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

Santa Fe: Secondary Mozart in First Rate Staging

Impresario Boris Goldovsky famously referred to La finta giardiniera as The Phony Farmerette.

Regimented Daughter in Santa Fe

At Santa Fe Opera, Donizetti’s effervescent The Daughter of the Regiment can’t quite decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

Santa Fe’s Celebratory Jester

Santa Fe Opera noted a landmark two-thousandth performance in their distinguished history with a stylish new production of Rigoletto.

Sibelius Kullervo, BBC Proms, London

Why did Jean Sibelius suppress Kullervo (Op7, 1892)? There are many theories why he didn't allow it to be heard after its initial performance, though he referred to it fondly in private.

Aïda at Aspen

Most opera professionals, including the individuals who do the casting for major houses, despair of finding performers who can match historical standards of singing in operas such as Aïda. Yet a concert performance in Aspen gives a glimmer of hope. It was led by four younger singers who may be part of the future of Verdi singing in America and the world.

Prom 53: Shostakovich — Orango

One might have been forgiven for thinking that both biology and chronology had gone askew at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday evening.

Written on Skin at Lincoln Center

Three years ago I made what may have been my single worst decision in a half century of attending opera. I wasn’t paying close attention when some conference organizers in Aix-en-Provence offered me two tickets to the premiere of a new opera. I opted instead for what seemed like a sure thing: William Christie conducting some Charpentier.

La Púrpura de la Rosa

Advertised in the program as the first opera written in the New World, La Púrpura de la Rosa (PR) was premiered in 1701 in Lima (Peru), but more than the historical feat, true or not, accounts for the piece’s interest.

Pesaro’s Rossini Festival 2015

The 36th Rossini Opera Festival in Rossini’s Pesaro! La gazza ladra (1817), La gazzetta (1816) and L'inganno felice (1812) — the little opera that made Rossini famous.

Santa Fe: Placid Princess of Judea

Unlike the brush fire in a distant neighborhood of the John Crosby Theatre, Santa Fe Opera’s Salome stubbornly failed to ignite.

Airy and Bucolic Glimmerglass Flute

As part of a concerted effort to incorporate local color and resonance into its annual festival, Glimmerglass has re-imagined The Magic Flute in a transformative woodland setting.

Glimmerglass Conquers Cato

Bravura singing and vibrant instrumental playing were on ample display in Glimmerglass Festival’s riveting Cato in Utica.

Energetic Glimmerglass Candide

Bernstein’s Candide seems to have more performance versions than Tales of Hoffmann.

Die Eroberung von Mexico in Salzburg

That’s The Conquest of Mexico, an historical music drama composed in 1991 by German composer Wolfgang Rihm (b. 1952). But wait. Wolfgang Rihm construed a few sentences of Artaud’s La Conquête du Mexique (1932) mixed up with bits of Aztec chant and bits of poem(s) by Mexico’s Octavio Paz (d. 1998) to make a libretto.

Scottish Sensation at Glimmerglass

Glimmerglass is celebrating its 40th Festival season with a stylish new production of Verdi’s Macbeth.

Norma in Salzburg

This Salzburg Norma is not new news. This superb production was first seen at the Salzburg Festival’s springtime Whitsun Festival in 2013 with this same cast. It will now travel to a few major European cities.

The power of music: a young cast in a semi-stage account of Monteverdi’s first opera

John Eliot Gardiner conducted a much anticipated performance of Monteverdi’s first opera L’Orfeo at the BBC Proms on 4 August 2015, with his own Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.

Cold Mountain Wows Audience at Santa Fe World Premiere

On August 1, 2015, Santa Fe Opera presented the world premiere of Cold Mountain, a brand new opera composed by Pulizer Prize and Grammy winner Jennifer Higdon.

Manon Lescaut, Munich

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. Some will scream in rage but in its austerity it reaches to the heart of the opera.

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Three boys [Photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago]
02 Feb 2012

Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s recent revival of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte offered a production with vocal pairs carefully matched and dramatic representation expressing the varying shades of Mozart’s score.

W. A. Mozart: Die Zauberflöte

Click here for cast and other production information.

Above: The three boys

Photos by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago

 

Tamino and Pamina, the pair who must undergo separately tests of purification, were sung by Charles Castronovo (debut) and Nicole Cabell. The Queen of the Night, mother of Pamina, featured Audrey Luna (debut) and Evan Boyer assumed the role of Sarastro, since Günter Groissböck was announced as indisposed for the performance reviewed. Stéphane Degout (debut) and Jennifer Jakob were a musical and dramatic delight as Papageno and Papagena. Sir Andrew Davis conducted with attention to nuance while maintaining always a sense of the whole. During the overture Davis encouraged a terse interplay among the strings with a measured drive forward. Pauses were effective at transitional moments just as shifting tempos were integrated to give significant shaping to the overture.

The three ladies of the Queen of the Night acted and sang as a splendid trio. Once Tamino’s calls for help prompt their arrival and slaughter of the serpent pursuing him, the ladies moved in unison yet each doted individually over the unconscious hero. Elisabeth Meister as the First Lady led the ensemble with her focused soprano binding the vocal line as she encouraged a report to the Queen of the Night. Cecelia Hall and Katherine Lerner were equally entertaining in their attempts to remain vocally and physically in the presence of Tamino. When the latter awakens, he is met of course by Papageno who accepts credit for having delivered the hero from danger. In his introductory aria, “Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja” [“I am indeed the birdcatcher”], and ensuing dialogue Stéphane Degout combined a lyrical confidence with delightful swagger in acknowledging the unfounded recognition. As his discussion with Tamino is interrupted and punished, when the three ladies returned, Degout’s Papageno displayed his protests with convincing pantomime. In control of the stage once again, the three ladies present Tamino with a portrait of Pamina. In reacting to the portrait Castronovo’s performance of “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön” [“This portrait is magically beautiful”] displays lyrical heft and beauty of tone while some of the louder pitches could be rounded or softened to express the magical attraction. The entrance of the Queen of the Night and her first bravura aria provided Ms. Luna with opportunities to show her vocal facility [“O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn” (“O do not tremble, my dear son!”)]. Luna’s dramatic high notes on “Ach helft!” [“Oh help!”] were especially effective, these being followed by practiced runs in the famous coloratura passages. After Tamino and Papageno receive their magical instruments, flute and glockenspiel, from the ladies, they are instructed to follow the lead of the three Knaben [“youths”] to find the path to Pamina and rescue her from the palace of Sarastro.

Flute_Chicago_2953.pngNicole Cabell as Pamina

At the first appearance of Pamina under the guard of Monostratos, Nicole Cabell projected a noble demeanor on lines such as “Der Tod macht mich nicht beben” [“Death does not make me quake”]. In the ensuing duet with Papageno, “Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen” [“For men who truly sense love”], Ms. Cabell sang expressive, arching lines while Degout truly came into his own with a superbly resonant tone and appropriate legato. In the following scene Tamino searches for the entrance to Sarastro’s palace, in order to confront the alleged captor, just as Papageno leads Pamina in search of the flute’s response. Ms. Cabell’s encouragement to speak only the truth (“die Wahrheit”) rang out in pure high tones in preparation for the entrance of Sarastro. Mr. Boyer’s assumption of this role communicates the requisite weight of authority, and his distinctive and well developed low register contributes to a seamless vocal technique. His dramatic approach might be enhanced at this point in the action in order to signal the gravity of the forthcoming initiation.

Preparatory ceremony and eighteenth-century dress are emphasized in this production at the start of Act Two as both Pamina and Tamino are given instruction toward their trials of purification. Mr. Boyer’s Sarastro and the chorus assumed here solemn tones in keeping with the following ritual scenes. The interplay of power between the Queen and Sarastro focuses now on Pamina. Ms. Luna projected accelerating coloratura intensity in her aria “Der Hölle Rache” [“The wrath of Hell”] as she encouraged her daughter to kill Sarastro. Mr. Boyer’s subsequent rendition of “In diesen heil’gen Hallen” [“In these hallowed halls”] displayed excellent breath control with rounded bass emphasis fully audible. The final two highlights of this act belonged indeed to Ms. Cabell and Mr. Degout. Pamina’s “Ach, ich fühl’s” [“O, I feel it”] in response to Tamino’s enforced silence was performed with emotional commitment, skillful diminuendo, and further vocal decorations emphasizing the heroine’s plight. In Papageno’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” [“A maiden or a wife”] Degout acted and sang with genuine ardor, while he climbed onto the stage following his search through the aisles of the audience. In this scene Degout captured the essence of both the character and the music as he embellished his yearning lines with tasteful appoggiatura. In keeping with this performance Papagena was a fitting reward.

Salvatore Calomino

Flute_Chicago_0814.pngScene from The Magic Flute

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):