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

MOZART 250: the year 1767

Classical Opera’s MOZART 250 project has reached the year 1767. Two years ago, the company embarked upon an epic, 27-year exploration of the music written by Mozart and his contemporaries exactly 250 years previously. The series will incorporate 250th anniversary performances of all Mozart’s important compositions and artistic director Ian Page tells us that as 1767 ‘was the year in which Mozart started to write more substantial works - opera, oratorio, concertos … this will be the first year of MOZART 250 in which Mozart’s own music dominates the programme’.

Monteverdi, Masters and Poets - Imitation and Emulation

‘[T]hey moderated or increased their voices, loud or soft, heavy or light according to the demands of the piece they were singing; now slowing, breaking of sometimes with a gentle sigh, now singing long passages legato or detached, now groups, now leaps, now with long trills, now with short, or again, with sweet running passages sung softly, to which one sometimes heard an echo answer unexpectedly. They accompanied the music and the sentiment with appropriate facial expressions, glances and gestures, with no awkward movements of the mouth or hands or body which might not express the feelings of the song. They made the words clear in such a way that one could hear even the last syllable of every word, which was never interrupted or suppressed by passages or other embellishments.’

Visionary Wagner - The Flying Dutchman, Finnish National Opera

An exceptional Wagner Der fliegende Holländer, so challenging that, at first, it seems shocking. But Kasper Holten's new production, currently at the Finnish National Opera, is also exceptionally intelligent.

Don Quichotte at Chicago Lyric

A welcome addition to Lyric Opera of Chicago’s roster was its recent production of Jules Massenet’s Don Quichotte.

Written on Skin: Royal Opera House

800 years ago, every book was a precious treasure - ‘written on skin’. In George Benjamin’s and Martin Crimp’s 2012 opera, Written on Skin, modern-day archivists search for one such artefact: a legendary 12th-century illustrated vanity project, commissioned by an unnamed Protector to record and celebrate his power.

Madama Butterfly at Staatsoper im Schiller Theater

It was like a “Date Night” at Staatsoper unter den Linden with its return of Eike Gramss’ 2012 production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. While I entered the Schiller Theater, the many young couples venturing to the opera together, and emerging afterwards all lovey-dovey and moved by Puccini’s melodramatic romance, encouraged me to think more positively about the future of opera.

It’s the end of the world as we know it: Hannigan & Rattle sing of Death

For the Late Night concert after the Saturday series, fifteen Berliners backed up Barbara Hannigan in yet another adventurous collaboration on a modern rarity with Simon Rattle. I was completely unfamiliar with the French composer, but the performance tonight made me fall in love with Gérard Grisey’s sensually disintegrating soundscape Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil, or “Fours Songs to cross the Threshold”.

A Vocally Extravagant Saturday Night with Berliner Philharmoniker

One of the things I love about the Philharmonie in Berlin, is the normalcy of musical excellence week after week. Very few venues can pull off with such illuminating star wattage. Michael Schade, Anne Schwanewilms, and Barbara Hannigan performed in two concerts with two larger-than-life conductors Thielemann and Rattle. We were taken on three thrilling adventures.

Les Troyens at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s original and superbly cast production of Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens has provided the musical public with a treasured opportunity to appreciate one of the great operatic achievements of the nineteenth century.

Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock

The Little Opera Company opened its 21st season by championing its own, as it presented the world premiere of Winnipeg composer Neil Weisensel’s Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock.

A Christmas Festival: La Nuova Musica at St John's Smith Square

Now in its 31st year, the 2016 Christmas Festival at St John’s Smith Square has offered sixteen concerts performed by diverse ensembles, among them: the choirs of King’s College, London and Merton College, Oxford; Christchurch Cathedral Choir, Oxford; The Gesualdo Six; The Cardinall’s Musick; The Tallis Scholars; the choirs of Trinity College and Clare College, Cambridge; Tenebrae; Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightment.

Fleming's Farewell to London: Der Rosenkavalier at the ROH

As 2016 draws to a close, we stand on the cusp of a post-Europe, pre-Trump world. Perhaps we will look back on current times with the nostalgic romanticism of Richard Strauss’s 1911 paean to past glories, comforts and certainties: Der Rosenkavalier.

Loft Opera’s Macbeth: Go for the Singing, Not the Experience

Ah, Loft Opera. It’s part of the experience to wander down many dark streets, confused and lost, in a part of Brooklyn you’ve never been. It is that exclusive—you can’t even find the performance!

A clipped Walküre in Amsterdam

Let’s start by getting a couple of gripes out of the way. First, the final act of Die Walküre does not constitute a full-length concert, even with a distinguished cast and orchestra, and with animated drawings fluttering on a giant screen.

A Leonard Bernstein Delight

When you combine two charismatic New York stage divas with the artistry of Los Angeles Opera, you have a mix that explodes into singing, dancing and an evening of superb entertainment.

An English Winter Journey

Roderick Williams’ and Julius Drake’s English Winter Journey seems such a perfect concept that one wonders why no one had previously thought of compiling a sequence of 24 songs by English composers to mirror, complement and discourse with Schubert’s song-cycle of love and loss.

History Repeating Itself: Prokofiev’s Semyon Kotko, Amsterdam Concertgebouw

A historical afternoon at the NTR Saturday Matinee occurred with an epic concert version of Prokofiev’s Soviet Opera Semyon Kotko.

L’amour de loin at the Metropolitan Opera

Opening night at the Metropolitan is a gleeful occasion even when the composer is long gone, but December 1st was an opening for a living composer who has been making waves around the world and is, gasp, a woman — the second woman composer ever to have an opera presented at the Met.

La finta giardiniera at the Royal College of Music

For an opera that has never quite made it over the threshold into the ‘canonical’, the adolescent Mozart’s La finta giardiniera has not done badly of late for productions in the UK. In 2014, Glyndebourne presented Frederic Wake-Walker’s take on the eighteen-year-old’s dramma giocoso. Wake-Walker turned the romantic shenanigans and skirmishes into a debate on the nature of reality, in which the director tore off layers of theatrical artifice in order to answer Auden’s rhetorical question, ‘O tell me the truth about love’.

Lust for Revenge: Barenboim and Herlitzius fire up Strauss’s Elektra in Berlin

As the German language describes so beautifully, a “Schrei aus tiefstem Herzen” was felt as Evelyn Herlitzius channelled an Elektra from the depths of her soul.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Krassimira Stoyanova
11 Dec 2010

La Bohème, New York

Perhaps the most unexpected occurrence of the evening was the malfunction of the Act I-Act II set change.

Giacomo Puccini: La Bohème

Mimi: Krassimira Stoyanova; Musetta: Ellie Dehn; Rodolfo: Joseph Calleja; Marcello: Fabio Capitanucci; Colline: Günther Groissböck; Schaunard: Dimitris Tiliakos. Metropolitan Opera. Conducted by Roberto Rizzi Brignoli. Performance of December 1.

Above: Krassimira Stoyanova

 

The Met threw in another intermission, but did not distribute free Champagne. Perhaps the Zeffirelli production is becoming arthritic, or did the donkey or the horse (it is Zeffirelli; you get both in his Act II) throw the sort of tantrum singers never risk nowadays? Alcindoro’s re-entrance with the shoes (Paul Plishka, as inevitably as the snow in Act III) has somehow got lost in the mayhem, and you are free to regret this if you like. I also missed Marcello’s “Crossing of the Red Sea” painting, which is supposed to be hanging outside the snowy inn in Act III.

For me, though, what made the whole thing worth seeing was Krassimira Stoyanova’s first Mimi in New York, especially the moment when, wandering around the boys’ studio, plainly never having seen such a place (Rodolfo is on the balcony telling his pals downstairs to get lost), takes up Marcello’s paintbrush, waving it in the air, unable to imagine what on earth it is. One is grateful for any spontaneity in this ancient staging.

Stoyanova is perhaps the world’s foremost lyric-spinto today, but the Met hardly takes her seriously as she is not a glamour girl. Mimi is her only assignment there this season, though New Yorkers can catch her internationally admired Desdemona when the Chicago Symphony performs Otello here in April. Her acting in Bohème’s impossibly cluttered attic is impeccable, though she has trouble getting around all the furniture (“Why don’t they burn a few of those picture frames instead of Rodolfo’s manuscript?” grumbles a friend) and is happier when there is merely snow to dodge in Act III. Her voice is of exceptional sweetness, kept deceptively small (it is not a small voice) when portraying the consumptive seamstress. On the first night of the run, there were a few mildly disconcerting moments of awkward pitch; I’d rather have heard her later in the run. The live broadcast from Vienna last fall was ideal, unearthly, recalling the young Freni.

Her Rodolfo was Joseph Calleja, a burly, bearded fellow with an easy smile and a smiling voice—marred for some hearers, perhaps, by an old-fashioned vibrato that reminded me of Alessandro Bonci. Fabio Capitanucci, who is actually stout, sang a perfect Marcello with an ingratiatingly suave baritone one is eager to hear again. Debutantes filled out the Bohemian quartet: Günther Groissböck (Colline) and Dimitris Tiliakos (Schaunard) revealed fine, well-produced, Met-sized voices if not yet much individuality of character. Ellie Dehn, who was so lovely in the Met’s Satyagraha, sang Musetta’s music well but acted like a village schoolmarm drafted at the last minute and against all inclination to play the vamp. She’s no vamp, and displayed no sexual magnetism at all. We’re not interested in your petticoats, dear—where’s that ankle?

Roberto Rizzi Brignoli did not seem ideally in sync with his singers; one recalls more bounce in the scenes of Bohemian shenanigans. This group of newcomers seemed not quite ready to let themselves go. But the Met orchestra can play this music to perfection in its sleep, and did not sound asleep at all.

John Yohalem

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):