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

Lust for Revenge: Barenboim and Herlitzius fire up Strauss’s Elektra in Berlin

As the German language describes so beautifully, a “Schrei aus tiefstem Herzen” was felt as Evelyn Herlitzius channelled an Elektra from the depths of her soul.

Semyon Bychkov heading to NYC and DC with Glanert and Mahler

Heading to N.Y.C and D.C. for its annual performances, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra invited Semyon Bychkov to return for his Mahler debut with the Fifth Symphony. Having recently returned from Vienna with praise for their rendition, the orchestra now presented it at their homebase.

Lost Stravinsky re-united with Rimsky-Korsakov, Gergiev, Mariinsky

Igor Stravinsky's lost Funeral Song, (Chante funèbre) op 5 conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky in St Petersburg This extraordinary performance was infinitely more than an ordinary concert, even for a world premiere of an unknown work.

Philippe Jaroussky at the Wigmore Hall: Baroque cantatas by Telemann and J.S.Bach

On Tuesday evening this week, I found myself at The Actors Centre in London’s Covent Garden watching a performance of Unknowing, a dramatization of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben and Dichterliebe (in a translation by David Parry, in which Matthew Monaghan directed a baritone and a soprano as they enacted a narrative of love, life and loss. Two days later at the Wigmore Hall I enjoyed a wonderful performance, reviewed here, by countertenor Philippe Jaroussky with Julien Chauvin’s Le Concert de la Loge, of cantatas by Telemann and J.S. Bach.

The new Queen of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Here is one of the next new great conductors. That’s a bold statement, but even the L.A. Times agrees: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s appointment “is the biggest news in the conducting world.” But Ms. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will be getting a lot of weight on her shoulders.

Falstaff at Manitoba Opera

Manitoba Opera chose to open its 44th season by going for the belly laughs — literally — as it notably presented its inaugural production of Verdi’s Falstaff.

Gothic Schubert : Wigmore Hall, London

Macabre and moonstruck, Schubert as Goth, with Stuart Jackson, Marcus Farnsworth and James Baillieu at the Wigmore Hall. An exceptionally well-planned programme devised with erudition and wit, executed to equally high standards.

Rusalka, AZ Opera

On November 20, 2016, Arizona Opera completed its run of Antonín Dvořák’s fairy Tale opera, Rusalka. Loosely based on Hand Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, Joshua Borths staged it with common objects such as dining room chairs that could be found in the home of a child watching the story unfold.

First new Ring Cycle in 40 Years, Leipzig

Consistently overshadowed by the neighboring Bayreuth, the far less stuffy Oper Leipzig (Wagner’s birthplace) programmed after forty years their first complete Ring Cycle.

San Jose’s Beta-Carotene Rich Barber

You didn’t have to know the Bugs Bunny oeuvre to appreciate Opera San Jose’s enchanting Il barbiere di Sivigila, but it sure enhanced your experience if you did.

Manon Lescaut at Covent Garden

If there was ever any doubt that Puccini’s Manon is on a road to nowhere, then the closing image of Jonathan Kent’s 2014 production of Manon Lescaut (revived here for the first time, by Paul Higgins) leaves no uncertainty.

Fierce in War, dazzling in Peace: Joyce DiDonato at the Concertgebouw

Many opera singers are careful to maintain an air of political neutrality. Not so mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who is outspoken about causes she holds dear. Her latest project, a very personal response to the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, puts her audience through the emotional wringer, but also showers them with musical rewards.

Simplicius Simplicissimus

I wonder if Karl Amadeus Hartmann saw something of himself in the young Simplicius Simplicissimus, the eponymous protagonist of his three-scene chamber opera of 1936. Simplicius is in a sort of ‘Holy Fool’ who manages to survive the violence and civil strife of the Thirty Years War (1618-48), largely through dumb chance, and whose truthful pronouncements fall upon the ears of the deluded and oppressive.

Lucia di Lammermoor at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its second opera of the 2016-17 season Lyric Opera of Chicago has staged Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in a production seen at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Grand Théâtre de Genève.

Akhnaten Offers L A Operagoers Both Ear and Eye Candy

Akhnaten is the third in composer Philip Glass’s trilogy of operas about people who have made important contributions to society: Albert Einstein in science, Mahatma Gandhi in politics, and Akhnaten in religion. Glass’s three operas are: Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten.

Shakespeare in the Late Baroque - Bampton Classical Opera

Shakespeare re-imagined for the very Late Baroque, with Bampton Classical Opera at St John's Smith Square. "Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare....the God of Our Idolatory". So wrote David Garrick in his Ode to Shakespeare (1759) through which the actor and showman marketed Shakespeare to new audiences, fanning the flames of "Bardolatory". All Europe was soon caught up in the frenzy.

Soldier Songs in San Diego

David Little composed his one-man opera, Soldier Songs, ten years ago and the International Festival of Arts & Ideas of New Haven, Connecticut, premiered it in 2011. At San Diego Opera, the fifty-five minute musical presentation and the “Talk Back” that followed it were part of the Shiley dētour Series which is held in the company’s smaller venue, the historic Balboa Theatre.

Barber of Seville [Hollywood Style] in Los Angeles

On Saturday evening November 12, 2016, Pacific Opera Project presented Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville in an updated version that placed the action in Hollywood. It was sung in the original Italian but the translation seen as supertitles was specially written to match the characters’ Hollywood identities.

Madama Butterfly in San Francisco

A Butterfly for the ages in a Butterfly marred by casting ineptness and lugubrious conducting.

Kiss Me, Kate: Welsh National Opera at the Birmingham Hippodrome

In 1964, 400 years after the birth of the Bard, the writer Anthony Burgess saw Cole Porter’s musical comedy Kiss Me, Kate, a romping variation on The Taming of the Shrew. Shakespeare’s comedy, Burgess said, had a ‘good playhouse reek about it’, adding ‘the Bard might be regarded as closer to Cole Porter and Broadway razzmatazz’ than to the scholars who were ‘picking him raw’.

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):