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 Performances

Santa Fe Opera Presents Updated, at One Point Up-ended, Don Pasquale

On August 9, 2014, Santa Fe Opera presented a new updated production of Don Pasquale that set the action in the 1950s. Chantal Thomas’s Act I scenery showed the Don’s furnishing as somewhat worn and decidedly dowdy. Later, she literally turned the Don’s home upside down!

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.

Santa Fe Opera Presents Huang Ruo's Sun Yat-sen

By emphasizing the love between Sun Yat-sen and Soong Ching-ling, Ruo showed us the human side of this universally revered modern Chinese leader. Writer Lindsley Miyoshi has quoted the composer as saying that the opera is “about four kinds of love.” It speaks of affection between friends, between parents and children, between lovers, and between patriots and their country.

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’.

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.

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.

Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, BBC Proms

Composed during just a few weeks of the summer of 1926, Janáček’s Slavonic-text Glagolitic Mass was first performed in Brno in December 1927.

Donizetti and Mozart, Jette Parker Young Artists Royal Opera House, London

With the conclusion of the ROH 2013-14 season on Saturday evening - John Copley’s 40-year old production of La Bohème bringing down the summer curtain - the sun pouring through the gleaming windows of the Floral Hall was a welcome invitation to enjoy a final treat. The Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Showcase offered singers whom we have admired in minor and supporting roles during the past year the opportunity to step into the spotlight.

Glyndebourne's Strauss Der Rosenkavalier, BBC Proms

Many words have already been spent - not all of them on musical matters - on Richard Jones’s Glyndebourne production of Der Rosenkavalier, which last night was transported to the Royal Albert Hall. This was the first time at the Proms that Richard Strauss’s most popular opera had been heard in its entirety and, despite losing two of its principals in transit from Sussex to SW1, this semi-staged performance offered little to fault and much to admire.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Susanna Phillips as Lucia and Giuseppe Filianoti as Edgardo [Photo by Dan Rest]
18 Nov 2011

Lucia di Lammermoor, Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago staged Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor as its second production of the current season with Susanna Phillips taking on the role of the heroine torn between romantic love and familial pressures.

Gaetano Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor

Click here for cast and other information.

Above: Susanna Phillips as Lucia and Giuseppe Filianoti as Edgardo [Photo by Dan Rest]

 

In the performance seen René Barbera replaced the indisposed tenor Giuseppe Filianoti in the lead role of Lucia’s lover Edgardo. Baritone Quinn Kelsey sang the role of Lucia’s brother Lord Enrico Ashton and bass-baritone Christian Van Horn the role of Raimondo. By coincidence in this performance all four lead roles were assumed by past or current members of the Ryan Opera Center. The Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus were conducted by Massimo Zanetti in his debut season.

During the overture soft light shone through a blue scrim which returned and was varied at select points during the subsequent scenes. The woodwinds contributed notably to a generally well led performance of the overture, although the percussion was at times overly loud and pauses could be better seamed together. The male voices in the initial scene created a strong impression, one which remained consistent throughout the performance. As Normanno sung with urgent appeal by baritone Paul Scholten leads a search party to find Edgardo of Ravenswood, the male chorus members and Enrico join the group. In his aria and cabaletta Quinn Kelsey gave a nuanced and authoritative performance, clearly defining the venal character of Lucia’s brother. “Cruda, funesta smania” was sung with a true sense of line and color to emphasize words such as “horribile.” The cabaletta “La pietade in suo favore” proceeded naturally with well chosen vocal decoration, pitches sung flat to give additional emphasis, and effective top notes. The voice of Mr. Van Horn, so vital later in these performances, added here to the ensemble with chorus where his impressive range gave memorable support to the effect of the group.

In the second scene of Act One Lucia and Edgardo make their initial impressions, the heroine appearing before being joined by her outlawed suitor. As she relates to her confidante Alisa the tale of violence between lovers in an earlier generation of the Ravenswood clan, Lucia sings “Regnava nel silenzio” and claims to have seen the spirit of the dead girl at the fountain. As the narrative unfolds Ms. Phillips characterizes Lucia’s emotions by modulating her voice between full and hushed. In the second half of the scene showcasing the cabaletta “Quando rapito in estasi” Phillips drew on especially secure vocal decoration, as she negotiated the aria with all the repeats taken. Barbera’s Edgardo blended well with Phillips in their subsequent duet, his voice taking on a more declamatory tone when he sang solo lines. The exchange of rings and promise of future letters was sworn by both singers with lyrically believable tenderness.

The second act of this production was performed after the first without pause. Although the scene now changes to the interior of Enrico’s study, a stylized tree from the previous act staged outdoors can now be seen as through a window. The emotions attendant on that earlier scene drift into a conflict accelerating between Lucia and her brother: he insists in the confrontation here depicted that she marry Arturo Bucklaw in order to save the Ashton family. Both singers showed a skilled application of bel canto technique in their interaction, just as their dramatic outbursts were vocally in character. Once Enrico leaves her alone, Lucia is comforted and advised by Raimondo. Surely a highlight of this production was Mr. Van Horn’s performance of the aria “Ah, cedi, cedi,” a piece which has so often been cut from stagings of Lucia. Here Raimondo relies on humane persuasion and a tone of religious authority to convince Lucia that she should follow Enrico’s suggestion. Van Horn’s sonorous line and excellent low notes were matched in his cabaletta by a lightness and rhythmic sensitivity where noticeable articulation led to an impressively dramatic close. In the final scene of Act Two with all the principals on the stage the bridal couple is prepared for the wedding ceremony in festive attire. In assuming the role of Arturo Bucklaw Bernard Holcomb brought a good sense of diction and legato phrasing to his lines. Once the true beloved Edgardo reappeared, the sextet was performed with uniform commitment and individual voices soaring at appropriate moments. As Edgardo cursed Lucia’s perfidy the act concluded in a well staged ensemble. Van Horn’s thrilling calls of “Pace” sounded ever more futile as the enmity between Enrico and Edgardo predominated to the close.

Lyric Opera’s production of Lucia includes the scene outside the tower of Wolf’s Crag and hence divides Act Three into a trio of significant parts. In the first of these identified traditionally with the location Edgardo and Enrico confront each other on the grounds of the Ravenswood family estate. As they sang the duet (“Qui del padre ancora respira”) both Kelsey and Barbera chose decoration judiciously and allowed their characters to be defined by dramatic technique and a firm sense of legato. The growing rage between the two men and their assignation for a duel in the final scene helped clarify the plot and presents strong arguments for including the scene regularly in stagings of the opera. In the second scene the two major arias were sung with a memorable sense of integration into the dramatic flow. During the wedding festivities Raimondo bursts in to announce that Lucia has murdered her husband Arturo (“Dalle stanze ove Lucia”). Van Horn’s intonation in the aria expressed his horror at the discovery, just as his delivery of “infelice” followed by splendid top notes communicated Lucia’s state of madness to the revelers. When the heroine appears at the top of a precipitous staircase to sing the mad scene (“Il dolce suono”) Ms. Phillips acted and sang as one possessed. The effect of her fluid, secure delivery of the runs, trills, and roulades in this vocal challenge gave her Lucia the freedom to express visions and emotions in movement as well. Her ghostly singing of high notes pianissimo, punctuated with pitches delivered and held flat to enhance the sense of instability, added to this interpretation of a complex mental state. In the final scene of the opera Edgardo awaits Lucia’s brother in order to fight the duel that was agreed upon in the first part of this act. Mr. Barbera’s stylish delivery of the famous tenor aria (“Fra poco a me ricovero”) showed a supple approach with a welcome ring to high notes, as he ended the piece by taking the opportunity for introspective singing piano. When he realizes that Lucia has died and witnesses her funeral procession, Barbera inflected his cabaletta with wrenching emotion before stabbing himself to join his beloved in death.

Salvatore Calomino

Click here for a photo gallery and other information regarding this production.

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):