Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Fedora in Genoa

It is not an everyday opera. It is an opera that illuminates a larger verismo history.

The Marriage of Figaro, LA Opera

On March 26, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). The Ian Judge production featured jewel-colored box sets by Tim Goodchild that threw the voices out into the hall. Only for the finale did the set open up on to a garden that filled the whole stage and at the very end featured actual fireworks.

The Tempest Songbook, Gotham Chamber Opera

Gotham Chamber Opera’s latest project, The Tempest Songbook, continues to explore the possibilities of unconventional spaces and unconventional programs that the company has made its hallmark. The results were musically and theatrically thought-provoking, and left me wanting more.

San Diego Opera presents Adams’ Riveting Nixon in China

Nixon in China is a three-act opera with a libretto by Alice Goodman and music by John Adams that was first seen at the Houston Grand Opera on October 22, 1987. It was the first of a notable line of operas by the composer.

Ars Minerva presents Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra in San Francisco

It is thanks to Céline Ricci, mezzo-soprano and director of Ars Minerva, that we have been able to again hear Daniele Castrovillari’s exquisite melodies because she is the musician who has brought his 1662 opera La Cleopatra to life.

An Ideal Cast in Chicago’s Tannhäuser

Lyric Opera of Chicago, in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, has staged a production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser with an estimable cast.

Madame Butterfly, Royal Opera

Puccini and his fellow verismo-ists are commonly associated with explosions of unbridled human passion and raw, violent pain, but in this revival (by Justin Way) of Moshe Leiser’s and Patrice Caurier’s 2003 production of Madame Butterfly, directorial understatement together with ravishing scenic beauty are shown to be more potent ways of enabling the sung voice to reveal the emotional depths of human tragedy.

Tosca in Marseille

Rarely, very rarely does a Tosca come around that you can get excited about. Sure, sometimes there is good singing, less often good conducting but rarely is there a mise en scène that goes beyond stock opera vocabulary.

Poetry beyond words — Nash Ensemble, Wigmore Hall

The Nash Ensemble’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations at the Wigmore Hall were crowned by a recital that typifies the Nash’s visionary mission. Above, the dearly-loved founder, Amelia Freeman, a quietly revolutionary figure in her own way, who has immeasurably enriched the cultural life of this country.

Arizona Opera Presents Magritte Style Magic Flute

On March 7, 2015, Arizona Opera presented Dan Rigazzi’s production of Die Zauberflöte in Tucson. Inspired by the works of René Magritte, designer John Pollard filled the stage with various sizes of picture frames, windows, and portals from which he leads us into Mozart and Schikaneder’s dream world.

Henry Purcell: A Retrospective

There are some concert programmes which are not just wonderful in their execution but also delight and satisfy because of the ‘rightness’ of their composition. This Wigmore Hall recital by soprano Carolyn Sampson and three period-instrument experts of arias and instrumental pieces by Henry Purcell was one such occasion.

Die Meistersinger and The Indian Queen
at the ENO

It has been a cold and gray winter in the south of France (where I live) made splendid by some really good opera, followed just now by splendid sunshine at Trafalgar Square and two exquisite productions at English National Opera.

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Royal Opera

At long last, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny has come to the Royal Opera House. Kurt Weill’s teacher, Busoni, remains scandalously ignored, but a season which includes house firsts both of this opera and Szymanowsi’s King Roger, cannot be all bad.

How to Write About Music: The RILM Manual of Style

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature is an international database for musicological and ethnomusicological research, providing abstracts and indexing for users all over the world. As such, RILM’s style guide (How to Write About Music: The RILM Manual of Style) differs fairly significantly from those of more generalized style guides such as MLA or APA.

Unsuk Chin: Alice in Wonderland, Barbican, London

Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland returned to the Barbican, London, shape-shifted like one of Alice’s adventures. The BBC Symphony Orchestra was assembled en masse, almost teetering off stage, creating a sense of tension. “Eat me, Drink me”. Was Lewis Carroll on hallucinogens or just good at channeling the crazy world of the subconscious?

Welsh National Opera: The Magic Flute and Hansel and Gretel

Dominic Cooke’s 2005 staging of The Magic Flute and Richard Jones’s 1998 production of Hansel and Gretel have been brought together for Welsh National Opera’s spring tour under the unifying moniker, Spellbound.

A worthy tribute for a vocal seductress of the ancient régime

Carolyn Sampson has long avoided the harsh glare of stardom but become a favourite singer for “those in the know” — and if you are not one of those it is about time you were.

Double bill at Guildhall

Gaetano Donizetti and Malcolm Arnold might seem odd operatic bedfellows, but this double bill by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama offered a pair of works characterised by ‘madness, misunderstandings and mistaken identity’ which proved witty, sparkling and imaginatively realised.

LA Opera: Barber of Seville

Saturday, February 28, 2015, was the first night for Los Angeles Opera’s revival of its 2009 presentation of The Barber of Seville, a production by Emilio Sagi, which comes originally from Teatro Real in Madrid in cooperation with Lisbon’s Teatro San Carlos. Sagi and onsite director, Trevor Ross, made comedy the focus of their production and provided myriad sight gags which kept the audience laughing.

Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Wigmore Hall

Commenting on her recent, highly acclaimed CD release of late-nineteenth-century song, Chansons Perpétuelles (Naive: V5355), Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux remarked ‘it’s that intimate side that interests me … I wanted to emphasise the genuinely embodied, physical side of the sensuality [in Fauré]’.

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):