Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Mahler Songs : Christian Gerhaher, Wigmore Hall

Star singer and star composer, a combination guaranteed to bring in the fans. Christian Gerhaher sang Mahler at the Wigmore Hall with Gerold Huber. Gerhaher shot to fame when he sang Wolfram at the Royal Opera House Tannhäuser in 2010.

Modernity vanquished? Verdi Un ballo in maschera, Royal Opera House, London

Verdi Un ballo in maschera at the Royal Opera House - a masked ball in every sense, where nothing is quite what it seems. On the surface, this new production appears quaint and undemanding. It uses painted flats, for example, pulled back and forth across, as in toy theatre. The scenes painted on them are vaguely generic, depicting neither Boston nor Stockholm, where the tale supposedly takes place. Instead, we focus on Verdi, and on theatre practices of the past. In other words, opera as the art of illusion, not an attempt to replicate reality. Take this production too literally and you'll miss the wit and intelligence behind it.

La Traviata in Ljubljana Slovenia

Small country, small opera house — big ensemble spirit. Internationally acclaimed soprano Natalia Ushakova steps in for indisposed local Violetta with mixed results.

Otello in Bucharest — Moor’s the pity

Bulgarian director Vera Nemirova’s production of Otello for the Romanian National Opera in Bucharest was certainly full of new ideas — unfortunately all bad.

Il trovatore at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its current revival of the 2006-2007 production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore by Sir David McVicar Lyric Opera has assembled a talented quintet of principal singers whose strengths match this conception of the opera.

Mary, Queen of Heaven, Wigmore Hall

O Maria Deo grata — ‘O Mary, pleasing to God’: so begins Robert Fayrfax’s antiphon, one of several supplications to the Virgin Mary presented in this thought-provoking concert by The Cardinall’s Musick at the Wigmore Hall.

Analyzed not demonized — Tristan und Isolde, Royal Opera House

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House, first revival of the 2009 production, one of the first to attract widespread hostility even before the curtain rose on the first night.

Florencia in el Amazonas Makes Triumphant Return to LA

On November 22, 2014, Los Angeles Opera staged Francesca Zambello’s updated version of Florencia in el Amazonas.

John Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary

John Adams and his long-standing collaborator Peter Sellars have described The Gospel According to the Other Mary as a ‘Passion oratorio’.

A new Yevgeny Onegin in Zagreb — Prince Gremin’s Fabulous Pool Party

Superb conducting from veteran Croatian maestro Nikša Bareza makes up for an absurd waterlogged new production of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

Nabucco in Novi Sad

After the horrors of Jagoš Marković’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro in Belgrade, I was apprehensive lest Nabucco in Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad on 27th October would be transplanted from 6th century BC Babylon to post-Saddam Hussein Tikrit or some bombed-out kibbutz in Beersheba.

La Bohème in San Francisco

First Toronto, then Houston and now San Francisco, the third stop of a new production of Puccini's La bohème by Canadian born, British nurtured theater director John Caird.

Radvanovsky Sings Recital in Los Angeles

Every once in a while Los Angeles Opera presents an important recital in the three thousand seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

L’elisir d’amore, Royal Opera

This third revival of Laurent Pelly’s production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore needed a bit of a pep up to get moving but once it had been given a shot of ‘medicinal’ tincture things spiced up nicely.

Samling Showcase, Wigmore Hall

Founded in 1996, Samling describes itself as a charity which ‘inspires musical excellence in young people’.

La cenerentola in San Francisco

The good news is that you don’t have to go all the way to Pesaro for great Rossini.

Rameau: Maître à danser — William Christie, Barbican London

Maître à danser: William Christie and Les Arts Florissants at the Barbican, London, presented a defining moment in Rameau performance practice, choreographed with a team of dancers.

Le Nozze di Figaro — or Sex on the Beach?

The most memorable thing (and definitely not in a good way) about this performance of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Serbian National Theatre in Belgrade was the self-serving, infantile, offensive and just plain wrong production by celebrated Serbian theatre director Jagoš Marković.

The Met mounts a well sung but dramatically unconvincing ‘Carmen’

Should looks matter when casting the role of the iconic temptress for HD simulcast?

Maurice Greene’s Jephtha

Maurice Greene (1696-1755) had a highly successful musical career. Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a position to which he was elected when he was just 22 years-old, he later became organist of the Chapel Royal, Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge and, from 1735, Master of the King’s Music.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Daniel Mobbs as Guillaume Tell and Talise Trevigne as  Jemmy [Photo by Gabe Palacio courtesy of Caramoor Festival 2011]
12 Jul 2011

Guillaume Tell, Caramoor Festival

For classical music fans, summer means only one thing: summer festivals. The goal of these festivals is to showcase a wide range of repertory with thought provoking creativity.

Gioachino Rossini: Guillaume Tell

Guillaume Tell: Daniel Mobbs; Mathilde: Julianna Di Giacomo; Arnold: Michael Spyres; Jemmy: Talise Trevigne; Hedwige: Vanessa Cariddi; Walter: Nicholas Masters; Rodolphe: Rolando Sanz; Fisherman: Brian Downen; Melchtal: Jeffrey Beruan; Gesler: Scott Bearden.

Above: Daniel Mobbs as Guillaume Tell and Talise Trevigne as Jemmy

All photos by Gabe Palacio courtesy of Caramoor Festival 2011

 

One such festival is the Caramoor Music Festival of Katonah, New York with its dedication to bel canto repertoire for its opera portion. It is true that since its resurgence after World War II, at the hands of Joan Sutherland and Maria Callas, bel canto opera is now firmly ensconced in the repertoire. But do not be fooled. As Will Crutchfield, the festival’s conductor, has previously stated, the goal of the festival is to present the lesser known bel canto operas. To that end, the festival is formatted such that one staple shares the stage with a more obscure work. Last year, Donizetti’s evergreen, drunken revelry L’elisir D’Amore was paired with Rossini’s majestic Semiramide.

This year, eyebrows were raised when Caramoor presented Rossini’s seldom heard epic Guillaume Tell alongside Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta HMS Pinafore. True, HMS Pinafore does not belong to the group of operas that we recognize as bel canto. Yet, according to an article in the New York Times by Allan Kozinn, audiences fail to realize that Arthur Sullivan held a job as a copyist in which he created reductions of bel canto opera. As a consequence, he was well acquainted with stylistic conventions, and his operettas can be seen as having evolved from that tradition. Furthermore, Patrick Dillon, a writer for Opera News argues that Guillaume Tell while a bel canto opera in the strictest sense had far reaching effects in the creation and standardization of French Grand Opera that lasted until the composition of Verdi’s Don Carlo. In this way, the theme of this Caramoor season seems to be the long lasting legacy of bel canto opera.

Regarding Guillaume Tell, I have nothing but good news to report. It was one of those performances of which opera lovers dream. Under the direction of the eminent Mr. Will Crutchfield, the orchestra of St. Luke’s demonstrated all the drama and complexities of Rossini’s vast score.

20110709Caramoor_9449.gifJulianna Di Giacomo as Mathilde

To comment on their dynamics and flare for theatricality would be obvious; I was most impressed with the dialogue between instrumental sections. If this were one of Rossini’s Italian comedies such as L’Italiana in Algeri, the opera would be full of ensembles in which the vocals lines would similarly interact with each other. Here, however, I was impressed with Rossini’s ability to transpose his skill for ensemble writing to the orchestra itself. Additionally, the strings brought a mellow burnished quality to the music; presenting a beautiful cohesive tone in a score with a plethora of strings.

The cast was in excellent form. Bass-baritone Daniel Mobbs, who sang the role of Tell, gave a thrilling dynamic portrayal. He managed to cover all facets of the character from revolutionary leader to husband and father while singing with style and spell-binding tone. Much the same can be said of Mezzo Vanessa Cariddi. Although, early on, her dramatic commitment to the role was less apparent, it came beautifully into focus with the last act. However, it is quite plausible that the reason for her character’s lack of substance lies within the opera itself. Tenor Michael Spyres, in the role of Arnold, sang with conviction and made his character a convincing case for the beloved operatic trope of tenor-as-lover. He also sang the role’s astronomically high tessitura with ease. Still two aspects of his performance should be mentioned. Vocally, he seemed to get lost in passages of either high powered orchestral work, or in ensembles. Additionally, he needs to develop a better physical and emotional connection with the other characters. Soprano Julianna Di Giacomo was incredibly compelling in the smaller but crucial role of Mathilde. Her deeply lyrical soprano was a joy to behold. Her voice brought much appreciated texture to the trio of Act IV with Mathilde, Tell’s wife Hedwige, and Tell’s son Jemmy. Soprano Talise Trevigne was delightfully boyish as Jemmy, while Scott Bearden was ferocious as Switerland’s Hapsburg governor.

20110709Caramoor_9386.gifVanessa Cariddi as Hedwige

The Caramoor festival chorus was in full vocal throttle when they joined the rest of the cast during the many ensembles. I could not help but smile at Rossini’s overt attempts to incorporate the tastes of the Paris Opera.

It remains to be said that Caramoor is a beautiful setting. When an obscure opera like Guillaume Tell is performed in such grand style and the audience is treated to fresh air, and exquisitely perfumed gardens, the question becomes, why isn’t this opera performed more often? My guess would be size and expense. It is true that massive forces are required to perform the work, and that according to Patrick Dillon of Opera News, the opera has never been performed in its complete version in the U.S. Yet despite the opera’s marathon four hours, this is an engrossing opera permitting time to pass quickly. Therefore, I have to say that I would gladly see Guillaume Tell again. And after all, isn’t that the goal of bel canto at Caramoor?

Gregory Moomjy

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):