Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Anna Caterina Antonacci, Wigmore Hall, London

Presenting a well-structured and characterful programme, Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci demonstrated her prowess in both soprano and mezzo repertoire in this Wigmore Hall recital, performing European works from the early years of the twentieth century. Assuredly accompanied by her regular pianist Donald Sulzen, Antonacci was self-composed and calm of manner, but also evinced a warmly engaging stage presence throughout.

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Royal Opera

Bold, bright and brash, Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s Il barbiere di Siviglia tells its story clearly in complementary primary colours.

Gluck and Bertoni at Bampton

Bampton Classical Opera’s 2014 double bill neatly balanced drollery and gravity. Rectifying the apparent prevailing indifference to the 300th centenary of Christoph Willibald Gluck birth, Bampton offered a sharp, witty production of the composer’s Il Parnaso confuso, pairing this ‘festa teatrale’ with Ferdinando Bertoni’s more sombre Orfeo.

Purcell: A Retrospective

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra launched the Wigmore Hall’s two-year series, ‘Purcell: A Retrospective’, in splendid style. Flexibility, buoyancy and transparency were the watchwords.

Mahler: Symphony no.3 — Prom 73

It would be unfair, but one could summarise this concert with the words, ‘Senator, you’re no Leonard Bernstein.’

Los Angeles Opera Opens with La traviata

On September 13, Los Angeles Opera opened its 2014-2015 season with a revival of Marta Domingo’s updated, Art Deco staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata. It starred Nino Machaidze as Violetta, Arturo Chácon-Cruz as Alfredo, and Plácido Domingo as Giorgio Germont. The conductor was Music Director James Conlon.

Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, 2014

In its annual concert previewing the forthcoming season Lyric Opera of Chicago presented its “Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park” during the past weekend to a large audience of enthusiastic listeners.

Susannah in San Francisco

Come to think of it the 1950‘s were operatically rich years in America compared to other decades in the recent past. Just now the San Francisco Opera laid bare an example, Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah.

Xerxes, ENO

Nicholas Hytner’s production of Handel’s Xerxes (Serse) at English National Opera (ENO) is nearly 30 years old, and is the oldest production in ENO’s stable.

San Diego Opera Opens 2014-2015 Season

On Friday evening September 5, 2014, tenor Stephen Costello and soprano Ailyn Pérez gave a recital to open the San Diego Opera season. After all the threats to close the company down, it was a great joy to great San Diego Opera in its new vibrant, if slightly slimmed down form.

Otello at ENO

English National Opera’s 2014-15 season kicked off with an ear-piercing orchestral thunderbolt. Brilliant lightning spears sliced through the thick black night, fitfully illuminating the Mediterranean garret-town square where an expectant crowd gather to welcome home their conquering hero.

Anna Nicole, back with a bang!

It is now three and a half years since Anna Nicole was unleashed on the world at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Norma in San Francisco

It was a Druid orgy that overtook the War Memorial. Magnificent singing, revelatory conducting, off-the-wall staging (a compliment, sort of).

Joyce DiDonato starts Wigmore Hall new season

There was a quasi-party atmosphere at the Wigmore Hall on Monday evening, when Joyce DiDonato and Antonio Pappano reprised the recital that had kicked off the Hall’s 2014-15 season with reported panache and vim two nights previously. It was standing room only, and although this was a repeat performance there certainly was no lack of freshness and spontaneity: both the American mezzo-soprano and her accompanist know how to communicate and entertain.

Aida at Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival

In strict architectural terms, the stupendous 2nd century Roman theatre of Aspendos near Antalya in southern Turkey is not an arena or amphitheatre at all, so there are not nearly as many ghosts of gored gladiators or dismembered Christians to disturb the contemporary feng shui as in other ancient loci of Imperial amusement.

St Matthew Passion, Prom 66

Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra brought their staging of Bach's St Matthew Passion to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday, 6 September 2014.

Glimmerglass: Butterfly Leads the Pack

Every so often an opera fan is treated to a minor miracle, a revelatory performance of a familiar favorite that immediately sweeps all other versions before it.

Operalia, the World Opera Competition, Showcases 2014 Winners

On August 30, Los Angeles Opera presented the finals concert of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, the world opera competition. Founded in 1993, the contest endeavors to discover and help launch the careers of the most promising young opera singers of today. Thousands of applicants send in recordings from which forty singers are chosen to perform live in the city where the contest is being held. Last year it was Verona, Italy, this year Los Angeles, next year London.

Elektra at Prom 59

The second day of the Richard Strauss weekend at the BBC Proms saw Richard Strauss's Elektra performed at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 August 2014 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, with Christine Goerke in the title role.

Powerful Mahler Symphony no 2 Harding, BBC Proms London

Triumphant! An exceptionally stimulating Mahler Symphony No 2 from Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Prom 57 at the Royal Albert Hall. Harding's Mahler Tenth performances (especially with the Berliner Philharmoniker) are pretty much the benchmark by which all other performances are assessed. Harding's Mahler Second is informed by such an intuitive insight into the whole traverse of the composer's work that, should he get around to doing all ten together, he'll fulfil the long-held dream of "One Grand Symphony", all ten symphonies understood as a coherent progression of developing ideas.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

 Lennox Berkeley [Photo © Colin Busby courtesy of G. Schirmer]
22 Apr 2011

A Dinner Engagement

Trust Winnipeg’s resourceful Little Opera Company to come up with a little known, yet charmingly entertaining spring production.

Lennox Berkeley: A Dinner Engagement, Op. 45 (1954)

Little Opera Company (Winnipeg), Salle Martial Caron, April 8 & 9,2011

Above: Lennox Berkeley [Photo © Colin Busby courtesy of G. Schirmer]

 

The sixteen-year-old company that exclusively showcases local talent staged British 20th century composer Lennox Berkeley’s one act comic opera A Dinner Engagement to the delight of an appreciative audience.

The story centres around an English family, Lord and Lady Dunmow, played by baritone Michael Dunbar and soprano Margot Harding, who have fallen on hard financial times in the 1920s. They have their sights set on marrying off their daughter Susan (wonderful young soprano Deanna Smith) to HRH Prince Phillipe (tenor Michael Au) who is coming to dinner with his mother, the Grand Duchess of Monteblanco, portrayed by mezzo soprano Elizabeth Rotoff.

We first meet Lord Dunmow in the kitchen, an authentically detailed set with everything from a cast iron stove to jars of preserved fruit. The bumbling Dunmow endeavours to follow a recipe in preparation for his dinner guests. Reminiscing about better times, his full-bodied baritone voice is wistfully expressive in the bittersweet “In the Summer of my Time.” On a few occasions, however, his voice seemed to fail him, due to support issues. And despite his culinary ineptness, one still wishes he would pronounce the herb ‘rosemary,’ instead of ‘Rose Marie,’ like the 60s comedienne.

Harding, as his wife, has the ability to light up a stage whenever she appears. Commanding and stylish, she has a reliable and powerful voice, with a fresh, rich tone. And with her impressive acting ability, Harding is the full package.

Veteran mezzo Linda de Pauw played Mrs. Kneebone, the kitchen help, with true comic flair. Her diction was clear and precise, although the Cockney accent drifted in and out.

The Dunmows and Kneebone were hilarious in “Prenex six Belles Tomates,” cooking up a storm, chopping vegetables crazily as stems and bits flew around the room.

Smith was a breath of fresh air as Susan, her pretty, refined voice seeming to float to the highest notes without a trace of effort. With a pure, crystal clear tone and delicate lightness to her voice she was the highlight of the production.

Enter Rotoff, brilliantly haughty and convincingly statuesque as the Duchess, and Au, as Phillipe, dressed in a dapper suit. Au has a solid, powerful voice, but he struggled with some of the difficult intervals in “Mon aimée attend la lune,” going out of tune and sounding constricted in his upper register. He also tended to employ the princely accent inconsistently. His acting, on the other hand, was well suited to this comic style, as he gazed dreamily at Susan with puppy dog eyes.

Tenor Darryl Brunger had a small role as the delivery man, appearing twice demanding money. His first effort was secure, with pleasing tone quality, but when he returned the second time, his intonation faltered.

Michael McKay did a fine job accompanying the entire show on piano and creative lighting eliminated the need for scene changes. Flowers projected on the backdrop while lowering the lighting on the overall set effectively moved us into the garden. Very smart!

Berkeley’s score doesn’t offer us much in the way of tunefulness, and all dialogue (lyrics by Paul Dehn) is sung, requiring much abandonment of disbelief from the audience.

But this was obviously a labour of love for all involved and the result was a nice little (one-hour) opera confection that brightened a rainy evening.

Gwenda Nemerofsky

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):