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 Reviews

Prom 54 - Mozart's Last Year with the Budapest Festival Orchestra

The mysteries and myths surrounding Mozart’s Requiem Mass - left unfinished at his death and completed by his pupil, Franz Xaver Süssmayr - abide, reinvigorated and prolonged by Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus as directed on film by Miloš Forman. The origins of the work’s commission and composition remain unknown but in our collective cultural and musical consciousness the Requiem has come to assume an autobiographical role: as if Mozart was composing a mass for his own presaged death.

High Voltage Tosca in Cologne

I saw two operas consecutively at Oper Koln. First, the utterly bewildering Lucia di Lammermoor; then Thilo Reinhardt’s thrilling Tosca. His staging was pure operatic joy with some Hitchcockian provocations.

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Sandrine Piau [Photo by Expilly / Naïve courtesy of IMG Artists]
13 Apr 2012

Sandrine Piau, Wigmore Hall

Sandrine Paiu and Roger Vignoles teamed up for the latest concert in Vignoles’s “Perspectives” series at the Wigmore Hall, London.

Sandrine Piau, Wigmore Hall

Sandrine Piau soprano; Roger Vignoles piano. Wigmore Hall, London, April 11th 2012.

Above: Sandrine Piau [Photo by Expilly / Naïve courtesy of IMG Artists]

 

Piau’s background is in the baroque, where the ethereal purity of her voice seems to illuminate the music. Yet she’s also passionately involved in 20th century French music, and has worked with innovative ensembles like Accentus.

Piau and Vignoles are a well-balanced partnership, and on the basis of this concert, should work together more often. Piau brings out the best in Vignoles. He was playing with great refinement, as if inspired by her distinctive “white” timbre. Piau’s Fauré songs were good, but her Chausson set even better. Her Amour d’antan (op 8/2, 1882) glowed, legato perfectly controlled so lines flowed seamlessly. In Dans la forêt du charme et de l’enchantement (op.36/2, 1898) Piau observes the tiny pauses between words in the first strophe so they’re brief glimpses of elusive fairies. Then Piau’s voice darkens. The fairies aren’t real. “Mirage et leurre”, she sings, desolated. Piau sings almost unaccompanied in Les Heures (op 27/1, 1896), Vignoles playing with restraint so as not to break the fragile mood of the song. Hear these again on Piau’s recent recording “Après un rêve”.

In the more robust Liszt songs, like Der Fischerknabe, (S292), to a poem by Friedrich Schiller, Vignoles’s playing sparkled delightfully, like the waters that seduce the fisherman’s boy. “Lieb’ Knabe, bist mein!” sings Piau sharply, as the boy is pulled under the waves. Piau’s voice maintains its innocence, but the piano with its sharp lunge downwards tells us that it’s a malign spirit who drags the boy down. Der Loreley (S273, 1856) is even more dramatic, Piau intoning the word “Loreley” so you hear the tragedy behind the loveliness.+

Piau’s 2002 recording of Debussy Mélodies with Jan van Immseel, is still one of the best available. Ten years later, Piau’s voice is still fresh. Her Ariettes oubliées (op 22) to poems by Verlaine, was a pleasure. Long, arching lines, thrown out effortlessly in Il pleure dans mon coeur, expressing sadness, tinged with a very French decorum. “Quoi? Null trahison? .....ce deuil est sans raison”. In Chevaux de bois, Vignoles plays lines that move in circles, while the voice part leaps up and down. The image of a merry-go-round, where wooden horses seem to prance when there’s music. “Tournez, tournez”, sings Piau with a hint of sorrow, for soon the fair will end. You can hear the church bells toll in the piano part and guess at what they mean.

Piau sang some of the Zemlinsky and Strauss songs she recorded a few years ago with pianist Susan Manoff. This time they seemed livelier, perhaps because Vignoles’s style differs from Manoff’s. This specially benefits Zemlinsky. The brightness of Piau’s timbre gives his songs a lift they don’t often get. For various reasons, he’s not well served on recording. Piau sang Richard Strauss’s Mädchenblumen (op 22 1891) with similar grace and charm. Two Poulenc sets rounded off the evening : Deux Poèmes de Guillame Apollinaire (1938) and Deux Poèmes de Louis Aragon (1943). In Allons plus vite and Fêtes galante, Piau demonstrates impeccable diction at breakneck speed. The words busrts out like machine gun fire. Poulenc is taking aim at the complacent bourgeosie, shaking them out of their torpor. In the famous and very lovely song C, Piau and Vignoles are even more moving. “J’ai traversé les ponts de Cé”, sings Piau recalling French history flowing like a river. “O ma France! O ma délaissée”. France is occupied by the Germans. It’s a cry of pain, a dose of harsh reality after all those fairy songs and flowers.

Sandrine Piau is the soloist in a special concert at the Wigmore Hall on 15th October with Ian Page and Classical Opera titled “Ruhe sanft : A Mozart Kaleidoscope”.

Anne Ozorio

Click here for the complete programme.

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):