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

Arnold Rawls as Radames [Photo by Tim Fuller / Arizona Opera]
19 Mar 2012

Aida in Arizona

Two live camels with trainers in Egyptian garb were stationed in front of Phoenix’s Symphony Hall to publicize the opening of Arizona Opera’s new production of Aida.

Giuseppe Verdi: Aida

Click here for cast and production information.

Above: Arnold Rawls as Radames

Photos by Tim Fuller / Arizona Opera

 

They symbolize the buoyant optimism that surrounds this rising company after several years under General Director Scott Altman. Budgets are in the black and artistic quality is rising. Aida is an ambitious work for any company, and Arizona Opera delivered a strong performance on the first of five sold-out nights in Phoenix and Tucson.

OptIMG_9417.gifDaveda Karanas as Amneris

In an era where opera companies must watch the bottom line, conveying the grandeur of this spectacular work poses a unique challenge. Arizona borrowed a set from New Orleans Opera by Canadian designer Philip Silver, which provided two-dimensional, minimalist faux-massive painted drops, accessorized with exotic statues. The latter were sometimes in Egyptian style, with impressive results in the Nile scene, and sometimes just generically ancient. Nashville Opera Director John Hoomes directed in a traditional but effective manner. The Triumphal Scene parade inevitably seemed a bit thin, but the audience was distracted by live animals—two dogs and the return of one of the camels. To its credit, the set design pushed the action to the front of the stage, boosting the vocal acoustics in Phoenix’s large multi-purpose hall.

OptIMG_9479.gifKevin Short as Amonasro and Lisa Daltirus as Aida

Aida was cast with a strong and well-matched set of regional-level American singers. To the title role soprano Lisa Daltirus brings a silvery tone, gossamer high notes, and intelligent phrasing. She used these qualities to make a memorable success of moments many sopranos fear, such as the infamous dolce high C in “O patria mia.” Yet the role of Aida demands not only this, but powerful low notes and passionate utterances that cut through heavy orchestration, which Datirus rarely delivers. While her characterization had integrity and pathos, at times she seemed to be tip-toeing through it.

Chicago-based Tenor Arnold Rawls is similarly more comfortable at the top than the bottom of the range required for Radamès. His lack of a fine-spun piano and unvarying color undermined quietly transcendent moments, as in most of the final scene; but elsewhere Rawls made satisfying use of vocal warmth, stentorian high notes, and fine phrasing. “Celeste Aida,” for example, was phrased impressively on one breath into the second verse, and—after some savvy preparation—ended on an impressively long and ringing b-flat.

OptGF3X9370.gifRebecca Sjowall as High Priestess, Arnold Rawls as Radames, Daveda Karanas as Amneris and Peter Volpe as Ramphis

As Amneris, Greek-American mezzo Daveda Karanas, a graduate of cross-town Arizona State University, possesses a tightly focused, slightly steely voice that easily penetrated the orchestra—rather in the mold of Fiorenza Cossotto. Her interpretation is that of a mature artist, and she is a compelling actress. The voice lacks—perhaps as of yet—quite all the warmth, color and amplitude that the greatest exponents of this role possess, but her traversal of this role in a smaller theater—she is slated to sing the role at Glimmerglass Opera this summer—would be worth traveling to hear.

Altman favors even casts with strong voices in smaller roles, particularly lower male parts. Amonasro does not require great subtlety, and Kevin Short, an American baritone based in Europe, did not provide it—but he was commanding when it mattered. The veteran Ramfis, Peter Volpe, displayed a voice of impressive weight and color. In an era of soggy Verdi conducting, Steven White proved refreshingly willing to push the tempo along, achieved some lovely transitions and orchestral balances, and kept the forces together in the face of a few opening night mishaps.

Andrew Moravcsik

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):