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

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Munich

Die Meistersinger at the theatre in which it was premiered, on Wagner’s birthday: an inviting prospect by any standards, still more so given the director, conductor, and cast, still more so given the opportunity to see three different productions within little more than a couple of months).

Janáček, The Makropulos Case, Bavarian State Opera

Opera houses’ neglect of Janáček remains one of the most baffling of the many baffling aspects of the ‘repertoire’. At least three of the composer’s operas would be perfect introductions to the art form: Jenůfa, Katya Kabanova, or The Cunning Little Vixen would surely hook most for life. From the House of the Dead might do likewise for someone of a rather different disposition, sceptical of opera’s claims and conventions.

Il barbiere di Siviglia at Glyndebourne

Director Annabel Arden believes that Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia is ‘all about playfulness, theatricality, light and movement’. It’s certainly ‘about’ those things and they are, as Arden suggests, ‘based in the music’.

Oedipe at Covent Garden

George Enescu’s Oedipe was premiered in Paris 1936 but it has taken 80 years for the opera to reach the stage of Covent Garden. This production by Àlex Ollé (a member of the Catalan theatrical group, La Fura Dels Baus) and Valentina Carrasco, which arrives in London via La Monnaie where it was presented in 2011, was eagerly awaited and did not disappoint.

Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at Lyric Opera, Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago staged Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette as the last opera in its current subscription season.

L’incoronazione di Poppea, RAO

‘The plot is perhaps the least moral in all opera; wrong triumphs in the name of love and we are not expected to mind.’

Madame Butterfly , ENO

Anthony Minghella’s production of Madame Butterfly for ENO is wearing well. First seen in 2005, it is now being aired for the sixth time and is still, as I observed in 2013, ‘a breath-taking visual banquet’.

Valiant but tentative: La straniera at the Concertgebouw

This concert version of La straniera felt like a compulsory musicology field trip, but it had enough vocal flashes to lobby for more frequent performances of this midway Bellini.

London Festival of Baroque Music 2016: Words with Purcell

As poetry is the harmony of words, so music is that of notes; and as poetry is a rise above prose and oratory, so is music the exaltation of poetry.

The Dark Mirror: Zender’s Winterreise

From experiments with musique concrète in the 1940s, to the Minimalists’ explorations into tape-loop effects in the 1960s, via the appearance of hip-hop in the 1970s and its subsequent influence on electronic dance music in the 1980s, to digital production methods today, ‘sampling’ techniques have been employed by musicians working in genres as diverse as jazz fusion, psychedelic rock and classical music.

Great Scott Wows San Diego

On May 7, 2016, San Diego Opera presented the West Coast premiere of Great Scott, an opera by Terrence McNally and Jake Heggie. McNally’s original libretto pokes fun at everything from football to bel canto period opera. It includes snippets of nineteenth century tunes as well as Heggie's own bel canto writing.

Bellini’s Adelson e Salvini, London

A foiled abduction, a castle-threatening inferno, romantic infatuation, guilt-laden near-suicide, gun-shots and knife-blows: Andrea Leone Tottola’s libretto for Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, certainly does not lack dramatic incident.

Manitoba Opera: Of Mice and Men

Opera as an art form has never shied away from the grittier shadows of life. Nor has Manitoba Opera, with its recent past productions dealing with torture, incest, murder and desperate political prisoners still so tragically relevant today.

The Rose and the Ring

Published in 1855 as an entertainment for his two daughters, William Makepeace Thackeray’s The Rose and the Ring is a burlesque fairy-tale whose plot — to the author’s wilful delight, perhaps — defies summation and elucidation.

The Lighthouse at San Francisco’s Opera Parallèle

What more fitting memorial for composer Peter Maxwell Davies (d. 03/14/2016) than a splendid performance of The Lighthouse, the third of his eight works for the stage.

King’s Consort at Wigmore Hall

I suspect that many of those at the Wigmore Hall for The King’s Consort’s performance of the La Senna festeggiante (The Rejoicing Seine) were lured by the cachet of ‘Antonio Vivaldi’ and further enticed by the notion of a lover’s serenade at which the generic term ‘serenata’ seems to hint.

Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2016

Having enjoyed superb singing by a young cast of soloists in Classical Opera’s UK premiere of Jommelli’s Il Vogoleso the previous evening, I was delighted that the 2016 Kathleen Ferrier Awards Final at the Wigmore Hall confirmed the strength and depth of talent possessed by the young singers studying in and emerging from our academies and conservatoires.

Pacific Opera Project Recreates Mozart and Salieri Contest

On February 7, 1786, Emperor Joseph II of Austria had brand new one-act operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri performed in the Schönbrunn Palace’s Orangery.

Powerful chemistry in La Cenerentola in Cologne

Those poor opera lovers in Cologne have a never ending problem with the city’s opera house. Together with the rest of city, the construction of the new opera house is mired in political incompetence.

Tannhäuser: Royal Opera House, London

London remains starved of Wagner. This season, its major companies offer but two works, Tannhäuser from the Royal Opera and Tristan from ENO.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

La Traviata [Photo courtesy of Howard Paley Photography]
10 Mar 2011

La Traviata, Phoenix

Francesco Maria Piave’s Italian libretto for Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La Traviata is based on the French play La Dame aux Camélias.

Giuseppe Verdi: La Traviata

Violetta: Julia Koci; Alfredo: Jesus Garcia; Germont: Gaétan Laperrière; Flora: Erin Tompkins; Annina: Alexis Davis; Gastone: Francisco Renteria; Baron Douphol: Christopher Holmes; Marchese d’Obigny: Andrew Gray; Dr. Grenvil: Christopher Herrera; Commissioner: Earl Hazell. Conductor: John Massaro. Director: Carroll Freeman. Scenic Design: Peter Dean Beck. Costume Design: John Lehmeyer.

All photos courtesy of Howard Paley Photography

 

The play was adapted from a novel by Alexandre Dumas fils, who actually knew the real life heroine, Marie Duplessis.

When Alphonsine Rose Plessis was born on the 15th of January, 1824, in the tiny village of Nonnant in Normandy, no one could have imagined that within twenty years she would become the famous courtesan, Marie Duplessis. Her father put her to work at an early age, first as a beggar and later as a prostitute. When he was investigated for child abuse, he sent the girl to live with relatives in Paris. There, at age 15, she began to frequent dances where she hoped to meet men who would pay her living expenses.

HHP_PMO_Traviat_DSC_4917.gifDirector of the Paris Opéra Nestor Roqueplan wrote that he once saw her on the Pont Neuf eating a green apple, but gazing hungrily at the fried potatoes being sold nearby. He bought her a large portion and watched as she wolfed them down and even licked the paper in which they had been wrapped. Roqueplan would recall this incident in 1851 when he spoke with Giuseppe Verdi about bringing La Traviata to the Opéra.

Marie worked hard at bettering herself. She not only learned to read and write, but she also attained an appreciation of the arts. When Roqueplan next saw her, he was astonished to note that the little waif from the Pont Neuf had become the fashionable lady on the arm of the Duc de Guiche.

One evening, when Marie was attending a party with Alexandre Dumas, son of the famous writer, she had a dreadful coughing spell. She explained that since there was no cure for her illness she chose to be among interesting people who would distract her from her pain. Dumas continued his affair with her for about a year, but he had to evade detection by her actual protector because he did not have anywhere near enough money to maintain her household. Another of her admirers, Franz Liszt, wrote: “She had a great deal of heart, a great liveliness of spirit and I consider her unique of her kind.She was the most complete incarnation of womankind that has ever existed.” This is the femme fatale we see on the stage as “Violetta” in La Traviata.

On March 4, 2011, Phoenix opera presented Carroll Freeman’s traditional staging of La Traviata at the historic Orpheum Theater. Peter Dean Beck’s set, originally designed for Florida Grand Opera, was easily transformed into the opera’s various scenes. John Lehmeyer’s detailed costumes set the period securely and added considerably to the opera’s visual appeal.

HHP_PMO_Traviata_DSC_4937.gif

Viennese soprano Julia Koci was a radiantly beautiful Violetta who sang with taste and musicality. She is one of the few interpreters of this role who can truly handle both the coloratura of the first act and the dramatic singing required by the following scenes. Operalia winner Jesus Garcia was a passionate young lover who sang with robust, ringing tones. Together they were an ideal couple in Act I, and a pair of troubled but intriguing lovers thereafter. One could not help reaching for a handkerchief in the last act when Germont, not the soprano, read the letter which comes too late. That was an interesting choice by the director and it worked well.

Germont was sung with panache by veteran French Canadian baritone Gaétan Laperrière. He made you angry as he gave Violetta a piece of his narrow mind in Act II, but he tore at your heart strings at the end with his expressions of remorse. An attractive Flora, Erin Tompkins sang with a solid sound while Francisco Renteria was an unwavering Gastone. Alexis Davis Hazell was a poignant Annina and her husband, Earl Hazell, sang the Commissioner with a stentorian voice. Baritones Christopher Holmes and Christopher Herrera portrayed Baron Douphol and Doctor Grenvil with authority, while bass baritone Andrew Gray proved to be a commanding Marchese.

HHP_PMO_Traviat_DSC_5048.gif

Company Founder and Artistic Director John Massaro led the rather small orchestra in a smooth, lyrical rendition of the work. The audience response at the end of the opera was tumultuous and it was fitting praise for the excellent performers who brought Verdi’s wonderful opera to life.

Maria Nockin

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):