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

European premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Le Chant des enfants des étoiles, with works by Biber and Beethoven

Excellent programming: worthy of Boulez, if hardly for the literal minded. (‘I think you’ll find [stroking chin] Beethoven didn’t know Unsuk Chin’s music, or Heinrich Biber’s. So … what are they doing together then? And … AND … why don’t you use period instruments? I rest my case!’)

Rising Stars in Concert 2018 at Lyric Opera of Chicago

On a recent weekend evening the performers in the current roster of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago presented a concert of operatic selections showcasing their musical talents. The Lyric Opera Orchestra accompanied the performers and was conducted by Edwin Outwater.

Arizona Opera Presents a Glittering Rheingold

On April 6, 2018, Arizona Opera presented an uncut performance of Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold. It was the first time in two decades that this company had staged a Ring opera.

Handel's Teseo brings 2018 London Handel Festival to a close

The 2018 London Handel Festival drew to a close with this vibrant and youthful performance (the second of two) at St George’s Church, Hanover Square, of Handel’s Teseo - the composer’s third opera for London after Rinaldo (1711) and Il pastor fido (1712), which was performed at least thirteen times between January and May 1713.

The Moderate Soprano

The Moderate Soprano and the story of Glyndebourne: love, opera and Nazism in David Hare’s moving play

The Spirit of England: the BBCSO mark the centenary of the end of the Great War

Well, it was Friday 13th. I returned home from this moving and inspiring British-themed concert at the Barbican Hall in which the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Sir Andrew Davis had marked the centenary of the end of World War I, to turn on my lap-top and discover that the British Prime Minister had authorised UK armed forces to participate with French and US forces in attacks on Syrian chemical weapon sites.

Thomas Adès conducts Stravinsky's Perséphone at the Royal Festival Hall

This seemed a timely moment for a performance of Stravinsky’s choral ballet, Perséphone. April, Eliot’s ‘cruellest month’, has brought rather too many of Chaucer’s ‘sweet showers [to] pierce the ‘drought of March to the root’, but as the weather finally begins to warms and nature stirs, what better than the classical myth of the eponymous goddess’s rape by Pluto and subsequent rescue from Hades, begetting the eternal rotation of the seasons, to reassure us that winter is indeed over and the spirit of spring is engendering the earth.

Dido and Aeneas: La Nuova Musica at Wigmore Hall

This performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas by La Nuova Musica, directed by David Bates, was, characteristically for this ensemble, alert to musical details, vividly etched and imaginatively conceived.

Bernstein's MASS at the Royal Festival Hall

In 1969, Mrs Aristotle Onassis commissioned a major composition to celebrate the opening of a new arts centre in Washington, DC - the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, named after her late husband, President John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated six years earlier.

Hans Werner Henze : The Raft of the Medusa, Amsterdam

This is a landmark production of Hans Werner Henze's Das Floß der Medusa (The Raft of the Medusa) conducted by Ingo Metzmacher in Amsterdam earlier this month, with Dale Duesing (Charon), Bo Skovhus and Lenneke Ruiten, with Cappella Amsterdam, the Nieuw Amsterdams Kinderen Jeugdkoor, and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, in a powerfully perceptive staging by Romeo Castellucci.

Johann Sebastian Bach, St John Passion, BWV 245

This was the first time, I think, since having moved to London that I had attended a Bach Passion performance on Good Friday here.

Easter Voices, including mass settings by Mozart and Stravinsky

It was a little early, perhaps, to be hearing ‘Easter Voices’ in the middle of Holy Week. However, this was not especially an Easter programme – and, in any case, included two pieces from Gesualdo’s Tenebrae responsories for Good Friday. Given the continued vileness of the weather, a little foreshadowing of something warmer was in any case most welcome. (Yes, I know: I should hang my head in Lenten shame.)

Academy of Ancient Music: St John Passion at the Barbican Hall

‘In order to preserve the good order in the Churches, so arrange the music that it shall not last too long, and shall be of such nature as not to make an operatic impression, but rather incite the listeners to devotion.’

Fiona Shaw's The Marriage of Figaro returns to the London Coliseum

The white walls of designer Peter McKintosh’s Ikea-maze are still spinning, the ox-skulls are still louring, and the servants are still eavesdropping, as Fiona Shaw’s 2011 production of The Marriage of Figaro returns to English National Opera for its second revival. Or, perhaps one should say that the servants are still sleeping - slumped in corridors, snoozing in chairs, snuggled under work-tables - for at times this did seem a rather soporific Figaro under Martyn Brabbins’ baton.

Lenten Choral Music from the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Time was I could hear the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge almost any evening I chose, at least during term time. (If I remember correctly, Mondays were reserved for the mixed voice King’s Voices.)

A New Faust at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s innovative, new production of Charles Gounod’s Faust succeeds on multiple levels of musical and dramatic representation. The title role is sung by Benjamin Bernheim, his companion in adventure Méphistophélès is performed by Christian Van Horn.

Netrebko rules at the ROH in revival of Phyllida Lloyd's Macbeth

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a play of the night: of dark interiors and shadowy forests. ‘Light thickens, and the crow/Makes wing to th’ rooky wood,’ says Macbeth, welcoming the darkness which, whether literal or figurative, is thrillingly and threateningly palpable.

San Diego’s Ravishing Florencia

Daniel Catán’s widely celebrated opera, Florencia en el Amazonas received a top tier production at the wholly rejuvenated San Diego Opera company.

Samantha Hankey wins Glyndebourne Opera Cup

Four singers were awarded prizes at the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup, which reached its closing stage at Glyndebourne on 24th March. The Glyndebourne Opera Cup focuses on a different single composer or strand of the repertoire each time it is held. In 2018 the featured composer was Mozart and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment accompanied the ten finalists.

Handel's first 'Israelite oratorio': Esther at the London Handel Festival

It’s sometimes suggested that it was the simultaneous decline of the popularity of Italian opera seria among Georgian audiences and, in consequence, of the fortunes of Handel’s Royal Academy King’s Theatre, that led the composer to turn his hand to oratorio in English, the genre which would endear him to the hearts of the nation.

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):