Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Commentary

In conversation with Nina Brazier

When British opera director Nina Brazier tries to telephone me from Frankfurt, where she is in the middle of rehearsals for a revival of Florentine Klepper’s 2015 production of Martinů’s Julietta, she finds herself - to my embarrassment - ‘blocked’ by my telephone preference settings. The technical hitch is soon solved; but doors, in the UK and Europe, are certainly very much wide open for Nina, who has been described by The Observer as ‘one of Britain’s leading young directors of opera’.

2019 Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition

Russian bass-baritone Mikhail Timoshenko has won the top prize at the 2019 Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition.

An Englishman in Vienna: Stephen Storace

When his first opera, Gli sposi malcontenti, premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 1st June 1985, the 23-year-old Stephen Storace must have been confident that his future fame and fortune were assured.

Stendhal on the Rossini Revolution

Some Details concerning the Revolution inaugurated by Rossini

Louise Jeffreys to become Deputy Chair of ENO

English National Opera (ENO) is pleased to announce that Louise Jeffreys is to become Deputy Chair of English National Opera and the London Coliseum. She replaces Nicholas Allan. Louise is currently Artistic Director of the Barbican where she leads...

Verdi Treasures from Milan’s Ricordi Archive make US debut

Rare testimonies to the history of Italian opera from the Milan-based, Bertelsmann-owned Ricordi Archive will now be shown in the United States for the first time. Fans of classical music and literature can look forward to the exhibition “Verdi: Creating Otello and Falstaff - Highlights from the Ricordi Archive”, which will be on view at the renowned Morgan Library & Museum in New York from September 6, 2019 to January 5, 2020.

Odyssey Opera Resurrects Henry VIII

BOSTON, MA (For Release 07.18.19) — One of the nation’s most adventurous opera companies, Odyssey Opera, begins its seventh season with a concert performance of Henry VIII (1883) by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns based on El cisma en Inglaterra (The schism in England) by Pedro Calderón de la Barca.

Glyndebourne Announces the Return of the Glyndebourne Opera Cup in 2020

Glyndebourne’s major new international singing competition returns in 2020 with a renewed commitment to supporting diversity in opera. The Glyndebourne Opera Cup - the international competition for opera singers is designed to discover and spotlight the best young singers around the world, offering a top prize of £15,000 and a guaranteed role at a leading international opera house. The final will once again be broadcast live on Sky Arts on 7 March 2020 and the series is produced by Factory Films.

Garsington Opera: Five Young Singers Win Prestigious Awards

Winners of this year’s prestigious Leonard Ingrams Foundation awards are mezzo-soprano Bianca Andrew and tenor Oliver Johnston. These awards support, encourage and nurture the best young artists involved in the creative process of bringing opera to the stage, and are made in memory of Garsington Opera’s founder Leonard Ingrams, to ensure the continuity of his vision.

Bill Bankes-Jones on the twelfth Tête à Tête Opera Festival

“We need to stop talking about ‘diversity’ and think instead about ‘inclusivity’,” says Bill Bankes-Jones, when we meet to talk about the forthcoming twelfth Tête à Tête Opera Festival which runs from 24th July to 10th August.

The Italian Opera Connection at ‘The English Versailles’: The Duchess of Buccleuch and the Georgian Stage at Boughton House

As part of its annual programme of events, Boughton House in Northamptonshire hosts ‘A Passion for Opera’, a rare exhibition portraying the musical life of Lady Elizabeth Montagu (1743–1827) and the world of Georgian operatic culture.

An interview with composer Dani Howard

The young Hong Kong-born British composer Dani Howard is having quite a busy year.

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycle

Lyric Opera of Chicago has announced both schedules and cast-lists for is Spring 2020 performances of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Given the series of individual productions already staged by the company since Fall 2016, that pave the way for the complete cycle, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s complete production should affirm the artistic might of the great composer.

Irish mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy on Salzburg, Sellars and Singing

For Peter Sellars, Mozart’s Idomeneo is a ‘visionary’ work, a utopian opera centred on a classic struggle between a father and a son written by an angry 25-year-old composer who wanted to show the musical establishment what a new generation could do.

London Bel Canto Festival 2019: an interview with Ken Querns-Langley

“Physiognomy, psychology and technique.” These are the three things that determine the way a singer’s sound is produced, so Ken Querns-Langley explains when we meet in the genteel surroundings of the National Liberal Club, where the training programmes, open masterclasses and performances which will form part the third London Bel Canto Festival will be held from 5th-24th August.

The Royal Opera Tours to Japan in September 2019

The Royal Opera is delighted to be returning to Japan in September 2019 as part of an exciting year of UK-Japan exchanges, titled UK in Japan 2019-20, following the Company’s hugely successful tour in autumn 2015.

Longborough Festival Opera announces collaboration with The Academy of Ancient Music in 2020

Longborough Festival Opera will collaborate with the Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) for its production of Monteverdi The Return of Ulysses in 2020. Robert Howarth will conduct Monteverdi’s beautiful, compassionate drama, with Tom Randle in the title role.

Glyndebourne’s first production of Dialogues des Carmélites to open Glyndebourne Festival 2020

Glyndebourne’s first production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites will open Glyndebourne Festival 2020, it was announced today. The opera house unveiled its 2020 plans at an event in its recently built Production Hub, hosted by Glyndebourne’s new senior leadership team, Artistic Director Stephen Langridge and Managing Director Sarah Hopwood, who jointly replace the former position of General Director.

Garsington Opera Announces 2020 season and 2019 Paris Performance

Garsington Opera is delighted to announce the 2020 season that will open on 28 May, featuring three new productions - Verdi’s Un giorno di regno, Mozart’s Mitridate, re di Ponto, Dvořák’s Rusalka and a revival of John Cox’s legendary production of Beethoven’s Fidelio.

Un ballo in maschera at Investec Opera Holland Park: in conversation with Alison Langer

“Sop. Page, attendant on the King.” So, reads a typical character description of the loyal page Oscar, whose actions, in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, unintentionally lead to his monarch’s death. He reveals the costume that King Gustavo is wearing at the masked ball, thus enabling the monarch’s secretary, Anckarstroem, to shoot him. The dying King falls into the faithful Oscar’s arms.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

Paata Burchuladze [Photo courtesy of Askonas Holt]
10 Apr 2011

Paata Burchuladze, The Tsar’s Bride, London

“A tale of corruption, passion and poisoning”, as the Royal Opera House, London, describes its first-ever production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride, with Paata Burchuladze, highly experienced in this repertoire.

An Interview with Paata Burchuladze

Interview by Anne Ozorio

Above: Paata Burchuladze [Photo courtesy of Askonas Holt]

 

“Vasily Stepanovich Sobakin”, says Burchuladze, “is a man who has everything, a big family, all his sons happily settled down. He’s a successful merchant in Novgorod and has plenty of money and security. Now his favourite child, probably his only daughter, is engaged to marry the man she loves. So Sobakin is filled with happiness, everything seems just perfect”.

But Marfa Vasilyevna has been seen by Grigory Gryazanoy, the oprichnik. Since he’s above the law he can get what he wants. Lyubasha, his mistress, then resorts to poison. The Tsar Ivan the Terrible chooses Marfa for his bride. Assaulted by this abuse of authority, Marfa and her lover Lykov are destroyed. “Sobakin’s famous Act IV aria, “Zabylasya”, says Burchuladze, “doesn’t last very long, but it’s very touching. It’s poignant because he is expressing a great range of feelings, sorrow, loss and also, anger. Sobakin is a good man, but in this vendetta, he is capable of killing, too”.

The Tsar’s Bride,(Tsarskaya nevesta) is standard repertoire in Russian-speaking countries. Although it’s set in the time of Ivan the Terrible, he wasn’t the only absolutist ruler Russian audiences would have known. Secret mafias, and the arbitrary misuse of power weren’t a monopoly of the Tsars. Burchuladze grew up in the Soviet Union and recognizes the significance. “This production” he says “isn’t set in the ancient past”. Although there are numerous recordings of this opera, western audiences may not have experienced it live. Perhaps they shouldn’t come expecting decorative “Russianism”, but to hear how Rimsky-Korsakov shapes the drama through his music. The director, Paul Curran, has worked with the Kirov and Mariinsky, and appreciates the context.

Burchuladze made his debut at the Royal Opera House in London as Ramfis in Verdi Aida with Luciano Pavarotti. Katia Ricciarelli and Zubin Mehta. He was a sensation. “What can I tell you about Pavarotti ?”, sighs Burchuladze, with feeling. “He was a big man, his body was big but also his heart. Everything about him, was open and warm. I was only 30 when I sang that Ramfis and he was a huge star but he looked after me. We worked together in Vienna, in the US, many times. Pavarotti was so technically wonderful that there was no limit to his singing. He could open up his whole persona. He was the best person in my life”.

Burchuladze himself is an open-hearted personality. “ I love to sing, I live to sing”, he says. “When you go on a stage, you must enjoy what you are doing, or the public won’t enjoy it. I love to sing roles that I can identify with and express their feelings”. Favourite roles are Attila, Philip II, Mefistofele, Zaccaria in Nabucco....”. His eyes light up as he lists the parts. “I like strong, passionate characters” he smiles, “but I also like buffo, like Don Basilio and wonderful fantasies like Rimsky-Korsakov’s Le Coq d’Or.“ Next season, he’s singing The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh. .

He also has a lot of respect for Boris Gudonov, with whom he’s so closely associated that he’s created the role in nearly every major opera house around the world. “Boris is a good man”, says Burchuladze. “Nobody knows if he killed the Tsarevich. Maybe he just thought about it and his followers did the work. But Boris feels guilt. He feels sorry for what has happened. So many people with that kind of power have no conscience. They kill and hurt people without any responsibility. Boris gets depressed because he knows right from wrong. That’s why he’s a good person”. Similarities with the situation in The Tsar’s Bride are not amiss.

With Pavarotti, Burchuladze recorded Aida (La Scala), Nabucco (Verona), and Ernani (Bonynge, WNO) but his experience is far more extensive. He’s recorded a lot of Mussorgsky, for example, including with Abbado in Vienna. His reputation rests both on Russian and Italian repertoire, and on Mozart. Born in Tblisi, he trained first in the Georgian Conservatoire, and in 1979, aged 24, moved to Milan, where he studied under Guilietta Simionato.

Although Burchuladze’s mother was a keen amateur pianist, he initially studied engineering at University. “I wanted to build things, like my father”, he says. One day, though, he was asked to sing at the conservatoire and suddenly realized that singing would be his future. “Once you get applause on stage, you’re hooked forever!”

Although Tblisi is still his home, he doesn’t teach. “It’s not fair on students” he says, “students need a teacher around all the time, and I’m always travelling, so I couldn’t give them the attention they need”. This steadiness matters a lot to him. As a young man, Herbert von Karajan described Burchuladze as “The Second Chaliapin”. It was a sensation but a mixed blessing. “When one legend compares you to another legend, it’s a lot to carry on your shoulders. People don’t expect you to be yourself”.

Burchuladze models himself on consistency. “I want to be singing for 50 years, so I pace myself. Seven or eight years ago I was singing Zaccaria in Japan. There were two alternate casts and the other singer was Bonaldo Giaiotti. He was 72 years old at the time and still singing one of the most difficult parts for our voice type, and he sang it perfectly. I can’t imagine life without singing, so I want to be like that. By the time I reach 72, I will have had 50 years as a professional. That’s something that would make me very happy”. After The Tsar’s Bride in London, he has a full schedule ahead, including a gala with Plácido Domingo and opera appearances all over the world, so chances are Burchuladze will achieve that dream.


Anne Ozorio

For details of Rimsky-Korakov The Tsar’s Bride at the Royal Opera House, London please see the ROH site. The production runs from 14th April to 2nd May 2011.

For details of Paata Burchuladze’s career, please see his website.

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):