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 Reviews

Bartoli a dream Cenerentola in Amsterdam

With her irresistible cocktail of spontaneity and virtuosity, Cecilia Bartoli is a beloved favourite of Amsterdam audiences. In triple celebratory mode, the Italian mezzo-soprano chose Rossini’s La Cenerentola, whose bicentenary is this year, to mark twenty years of performing at the Concertgebouw, and her twenty-fifth performance at its Main Hall.

Winterreise : a parallel journey

Matthew Rose and Gary Matthewman Winterreise: a Parallel Journey at the Wigmore Hall, a recital with extras. Schubert's winter journey reflects the poetry of Wilhelm Müller, where images act as signposts mapping the protagonist's psychological journey.

Anna Bolena in Lisbon

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, composed in 1830, didn’t make it to Lisbon until 1843 when there were 14 performances at its magnificent Teatro São Carlos (opened 1793), and there were 17 more performances spread over the next two decades. The entire twentieth century saw but three (3) performances in this European capital.

Oh, What a Night in San Jose

It is difficult to know where to begin to praise the stunning achievement of Opera San Jose’s West Coast premiere of Silent Night.

Billy Budd in Madrid

Like Carmen, Billy Budd is an operatic personage of such breadth and depth that he becomes unique to everyone. This signals that there is no Billy Budd (or Carmen) who will satisfy everyone. And like Carmen, Billy Budd may be indestructible because the opera will always mean something to someone.

A riveting Nixon in China at the Concertgebouw

American composer John Adams turns 70 this year. By way of celebration no less than seven concerts in this season’s NTR ZaterdagMatinee series feature works by Adams, including this concert version of his first opera, Nixon in China.

English song: shadows and reflections

Despite the freshness, passion and directness, and occasional wry quirkiness, of many of the works which formed this lunchtime recital at the Wigmore Hall - given by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge, pianist James Baillieu and viola player Guy Pomeroy - a shadow lingered over the quiet nostalgia and pastoral eloquence of the quintessentially ‘English’ works performed.

A charming Pirates of Penzance revival at ENO

'Nobody does Gilbert and Sullivan anymore.’ This was the comment from many of my friends when I mentioned the revival of Mike Leigh's 2015 production of The Pirates of Penzance at English National Opera (ENO). Whilst not completely true (English Touring Opera is doing Patience next month), this reflects the way performances of G&S have rather dropped out of the mainstream. That Leigh's production takes the opera on its own terms and does not try to send it up, made it doubly welcome.

A Relevant Madama Butterfly

On Feb 3, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s dramatic opera Madama Butterfly. Sandra Lopez was the naive fifteen-year-old who falls hopelessly in love with the American Naval Officer.

Johan Reuter sings Brahms with Wiener Philharmoniker

In the last of my three day adventure, I headed to Vienna for the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Musikverein (my first time!) for Mahler and Brahms.

Gatti and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Head to Asia

In Amsterdam legend Janine Jansen and the seventh Principal Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw, Daniele Gatti, came together for their first engagement in a ravishing performance of Berg’s Violin Concerto.

Verdi’s Requiem with the Berliner Philharmoniker

I extravagantly scheduled hearing the Berliner, Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Wiener Philharmoniker, to hear these three top orchestra perform their series programmes opening the New Year.

Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher in Lyon

There is no bigger or more prestigious name in avant-garde French theater than Romeo Castellucci (b. 1960), the Italian metteur en scène of this revival of Arthur Honegger’s mystère lyrique, Joan of Arc at the Stake (1938) at the Opéra Nouvel in Lyon.

A New Look at Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio

On January 28, 2017, Los Angeles Opera premiered James Robinson’s nineteen twenties production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, which places the story on the Orient Express. Since Abduction is a work with spoken dialogue like The Magic Flute, the cast sang their music in German and spoke their lines in English.

Giasone in Geneva

Fecund Jason, father of his wife Isifile’s twins and as well father of his seductress Medea’s twins, does indeed have a problem — he prefers to sleep with and wed Medea. In this resurrection of the most famous opera of the seventeenth century he evidently also sleeps with Hercules.

Falstaff in Genoa

A Falstaff that raised-the-bar ever higher, this was a posthumous resurrection of Luca Ronconi’s masterful staging of Verdi’s last opera, the third from last of the 83 operas Ronconi staged during his lifetime (1933-2015). And his third staging of Falstaff following Salzburg in 1993 and Florence in 2006.

Traviata in Seattle

One of Aidan Lang’s first initiatives as artistic director of Seattle Opera was to encourage his board to formulate a “mission statement” for the fifty-year old company. The document produced was clear, simple, and anodyne. Seattle Opera would aim above all to create work appealing both to the emotions and reason of the audience.

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part II: Kasper Holten’s angelic Lohengrin

Contrary to Stolzi’s multidimensional Parsifal, Holten’s simple setting of Lohengrin felt timeless with its focus on the drama between characters. Premiering in 2012, nothing too flashy and with a clever twist,

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part I: Stölzl’s Psychedelic Parsifal

Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB) consistently serves up superlatively sung Wagner productions. This Fall, its productions of Philipp Stölzl's Parsifal and Kasper Holten's Lohengrin offered intoxicating musical affairs. Annette Dasch, Klaus Florian Vogt, and Peter Seiffert reached for the stars. Even when it comes down to last minute replacements, the casting is topnotch.

Donna abbandonata: Temple Song Series

Donna abbandonata would have been a good title for the first concert of Temple Music’s 2017 Song Series. Indeed, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice seems to be making a habit of playing abandoned women.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Lorenzo Regazzo as Don Alfonso [Photo by Robert Millard courtesy of LA Opera]
10 Oct 2011

Così fan tutte, Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Opera Company’s charmingly understated new production of Così fan tutte will please your eyes and delight your ears, but its story might grieve your romantic soul.

W. A. Mozart: Così fan tutte

Ferrando: Saimir Pirgu; Guglielmo: Ildebrando D’Arcangelo; Don Alfonso: Lorenzo Ragazzo; Fiordiligi:Aleksandra Kurzak; Dorabella: Ruxandra Donose; Despina: Roxana Constantinescu. Conductor: James Conlon. Original Production: Nicholas Hytner. Director: Ashley Dean.

Above: Lorenzo Regazzo as Don Alfonso

All photos by Robert Millard courtesy of LA Opera

 

Its libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, who despite the fact that he was both a priest and a professor at Columbia College (not at the same time) had attained notable fame in his youth for licentiousness. The opera’s title means “all women are like that” and its subtitle “La scuola di amante” means “school for lovers.” Ostensibly an education in love, in Da Ponte’s and Mozart’s hands the opera’s lesson is that all women are fickle.

coz6065.gifRoxana Constantinescu as Despina

Guglielmo and Ferrando, two handsome young men engaged to sisters Fiordiligi and Doraballa, swear to Don Alonso, their old philosopher friend that the girls will be faithful to them forever. The cynical Alonso’s assertion that the girls will take new lovers in less than 24 hours if the men follow his instructions, results in a bet. Don Alonso elicits the help of the young women’s maid servant, Despina. The women are told that their heroes have been called to war, and shortly thereafter the two men disguised as “Albanians” appear to declare their passionate, (and sometimes comical) love — but to each other’s girl. Torn by conscience and tempted by the joys of love, the girls suffer a few pangs, but soon give in, each to her sister’s fiancé, whereupon to their mortification, the treacherous scheme is revealed. Then somehow — maybe Mozart didn’t like unhappy endings — there’s a cheerful sextet in which all the characters agree, “let’s get over this and look at the sunny side of things.” But who did the girls go home with? Their first lovers or their second? Mozart and Da Ponte don’t tell us! And if women study this “school’s” lesson a little deeper, they may wonder, “Are all fiancés like that?”

This is an attractive well-matched cast. Happily, the two male leads resemble each other enough to muddle their identities while in disguise, so there’s no little worm to gnaw at your aching-to-believe brain saying, “How could the girls not recognize them?” The production that Nichols Hytner, originally created for Glyndebourne with its tawny sets and blazing blue Neapolitan skies are crisp and elegantly restrained.

coz4180.gifSaimir Pirgu as Ferrando, Ruxandra Donose as Dorabella, Aleksandra Kurzak as Fiordiligi and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Guglielmo

But it’s the music that triumphs. Maestro Conlon personally chose the cast of European singers for their facility with Italian recitative, as well I am sure, for the quality of their voices. Bass Lorenzo Ragazzo, delivered a cheerful, perhaps not cynical enough Don Alfonso. Bass-baritone, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Guglielmo, pranced agilely when required — what a “Mefistofole” he would make! Saimir Pirgu’s Ferrando’s “Un’aura amorosa”and Aleksandra Kurzak’s “Come scoglio” hit their difficult marks. While the tessitura of Fiordiligi’s role unquestionably requires a soprano, the roles of Dorabella and Despina, here mezzos Ruxandra Donose and Roxana Constantinescu, respectively, are not as clearly defined in terms of range and can be sung by sopranos. Most frequently, it is Despina (think saucy Susanna in the Marriage of Figaro) who is cast as a soprano. Constaninescu, however, is perhaps too young to make a properly worldly-wise and arch Despina. The similarity of her sound to Donose’s Dorabella’s reduced the impact of her role and had me wishing for a bright soprano sound.

The essence of this Così is the sense of ensemble: the balance between orchestra and voice, and the clearly visible rapport between the singers and Maestro Conlon. When Conlon stretched past his score with this arms high over his head, and looked directly at his singers, it seemed as if the baton in his hand was a magic wand eliciting spontaneous song.

And did they all have fun with their curtain calls!

Estelle Gilson

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):