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

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.

Tosca in San Francisco

Yet another Tosca is hardly exciting news, if news at all. The current five performances have come just two years after SFO alternated divas Angela Gheorghiu and Patricia Racette in the title role.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

W. A. Mozart by Johann Nepomuk della Croce (1736-1819) [Source: Wikipedia]
14 Aug 2011

Opera at Grant Park Music Festival

For its seventh program of the Summer 2011 season the Grant Park Music Festival presented concert ensembles performed by members of the Ryan Opera Center of Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Ryan Opera Center: Scenes from Donizetti, Mozart & Rossini

Click here for program notes.

Above: W. A. Mozart by Johann Nepomuk della Croce (1736-1819) [Source: Wikipedia]

 

Carlos Kalmar conducted the Grant Park Orchestra in selections by Mozart, Donizetti, and Rossini. Commentary was provided by Jack Zimmerman as narrator.

The first selection was Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor, or The Impessario. Since this one-act piece allows for both solo and ensemble singing by the four soloists, it proved to be an appropriate introduction to the evening. The rival sopranos Madame Goldentrill and Miss Silverpeal were sung, respectively, by Kiri Deonarine and Emily Birsan. Mr. Angel the Impressario and Mr. Bluff were sung by Bernard Holcomb and Joseph Lim. After settling into the overture Calmar encouraged orchestral colors especially in the woodwinds, so that the concept of subsequent vocal pieces was truly prefigured. Mr. Zimmerman’s versified summaries and comments propelled the piece toward the two arias sung by the sopranos. As Mme. Goldentrill Ms. Deonarine projected a secure vocal technique with an especially vivid effect on “Du kannst gewiss nich treulos sein” (“Surely you cannot be unfaithful”). Her rapid passagework was equally accomplished with top notes securely placed. Ms. Birsan sang with matching confidence yet perhaps with a shade more volume than needed in some of the rising lines. In the following trio both women overwhelmed Mr. Holcomb’s character as he tried to settle their dispute. Here Ms. Deonarine’s rise to high ntes on the word “Adagio” showed a sound technique and steady control of pitch. The entry of Mr. Bluff and the accompanying final ensemble provided opportunities for the four soloists to extend their pleas. Mr. Lim’s polished sense of line and his musical play on Buff and O showed him to be a worthy partner in the vocal dispute that ends with “Künstler müssen freilich streben” (“Artists must always strive”).

The second selection of the evening, Act Two of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, featured excellent contributions by Jennifer Jakob as Norina, Paul La rosa as Malatesta, and David Govertsen as Don Pasquale. At the start of the act René Barbera made a worthy showpiece of the nephew’s aria, “Povero Ernesto!” (“Poor Ernesto!”). His seamless range, high notes, and occasional use of piano (e.g. in “nè frapposti monti e mar” [“nor seas and mountains in between”]) were a welcome contribution to the overall shape of the aria. The singing of bass-baritone David Govertsen in the role of Don Pasquale, with an impressive bel canto technique extending to his lowest range, provided consistent stylish character to the title role. The Norina of Ms. Jakob was alternately understated and petulant, as expected in her variable persona, throughout the act. Her diction was accurate and she shaded her voice subtlety on words such as giovane (“young woman”) to emphasize the word’s import. In bel canto ensembles and in her individual decoration Ms. Jakob gave the impression of inhabiting the role comfortably. Mr. La Rosa’s sonorous baritone was an equally welcome voice in ensembles yet also in the delivery of individual parts in recitative. The line “ … un matrimonio in regula a stringere si va” (“a lawful marriage will herewith be contracted”) was released with deeply felt legato, while La Rosa launched with skilled decoration into the part “Ah! Figliuol, non mi far scene” (“Oh, my son, don’t make a scene”).

In the final selection, Act Two of Rossini’s La cenerentola, Emily Fons gave an exceptional performance as Angelina, the Cinderella of the title. Don Magnifico, sung here with rapid understatement by Evan Boyer, introduced in the first scene the continuing domestic and royal misunderstandings. In the following scene the remaining principals were introduced. James Kryschak sang Don Ramiro’s aria with the expected poise of a Rossini tenor, although some of the top notes were overly loud. Paul Scholten’s approach to Dandini in solo pieces and his duet with Don Magnifico was tasteful in his buffo lines and seamless in his well enunciated runs. Mr. Govertsen’s Alidoro made a strong impression with the hope for an assumption of the complete role in the future. It is in the fourth and fifth scenes and in the finale to Act Two that the mezzo role of Angelina truly rises to vocal splendor. Ms. Fons displayed a mature and focused line in her wistful rendering of “Una volta c’era un re” (“Once upon a time there was a king”). In the following scene of recognition, with identities and affections finally sorted out, the sextet was noteworthy for individual and ensemble contributions. For the finale, the title character’s arias “Nacqui all’ affanno” and “Non più mesta” were, in the memorable performance of Ms. Fons, models of bel canto singing recalling an earlier time. In the first aria she introduced appropriate decoration on “la sorte mia” (“my lot”) and ended the line on “cangiò” (“has changed”) with an exquisite trill. Several of the escape tones and other fitting ornamentation included in her polished rendition of “Non più mesta” enhanced a performance of future great promise.

Salvatore Calomino

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):