Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

The Marriage of Figaro in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera rolled out the first installment of its new Mozart/DaPonte trilogy, a handsome Nozze, by Canadian director Michael Cavanagh to lively if mixed result.

Little magic in Zauberland at the ROH's Linbury Theatre

To try to conceive of Schumann’s Dichterliebe as a unified formal entity is to deny the song cycle its essential meaning. For, its formal ambiguities, its disintegrations, its sudden breaks in both textual image and musical sound are the very embodiment of the early Romantic aesthetic of fragmentation.

Donizetti's Don Pasquale packs a psychological punch at the ROH

Is Donizetti’s Don Pasquale a charming comedy with a satirical punch, or a sharp psychological study of the irresolvable conflicts of human existence?

Chelsea Opera Group perform Verdi's first comic opera: Un giorno di regno

Until Verdi turned his attention to Shakespeare’s Fat Knight in 1893, Il giorno di regno (A King for a Day), first performed at La Scala in 1840, was the composer’s only comic opera.

A humourless hike to Hades: Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld at ENO

Q. “Is there an art form you don't relate to?” A. “Opera. It's a dreadful sound - it just doesn't sound like the human voice.”

Welsh National Opera revive glorious Cunning Little Vixen

First unveiled in 1980, this celebrated WNO production shows no sign of running out of steam. Thanks to director David Pountney and revival director Elaine Tyler-Hall, this Vixen has become a classic, its wide appeal owing much to the late Maria Bjørnson’s colourful costumes and picture book designs (superbly lit by Nick Chelton) which still gladden the eye after nearly forty years with their cinematic detail and pre-echoes of Teletubbies.

Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia at Lyric Opera of Chicago

With a charmingly detailed revival of Gioachino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia Lyric Opera of Chicago has opened its 2019-2020 season. The company has assembled a cast clearly well-schooled in the craft of stage movement, the action tumbling with lively motion throughout individual solo numbers and ensembles.

Romantic lieder at Wigmore Hall: Elizabeth Watts and Julius Drake

When she won the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize in the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, soprano Elizabeth Watts placed rarely performed songs by a female composer, Elizabeth Maconchy, alongside Austro-German lieder from the late nineteenth century.

ETO's The Silver Lake at the Hackney Empire

‘If the present is already lost, then I want to save the future.’

Roméo et Juliette in San Francisco (bis)

The final performance of San Francisco Opera’s deeply flawed production of the Gounod masterpiece became, in fact, a triumph — for the Romeo of Pene Pati, the Juliet of Amina Edris, and for Charles Gounod in the hands of conductor Yves Abel.

William Alwyn's Miss Julie at the Barbican Hall

“Opera is not a play”, or so William Alwyn wrote when faced with criticism that his adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie wasn’t purist enough. The plot is, in fact, largely intact; what Alwyn tends to strip out is some of Strindberg’s symbolism, especially that which links to what were (then) revolutionary nineteenth-century ideas based around social Darwinism. What the opera and play do share, however, is a view of class - of both its mobility and immobility - and this was something this BBC concert performance very much played on.

Cast salvages unfunny Così fan tutte at Dutch National Opera

Dutch National Opera’s October offering is Così fan tutte, a revival of a 2006 production directed by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito, originally part of a Mozart triptych that elicited strong audience reactions. This Così, set in a hotel, was the most positively received.

English Touring Opera's Autumn Tour 2019 opens with a stylish Seraglio

As the cheerfully optimistic opening bars of the overture to Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (here The Seraglio) sailed buoyantly from the Hackney Empire pit, it was clear that this would be a youthful, fresh-spirited Ottoman escapade - charming, elegant and stylishly exuberant, if not always plumbing the humanist depths of the opera.

Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice: Wayne McGregor's dance-opera opens ENO's 2019-20 season

ENO’s 2019-20 season opens by going back to opera’s roots, so to speak, presenting four explorations of the mythical status of that most powerful of musicians and singers, Orpheus.

Olli Mustonen's Taivaanvalot receives its UK premiere at Wigmore Hall

This recital at Wigmore Hall, by Ian Bostridge, Steven Isserlis and Olli Mustonen was thought-provoking and engaging, but at first glance appeared something of a Chinese menu. And, several re-orderings of the courses plus the late addition of a Hungarian aperitif suggested that the participants had had difficulty in deciding the best order to serve up the dishes.

Handel's Aci, Galatea e Polifemo: laBarocca at Wigmore Hall

Handel’s English pastoral masque Acis and Galatea was commissioned by James Brydges, Earl of Carnavon and later Duke of Chandos, and had it first performance sometime between 1718-20 at Cannons, the stately home on the grand Middlesex estate where Brydges maintained a group of musicians for his chapel and private entertainments.

Gerald Barry's The Intelligence Park at the ROH's Linbury Theatre

Walk for 10 minutes or so due north of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and you come to Brunswick Square, home to the Foundling Museum which was established in 1739 by the philanthropist Thomas Coram to care for children lost but lucky.

O19’s Phat Philly Phantasy

It is hard to imagine a more animated, engaging, and musically accomplished night at the Academy of Music than with Opera Philadelphia’s winning new staging of The Love for Three Oranges.

Agrippina: Barrie Kosky brings farce and frolics to the ROH

She makes a virtue of her deceit, her own accusers come to her defence, and her crime brings her reward. Agrippina - great-granddaughter of Augustus Caesar, sister of Caligula, wife of Emperor Claudius - might seem to offer those present-day politicians hungry for power an object lesson in how to satisfy their ambition.

Billy Budd in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera’s Billy Budd confirms once again that Britten’s reworking of Melville’s novella is among the great masterpieces of the repertory. It boasted an exemplary cast in an exemplary production, and enlightened conducting.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Henry Purcell by John Closterman
10 Feb 2012

Dido and Aeneas, Manitoba

Winnipeg music lovers were willingly transported back several centuries as Daniel Taylor and Montreal-based Theatre of Early Music graced Westminster United Church with a program of infrequently heard music.

Henry Purcell: Dido Aeneas

Theatre of Early Music and Manitoba Opera/Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Westminster United Church, Winnipeg, February 7-8

Above: Henry Purcell by John Closterman

 

This co-production by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and Manitoba Opera brought 17th century English baroque composer Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas to the stage, along with a selection of his other solo works and with works by Tallis and Handel.

The 50-minute Dido and Aeneas is heralded by many as the very first English language opera and, despite the lack of costumes or sets, it leapt to life before our eyes. This matchless ensemble was a joy from beginning to end. It was incredible to discover that while each splendid soloist was truly unique, possessing a timbre, expression and tone all their own, they combined as a chorus into a superbly blended unit. Taylor moved seamlessly from conductor to countertenor soloist (in the role of the evil Sorceress.) He led an accomplished seven-piece baroque orchestra (including lute) with a subtle touch, resulting in an impressively authentic rendition.

Soprano Noemi Kiss as Dido, Queen of Carthage, was in fine voice, sculpting deep feeling into her phrases, with the lightest of vibrato — suited to the era. We truly believed her when she sang of her predicament, her growing love for Aeneas. The famous aria/lament, “When I am laid in earth” was positively heart-wrenching as “remember me” hung in the air hauntingly, ensuring that we would.

Grace Davidson as Belinda, in whom Dido confides, brought a refreshing innocence to her role, with a lovely clarity of voice only curiously tinged with a somewhat lisping “s,” most noticeable in “Thanks to these lonesome vales …”

Aeneas was fittingly tall, dark and handsome with British-Canadian baritone Alexander Dobson truly living the part. Moving with dramatic conviction, he wooed Dido with his impressive range — a delightfully rich low register and surprisingly sweet ease up top as well. His flawless enunciation made the lyrics jump off the stage.

Taylor transformed himself from conductor to Sorceress by unleashing his mop of wavy hair and adopting a wild-eyed facial expression. With deliberation and intense audacity, he put forth his distinctive voice in a spotless soprano range, with timbre and texture that are purely Taylor. His divinely voiced cohorts, witches Meara Conway, soprano and Meg Bragle, mezzo were deliciously conniving, chuckling over their conspiracy.

Agnes Zsigovics as the Second Woman brought the same ringing tone she employed in her earlier solo, “Pilgrim’s Home” from Handel’s Theodora. Her clean, assertive style sets her apart.

Tenor Benjamin Butterfield had but a cameo role as the sailor in the production, but how he milked it! With true nautical spirit, he urged his colleagues on with smiling singing and plenty of hand rubbing. Fortunately, we had another opportunity to hear this peerless artist in “Total Eclipse” from Handel’s Samson in the first half of the program. We were immediately struck by the ease and passion of his delivery and the dazzling tone purity.

The epitome of control, the chorus ended this mesmerizing performance with a gossamer sadness that left the audience silent — until they erupted into a much-deserved standing ovation.

Gwenda Nemerofsky

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):