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 Commentary

Bampton Classical Opera to perform Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors

Gian Carlo Menotti’s much-loved Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors was commissioned in America by the National Broadcasting Company and was broadcast in 1951 - the first-ever opera composed specifically for television. Menotti said that it “is an opera for children because it tries to recapture my own childhood”.

Kings College, Cambridge launches as curator on Apple Music

November 5, 2018, Los Angeles, CA: Today, King’s College Cambridge announces the launch of the College as a curator on Apple Music.

Royal Opera House’s Music Director Sir Antonio Pappano extends tenure to 2023

Sir Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera House, has confirmed that he will remain in position until at least the end of the 2022/23 Season.

Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Opera to Present Caccini’s Alcina

The GRAMMY-Winning Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Opera Series presents Francesca Caccini’s Alcina on Thanksgiving weekend – November 24 & 25 in Boston and November 26 & 27 in New York City

The Royal Opera House lets everyone in on the act

The Royal Opera House today opens the doors to its transformed new home, following an extensive three-year construction project.

Two of Garsington Opera's 2018 productions to reach a wider audience

Garsington Opera is delighted to announce that on Saturday 6 October, BBC Radio 3’s ‘Opera on 3’, will broadcast the production of its first festival world premiere - The Skating Rink by David Sawer set to a libretto by Rory Mullarkey based on a novel by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño.

Remembering and Representing Dido, Queen of Carthage: an interview with Thomas Guthrie

The first two instalments of the Academy of Ancient Music’s ‘Purcell trilogy’ at the Barbican Hall have posed plentiful questions - creative, cultural and political.

Bampton Classical Opera Goes to the Ball

I wonder if Cinderella realised that when she found her Prince she would also find international fame, becoming not just a Princess but also a global celebrity and icon. The glass slipper, placed loving on her shapely foot, has graced theatres, variety halls, cinema screens and opera houses - even postage stamps - and the perennial popularity of this rags-to-riches fairy-tale, in which innocence and goodness triumph over injustice and oppression, shows no signs of waning.

Glyndebourne announces new Artistic Director

Stephen Langridge has been appointed Artistic Director of Glyndebourne. Stephen is currently Director for Opera and Drama at Gothenburg Opera, Sweden, a role he has occupied for five years. He will take up his new role at Glyndebourne in spring 2019.

Beyond Gilbert and Sullivan: Edward Loder’s Raymond and Agnes and the Apotheosis of English Romantic Opera

Mention ‘nineteenth-century English opera’ to most people, and they will immediately think ‘Gilbert and Sullivan’. If they really know their Gilbert and Sullivan, they’ll probably remember that Sullivan always wanted to compose more serious operas, but that Gilbert resisted this, believing they should ‘stick to their last’: light, comic, tuneful satire.

Mascagni's Isabeau at Opera Holland Park: in conversation with David Butt Philip

Opera directors are used to thinking their way out of theatrical, dramaturgical and musico-dramatic conundrums, but one of the more unusual challenges must be how to stage the spectacle of a young princess’s naked horseback-ride through the streets of a city.

The Moderate Soprano : Q&A with Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam

Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam play Audrey Mildmay and John Christie in David Hare’s play The Moderate Soprano which is currently at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London.

Soprano Nadine Sierra Wins the 2018 Beverly Sills Artist Award

Soprano Nadine Sierra has been named the winner of the 13 th annual Beverly Sills Artist Award for young singers at the Metropolitan Opera.

The Grand Tour: A European Journey in Song

The seventeenth Oxford Lieder Festival (12-27 October 2018) will celebrate a rich tapestry of music, words and performance in European song and will showcase the pinnacles of the repertoire while exploring wider cultural influences.

An Interview with Soprano Lisette Oropesa

Lisette Oropesa sings Eurydice in Los Angeles Opera’s French version of Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice that can currently be seen at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Opera in Amsterdam in 2018-2019

The operatic tradition is not as old in the Netherlands as in other European countries, yet opera is a vital part of the Dutch classical landscape. Both Dutch National Opera & Ballet and the Concertgebouw are in Amsterdam, so the capital gets the lion’s share of the opera on offer.

Lyric Opera of Chicago to Premiere Fellow Travelers—A Preview

On 17 March 2018 Lyric Opera of Chicago will premiere the 2016 opera Fellow Travelers by Gregory Spears (with a libretto by Greg Pierce, based on the novel by Thomas Mallon. Mallon’s 2007 novel offered fresh perspectives on the paranoiac investigations of McCarthy-era Washington, DC, through the lens of a gay relationship.

A newly discovered song by Alma Mahler

It is well known that in addition to the fourteen songs by Alma Mahler published in her lifetime, several dozen more - perhaps as many as one hundred - were written and have been lost or destroyed.

Glyndebourne Opera Cup 2018: semi-finalists announced

The semi-finalists for the first Glyndebourne Opera Cup have been announced. Following a worldwide search that attracted nearly 200 entries, and preliminary rounds in Berlin, London and Philadelphia, 23 singers aged 21-28 have been chosen to compete in the semi-final at Glyndebourne on 22 March.

ENO announces Studio Live casts and three new Harewood Artists

English National Opera (ENO) has announced the casts for Acis and Galatea and Paul Bunyan, 2018’s two ENO Studio Live productions. ENO Studio Live forms part of ENO Outside which takes ENO’s work to arts-engaged audiences that may not have considered opera before, presenting the immense power of opera in more intimate studio and theatre environments.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

Photo by Vincent Pontet
17 Feb 2012

Don Pasquale at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées

Critics. Can you get along without us? It is possible to reflect on this when the production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale is shown on television tonight.

Don Pasquale at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées

By Frank Cadenhead

Photos by Vincent Pontet

 

Critics always show up on the first night but how different will the third performance be on the Europe-wide channel Arte “live” (well, with a few hours delay at 10:10 p.m. CET) from Paris’ Théâtre des Champs Elysées? After tomorrow it will be available on their internet site, ARTE Live Web, and can be streamed to computers around the world for the next six months or so.

Don-Pasquale_Paris_03.gif                    

Will you like the staging? For our jaded eyes, having old Don Pasquale hawking cut-rate lighting fixtures out of the back of an old Citroën truck did not please. With our extensive opera-going history — part of the job — we have seen this kind of “update” so often before it seems a bit of a cliché. You might like the refreshing change from the beige, overstuffed furnishings he is normally surrounded with in traditional productions. Now a hardscrabble salesman, he still retains his sense of privilege by having the costumes for this production the work of Christian Lacroix and his suit, seen from the eyes of 1950’s Italy, has him sartorially splendid. The other major plus is that he is sung by the veteran Allessandro Corbelli and it would be hard to imagine another baritone today that could so effectively inhabit these clothes and so richly portray this delicious role.

Don-Pasquale_Paris_02.gif

     

The director, Denis Podalydès, a regular at the Comédie-Française, here stages his second opera and the characters had carefully defined roles but he stuck with the traditional path of “opera buffa” with its broad gestures and overwrought emotions. The old man contracts to marry to smash the hopes of the nephew in his charge for an inheritance but the story has an old man emotionally swept away with the possibility of a new love in his life, from which he is brutally brought down. The young tenor Francesco Demuro, a name to note, is similarly wrought with passion for the young girl his disinheritance bars him from having. The flouncing free-spirited character of Norina rejects the contract of obeisance with a persistent broad brush. There is more detail to be mined in this story but new eyes watching this masterpiece of the genre for the first time will find the opera’s story clearly told with emphasis on fun and contrast.

Singing, in addition to the splendid Don, was at a high level. Italian tenor Francesco Demuro gets he first big aria, “Sogno soave e casto,” in the first minutes of the opera and there was a vague unease and occasional imprecise intonation we did not see later where his voice was rich in color and pleasing to the ear. With tonight’s performance, very likely, you will likely hear more assured and free delivery. Soprano Désirée Rancatore has recently developed into a serious star and, forced high notes excepted, gives a near-perfect reading of the self-assured girl, and, like her tenor lover, is young and appealing in the role. A very strong reading of Malatesta by Gabriele Viviani completes a exceptional vocal quartet.

The Orchestre National de France, one of France’s top orchestras, was in the pit and onstage was the excellent Radio France Choir. The dynamic conductor Enrique Mazzola, on opening night, did not have the orchestra’s undivided attention and attacks were imprecise. Later the orchestra seemed to warm up to their job and played with more care. The choir, wearing what Lacroix imagines locals were wearing at that time, had no trouble finding their volume or enthusiasm. The story, despite the reservations, was clearly told and the singing was generally engaging. After a dismal opera season so far in Paris even a modest success is more than welcome. If you have access to the internet distribution, it is recommended.

Frank Cadenhead

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):