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

Haitink at the Lucerne Festival

Bernard Haitink’s monumental Bruckner and Mahler performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) got me hooked on classical music. His legendary performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C-minor, where in the Finale loosened plaster fell from the Concertgebouw ceiling, is still recounted in Amsterdam.

BBC Prom 45 - Janáček: The Makropulos Affair

Karita Mattila was born to sing Emilia Marty, the diva around whom revolves Leoš Janáček's The Makropulos Affair (Věc Makropulos). At Prom 45, she shone all the more because she was conducted by Jirí Belohlávek and performed alongside a superb cast from the National Theatre, Prague, probably the finest and most idiomatic exponents of this repertoire.

Two Tales of Offenbach: Opera della Luna at Wilton's Music Hall

‘Two outrageous operas in one crazy evening,’ reads the bill. Hyperbole? Certainly not when the operas are two of Jacques Offenbach’s more off-the-wall bouffoneries and when the company is Opera della Luna whose artistic director, Jeff Clarke, is blessed with the comic imagination and theatrical nous to turn even the most vacuous trivia into a sharp and sassy riotous romp.

Britten Untamed! Glyndebourne: A Midsummer Night's Dream

This performance of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Glyndebourne was so good that it was the highlight of the whole season, making the term ‘revival’ utterly irrelevant. Jakub Hrůša is always stimulating, but on this occasion, his conducting was so inspired that I found myself closing my eyes in order to concentrate on what he revealed in Britten's quirky but brilliant score. Eyes closed in this famous production by Peter Hall, first seen in 1981?

Salzburg encores

A staged piano recital and an opera as a concert.  Pianist András Schiff accompanied the Salzburg Marionette Theater at the Mozarteum Grosser Saal and Anna Netrebko sang Manon Lescaut at the Grosses Festspielhaus.

Leah Crocetto at Santa Fe

On August 4, 2016, soprano Leah Crocetto and accompanist Tamara Sanikidze gave a recital at the Scottish Rite Center in Santa Fe New Mexico. A winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Contest, this year Crocetto was singing Donna Anna in Santa Fe Opera’s excellent Don Giovanni.

Angela Meade at Sante Fe

On July 31, 2016, against the ethereal beauty of the main hall in the Scottish Rite Center, soprano Angela Meade and pianist Joe Illick gave a recital offering both opera and art songs ranging in origin from early nineteenth century Europe to mid twentieth century America. Many in the audience probably remembered Meade’s recent excellent portrayal of Norma at Los Angeles Opera.

Turco in Italia in Pesaro

When more is definitely more, and less would indeed be less. Two of the biggest names in Italian theater art collide in an eponymous theater.

Proms Chamber Music 5: Shakespeare at 400

It was the fifth Proms Chamber Music concert at Cadogan Hall this season, and we were celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th. And, given the extent and range of the composers and artists, and the diversity and profundity of the musical achievement inspired by the Bard, we could probably keep celebrating in this fashion ad infinitum.

La donna del lago in Pesaro

Each August the bleak and leaky, 12,000 seat Arena Adriatica (home of the famed Pesaro basketball team) magically transforms itself into an improvised opera house that boasts the ultimate in opera chic — exemplary Rossini production standards for its now twelve hundred seats.

Proms at … Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

This highly enjoyable Prom, part of 2016’s ‘Proms at …’ mini-series, took as its guiding concept the reopening of London’s theatres following the Restoration, focusing in particular upon musical and dramatic responses to Shakespeare. Purcell, rightly, loomed large, with John Blow and Matthew Locke joining him. Receiving their Proms premieres were the excerpts from Timon of Athens and those from Locke’s The Tempest.

Santa Fe: Straussian Sweet Nothings

With all the bombast of the presidential campaigns rattling in our heads, with invectives being exchanged and measured discussion all but absent, how utterly lovely to retreat and relax into the harmonious soundscape and well-reasoned debate posed in Strauss’ Capriccio, on magnificent display at Santa Fe Opera.

Santa Fe’s Civil War Gounod

When we entered the Crosby Theatre for Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette the stage was surprisingly dominated by a somber, semi-circular black mausoleum, many chambers inscribed with scrambled names of US Civil War era dead.

Coolly Elegant Vanessa in the Desert

Molten passions were seething just below the icy Nordic exterior of Santa Fe Opera’s wholly masterful production of Barber’s Vanessa.

Le Comte Ory, Seattle

Farce is probably the most difficult of dramatic comedy sub-genres to put across. A farce got up in the stately robes of opera sets its presenters an even higher bar. Presenting an operatic farce on a notoriously chilly and cavernous auditorium is to risk catastrophe.

Racette’s Golden Girl in New Mexico

Fan interest began raging when Santa Fe Opera engaged venerable artist Patricia Racette to make her role debut as Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West.

Santa Fe’s Mozart Cast Sweeps All Before It

A funny thing happened on the way to Andalusia.

Die Liebe der Danae in Salzburg

The tale of a Syrian donkey driver. And, yes, the donkey stole the show! The competition was intense — the Vienna Philharmonic and the Grosses Festspielhaus in full production regalia for starters.

Snape Proms: Bostridge sings Brahms and Schumann

Two men, one woman. Both men worshipped and enshrined her in their music. The younger man was both devotee of and rival to the elder.

Cosi fan tutte in Salzburg

This Cosi fan tutte concludes the Salzburg Festival's current Mozart / DaPonte cycle staged by Sven-Eric Bechtolf, the festival's head of artistic planning.

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):