Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Performances

The Barber of Seville, ENO London

This may be the twelfth revival of Jonathan Miller’s 1987production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville for English National Opera, but the ready laughter from the auditorium and the fresh musical and dramatic responses from the stage suggest that it will continue to amuse audiences and serve the house well for some time to come.

Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Bostridge, Barbican London

The third and final instalment of the Academy of Ancient Music’s survey of Monteverdi’s operas at the Barbican began and ended in darkness; the red glow of the single candle was an apt visual frame for a performance which was dedicated to the memory of the late Andrew Porter, the music critic and writer whose learned, pertinent and eloquent words did so much to restore Monteverdi, Cavalli and other neglected music-dramatists to the operatic stage.

English Touring Opera - Debussy, Massenet and Offenbach

English Touring Opera’s recent programming has been ambitious and inventive, and the results have been rewarding. We had two little-known Donizetti operas, The Siege of Calais and The Wild Man of the West Indies, in spring 2015, while autumn 2014 saw the company stage comedy by Haydn (Il mondo della luna) and romantic history by Handel (Ottone).

Verismo Double Header in Los Angeles

LA Opera got its season off to an auspicious beginning with starry revivals of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci.

Viva Verdi at Opera Las Vegas

On September 9, 2015, Opera Las Vegas presented James Sohre’s production of Viva Verdi at the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz. It was a delightful evening of arias, duets and ensembles by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). The program included many of the composer’s blockbuster arias and scenes from famous operas such as Aida, La traviata, and Macbeth.

Barbera Sings a Fascinating Recital in San Diego

On Saturday, September 19, San Diego Opera opened its 2015-2016 season with a recital by tenor René Barbera. This was the first Polly Puterbaugh Emerging Artist Award Recital and no artist could have been more deserving than the immensely talented Barbera.

Sweeney Todd at the San Francisco Opera

Did the iconic “off-beat” and “serious” American musical hold the stage of the War Memorial Opera House? The excited audience (standees three deep) thought so and roared their appreciation.

Wigmore Hall Complete Schubert Song Series begins with Boesch and Johnson

The Wigmore Hall, London, has launched Schubert : The Complete Songs, a 40-concert series to run through the 2015 and 2016 seasons. There have been Schubert marathons before, like BBC Radio 3's all-Schubert week and The Oxford Lieder Festival's Schubert series last year, but the Wigmore Hall series will be a major landmark because the Wigmore Hall is the Wigmore Hall, the epitome of excellence.

Luisa Miller in San Francisco

Luisa Miller sits on the fringes of the repertory, and since its introduction into the modern repertory in the 1970’s it comes around every 15 or so years. Unfortunately this 2015 San Francisco occasion has not bothered to rethink this remarkable opera.

Salieri: La grotta di Trofonio (Trofonio’s Cave)

Demonised by Pushkin and Peter Shaffer, Antonio Salieri lives in the public imagination as the embittered rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — whose genius he lamented and revered in equal measure, and against whom he schemed and plotted at the Emperor Joseph II’s Viennese court.

Chicago Lyric’s Stars Shine at Millennium Park

The annual concert given by Lyric Opera of Chicago as an outdoor event previewing the forthcoming season took place on 11 September 2015 at Millennium Park.

Gluck: Orphée et Eurydice

Orpheus — that Greek hero whose songs could enchant both deities and beasts, whose lyre has become a metaphor for the power of music itself, and whose journey to the Underworld to rescue his wife, Eurydice, kick-started the art of opera in Mantua in 1607 — has been travelling far and wide around the UK in 2015.

Vaughan Williams and Holst Double Bill

One is a quasi-verbatim rendering of J.M. Synge’s bleak tale of a Donegal family’s fateful dependency on and submission to the deathly power of the sea.

Iestyn Davies at Wigmore Hall

Is there anything that countertenor Iestyn Davies cannot do with his voice?

Prom 75: The Dream of Gerontius

BBC Proms Youth Choir shines in a performance notable for its magical transparency

Prom 67: Bernstein — Stage and Screen

The John Wilson Orchestra have been annual summer visitors to the Royal Albert Hall since their Proms debut in 2009 and, with their seductive blend of technical precision, buoyant glitziness and relaxed insouciance, their concerts have become a hugely anticipated fixture and a sure highlight of the Promenade season.

Prom 65: Alice Coote sings Handel

Disappointing staging mars Alice Coote’s vibrant if wayward musical performance

Santa Fe: Secondary Mozart in First Rate Staging

Impresario Boris Goldovsky famously referred to La finta giardiniera as The Phony Farmerette.

Regimented Daughter in Santa Fe

At Santa Fe Opera, Donizetti’s effervescent The Daughter of the Regiment can’t quite decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

Santa Fe’s Celebratory Jester

Santa Fe Opera noted a landmark two-thousandth performance in their distinguished history with a stylish new production of Rigoletto.



Heather Green as Bitia and Nathan Guinsinger as Mosheh [Photo by Hunter Canning courtesy of seven17 public relations]
03 Feb 2011

Mosheh, a VideOpera

Yoav Gal, an Israeli-born composer-in-residence at the HERE arts complex in Manhattan’s South Village, calls Mosheh a “VideOpera,” rightly giving as much place to what is seen (electronic projections) as to what is heard (from four sopranos playing the women in the prophet’s life and an orchestra of nine musicians).

Mosheh — A VideOpera, composition and design by Yoav Gal

Miriam: Hai-Ting Chinn; Bitia: Heather Green; Yocheved: Judith Barnes; Zipporah: Beth Anne Hatton; Mosheh: Nathan Guinsinger; Voice of God: Wesley Chinn. At HERE, performance of January 29.

Above: Heather Green as Bita and Nathan Guinsinger as Mosheh [Photo by Hunter Canning courtesy of seven17 public relations]


Mosheh contains most of what we’ve come to expect from new operas in the twenty-first century: video and film, of course, and also gamelan-derived percussive scoring, surtitles to obviate the need for a coherent drama, and naked male bodies, in this case the non-singing title role. (Trivia: Name other title characters who do not sing in their own opera. There’s La Muette de Portici, of course.)

What Mosheh has that I seldom expect is respectable melody. Miriam’s serenade to her baby brother as she places him in the Nile is an especially lovely number; Zipporah’s harsh aria about inventing circumcision to save her new husband from the Angel of Death is less immediately attractive. Too, the quartet at the conclusion of the opera when the women narrate the twelve plagues that fall upon Egypt has an eerie harmony that calls Benjamin Britten to mind.

What Mosheh, the opera, did not have was a coherent, stageworthy way of telling its more or less familiar story. Without some Bible reading (or a viewing of The Ten Commandments) and surtitles, I don’t think an audience would find the action at all clear. It is rather a costumed series of individual scenes, all for voices of too striking a sameness. Gal writes well for the voice, without straining the instrument as the atonal opera composers were prone to do—because, unlike them, he has not renounced melody as an expressive tool—also, I suspect, he has studied voice writing and respects the instrument and its capabilities. His four well-chosen soloists had no trouble filling HERE’s admittedly small space with thrilling sound that never made us wince.

But because the vocalism accompanied so little action and no dialogue, the evening never became a dramatic event, that is, an opera. Were sets and costumes (wild costumes!) even necessary? Were the tremendously elaborate and often beautiful projections, which led us, for example, through rows upon rows of columns into Pharaoh’s throne room, or beside the muddy pools of the Nile required? Is Mosheh’s presence called for by the music, or would any naked man (a volunteer from the audience, say) do just as well? Or could we dispense with him too?

Soprano Hai-Ting Chinn, well known among fans of New York’s odder opera scenes (she was the Wooster Group’s splendid Didone Abbandonata), made the most striking impression here as Miriam, acting as well as singing her lovely music.

John Yohalem

GreenHattonBarnesChinn-Cred.gifHeather Green as Bitia, Beth Anne Hatton as Zipporah, Judith Barnes as Yocheved and Hai-Ting Chinn as Miriam [Photo by Hunter Canning courtesy of seven17 public relations]

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):