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 Performances

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.

Santa Fe Opera Presents Huang Ruo's Sun Yat-sen

By emphasizing the love between Sun Yat-sen and Soong Ching-ling, Ruo showed us the human side of this universally revered modern Chinese leader. Writer Lindsley Miyoshi has quoted the composer as saying that the opera is “about four kinds of love.” It speaks of affection between friends, between parents and children, between lovers, and between patriots and their country.

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’.

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.

Rameau Grand Motets, BBC Proms

Best of the season so far! William Christie and Les Arts Florissants performed Rameau Grand Motets at late night Prom 17.

Adriana Lecouvreur, Opera Holland Park

Twelve years after Opera Holland Park's first production of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, the opera made a welcome return.

Back to the Beginnings: Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria at Iford Opera.

The Italianate cloister setting at Iford chimes neatly with Monteverdi’s penultimate opera The Return of Ulysses, as the setting cannot but bring to mind those early days of the musical genre.

Schoenberg : Moses und Aron, Welsh National Opera, London

Once again, we find ourselves thanking an unrepresentable being for Welsh National Opera’s commitment to its mission.

Count Ory, Dead Man Walking
and La traviata in Des Moines

If you don’t have the means to get to the Rossini festival in Pesaro, you would do just as well to come to Indianola, Iowa, where Des Moines Metro Opera festival has devised a heady production of Le Comte Ory that is as long on belly laughs as it is on musical fireworks.

Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, BBC Proms

Composed during just a few weeks of the summer of 1926, Janáček’s Slavonic-text Glagolitic Mass was first performed in Brno in December 1927.

Donizetti and Mozart, Jette Parker Young Artists Royal Opera House, London

With the conclusion of the ROH 2013-14 season on Saturday evening - John Copley’s 40-year old production of La Bohème bringing down the summer curtain - the sun pouring through the gleaming windows of the Floral Hall was a welcome invitation to enjoy a final treat. The Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Showcase offered singers whom we have admired in minor and supporting roles during the past year the opportunity to step into the spotlight.

Glyndebourne's Strauss Der Rosenkavalier, BBC Proms

Many words have already been spent - not all of them on musical matters - on Richard Jones’s Glyndebourne production of Der Rosenkavalier, which last night was transported to the Royal Albert Hall. This was the first time at the Proms that Richard Strauss’s most popular opera had been heard in its entirety and, despite losing two of its principals in transit from Sussex to SW1, this semi-staged performance offered little to fault and much to admire.

Il turco in Italia at the Aix Festival

Twenty years ago stage director Christopher Alden introduced Rossini’s then forgotten comedy to Southern California audiences in a production that is still remembered. In Aix Alden has revisited this complex work that many critics now consider Rossini’s greatest comedy.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Anna Christy [Photo by Dan Rest courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago]
21 Sep 2011

Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, Chicago

In a program of Italian and French arias and duets Lyric Opera gave to Chicago audiences a preview of the first operas in its forthcoming season and an opportunity to hear familiar voices as well as those soon destined to grace the operatic stages of the world.

Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, Chicago

Click here for additional information.

Above: Anna Christy [Photo by Dan Rest courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago]

 

The Lyric Opera Orchestra was conducted by Emmanuel Villaume, and Lyric Opera General Director Designate Anthony Freud addressed in his welcome the outdoor audience of thousands assembled in Millennium Park, Chicago. He commented on Lyric Opera’s new campaign entitled “Long Live Passion,” as a means to celebrate the particular feeling that opera can engender in listeners.

The first and last selections of the evening were sung by Renée Fleming who now holds the position of Creative Consultant to Lyric Opera. In a moving tribute to introduce the concert, which was dedicated to the memory of the September 11, 2001 anniversary and to military personnel and first responders, Ms. Fleming sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. Fleming’s other solo pieces, sung with commitment and truly individual touches of vocal color, included “Lauretta’s aria” from Gianni Schicchi and Marguerite’s “Ô Dieu! Que de bijoux!” from Gounod’s Faust.

In the first half of the concert Villaume conducted the overture to Verdi’s Nabucco as a prelude to the vocal selections. The brass and percussion in the overture were led with firm control, and as the woodwinds entered one had the sense of a rounded conception. Despite some tempos taken somewhat slowly the overall effect was a rousing statement of liberation. The first aria, “O luce di quest’anima” from Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix, was performed by soprano Anna Christy. Ms. Christy’s command of bel canto decoration was evident throughout both parts of the aria. Her voice hovered on the declamation of “tenero core” (“tender heart”) just as it lifted on the prediction for her lover, “s’innalzerà” (“he will rise”). In the second part of the aria, taken at a faster tempo Ms. Christy’s runs and tasteful application of rubato and escape tones communicated for her character a sense of passion as appropriate for this occasion. The following two soloists, baritone Ljubomir Puškarič and René Barbera performed staples of their particular repertoire. Mr. Puškarič’s rendition of Riccardo’s “Ah! Per sempre io ti perdei” from Act I of Bellini’s I puritani showed a pleasing timbre with, at times, a need to focus more clearly on the line as sung. His breath-control and unforced upper register augur well for the future of this vocal type. Mr. Barbera sang Tonio’s aria “Ah, mes amis” from Donizetti’s La fille du régiment. The tenor introduced a nice sense of line to an aria which, for other singers, has often focused instead on individual parts. At the same time, Mr. Barbera’s top notes, released fearlessly on “mon âme” and “sa flamme,” capped a performance which illustrated the absolute happiness of Tonio’s epiphany.

During such a concert with manifold talents in evidence it would seem difficult to single out individual vocalists for their memorable efforts. Yet the performance given by mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton of Léonor’s aria “Ô mon Fernand” from Donizetti’s La favorite deserves particular recognition. Here was a voice that showed remarkable color and depth from the first notes of her aria. One admired the security of range as Ms. Barton’s voice lamented the fate of her love, the vocal line descending to heartfelt emotional depths at “Hélas! est condamné!” (“Alas! My love is condemned!). Her ascent to top notes on “tout” (“everything”) and “justice” and the cry of despair, which she took forte without a trace of harshness, prepared a transition to the middle section of the piece. At this point Léonor appeals to God for death. Her line, “fais-moi mourir” (“make me die”), performed by Ms. Barton with a fully rounded expressiveness, made the character’s entreaty all the more credible. In the last segment of the aria, taken at a brisker tempo, Ms. Barton’s melodic agility and dramatic high notes concluding on “sera morte avant ce soir” (“will be dead before tonight”) gave an exciting finish to this accomplished performance. As a whole, Ms. Barton’s aria was yet another example of the passion in which both singers and audience participate and about which Mr. Freud spoke as being an integral part of great operatic performances.

In the remaining selections from the first part of this concert listeners had the opportunity to hear soprano Susanna Phillips sing the Act I duet from Lucia di Lammermoor with Mr. Barbera taking on the role of Edgardo. Ms. Phillips has an excellent sense of adapting her voice to a role and to the emotional complexities as they might change even within scenes. Her legato singing throughout was impressive, and her shading on words such as “pensiero”and “messaggiero” made her hopes for a letter from Edgardo seem even more plaintive. This part of the evening also featured bass James Morris in two selections. In his performance of Procida’s aria “O tu, Palermo” from Verdi’s I vespri siciliani Morris’s flexible line and his superb Italian diction made much of the aria. Before the intermission he shared the stage with Mr. Puškarič as they sang the duet for bass and baritone from I puritani.

In the shorter, second part of the concert both the solo and ensemble singing continued to introduce less familiar pieces alongside well known selections, all performed with style and commitment. Ms. Christy and Ms. Barton performed the duet for the title character and Mallika from Delibes’s Lakmé. The voices blended very effectively with Ms. Barton providing just enough mezzo-soprano heft to suggest a woven texture of the two performers. In the barcarolle from Les contes d’Hoffmann Ms. Fleming sang together with mezzo-soprano Emily Fons. Just as in the duet from Lakmé the two singers started at different points yet merged vocally to achieve a rich, undulant blend. As a solo piece Ms. Fons performed afterward the aria for Niklausse “Vois sous l’archet fremissant” (“See beneath the quivering bow”) from Les contes d’Hoffmann. In keeping with her character’s message to Hoffmann Ms. Fons lent great pathos to extended low notes on “l’amour vainqueur” (“conquering love”) and “douleur enivrée” (“anguish of passion”). The romance as here performed by Ms. Fons encouraged Hoffmann to find solace in art, just as the sounds of the strings seemed to echo effectively in her delivery. Also in this second part Ms. Phillips performed Juliette’s well known “Je veux vivre” (“I want to live”) from Gounod’s opera. Noteworthy was the vocal coloration by which Ms. Phillips communicated the youthful naïvete of Juliette while other parts of the aria as sung hinted at an adult and realistic perspective. Also included in this segment of the concert was an ardent performance by Matthew Polenzani of Werther’s aria “Pourquoi me réveiller” (“Why awaken me”).

The audience in Chicago was treated to a well chosen variety of vocal splendor and has much passion ahead in the upcoming season of Lyric Opera of Chicago.

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):