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

MOZART 250: the year 1767

Classical Opera’s MOZART 250 project has reached the year 1767. Two years ago, the company embarked upon an epic, 27-year exploration of the music written by Mozart and his contemporaries exactly 250 years previously. The series will incorporate 250th anniversary performances of all Mozart’s important compositions and artistic director Ian Page tells us that as 1767 ‘was the year in which Mozart started to write more substantial works - opera, oratorio, concertos … this will be the first year of MOZART 250 in which Mozart’s own music dominates the programme’.

Monteverdi, Masters and Poets - Imitation and Emulation

‘[T]hey moderated or increased their voices, loud or soft, heavy or light according to the demands of the piece they were singing; now slowing, breaking of sometimes with a gentle sigh, now singing long passages legato or detached, now groups, now leaps, now with long trills, now with short, or again, with sweet running passages sung softly, to which one sometimes heard an echo answer unexpectedly. They accompanied the music and the sentiment with appropriate facial expressions, glances and gestures, with no awkward movements of the mouth or hands or body which might not express the feelings of the song. They made the words clear in such a way that one could hear even the last syllable of every word, which was never interrupted or suppressed by passages or other embellishments.’

Visionary Wagner - The Flying Dutchman, Finnish National Opera

An exceptional Wagner Der fliegende Holländer, so challenging that, at first, it seems shocking. But Kasper Holten's new production, currently at the Finnish National Opera, is also exceptionally intelligent.

Don Quichotte at Chicago Lyric

A welcome addition to Lyric Opera of Chicago’s roster was its recent production of Jules Massenet’s Don Quichotte.

Written on Skin: Royal Opera House

800 years ago, every book was a precious treasure - ‘written on skin’. In George Benjamin’s and Martin Crimp’s 2012 opera, Written on Skin, modern-day archivists search for one such artefact: a legendary 12th-century illustrated vanity project, commissioned by an unnamed Protector to record and celebrate his power.

Madama Butterfly at Staatsoper im Schiller Theater

It was like a “Date Night” at Staatsoper unter den Linden with its return of Eike Gramss’ 2012 production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. While I entered the Schiller Theater, the many young couples venturing to the opera together, and emerging afterwards all lovey-dovey and moved by Puccini’s melodramatic romance, encouraged me to think more positively about the future of opera.

It’s the end of the world as we know it: Hannigan & Rattle sing of Death

For the Late Night concert after the Saturday series, fifteen Berliners backed up Barbara Hannigan in yet another adventurous collaboration on a modern rarity with Simon Rattle. I was completely unfamiliar with the French composer, but the performance tonight made me fall in love with Gérard Grisey’s sensually disintegrating soundscape Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil, or “Fours Songs to cross the Threshold”.

A Vocally Extravagant Saturday Night with Berliner Philharmoniker

One of the things I love about the Philharmonie in Berlin, is the normalcy of musical excellence week after week. Very few venues can pull off with such illuminating star wattage. Michael Schade, Anne Schwanewilms, and Barbara Hannigan performed in two concerts with two larger-than-life conductors Thielemann and Rattle. We were taken on three thrilling adventures.

Les Troyens at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s original and superbly cast production of Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens has provided the musical public with a treasured opportunity to appreciate one of the great operatic achievements of the nineteenth century.

Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock

The Little Opera Company opened its 21st season by championing its own, as it presented the world premiere of Winnipeg composer Neil Weisensel’s Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock.

A Christmas Festival: La Nuova Musica at St John's Smith Square

Now in its 31st year, the 2016 Christmas Festival at St John’s Smith Square has offered sixteen concerts performed by diverse ensembles, among them: the choirs of King’s College, London and Merton College, Oxford; Christchurch Cathedral Choir, Oxford; The Gesualdo Six; The Cardinall’s Musick; The Tallis Scholars; the choirs of Trinity College and Clare College, Cambridge; Tenebrae; Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightment.

Fleming's Farewell to London: Der Rosenkavalier at the ROH

As 2016 draws to a close, we stand on the cusp of a post-Europe, pre-Trump world. Perhaps we will look back on current times with the nostalgic romanticism of Richard Strauss’s 1911 paean to past glories, comforts and certainties: Der Rosenkavalier.

Loft Opera’s Macbeth: Go for the Singing, Not the Experience

Ah, Loft Opera. It’s part of the experience to wander down many dark streets, confused and lost, in a part of Brooklyn you’ve never been. It is that exclusive—you can’t even find the performance!

A clipped Walküre in Amsterdam

Let’s start by getting a couple of gripes out of the way. First, the final act of Die Walküre does not constitute a full-length concert, even with a distinguished cast and orchestra, and with animated drawings fluttering on a giant screen.

A Leonard Bernstein Delight

When you combine two charismatic New York stage divas with the artistry of Los Angeles Opera, you have a mix that explodes into singing, dancing and an evening of superb entertainment.

An English Winter Journey

Roderick Williams’ and Julius Drake’s English Winter Journey seems such a perfect concept that one wonders why no one had previously thought of compiling a sequence of 24 songs by English composers to mirror, complement and discourse with Schubert’s song-cycle of love and loss.

History Repeating Itself: Prokofiev’s Semyon Kotko, Amsterdam Concertgebouw

A historical afternoon at the NTR Saturday Matinee occurred with an epic concert version of Prokofiev’s Soviet Opera Semyon Kotko.

L’amour de loin at the Metropolitan Opera

Opening night at the Metropolitan is a gleeful occasion even when the composer is long gone, but December 1st was an opening for a living composer who has been making waves around the world and is, gasp, a woman — the second woman composer ever to have an opera presented at the Met.

La finta giardiniera at the Royal College of Music

For an opera that has never quite made it over the threshold into the ‘canonical’, the adolescent Mozart’s La finta giardiniera has not done badly of late for productions in the UK. In 2014, Glyndebourne presented Frederic Wake-Walker’s take on the eighteen-year-old’s dramma giocoso. Wake-Walker turned the romantic shenanigans and skirmishes into a debate on the nature of reality, in which the director tore off layers of theatrical artifice in order to answer Auden’s rhetorical question, ‘O tell me the truth about love’.

Lust for Revenge: Barenboim and Herlitzius fire up Strauss’s Elektra in Berlin

As the German language describes so beautifully, a “Schrei aus tiefstem Herzen” was felt as Evelyn Herlitzius channelled an Elektra from the depths of her soul.

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):