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

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.

Tosca in San Francisco

Yet another Tosca is hardly exciting news, if news at all. The current five performances have come just two years after SFO alternated divas Angela Gheorghiu and Patricia Racette in the title role.

Antonin Dvořák: The Cunning Peasant (Šelma Sedlák)

What an enjoyable opportunity to encounter Dvořák’s sixth opera, Šelma Sedlák¸or The Cunning Peasant!

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

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):