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

Manon Lescaut, Munich

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. Some will scream in rage but in its austerity it reaches to the heart of the opera.

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

The Maid of Pskov (Pskovityanka) , St. Petersburg

I recently spent four days in St. Petersburg, timed to coincide with the annual Stars of the White Nights Festival. Yet the most memorable singing I heard was neither at the Mariinsky Theater nor any other performance hall. It was in the small, nearly empty church built for the last Tsar, Nicholas II, at Tsarskoye Selo.

Prom 11 — Grange Park Opera: Fiddler on the Roof

As I walked up Exhibition Road on my way to the Royal Albert Hall, I passed a busking tuba player whose fairground ditties were enlivened by bursts of flame which shot skyward from the bell of his instrument, to the amusement and bemusement of a rapidly gathering pavement audience.

Saul, Glyndebourne

A brilliant theatrical event, bringing Handel’s theatre of the mind to life on stage

Roberta Invernizzi, Wigmore Hall

‘Here, thanks be to God, my opera is praised to the skies and there is nothing in it which does not please greatly.’ So wrote Antonio Vivaldi to Marchese Guido Bentivoglio d’Aragona in Ferrara in 1737.

Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre Re

Asphyxiations, atrophy by poison, assassination: in Italo Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre Re (The Love of the Three Kings, 1913) foul deed follows foul deed until the corpses are piled high. 

Prom 4: Andris Nelsons

The precision of attack in the opening to Beethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus Overture signalled thoroughgoing excellence in the contribution of the CBSO to this concert.

BBC Proms: The Cardinall’s Musick

When he was skilfully negotiating the not inconsiderable complexities, upheavals and strife of musical and religious life at the English royal court during the Reformation, Thomas Tallis (c.1505-85) could hardly have imagined that more than 450 years later people would be queuing round the block for the opportunity spend their lunch-hour listening to the music that he composed in service of his God and his monarch.

Oberon, Persephone and Iolanta at the Aix Festival

Two of the important late twentieth century stage directors, Robert Carsen and Peter Sellars, returned to the Aix Festival this summer. Carsen’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a masterpiece, Sellars’ strange Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky double bill is simply bizarre.

Betrothal and Betrayal : JPYA at the ROH

The annual celebration of young talent at the Royal Opera House is a magnificent showcase, and it was good to see such a healthy audience turnout.

Jenůfa Packs a Wallop at DMMO

There are few operas that can rival the visceral impact of a well-staged Jenůfa and Des Moines Metro Opera has emphatically delivered the goods.

Des Moines Fanciulla a Minnie-Triumph

The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West) often gets eclipsed when compared to the rest of the mature Puccini canon.

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015 with Sakari Oramo in exuberant form, pulling off William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the theatrical flair it deserves.

Monsters and Marriage at the Aix Festival

Plus an evening by the superb Modigliani Quartet that complimented the brief (55 minutes) a cappella opera for six female voices Svadba (2013) by Serbian composer Ana Sokolovic (b. 1968). She lives in Canada.

Des Moines: A Whole Other Secret Garden

With its revelatory production of Rappaccini’s Daughter performed outdoors in the city’s refurbished Botanical Gardens, Des Moines Metro Opera has unlocked the gate to a mysterious, challenging landscape of musical delights.

Seductive Abduction in Iowa

Des Moines Metro Opera has quite a crowd-pleasing production of The Abduction from the Seraglio on its hands.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Garsington Opera

Even by Shakespeare’s standards A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of his earlier plays, boasts a particularly fantastical plot involving a bunch of aristocrats (the Athenian Court of Theseus), feuding gods and goddesses (Oberon and Titania), ‘Rude Mechanicals’ (Bottom, Quince et al) and assorted faeries and spirits (such as Puck).

Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

What do we call Tristan und Isolde? That may seem a silly question. Tristan und Isolde, surely, and Tristan for short, although already we come to the exquisite difficulty, as Tristan and Isolde themselves partly seem (though do they only seem?) to recognise of that celebrated ‘und’.

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

So this was it, the Pelléas which had apparently repelled critics and other members of the audience on the opening night. Perhaps that had been exaggeration; I avoided reading anything substantive — and still have yet to do so.

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):