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

Mahler Songs : Christian Gerhaher, Wigmore Hall

Star singer and star composer, a combination guaranteed to bring in the fans. Christian Gerhaher sang Mahler at the Wigmore Hall with Gerold Huber. Gerhaher shot to fame when he sang Wolfram at the Royal Opera House Tannhäuser in 2010.

Modernity vanquished? Verdi Un ballo in maschera, Royal Opera House, London

Verdi Un ballo in maschera at the Royal Opera House - a masked ball in every sense, where nothing is quite what it seems. On the surface, this new production appears quaint and undemanding. It uses painted flats, for example, pulled back and forth across, as in toy theatre. The scenes painted on them are vaguely generic, depicting neither Boston nor Stockholm, where the tale supposedly takes place. Instead, we focus on Verdi, and on theatre practices of the past. In other words, opera as the art of illusion, not an attempt to replicate reality. Take this production too literally and you'll miss the wit and intelligence behind it.

La Traviata in Ljubljana Slovenia

Small country, small opera house — big ensemble spirit. Internationally acclaimed soprano Natalia Ushakova steps in for indisposed local Violetta with mixed results.

Otello in Bucharest — Moor’s the pity

Bulgarian director Vera Nemirova’s production of Otello for the Romanian National Opera in Bucharest was certainly full of new ideas — unfortunately all bad.

Il trovatore at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its current revival of the 2006-2007 production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore by Sir David McVicar Lyric Opera has assembled a talented quintet of principal singers whose strengths match this conception of the opera.

Mary, Queen of Heaven, Wigmore Hall

O Maria Deo grata — ‘O Mary, pleasing to God’: so begins Robert Fayrfax’s antiphon, one of several supplications to the Virgin Mary presented in this thought-provoking concert by The Cardinall’s Musick at the Wigmore Hall.

Analyzed not demonized — Tristan und Isolde, Royal Opera House

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House, first revival of the 2009 production, one of the first to attract widespread hostility even before the curtain rose on the first night.

Florencia in el Amazonas Makes Triumphant Return to LA

On November 22, 2014, Los Angeles Opera staged Francesca Zambello’s updated version of Florencia in el Amazonas.

John Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary

John Adams and his long-standing collaborator Peter Sellars have described The Gospel According to the Other Mary as a ‘Passion oratorio’.

A new Yevgeny Onegin in Zagreb — Prince Gremin’s Fabulous Pool Party

Superb conducting from veteran Croatian maestro Nikša Bareza makes up for an absurd waterlogged new production of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

Nabucco in Novi Sad

After the horrors of Jagoš Marković’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro in Belgrade, I was apprehensive lest Nabucco in Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad on 27th October would be transplanted from 6th century BC Babylon to post-Saddam Hussein Tikrit or some bombed-out kibbutz in Beersheba.

La Bohème in San Francisco

First Toronto, then Houston and now San Francisco, the third stop of a new production of Puccini's La bohème by Canadian born, British nurtured theater director John Caird.

Radvanovsky Sings Recital in Los Angeles

Every once in a while Los Angeles Opera presents an important recital in the three thousand seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

L’elisir d’amore, Royal Opera

This third revival of Laurent Pelly’s production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore needed a bit of a pep up to get moving but once it had been given a shot of ‘medicinal’ tincture things spiced up nicely.

Samling Showcase, Wigmore Hall

Founded in 1996, Samling describes itself as a charity which ‘inspires musical excellence in young people’.

La cenerentola in San Francisco

The good news is that you don’t have to go all the way to Pesaro for great Rossini.

Rameau: Maître à danser — William Christie, Barbican London

Maître à danser: William Christie and Les Arts Florissants at the Barbican, London, presented a defining moment in Rameau performance practice, choreographed with a team of dancers.

Le Nozze di Figaro — or Sex on the Beach?

The most memorable thing (and definitely not in a good way) about this performance of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Serbian National Theatre in Belgrade was the self-serving, infantile, offensive and just plain wrong production by celebrated Serbian theatre director Jagoš Marković.

The Met mounts a well sung but dramatically unconvincing ‘Carmen’

Should looks matter when casting the role of the iconic temptress for HD simulcast?

Maurice Greene’s Jephtha

Maurice Greene (1696-1755) had a highly successful musical career. Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a position to which he was elected when he was just 22 years-old, he later became organist of the Chapel Royal, Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge and, from 1735, Master of the King’s Music.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Mark Rucker as Nabucco [Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Opera]
24 Jan 2011

Nabucco, Palm Beach Opera

Appearing on Palm Beach Opera’s website video player General Director Daniel Biaggi points out among the reasons to attend the first show of the company’s 2010-2011 season, “fantastic artists whose voices will blow you away.”

Giuseppe Verdi: Nabucco

Nabucco: Mark Rucker (12/10 & 12/12) / Sebastian Catana (12/11 & 12/13); Abigaille: Paoletta Marrocu (12/10 & 12/12) / Csilla Boross (12/11 & 12/13) ; Zaccaria: Dmitry Belosselskiy; Fenena: Laura Vlasak Nolen; Ismaele: Adam Diegel; High Priest of Baal: Harold Wilson; Abdallo: Evanivaldo Correa Serrano. Conductor: Bruno Aprea. Director: Guy Montavon. Set: Opéra de Montréal. Palm Beach Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

Above: Mark Rucker as Nabucco

All photos courtesy of Palm Beach Opera

 

Biaggi’s claim is no folderol; each principal in PBO’s Nabucco (seen opening night December 10) offered a performance of individual value, with the balance of the night’s success tipping aptly on Mark Rucker’s Nabucco and on the playing of the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra with principal conductor and artistic director Bruno Aprea on the podium.

Mark Rucker presented fluent Verdi style, adding — of late — further finesse to a cantabile line that already made him a notable exponent of the style and period. The power-addled king’s delusions of Acts II and III were conveyed in Rucker’s singing — fashioned with portamento and diminuendos; he hit his stride vocally and dramatically with a ‘Dio di Giuda’ both meditative and conciliatory. This night’s Abigaille, Paoletta Marrocu, in her moments on vocal spotlight made most of an impression with an often rich middle register — mellifluously delivered in the more lyrical passages of ‘Anch'io dischiuso un giorno.’ In between some hard, go-for-broke, high notes and her seemingly unabashed use of discernible register breaks for dramatic effect, Ms. Marrocu spun accurately articulated scales and rapped out the text with biting authority.

Showing off an even bel canto line — that touched the F sharp in his cabaletta — and a sizable, fleet instrument was bass Dmitry Belosselskliy (Zaccaria). Laura Vlasak Nolen (Fenena) displayed fine stage sense in the final act prayer, where she and Aprea collaborated with Verdian strokes of refined rubato. Adam Diegel owns a large instrument with lyric attributes that made short work of Ismaele’s lines. As the High Priest of Baal, Harold Wilson brought a knowing gait and a fine bass. Palm Beach Young Artists Evanivaldo Correa and Alison Bates did right by the roles of Abdallo and Anna.

Grave majesty was missing from the opening of Nabucco’s overture; once to the livelier section though, the playing of the orchestra turned altogether superlative. Aprea’s conducting strikes as being attentive and open to various facets of artistic nuance. In the overture, there was a cohesive vitality that held through bouncy and bold and light and lyrical passages with well-executed string and woodwind playing. Verdi’s markings were honored to the end; and, in the manner of, Aprea was keen to push on or allow singers rhythmic room as necessary. Both the orchestra and the Palm Beach Opera Chorus reached a level of musical gravitas in ‘Immenso Jeovha.’

PaolettaMarrocu.gifPaoletta Marrocu as Abigaille

Stage director Guy Montavon and chorus were doubtless challenged by set pieces (credit given to Opera de Montreal) with compact stage space. Though conceptually beautiful, the Temple — swept in purifying soft shades of blue, a motif for the sets — seemed randomly besieged by congregants. To Montavon’s credit, the varying presence of Doric columns on a stage-wide platform with stairs leading to two landings left little room downstage and only a few feet from the pit to work with. Of “special mention” quality is the lighting of David Gano — faintly fading across wide gulfs of the color spectrum is analogous to mystifying and winding dramaturgical currents in Act II.

Robert Carreras

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):