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

Prom 57: Semyon Bychkov conducts the BBCSO

Thomas Larcher’s Second Symphony (written 2015-16) here received its United Kingdom premiere, its first performance having been given by the Vienna Philharmonic and Semyon Bychkov in June this year. A commission from the Austrian National Bank for its bicentenary, it is nevertheless not a celebratory work, instead commemorating those refugees who have met their deaths in the Mediterranean Sea, ‘expressing grief over those who have died and outrage at the misanthropy at home in Austria and elsewhere’.

40 minutes with Barbara Hannigan...in rehearsal

One of the initiatives for the community at the Lucerne Festival is the ‘40 min’ series. A free concert given before the evening’s main event that ranges from chamber music to orchestral rehearsals.

Prom 54 - Mozart's Last Year with the Budapest Festival Orchestra

The mysteries and myths surrounding Mozart’s Requiem Mass - left unfinished at his death and completed by his pupil, Franz Xaver Süssmayr - abide, reinvigorated and prolonged by Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus as directed on film by Miloš Forman. The origins of the work’s commission and composition remain unknown but in our collective cultural and musical consciousness the Requiem has come to assume an autobiographical role: as if Mozart was composing a mass for his own presaged death.

High Voltage Tosca in Cologne

I saw two operas consecutively at Oper Koln. First, the utterly bewildering Lucia di Lammermoor; then Thilo Reinhardt’s thrilling Tosca. His staging was pure operatic joy with some Hitchcockian provocations.

Haitink at the Lucerne Festival

Bernard Haitink’s monumental Bruckner and Mahler performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) got me hooked on classical music. His legendary performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C-minor, where in the Finale loosened plaster fell from the Concertgebouw ceiling, is still recounted in Amsterdam.

BBC Prom 45 - Janáček: The Makropulos Affair

Karita Mattila was born to sing Emilia Marty, the diva around whom revolves Leoš Janáček's The Makropulos Affair (Věc Makropulos). At Prom 45, she shone all the more because she was conducted by Jirí Belohlávek and performed alongside a superb cast from the National Theatre, Prague, probably the finest and most idiomatic exponents of this repertoire.

Two Tales of Offenbach: Opera della Luna at Wilton's Music Hall

‘Two outrageous operas in one crazy evening,’ reads the bill. Hyperbole? Certainly not when the operas are two of Jacques Offenbach’s more off-the-wall bouffoneries and when the company is Opera della Luna whose artistic director, Jeff Clarke, is blessed with the comic imagination and theatrical nous to turn even the most vacuous trivia into a sharp and sassy riotous romp.

Britten Untamed! Glyndebourne: A Midsummer Night's Dream

This performance of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Glyndebourne was so good that it was the highlight of the whole season, making the term ‘revival’ utterly irrelevant. Jakub Hrůša is always stimulating, but on this occasion, his conducting was so inspired that I found myself closing my eyes in order to concentrate on what he revealed in Britten's quirky but brilliant score. Eyes closed in this famous production by Peter Hall, first seen in 1981?

Salzburg encores

A staged piano recital and an opera as a concert.  Pianist András Schiff accompanied the Salzburg Marionette Theater at the Mozarteum Grosser Saal and Anna Netrebko sang Manon Lescaut at the Grosses Festspielhaus.

Leah Crocetto at Santa Fe

On August 4, 2016, soprano Leah Crocetto and accompanist Tamara Sanikidze gave a recital at the Scottish Rite Center in Santa Fe New Mexico. A winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Contest, this year Crocetto was singing Donna Anna in Santa Fe Opera’s excellent Don Giovanni.

Angela Meade at Sante Fe

On July 31, 2016, against the ethereal beauty of the main hall in the Scottish Rite Center, soprano Angela Meade and pianist Joe Illick gave a recital offering both opera and art songs ranging in origin from early nineteenth century Europe to mid twentieth century America. Many in the audience probably remembered Meade’s recent excellent portrayal of Norma at Los Angeles Opera.

Turco in Italia in Pesaro

When more is definitely more, and less would indeed be less. Two of the biggest names in Italian theater art collide in an eponymous theater.

Proms Chamber Music 5: Shakespeare at 400

It was the fifth Proms Chamber Music concert at Cadogan Hall this season, and we were celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th. And, given the extent and range of the composers and artists, and the diversity and profundity of the musical achievement inspired by the Bard, we could probably keep celebrating in this fashion ad infinitum.

La donna del lago in Pesaro

Each August the bleak and leaky, 12,000 seat Arena Adriatica (home of the famed Pesaro basketball team) magically transforms itself into an improvised opera house that boasts the ultimate in opera chic — exemplary Rossini production standards for its now twelve hundred seats.

Proms at … Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

This highly enjoyable Prom, part of 2016’s ‘Proms at …’ mini-series, took as its guiding concept the reopening of London’s theatres following the Restoration, focusing in particular upon musical and dramatic responses to Shakespeare. Purcell, rightly, loomed large, with John Blow and Matthew Locke joining him. Receiving their Proms premieres were the excerpts from Timon of Athens and those from Locke’s The Tempest.

Santa Fe: Straussian Sweet Nothings

With all the bombast of the presidential campaigns rattling in our heads, with invectives being exchanged and measured discussion all but absent, how utterly lovely to retreat and relax into the harmonious soundscape and well-reasoned debate posed in Strauss’ Capriccio, on magnificent display at Santa Fe Opera.

Santa Fe’s Civil War Gounod

When we entered the Crosby Theatre for Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette the stage was surprisingly dominated by a somber, semi-circular black mausoleum, many chambers inscribed with scrambled names of US Civil War era dead.

Coolly Elegant Vanessa in the Desert

Molten passions were seething just below the icy Nordic exterior of Santa Fe Opera’s wholly masterful production of Barber’s Vanessa.

Le Comte Ory, Seattle

Farce is probably the most difficult of dramatic comedy sub-genres to put across. A farce got up in the stately robes of opera sets its presenters an even higher bar. Presenting an operatic farce on a notoriously chilly and cavernous auditorium is to risk catastrophe.

Racette’s Golden Girl in New Mexico

Fan interest began raging when Santa Fe Opera engaged venerable artist Patricia Racette to make her role debut as Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Giuseppe Verdi [Source: Wikipedia]
01 Sep 2011

Verdi’s Requiem Closes Grant Park Festival

In its final performances of the Summer 2011 season the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus along with guest soloists gave two performances of Verdi’s Requiem.

Giuseppe Verdi: Requiem

Amber Wagner, Soprano; Michaela Martens, Mezzo-Soprano; Michael Fabiano, Tenor; Kyle Ketelsen, Bass. Grant Park Music Festival. Grant Park Orchestra. Grant Park Chorus. Carlos Kalmar, Conductor. William Spaulding, Guest Chorus Director.

Above: Giuseppe Verdi [Source: Wikipedia]

 

The featured singers were Amber Wagner, soprano, Michaela Martens, mezzo-soprano, Michael Fabiano, tenor, and Kyle Ketelsen, bass. William G. Spaulding was the guest chorus director and the Grant Park Orchestra was conducted by Carlos Kalmar.

The first section of the Requiem was especially effective with Kalmar eliciting moving gestures from the cello section followed by the other strings with a gradually intensifying volume. The Grant Park Chorus set a dignified tone as piano segments alternated with vocal exhortations such as “Exaudi” (“Hear”). Noteworthy was the effect of legato singing so that the pace remained consistent up to the entrance of the soloists in this section. Each of the latter sang an introductory line on “Kyrie eleison” or “Christe eleison” with moving expressiveness. The blending of principal singers and chorus was established here for the balance of the work, so that neither dominated but rather all achieved an ideal synthesis.

The “Dies irae,” or second part, began with appropriate dramatic and percussive force before modulating to a more speculative and quiet section for the chorus. Trumpets were positioned on either side of the chorus above the stage in order to magnify the call to judgment. As the next part for bass and chorus, “Tuba mirum” (“wondrous trumpet”), followed seamlessly, Mr. Ketelsen released declarative and lyrically controlled reminders on “mors” and “natura” (“death” and “nature”). He followed these with a chillingly hushed piano on the repeated “mors” and low bass notes of warning on “stupebit” (“shall be stunned”). In the following section for mezzo-soprano and chorus, “Liber scriptus” (“a written book”), Ms. Martens sang with comparable feeling to announce the judgment. She used her upper register most effectively on words such as “Judex” and “judicetur” while singing a touching melisma on “proferetur” (“will be brought forth”). Between these parts for soloists and chorus Kalmar led the orchestra through reprises of the “Dies irae” motif with carefully measured tempos. In the subsequent appeal for pity shared by the four soloists and chorus Ms. Wagner sang a smoothly descending line punctuated with impressively soaring top notes. Mr. Fabiano’s accompanying soft notes sung on the repetition were equally effective. As a conclusion to this part Ms. Wagner performed the final sequence of “Salva me” with a memorable diminuendo.

In the succeeding “Recordare” duet for the women both Wagner and Martens excelled not only in their individual parts but also in blending their voices, for example, at “Juste judex” (“Righteous judge”). Martens sang here with well chosen vibrato so that her part was rendered with true pathos, while Wagner’s beautifully held pitch on “causa” (“the reason”) added to the prayerful effect. Just as sensitive to communicating text, Fabiano’s moving tenor “Ingemisco” which followed was one of the highlights of this performance. His rising notes on ”Mariam” and “exaudisti” (“you heeded”) were sung with convincing emotional fervor, underlined by ringing top notes directly on pitch for “in parte dextra” (“at Your right hand”). In the “Lacrimosa,” a section in which all four soloists have significant parts, the magnificent lines were produced with sensitivity to the appeal for rest and mercy. Following in the “Offertorio” both tenor and bass included decorative and well executed trills as an emphasis on “offerimus.”

The concluding segments of the Requiem, the “Sanctus,” “Agnus Dei,” and “Libera me” in this performance were significant for the interplay of orchestral and vocal elements. In the “Lux aeterna” the flute solo was distinctly present as Ms. Martens’s rising line was repeated at “lux perpetua luceat eis” (“may eternal light shine on them”). Ms. Wagner’s final solo in “Libera me” was dramatic as well as poignant. Her thrilling high notes resolved into a prayer to end the work with gentle orchestral accompaniment on its final note of supplication. Such a moving performance emphasized the devotional and musical strengths of Verdi’s religious masterpiece.

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):