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

Lost Stravinsky re-united with Rimsky-Korsakov, Gergiev, Mariinsky

Igor Stravinsky's lost Funeral Song, (Chante funèbre) op 5 conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky in St Petersburg This extraordinary performance was infinitely more than an ordinary concert, even for a world premiere of an unknown work.

Philippe Jaroussky at the Wigmore Hall: Baroque cantatas by Telemann and J.S.Bach

On Tuesday evening this week, I found myself at The Actors Centre in London’s Covent Garden watching a performance of Unknowing, a dramatization of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben and Dichterliebe (in a translation by David Parry, in which Matthew Monaghan directed a baritone and a soprano as they enacted a narrative of love, life and loss. Two days later at the Wigmore Hall I enjoyed a wonderful performance, reviewed here, by countertenor Philippe Jaroussky with Julien Chauvin’s Le Concert de la Loge, of cantatas by Telemann and J.S. Bach.

The new Queen of the City of Birmingham Royal Symphony

Here is one of the next new great conductors. That’s a bold statement, but even the L.A. Times agrees: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s appointment “is the biggest news in the conducting world.” But Ms. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will be getting a lot of weight on her shoulders.

Falstaff at Manitoba Opera

Manitoba Opera chose to open its 44th season by going for the belly laughs — literally — as it notably presented its inaugural production of Verdi’s Falstaff.

Gothic Schubert : Wigmore Hall, London

Macabre and moonstruck, Schubert as Goth, with Stuart Jackson, Marcus Farnsworth and James Baillieu at the Wigmore Hall. An exceptionally well-planned programme devised with erudition and wit, executed to equally high standards.

Rusalka, AZ Opera

On November 20, 2016, Arizona Opera completed its run of Antonín Dvořák’s fairy Tale opera, Rusalka. Loosely based on Hand Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, Joshua Borths staged it with common objects such as dining room chairs that could be found in the home of a child watching the story unfold.

First new Ring Cycle in 40 Years, Leipzig

Consistently overshadowed by the neighboring Bayreuth, the far less stuffy Oper Leipzig (Wagner’s birthplace) programmed after forty years their first complete Ring Cycle.

San Jose’s Beta-Carotene Rich Barber

You didn’t have to know the Bugs Bunny oeuvre to appreciate Opera San Jose’s enchanting Il barbiere di Sivigila, but it sure enhanced your experience if you did.

Manon Lescaut at Covent Garden

If there was ever any doubt that Puccini’s Manon is on a road to nowhere, then the closing image of Jonathan Kent’s 2014 production of Manon Lescaut (revived here for the first time, by Paul Higgins) leaves no uncertainty.

Fierce in War, dazzling in Peace: Joyce DiDonato at the Concertgebouw

Many opera singers are careful to maintain an air of political neutrality. Not so mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who is outspoken about causes she holds dear. Her latest project, a very personal response to the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, puts her audience through the emotional wringer, but also showers them with musical rewards.

Simplicius Simplicissimus

I wonder if Karl Amadeus Hartmann saw something of himself in the young Simplicius Simplicissimus, the eponymous protagonist of his three-scene chamber opera of 1936. Simplicius is in a sort of ‘Holy Fool’ who manages to survive the violence and civil strife of the Thirty Years War (1618-48), largely through dumb chance, and whose truthful pronouncements fall upon the ears of the deluded and oppressive.

Lucia di Lammermoor at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its second opera of the 2016-17 season Lyric Opera of Chicago has staged Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in a production seen at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Grand Théâtre de Genève.

Akhnaten Offers L A Operagoers Both Ear and Eye Candy

Akhnaten is the third in composer Philip Glass’s trilogy of operas about people who have made important contributions to society: Albert Einstein in science, Mahatma Gandhi in politics, and Akhnaten in religion. Glass’s three operas are: Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten.

Shakespeare in the Late Baroque - Bampton Classical Opera

Shakespeare re-imagined for the very Late Baroque, with Bampton Classical Opera at St John's Smith Square. "Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare....the God of Our Idolatory". So wrote David Garrick in his Ode to Shakespeare (1759) through which the actor and showman marketed Shakespeare to new audiences, fanning the flames of "Bardolatory". All Europe was soon caught up in the frenzy.

Soldier Songs in San Diego

David Little composed his one-man opera, Soldier Songs, ten years ago and the International Festival of Arts & Ideas of New Haven, Connecticut, premiered it in 2011. At San Diego Opera, the fifty-five minute musical presentation and the “Talk Back” that followed it were part of the Shiley dētour Series which is held in the company’s smaller venue, the historic Balboa Theatre.

Barber of Seville [Hollywood Style] in Los Angeles

On Saturday evening November 12, 2016, Pacific Opera Project presented Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville in an updated version that placed the action in Hollywood. It was sung in the original Italian but the translation seen as supertitles was specially written to match the characters’ Hollywood identities.

Madama Butterfly in San Francisco

A Butterfly for the ages in a Butterfly marred by casting ineptness and lugubrious conducting.

Kiss Me, Kate: Welsh National Opera at the Birmingham Hippodrome

In 1964, 400 years after the birth of the Bard, the writer Anthony Burgess saw Cole Porter’s musical comedy Kiss Me, Kate, a romping variation on The Taming of the Shrew. Shakespeare’s comedy, Burgess said, had a ‘good playhouse reek about it’, adding ‘the Bard might be regarded as closer to Cole Porter and Broadway razzmatazz’ than to the scholars who were ‘picking him raw’.

Beat Furrer FAMA - Hörtheater reaches London

Beat Furrer's FAMA came to London at last, with the London Sinfonietta. The piece was hailed as "a miracle" at its premiere at Donaueschingen in 2005 by Die Zeit: State of the Art New Music, recognized by mainstream media, which proves that there is a market for contemporary music lies with lively audiences

Franz Schreker : Die Gezeichneten (Les Stigmatizés). Lyon

Franz Schreker Die Gezeichneten from the Opéra de Lyon last year, now on arte.tv and Opera Platform. The translation, "The stigmatized", doesn't convey the impact of the original title, which is closer to"The Cursed".

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):