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 Reviews

Christine Goerke - Strauss Elektra BBC Proms London

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. Felicity Palmer was Clytemnestra, Gun-Brit Barkmin was Chrysothemis, Robert Kunzli was Aegisthus and Johan Reuter was Orestes. The concert staging was by Justin Way.

Christine Goerke - Strauss Elektra BBC Proms London

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. Felicity Palmer was Clytemnestra, Gun-Brit Barkmin was Chrysothemis, Robert Kunzli was Aegisthus and Johan Reuter was Orestes. The concert staging was by Justin Way.

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.

Nina Stemme's stunning Strauss Salome, BBC Proms London

The BBC Proms continued its Richard Strauss celebrations with a performance of his first major operatic success Salome. Nina Stemme led forces from the Deutsche Oper, Berlin,at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 30 August 2014,the first of a remarkable pair of Proms which sees Salome and Elektra performed on successive evenings

Santa Fe Opera Presents Updated, at One Point Up-ended, Don Pasquale

On August 9, 2014, Santa Fe Opera presented a new updated production of Don Pasquale that set the action in the 1950s. Chantal Thomas’s Act I scenery showed the Don’s furnishing as somewhat worn and decidedly dowdy. Later, she literally turned the Don’s home upside down!

Dolora Zajick Premieres Composition

At a concert in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in San Jose, California, on August 22, 2014, a few selections preceded the piece the audience had been waiting for: the world premiere of Dolora Zajick’s brand new composition, an opera scene entitled Roads to Zion.

Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice

This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.

Aureliano in Palmira in Pesaro

Ossia Il barbiere di Siviglia. Why waste a good tune.

Britten War Requiem - Andris Nelsons, CBSO, BBC Prom 47

In light of the 2012 half-centenary of the premiere in the newly re-built Coventry Cathedral of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, the 2013 centennial celebrations of the composer’s own birth, and this year’s commemorations of the commencement of WW1, it is perhaps not surprising that the War Requiem - a work which was long in gestation and which might be seen as a summation of the composer’s musical, political and personal concerns - has been fairly frequently programmed of late. And, given the large, multifarious forces required, the potent juxtaposition of searing English poetry and liturgical Latin, and the profound resonances of the circumstances of the work’s commission and premiere, it would be hard to find a performance, as William Mann declared following the premiere, which was not a ‘momentous occasion’.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Pesaro

Both by default and by merit Il barbiere di Siviglia is the hit of the thirty-fifth Rossini Opera Festival. But did anyone really want, and did the world really need yet another production of this old warhorse?

Armida in Pesaro

Armida (1817) is the third of Rossini’s nine operas for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, all serious. The first was Elisabetta, regina di Inghilterra (1815), the second was Otello (1816), the last was Zelmira (1822).

Santa Fe Opera Presents an Imaginative Carmen

Santa Fe opera has presented Carmen in various productions since 1961. This year’s version by Stephen Lawless takes place during the recent past in Northern Mexico near the United States border. The performance on August 6, 2014, featured Ana Maria Martinez as a monumentally sexy Gypsy who was part of a drug smuggling group.

Elgar Sea Pictures : Alice Coote, Mark Elder Prom 31

Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra persuasively balanced passion and poetry in this absorbing Promenade concert. Elder’s tempi were fairly relaxed but the result was spaciousness rather than ponderousness, with phrases given breadth and substance, and rich orchestral colours permitted to make startling dramatic impact.

Berio Sinfonia, Shostakovich, BBC Proms

Although far from perfect, the performance of Berio’s Sinfonia in the first half of this concert was certainly its high-point; indeed, I rather wish that I had left at the interval, given the tedium induced by Shostakovich’s interminable Fourth Symphony. Still, such was the programme Semyon Bychkov had been intended to conduct. Alas, illness had forced him to withdraw, to be replaced at short notice by Vasily Petrenko.

Four countertenors : Handel Rinaldo Glyndebourne

Handel's Rinaldo was first performed in 1711 at London's King's Theatre. Handel's first opera for London was designed to delight and entertain, combining good tunes, great singing with a rollicking good story. Robert Carsen's 2011 production of the opera for Glyndebourne reflected this with its tongue-in-cheek Harry Potter meets St Trinian's staging.

Santa Fe Opera Presents The Impresario and Le Rossignol

On August 7, 2014, the Santa Fe Opera presented a double bill of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Impresario and Igor Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol (The Nightingale). The Impresario deals with the casting of an opera and Le Rossignol tells the well-known fairy tale about the plain gray bird with an exquisite song.

Barber in the Beehive State

Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre has gifted opera enthusiasts with a thrilling Barber, and I don’t mean . . . of Seville.

Stravinsky : Oedipus Rex, BBC Proms

In typical Proms fashion, BBC Prom 28 saw Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex performed in an eclectic programme which started with Beethoven's Egmont Overture and also featured Electric Preludes by the contemporary Australian composer Brett Dean. Sakari Oramo,was making the first of his Proms appearances this year, conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Chorus.

Santa Fe Opera Presents a Passionate Fidelio

Santa Fe Opera presented Beethoven’s Fidelio for the first time in 2014. Since the sides of the opera house are open, the audience watched the sun redden the low hanging clouds and set below the Sangre de Cristo mountains while Chief Conductor Harry Bicket led the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra in the rousing overture. At the same time, Alex Penda as the title character readied herself for the ordeal to come as she endeavored to rescue her unjustly imprisoned husband.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail @ Hangar-7

We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Kate Royal as Euridice [Photo by Marty Sohl courtesy of Metropolitan Opera]
18 May 2011

Orfeo ed Euridice, Metropolitan Opera

Gluck’s Orfeo is, intentionally, free of clutter. If you cut out the scenes of balletic rejoicing just before the finale (and I can’t think of any good reason not to do so), it’s less than ninety minutes of music.

Christoph Willibald Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice

Orfeo: David Daniels; Euridice: Kate Royal; Amore: Lisette Oropesa. Metropolitan Opera chorus and orchestra, conducted by Antony Walker. Performance of April 29.

Above: Kate Royal as Euridice

All photos by Marty Sohl courtesy of Metropolitan Opera

 

Gluck’s intention was to isolate the story in three individual voices, as no opera treating the story of Orpheus had done before. He could even have made it a monodrama, and in some ways it is one: The roles of Euridice and Amor are neither large nor intricate in the original Vienna version of the score. (Euridice’s aria was a Parisian afterthought, as was Orfeo’s coloratura showpiece in Act I, which may not even be Gluck’s work. Neither is performed at the Met.)

ORFEO_Daniels_as_Orfeo_1307.gifDavid Daniels as Orfeo

The Metropolitan Opera production, directed by Mark Morris, seemed, when it was first mounted, to be mostly about Isaac Mizrahi’s distracting costumes for the chorus (some idiot tale about “all the famous people in history witnessing the story”) and, secondarily, Morris’s jazzy choreography, almost the only scene-setting we have for Tartaros or Elysium. There was some story about a guy who goes to the Underworld to bring back his dead wife, but that came a poor third. On its latest revival, those miserable costumes are still around, but the chorus do not rush about on their catwalk portraying furious Furies; they stay sedately in place, out of the spotlight. The lighting is seldom upon them anyway, and one can ignore their egregious intrusions and just listen to the way they sing. (Beautifully, with very precise diction.) Morris’s choreography also seems less to clutter matters and (I could be wrong here) there may have been cuts in the celebratory dances. So at last the opera is about Orpheus and Eurydice, a pleasant, nearly Ovidian, metamorphosis.

ORFEO_Oropesa_as_Amor_0293.gifLisette Oropesa as Amor

Antony Walker, an Australian, made an excellent, brisk debut in the pit, and even at its most languid moments, the musical tension never let up all night: an energetic performance informed, one suspects, by a background in the current, danceable Early Music style of doing galant music. He plays well with singers, too—this staging requires the chorus to keep time, beating their hands on the rails of their bleachers, at certain moments.

David Daniels is now 45, and countertenors’ voices do not last as long as, say, Wagnerian sopranos’ do. I hear less of the thrilling sensuality in his alto that had me gaga in earlier years, less control at the edges of individual notes, but he has always been a superb musician and a passionate actor, and his Orfeo is a memorable, ardent portrait. When he stands alone, bereft, at the center of the stage (vertically as well as horizontally) for the climactic “Che faro senza Euridice,” a clear and simple statement of anguish, he has earned our total attention and repays it richly. This is what Gluck’s clarifying reform of opera was all about.

ORFEO_Daniels_and_Royal_188.gifDavid Daniels as Orfeo and Kate Royal as Euridice

Lisette Oropesa made a pleasing god of love, the voice pure and clear, filling the hall, the gestures a minimum of cute excess. Kate Royal made her Met debut as Euridice, with a voice of distinct color and beauty and an attractive stage presence, but she did not make terribly much of this pallid character’s awkward situation, as Danielle de Niese, in striking contrast, did, and for some reason she had lost her vocal footing for the final triumphal duet and was unable to regain it.

John Yohalem

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):