Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Dolora Zajick Premieres Composition

At a concert in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in San Jose, California, on August 22, 2014, a few selections preceded the piece the audience had been waiting for: the world premiere of Dolora Zajick’s brand new composition, an opera scene entitled Roads to Zion.

Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice

This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.

Aureliano in Palmira in Pesaro

Ossia Il barbiere di Siviglia. Why waste a good tune.

Britten War Requiem - Andris Nelsons, CBSO, BBC Prom 47

In light of the 2012 half-centenary of the premiere in the newly re-built Coventry Cathedral of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, the 2013 centennial celebrations of the composer’s own birth, and this year’s commemorations of the commencement of WW1, it is perhaps not surprising that the War Requiem - a work which was long in gestation and which might be seen as a summation of the composer’s musical, political and personal concerns - has been fairly frequently programmed of late. And, given the large, multifarious forces required, the potent juxtaposition of searing English poetry and liturgical Latin, and the profound resonances of the circumstances of the work’s commission and premiere, it would be hard to find a performance, as William Mann declared following the premiere, which was not a ‘momentous occasion’.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Pesaro

Both by default and by merit Il barbiere di Siviglia is the hit of the thirty-fifth Rossini Opera Festival. But did anyone really want, and did the world really need yet another production of this old warhorse?

Armida in Pesaro

Armida (1817) is the third of Rossini’s nine operas for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, all serious. The first was Elisabetta, regina di Inghilterra (1815), the second was Otello (1816), the last was Zelmira (1822).

Santa Fe Opera Presents an Imaginative Carmen

Santa Fe opera has presented Carmen in various productions since 1961. This year’s version by Stephen Lawless takes place during the recent past in Northern Mexico near the United States border. The performance on August 6, 2014, featured Ana Maria Martinez as a monumentally sexy Gypsy who was part of a drug smuggling group.

Elgar Sea Pictures : Alice Coote, Mark Elder Prom 31

Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra persuasively balanced passion and poetry in this absorbing Promenade concert. Elder’s tempi were fairly relaxed but the result was spaciousness rather than ponderousness, with phrases given breadth and substance, and rich orchestral colours permitted to make startling dramatic impact.

Berio Sinfonia, Shostakovich, BBC Proms

Although far from perfect, the performance of Berio’s Sinfonia in the first half of this concert was certainly its high-point; indeed, I rather wish that I had left at the interval, given the tedium induced by Shostakovich’s interminable Fourth Symphony. Still, such was the programme Semyon Bychkov had been intended to conduct. Alas, illness had forced him to withdraw, to be replaced at short notice by Vasily Petrenko.

Four countertenors : Handel Rinaldo Glyndebourne

Handel's Rinaldo was first performed in 1711 at London's King's Theatre. Handel's first opera for London was designed to delight and entertain, combining good tunes, great singing with a rollicking good story. Robert Carsen's 2011 production of the opera for Glyndebourne reflected this with its tongue-in-cheek Harry Potter meets St Trinian's staging.

Santa Fe Opera Presents The Impresario and Le Rossignol

On August 7, 2014, the Santa Fe Opera presented a double bill of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Impresario and Igor Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol (The Nightingale). The Impresario deals with the casting of an opera and Le Rossignol tells the well-known fairy tale about the plain gray bird with an exquisite song.

Barber in the Beehive State

Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre has gifted opera enthusiasts with a thrilling Barber, and I don’t mean . . . of Seville.

Stravinsky : Oedipus Rex, BBC Proms

In typical Proms fashion, BBC Prom 28 saw Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex performed in an eclectic programme which started with Beethoven's Egmont Overture and also featured Electric Preludes by the contemporary Australian composer Brett Dean. Sakari Oramo,was making the first of his Proms appearances this year, conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Chorus.

Santa Fe Opera Presents a Passionate Fidelio

Santa Fe Opera presented Beethoven’s Fidelio for the first time in 2014. Since the sides of the opera house are open, the audience watched the sun redden the low hanging clouds and set below the Sangre de Cristo mountains while Chief Conductor Harry Bicket led the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra in the rousing overture. At the same time, Alex Penda as the title character readied herself for the ordeal to come as she endeavored to rescue her unjustly imprisoned husband.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail @ Hangar-7

We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.

Rameau Grand Motets, BBC Proms

Best of the season so far! William Christie and Les Arts Florissants performed Rameau Grand Motets at late night Prom 17.

Adriana Lecouvreur, Opera Holland Park

Twelve years after Opera Holland Park's first production of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, the opera made a welcome return.

Back to the Beginnings: Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria at Iford Opera.

The Italianate cloister setting at Iford chimes neatly with Monteverdi’s penultimate opera The Return of Ulysses, as the setting cannot but bring to mind those early days of the musical genre.

Schoenberg : Moses und Aron, Welsh National Opera, London

Once again, we find ourselves thanking an unrepresentable being for Welsh National Opera’s commitment to its mission.

Count Ory, Dead Man Walking
and La traviata in Des Moines

If you don’t have the means to get to the Rossini festival in Pesaro, you would do just as well to come to Indianola, Iowa, where Des Moines Metro Opera festival has devised a heady production of Le Comte Ory that is as long on belly laughs as it is on musical fireworks.

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):