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

Bartoli a dream Cenerentola in Amsterdam

With her irresistible cocktail of spontaneity and virtuosity, Cecilia Bartoli is a beloved favourite of Amsterdam audiences. In triple celebratory mode, the Italian mezzo-soprano chose Rossini’s La Cenerentola, whose bicentenary is this year, to mark twenty years of performing at the Concertgebouw, and her twenty-fifth performance at its Main Hall.

Winterreise : a parallel journey

Matthew Rose and Gary Matthewman Winterreise: a Parallel Journey at the Wigmore Hall, a recital with extras. Schubert's winter journey reflects the poetry of Wilhelm Müller, where images act as signposts mapping the protagonist's psychological journey.

Anna Bolena in Lisbon

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, composed in 1830, didn’t make it to Lisbon until 1843 when there were 14 performances at its magnificent Teatro São Carlos (opened 1793), and there were 17 more performances spread over the next two decades. The entire twentieth century saw but three (3) performances in this European capital.

Oh, What a Night in San Jose

It is difficult to know where to begin to praise the stunning achievement of Opera San Jose’s West Coast premiere of Silent Night.

Billy Budd in Madrid

Like Carmen, Billy Budd is an operatic personage of such breadth and depth that he becomes unique to everyone. This signals that there is no Billy Budd (or Carmen) who will satisfy everyone. And like Carmen, Billy Budd may be indestructible because the opera will always mean something to someone.

A riveting Nixon in China at the Concertgebouw

American composer John Adams turns 70 this year. By way of celebration no less than seven concerts in this season’s NTR ZaterdagMatinee series feature works by Adams, including this concert version of his first opera, Nixon in China.

English song: shadows and reflections

Despite the freshness, passion and directness, and occasional wry quirkiness, of many of the works which formed this lunchtime recital at the Wigmore Hall - given by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge, pianist James Baillieu and viola player Guy Pomeroy - a shadow lingered over the quiet nostalgia and pastoral eloquence of the quintessentially ‘English’ works performed.

A charming Pirates of Penzance revival at ENO

'Nobody does Gilbert and Sullivan anymore.’ This was the comment from many of my friends when I mentioned the revival of Mike Leigh's 2015 production of The Pirates of Penzance at English National Opera (ENO). Whilst not completely true (English Touring Opera is doing Patience next month), this reflects the way performances of G&S have rather dropped out of the mainstream. That Leigh's production takes the opera on its own terms and does not try to send it up, made it doubly welcome.

A Relevant Madama Butterfly

On Feb 3, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s dramatic opera Madama Butterfly. Sandra Lopez was the naive fifteen-year-old who falls hopelessly in love with the American Naval Officer.

Johan Reuter sings Brahms with Wiener Philharmoniker

In the last of my three day adventure, I headed to Vienna for the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Musikverein (my first time!) for Mahler and Brahms.

Gatti and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Head to Asia

In Amsterdam legend Janine Jansen and the seventh Principal Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw, Daniele Gatti, came together for their first engagement in a ravishing performance of Berg’s Violin Concerto.

Verdi’s Requiem with the Berliner Philharmoniker

I extravagantly scheduled hearing the Berliner, Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Wiener Philharmoniker, to hear these three top orchestra perform their series programmes opening the New Year.

Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher in Lyon

There is no bigger or more prestigious name in avant-garde French theater than Romeo Castellucci (b. 1960), the Italian metteur en scène of this revival of Arthur Honegger’s mystère lyrique, Joan of Arc at the Stake (1938) at the Opéra Nouvel in Lyon.

A New Look at Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio

On January 28, 2017, Los Angeles Opera premiered James Robinson’s nineteen twenties production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, which places the story on the Orient Express. Since Abduction is a work with spoken dialogue like The Magic Flute, the cast sang their music in German and spoke their lines in English.

Giasone in Geneva

Fecund Jason, father of his wife Isifile’s twins and as well father of his seductress Medea’s twins, does indeed have a problem — he prefers to sleep with and wed Medea. In this resurrection of the most famous opera of the seventeenth century he evidently also sleeps with Hercules.

Falstaff in Genoa

A Falstaff that raised-the-bar ever higher, this was a posthumous resurrection of Luca Ronconi’s masterful staging of Verdi’s last opera, the third from last of the 83 operas Ronconi staged during his lifetime (1933-2015). And his third staging of Falstaff following Salzburg in 1993 and Florence in 2006.

Traviata in Seattle

One of Aidan Lang’s first initiatives as artistic director of Seattle Opera was to encourage his board to formulate a “mission statement” for the fifty-year old company. The document produced was clear, simple, and anodyne. Seattle Opera would aim above all to create work appealing both to the emotions and reason of the audience.

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part II: Kasper Holten’s angelic Lohengrin

Contrary to Stolzi’s multidimensional Parsifal, Holten’s simple setting of Lohengrin felt timeless with its focus on the drama between characters. Premiering in 2012, nothing too flashy and with a clever twist,

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part I: Stölzl’s Psychedelic Parsifal

Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB) consistently serves up superlatively sung Wagner productions. This Fall, its productions of Philipp Stölzl's Parsifal and Kasper Holten's Lohengrin offered intoxicating musical affairs. Annette Dasch, Klaus Florian Vogt, and Peter Seiffert reached for the stars. Even when it comes down to last minute replacements, the casting is topnotch.

Donna abbandonata: Temple Song Series

Donna abbandonata would have been a good title for the first concert of Temple Music’s 2017 Song Series. Indeed, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice seems to be making a habit of playing abandoned women.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Kelly Kaduce as Rusalka [Photo by Matthew Staver courtesy of Opera Colorado]
17 Feb 2011

Opera Colorado’s ‘mermaid’ tremendous

The story is ages old, and every culture has a version of it: the mythic princess of an underwater realm longs for the love of a mortal man.

Antonín Dvořák: Rusalka

Kelly Kaduce: Rusalka; Avgust Amonov: The Prince; Catherine Cook: Jezibaba; Dana Beth Miller: The Foreign Princess; Stefan Szkafarowsky: Vodnik. Opera Colorado. Alexander Polianichko, conductor. Eric Simonson, director.

Above: Kelly Kaduce as Rusalka

All photos by Matthew Staver courtesy of Opera Colorado

 

Yet, despite the enchantment of the hyper-romantic staging and the mesmerizing quality of the singing, there was something discomfortingly contemporary about Rusalka in the Opera Colorado production of the Dvořák classic that opened at the Ellie here on Saturday. And it wasn`t only the carefully thought-out direction of Eric Simonson and Bill Murray, with the staging since it was new in Boston, that made it that. It was rather that timeless something in a great work of art that picks up on what`s happening in the present world and comments on it. Humans, Rusalka makes clear, are not all they`re cracked up to be; they`re selfish, self-centered, fickle and at times mean little animals who do each other no good.

Rusalka_002.gifCatherine Cook as Jezibaba

Okay, okay; even when played to perfection by Kelly Kaduce, as the role was on Saturday, Rusalka contributes markedly to her own undoing. She`s made mute by the witch`s potion that allows her to emerge from her watery realm to marry her Prince, and — more fish than Frau — she brings with her the coldness of the depths. (A shrink would immediately shout “frigid!” ) Nonetheless, the statement by Rusalka`s father to his disillusioned daughter “Humans are scum” hit an open nerve Saturday as an acute observation on the mess they have made of the present world.

Like Kaduce, principals in the cast — all amazingly fluent in Czech! — sing superbly. With his resonant bass Stefan Szkafarowsky made father Vodnik an unusually sympathetic figure. And although Catherine Cook, long a powerful presence at San Francisco Opera, got a little too much Marjorie Main into her act, she portrays witch Jezibaba as figure to be feared.

The immensely popular Met movies have put new emphasis on the visual side of opera. The result, someone observed, is that a wig now can be more important than a voice. It follows that although he has a winning instrument, as the lover Prince Avgust Amonov is simply no match for the awesome beauty of this staging. He is a leaden actor, who further prompts one to ask how any woman can love a tenor whose tummy pops a button on his tunic in Act One.

Rusalka_007.gifAvgust Amonov as The Prince and Dana Beth Miller as The Foreign Princess

Dana Beth Miller — a mezzo of auburn radiance — slightly overdoes the vulgarity of the Foreign Princess who vamps the Prince — and one wishes OC had been able to find that white dress in her size.

Wood Sprites Nicolle Foland, Anna Noggle and Megan Marino would be the pride of any production of Wagner’s Rheingold.

John Baril prepared the chorus that sings largely off stage.

Wendell K. Harrrington handles the transitions from the world of water to that of mortals with projections fully in harmony with Dvořák`s score, and University of Colorado graduate Rachael Harding elevates the enchantment of the staging with her choreography for the ten talented dancers involved.

Rusalka_006.gifKelly Kaduce as Rusalka and Stefan Szkafarowsky as Vodnik

While Erhard Rom designed winning sets for the outer acts, the pseudo-Bauhaus simplicity of Act Two is banal by comparison.

Rusalka, premiered in 1900, is a Romantic opera of the first order, and there is not one weak measure in the three hours that it takes to perform it. Russian conductor Alexander Polianichko is totally at home in Dvořák`s well-wrought score and extracts both heavily dramatic and delicately sensitive playing from the Colorado Symphony.

Courtney Hershey Bress plays Hell out of that harp!

Even in the midst of so much excellence, however, it is Kelly Kaduce who makes this production the triumph that it is. The truly lovely small-town Minnesota woman is no longer a singer on the rise. She’s there! Small wonder that when she appeared for her curtain call on Saturday someone in the comfortably packed Elli joyfully called out in joyous spontaneity: “Move over, Renée!”

Wes Blomster

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):