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

Cold Mountain Wows Audience at Santa Fe World Premiere

On August 1, 2015, Santa Fe Opera presented the world premiere of Cold Mountain, a brand new opera composed by Pulizer Prize and Grammy winner Jennifer Higdon.

Manon Lescaut, Munich

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. Some will scream in rage but in its austerity it reaches to the heart of the opera.

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

The Maid of Pskov (Pskovityanka) , St. Petersburg

I recently spent four days in St. Petersburg, timed to coincide with the annual Stars of the White Nights Festival. Yet the most memorable singing I heard was neither at the Mariinsky Theater nor any other performance hall. It was in the small, nearly empty church built for the last Tsar, Nicholas II, at Tsarskoye Selo.

Prom 11 — Grange Park Opera: Fiddler on the Roof

As I walked up Exhibition Road on my way to the Royal Albert Hall, I passed a busking tuba player whose fairground ditties were enlivened by bursts of flame which shot skyward from the bell of his instrument, to the amusement and bemusement of a rapidly gathering pavement audience.

Saul, Glyndebourne

A brilliant theatrical event, bringing Handel’s theatre of the mind to life on stage

Roberta Invernizzi, Wigmore Hall

‘Here, thanks be to God, my opera is praised to the skies and there is nothing in it which does not please greatly.’ So wrote Antonio Vivaldi to Marchese Guido Bentivoglio d’Aragona in Ferrara in 1737.

Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre Re

Asphyxiations, atrophy by poison, assassination: in Italo Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre Re (The Love of the Three Kings, 1913) foul deed follows foul deed until the corpses are piled high. 

Prom 4: Andris Nelsons

The precision of attack in the opening to Beethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus Overture signalled thoroughgoing excellence in the contribution of the CBSO to this concert.

BBC Proms: The Cardinall’s Musick

When he was skilfully negotiating the not inconsiderable complexities, upheavals and strife of musical and religious life at the English royal court during the Reformation, Thomas Tallis (c.1505-85) could hardly have imagined that more than 450 years later people would be queuing round the block for the opportunity spend their lunch-hour listening to the music that he composed in service of his God and his monarch.

Oberon, Persephone and Iolanta at the Aix Festival

Two of the important late twentieth century stage directors, Robert Carsen and Peter Sellars, returned to the Aix Festival this summer. Carsen’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a masterpiece, Sellars’ strange Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky double bill is simply bizarre.

Betrothal and Betrayal : JPYA at the ROH

The annual celebration of young talent at the Royal Opera House is a magnificent showcase, and it was good to see such a healthy audience turnout.

Jenůfa Packs a Wallop at DMMO

There are few operas that can rival the visceral impact of a well-staged Jenůfa and Des Moines Metro Opera has emphatically delivered the goods.

Des Moines Fanciulla a Minnie-Triumph

The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West) often gets eclipsed when compared to the rest of the mature Puccini canon.

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015 with Sakari Oramo in exuberant form, pulling off William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the theatrical flair it deserves.

Monsters and Marriage at the Aix Festival

Plus an evening by the superb Modigliani Quartet that complimented the brief (55 minutes) a cappella opera for six female voices Svadba (2013) by Serbian composer Ana Sokolovic (b. 1968). She lives in Canada.

Des Moines: A Whole Other Secret Garden

With its revelatory production of Rappaccini’s Daughter performed outdoors in the city’s refurbished Botanical Gardens, Des Moines Metro Opera has unlocked the gate to a mysterious, challenging landscape of musical delights.

Seductive Abduction in Iowa

Des Moines Metro Opera has quite a crowd-pleasing production of The Abduction from the Seraglio on its hands.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Garsington Opera

Even by Shakespeare’s standards A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of his earlier plays, boasts a particularly fantastical plot involving a bunch of aristocrats (the Athenian Court of Theseus), feuding gods and goddesses (Oberon and Titania), ‘Rude Mechanicals’ (Bottom, Quince et al) and assorted faeries and spirits (such as Puck).

Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

What do we call Tristan und Isolde? That may seem a silly question. Tristan und Isolde, surely, and Tristan for short, although already we come to the exquisite difficulty, as Tristan and Isolde themselves partly seem (though do they only seem?) to recognise of that celebrated ‘und’.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

22 Apr 2011

The Magic Flute, Manitoba

It’s hard to go wrong with The Magic Flute. Mozart’s final opera contains every audience-pleasing feature in spades: beautiful music, a fairy tale story, romance, laughter, villains, heroes/heroines, and for most — a happy ending.

W. A. Mozart: The Magic Flute

Manitoba Opera, Centennial Concert Hall, April 9, 2011

 

Manitoba Opera’s production of this three-hour masterpiece offered a bonus feature: a crackerjack cast rich with talented Manitobans working their own special magic. Twelve out of 15 roles were filled by Manitoba singers.

The opera’s set, representing 1882 Egypt, was a stark multi-level structure resembling stone. Creative curtain draping, props dropping from above and a brightly lit pyramid made for efficient, if slight, scene changes.

As Tadeusz Biernacki conducted the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra through the overture, we were treated to some inventive effects — characters silhouetted high against a red sky, watching as an Anglo-Egyptian War battle raged below making explosions of light. Bill Williams’ lighting introduced the story before a single note was sung.

We first see American lyric tenor Bruce Sledge (Tamino), struggling to escape a huge, Chinese dragon-like serpent, with billowy cloth body, gigantic googly-eyed head with fangs. He was saved by three hilariously preening ladies, played to the hilt by sopranos Sarah Halmarson and Naomi Forman and smoky-voiced mezzo Marcia Whitehead. Coiffed in multi-coloured streaks, they fawned competitively over the collapsed Tamino, making clever (and suggestive) choreographic use of the crooked poles they carried.

Sledge has a true hero’s voice and demeanour. In “Dies Bildnis ist bezaurbernd schön,” he poured his heart into his singing, flowing phrases imbued with passion. He also did a mean representation of flute-playing, making it quite believable.

One of opera’s all-time favourite characters, bird-catcher Papageno was played by baritone Hugh Russell. Dressed in feathers and rags, he was delightfully animated, his easy, pleasing voice setting just the right tone for this amiable role. Russell is the ideal Papageno, with great comic ability and superb timing.

While the opera was sung in German, all dialogue (by Schikaneder) was in English, so the audience could laugh along with Papageno when he spouted such gems as “all this stress is making me moult out of season” and claimed that the wine was giving him “acid reflux.” Director Michael Cavanagh went to town with the dialogue, giving us plenty of chuckles.

Magic-Flute_Manitoba.gifPhillip Ens (Sarastro), Bruce Sledge (Tamino), and Andriana Chuchman (Pamina). [Photo: R. Tinker]

Papageno’s better half, Papagena, was the delightful Lara Ciekewicz. She was positively bubbly in this small role. Their “Pa-pa-pa-gena! Pa-pa-pageno!” was lively and adorable.

Speaking of adorable, who couldn’t love the three genii with their bushy white hair and angelic voices? Bravo to Carson Milberg, Anton Dahl Sokalski and Torbjörn Thomson.

As the infamous Queen of the Night, American coloratura Julia Kogan made quite the entrance, floating down from the sky on a fantastical winged camel. Dressed in a magnificent gown, she was ghostly pale — but her fine voice was anything but. Assertive and commanding, she ordered Tamino to rescue her daughter Pamina. But in later scenes, Kogan’s dialogue was almost inaudible upstage. She made a valiant effort in the devilishly difficult “Der Höle Rachekocht in meinem Herzen,” reaching for the highest notes with obvious exertion.

Winnipeg soprano Andriana Chuchman’s Pamina was radiantly princess-like, with an appealing dose of youthful exuberance. Chuchman is a natural performer, with a mature, substantial voice that carries exceedingly well. The famous lament, “Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden” was masterfully crafted, round notes oozing heartbreak.

Phillip Ens’ resonant bass made the ultimate High Priest Sarastro, steady and noble. The depth and pomp of his performance made every hair stand on end. His regal robes were elegant and refined.

His slave Monostatos, played by the athletic Michel Corbeil, appeared tattooed from the top of his bald head to his toes. His flexible tenor voice sneered through his lines, making him the villain we loved to hate.

Gregory Atkinson was perfectly cast as an authority figure (High Priest), his deep voice richly resplendent. PJ Buchan’s (Priest) glorious tenor voice sounds better on every outing.

The chorus rounded out the production nicely, always well balanced and supportive. Kudos go to the orchestra, in particular for the many solos by flute and glockenspiel. There would be no Magic Flute without them.

This was a first-rate production in every way.

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):