recent years — Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur.
With multiple set pieces for its three leads, all gloriously melodic, and an unashamedly melodramatic tale mixing aristocratic intrigue and backstage theatrics, many might wonder why this almost proto-typical Italian opera relinquished its once-proud place in the repertory. For anyone too impatient to await the inevitable DVD release of the Covent Garden production (with Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann, and Olga Borodina), there is a 2009 staging from Turin with a capable cast available. Unfortunately, this Turin production mostly serves to make one understand the opera’s relative neglect in recent decades.
Director Lorenzo Mariani goes for a gambit increasingly popular — a spare physical production almost “regie”-like in its setting of the scene through a handful of props in an open space, while stamping through this somewhat abstract environment are characters in completely traditional costume, and quite opulent ones at that. This gambit allows the director to please the more conservative opera-goer (those most likely to be attracted to this opera) and yet allows for swift scene changes and at least provides a nominal acknowledgment of contemporary opera design. The gambit doesn’t do much to make the convoluted plot mechanics of Arturo Colautti and Ernest Legouvé’s libretto any more believable. Somehow court protocol requires Maurizio to dissemble affection for a married Princess, while carrying on a secret love affair with the actress Adriana Lecouvreur. Since Maurizio does not entrust Adriana with this information, so when she learns the truth she and the Princess curse each other in mutual rage. The aristocrat has more to lose and the power to avoid detection in seeking revenge, which leads to a protracted death scene for Adriana, after sniffing a poisoned bouquet of flowers. Supposedly the original source material of Eugène Scribe’s play had a historical precedent, but even if the details are correct (extremely unlikely), as staged, the opera’s action veers from the dull to the ridiculous.
So what a successful production needs is star-power — glamorous voices in appealing form who can let the music rip and help an audience forget the nonsense on stage. Perhaps that is what happened at the above-referenced Covent Garden run. But not in Turin. Marcelo Álvarez’s lyric instrument finds the role of Maurizio more suitable than some of the heavier ones he has taken on in recent years. His breath control and consistency of production cannot be seriously faulted. He simply has little imagination, either as singer or actor, so the music lacks that spark of life that might help a viewer believe momentarily an actual character is on stage, and not an over-costumed singer. The tenor has more to offer than his female co-leads, however. In the title role Micaela Carosi brings volume and an unwieldy vibrato, so any flicker of pathos in her character never flames into life. Although well-equipped with a solid mezzo voice, Marianne Cornetti is not favored by her costume, and she never makes a creditable rival for Lecouvreur. The best performance comes from Alfonso Antoniozzi as Michonnet, director of the theater where Lecouvreur acts. He doesn’t have much to do, but he manages to convince us, while he is on stage, that Lecouvreur is someone we should care about.
Cilea’s score veers from the heights of melodiousness to the depths of murky, protracted scene-setting. In the opening scene of backstage chaos, TV director Matteo Ricchetti indulges in frantic quick edits that are more annoying than effective. Thankfully he settles down after that scene into acceptable competence. Conductor Renato Palumbo elicits some silky sounds from the house forces. The Blu-Ray picture only makes its distinctive clarity felt in scanning the stitching of the costumes; the sets don’t offer much to look at.
Particular fans of these singers or this opera need not be dissuaded. Patience may well be rewarded for others curious about this opera when/if the Covent Garden production appears on the shelves.