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 Performances

Hugo Wolf, Italienisches Liederbuch

Nationality is a complicated thing at the best of times. (At the worst of times: well, none of us needs reminding about that.) What, if anything, might it mean for Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook? Almost whatever you want it to mean, or not to mean.

San Jose’s Dutchman Treat

At my advanced age, I have now experienced ten different productions of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in my opera-going lifetime, but Opera San Jose’s just might be the finest.

Mortal Voices: the Academy of Ancient Music at Milton Court

The relationship between music and money is long-standing, complex and inextricable. In the Baroque era it was symbiotically advantageous.

I Puritani at Lyric Opera of Chicago

What better evocation of bel canto than an opera which uses the power of song to dispel madness and to reunite the heroine with her banished fiancé? Such is the final premise of Vincenzo Bellini’s I puritani, currently in performance at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Iolanthe: English National Opera

The current government’s unfathomable handling of the Brexit negotiations might tempt one to conclude that the entire Conservative Party are living in the land of the fairies. In Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1882 operetta Iolanthe, the arcane and Arcadia really do conflate, and Cal McCrystal’s new production for English National Opera relishes this topsy-turvy world where peris consort with peri-wigs.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Marseille

Any Laurent Pelly production is news, any role undertaken by soprano Stephanie d’Oustrac is news. Here’s the news from Marseille.

Riveting Maria de San Diego

As part of its continuing, adventurous “Detour” series, San Diego Opera mounted a deliciously moody, proudly pulsating, wholly evocative presentation of Astor Piazzolla’s “nuevo tango” opera, Maria de Buenos Aires.

La Walkyrie in Toulouse

The Nicolas Joel 1999 production of Die Walküre seen just now in Toulouse well upholds the Airbus city’s fame as Bayreuth-su-Garonne (the river that passes through this quite beautiful, rich city).

Barrie Kosky's Carmen at Covent Garden

Carmen is dead. Long live Carmen. In a sense, both Bizet’s opera and his gypsy diva have been ‘done to death’, but in this new production at the ROH (first seen at Frankfurt in 2016) Barrie Kosky attempts to find ways to breathe new life into the show and resurrect, quite literally, the eponymous temptress.

Candide at Arizona Opera

On Friday February 2, 2018, Arizona Opera presented Leonard Bernstein’s Candide to honor the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Although all the music was Bernstein’s, the text was written and re-written by numerous authors including Lillian Hellman, Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, and Dorothy Parker, as well as the composer.

Satyagraha at English National Opera

The second of Philip Glass’s so-called 'profile' operas, Satyagraha is magnificent in ENO’s acclaimed staging, with a largely new cast and conductor bringing something very special to this seminal work.

Mahler Symphony no 8—Harding, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

From the Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, a very interesting Mahler Symphony no 8 with Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The title "Symphony of a Thousand" was dreamed up by promoters trying to sell tickets, creating the myth that quantity matters more than quality. For many listeners, Mahler 8 is still a hard nut to crack, for many reasons, and the myth is part of the problem. Mahler 8 is so original that it defies easy categories.

Wigmore Hall Schubert Birthday—Angelika Kirchschlager

At the Wigmore Hall, Schubert's birthday is always celebrated in style. This year, Angelika Kirchschlager and Julius Drake, much loved Wigmore Hall audience favourites, did the honours, with a recital marking the climax of the two-year-long Complete Schubert Songs Series. The programme began with a birthday song, Namenstaglied, and ended with a farewell, Abschied von der Erde. Along the way, a traverse through some of Schubert's finest moments, highlighting different aspects of his song output : Schubert's life, in miniature.

Ilker Arcayürek at Wigmore Hall

The first thing that struck me in this Wigmore Hall recital was the palpable sincerity of Ilker Arcayürek’s artistry. Sincerity is not everything, of course; what we think of as such may even be carefully constructed artifice, although not, I think, here.

Lisette Oropesa sings at Tucson Desert Song Festival

On January 30, 2018, Arizona Opera and the Tucson Desert Song Festival presented a recital by lyric soprano Lisette Oropesa in the University of Arizona’s Holsclaw Hall. Looking like a high fashion model in her silver trimmed midnight-blue gown, the singer and pianist Michael Borowitz began their program with Pablo Luna’s Zarzuela aria, “De España Vengo.” (“I come from Spain”).

Schubert songs, part-songs and fragments: three young singers at the Wigmore Hall

Youth met experience for this penultimate instalment of the Wigmore Hall’s Schubert: The Complete Songs series, and the results were harmonious and happy. British soprano Harriet Burns, German tenor Ferdinand Keller and American baritone Harrison Hintzsche were supportively partnered by lieder ‘old-hand’, Graham Johnson, and we heard some well-known and less familiar songs in this warmly appreciated early-afternoon recital.

Brent Opera: Nabucco

Brent Opera’s Nabucco was a triumph in that it worked as a piece of music theatre against some odds, and was a good evening out.

LPO: Das Rheingold

It is, of course, quite an achievement in itself for a symphony orchestra to perform Das Rheingold or indeed any of the Ring dramas. It does not happen very often, not nearly so often as it should; for given Wagner’s crucial musico-historical position, this is music that should stand at the very centre of their repertoires – just as Beethoven should at the centre of opera orchestras’.

William Tell in Palermo

This was the infamous production that was booed to extinction at Covent Garden. Palermo’s Teatro Massimo now owns the production.

The Bandits in Rome

AKA I masnadieri, rare early Verdi, though not as rare as Alzira. In 1847 London’s Her Majesty’s Theatre  commissioned the newly famous Verdi to write this opera for the London debut of Swedish soprano Jenny Lind.

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):