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

Cave: a new opera by Tansy Davies and Nick Drake

Opera seems to travel far from the opera house these days. Alongside numerous productions in community spaces and pub theatres, in the last few years I’ve enjoyed productions staged on the shingle shore of Aldeburgh beach, at the bottom of the shaft of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Thames Tunnel at Rotherhithe, and in a renovated warehouse in Shoreditch on the roof of which perch four ‘creative studios’ in the form of recycled Jubilee line train carriages and shipping containers.

Götterdämmerung in San Francisco

The truly tragic moments of this long history rich in humanity behind us we embark on the sordid tale of the Lord of the Gibichungs’s marriage to Brünnhilde and the cowardly murder of Siegfried, to arrive at some sort of conclusion where Brünnhilde sacrifices herself to somehow empower women. Or something.

Siegfried in San Francisco

We discover the child of incestuous love, we ponder a god’s confusion, we anticipate an awakening. Most of all we marvel at genius of the composer and admire the canny story telling of the Zambello production.

Boris Godunov in San Francisco

Yes, just when you thought Wotan was the only big guy in town San Francisco Symphony (just across a small street from San Francisco Opera), offered three staged performances of the Mussorgsky masterpiece Boris Godunov in direct competition with San Francisco Opera’s three Ring des Nibelungen cycles.

Garsington Opera transfers Falstaff from Elizabeth pomp to Edwardian pompousness

Bruno Ravella’s new production of Verdi's Falstaff for Garsington Opera eschews Elizabethan pomp in favour of Edwardian pompousness, and in so doing places incipient, insurgent feminism and the eternal class consciousness of fin de siècle English polite society centre stage.

Grange Park Opera travels to America

The Italian censors forced Giuseppe Verdi and his librettist Antonio Somma to relocate their operatic drama of the murder of the Swedish King Gustav III to Boston, demote the monarch to state governor and rename him Riccardo, and for their production of Un ballo in maschera at Grange Park Opera, director Stephen Medcalf and designer Jamie Vartan have left the ‘ruler’ in his censorial exile.

Puccini’s La bohème at The Royal Opera House

When I reviewed Covent Garden’s Tosca back in January, I came very close to suggesting that we might be entering a period of crisis in casting the great Puccini operas. Fast forward six months, and what a world of difference!

Na’ama Zisser's Mamzer Bastard (world premiere)

Let me begin, like an undergraduate unsure quite what to say at the beginning of an essay: there were many reasons to admire the first performance of Na’ama Zisser’s opera, Mamzer Bastard, a co-commission from the Royal Opera and the Guildhall.

Les Arts Florissants : An English Garden, Barbican London

At the Barbican, London, Les Arts Florissants conducted by Paul Agnew, with soloists of Le Jardin de Voix in "An English Garden" a semi-staged programme of English baroque.

Die Walküre in San Francisco

The hero Siegfried in utero, Siegmund dead, Wotan humiliated, Brünnhilde asleep, San Francisco’s Ring ripped relentlessly into the shredded emotional lives of its gods and mortals. Conductor Donald Runnicles laid bare Richard Wagner’s score in its most heroic and in its most personal revelations, in their intimacy and in their exploding release.

Das Rheingold in San Francisco

Alberich’s ring forged, the gods moved into Valhalla, Loge’s Bic flicked, Wagner’s cumbersome nineteenth century mythology began unfolding last night here in Bayreuth-by-the-Bay.

ENO's Acis and Galatea at Lilian Baylis House

The shepherds and nymphs are at play! It’s end-of-the-year office-party time in Elysium. The bean-bags, balloons and banners - ‘Work Hard, Play Harder’ - invite the weary workers of Mountain Media to let their hair down, and enter the ‘Groves of Delights and Crystal Fountains’.

Lohengrin at the Royal Opera House

Since returning to London in January, I have been heartened by much of what I have seen - and indeed heard - from the Royal Opera.

Stéphane Degout and Simon Lepper

Another wonderful Wigmore song recital: this time from Stéphane Degout – recently shining in George Benjamin's new operatic masterpiece,

An excellent La finta semplice from Classical Opera

‘How beautiful it is to love! But even more beautiful is freedom!’ The opening lines of the libretto of Mozart’s La finta semplice are as contradictory as the unfolding tale is ridiculous. Either that master of comedy, Carlo Goldoni, was having an off-day when he penned the text - which was performed during the Carnival of 1764 in the Teatro Giustiniani di S. Moisè in Venice with music by Salvatore Perillo - or Marco Coltellini, the poeta cesareo who was entertaining the Viennese aristocracy in 1768, took unfortunate liberties with poetry and plot.

Whatever Love Is: The Prince Consort at Wigmore Hall

‘We love singing songs, telling stories …’ profess The Prince Consort on their website, and this carefully curated programme at Wigmore Hall perfectly embodied this passion, as Artistic Director and pianist Alisdair Hogarth was joined by tenor Andrew Staples (the Consort’s Creative Director), Verity Wingate (soprano) and poet Laura Mucha to reflect on ‘whatever love is’.

Bryn Terfel's magnetic Mephisto in Amsterdam

It had been a while since Bryn Terfel sang a complete opera role in Amsterdam. Back in 2002 his larger-than-life Doctor Dulcamara hijacked the stage of what was then De Nederlandse Opera, now Dutch National Opera.

A volcanic Elektra by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic

“There are no gods in heaven!” sings Elektra just before her brother Orest kills their mother. In the Greek plays about the cursed House of Atreus the Olympian gods command the banished Orestes to return home and avenge his father Agamemnon’s murder at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra. He dispatches both her and her lover Aegisthus.

A culinary coupling from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama

What a treat the London Music Conservatoires serve up for opera-goers each season. After the Royal Academy’s Bizet double-bill of Le docteur Miracle and La tragédie de Carmen, and in advance of the Royal College’s forthcoming pairing of Huw Watkins’ new opera, In the Locked Room, based on a short story by Thomas Hardy, and The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama have delivered a culinary coupling of Paul Hindemith’s The Long Christmas Dinner and Sir Lennox Berkeley’s The Dinner Engagement which the Conservatoire last presented for our delectation in November 2006.

Così fan tutte: Opera Holland Park

Absence makes the heart grow fonder; or does it? In Così fan tutte, who knows? Or rather, what could such a question even mean?

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Gaetano Donizetti
01 May 2012

Daughter of the Regiment, Manitoba Opera

Manitoba Opera laid aside all stereotypes about opera being stuffy and inaccessible with its feel-good production of Donizetti’s 1840 comic opera Daughter of the Regiment.

Gaetano Donizetti: The Daughter of the Regiment

Click here for cast and other production information.

Above: Gaetano Donizetti

 

In a show that had audience members shrieking with laughter and giving prolonged standing ovations, the all Canadian cast made us proudly patriotic. Director Ann Hodges showed a singular touch for comedy in this impressive mounting.

Front and centre was rising star soprano and Winnipeg native Nikki Einfeld as Marie, the title character. Each time we hear Einfeld her instrument seems to have become more refined. Trim and petite in her becoming military outfit, she was enchanting as the rough and tumble young woman raised by 23 “fathers” — soldiers of the 21st Regiment of the Grenadiers. In contrast to her tomboyish demeanour, her voice was pure feminine lightness, possessing a subtle buoyancy that while not overpowering, had underlying strength and confidence. This was ideally suited to the spunky Marie, as she arm-wrestled baritone Theodore Baerg, playing Sergeant Sulpice. Her scene in the castle, in which she struggles to figure out how to put on a fashionable hat, was a scream.

The story takes place in the early 1800s, in the Swiss Tyrolean Mountains. Set designer Beni Montressor (set and props provided by Edmonton Opera) has put together an interestingly rustic and colourful presentation that looks hand-drawn. Creative lighting by Bill Williams brought the best out of this quite simple set.

While the work is sung in French with English surtitles, the English dialogue enabled the audience to get more involved. Canadian actress Fiona Reid, best known for her role as Al Waxman’s ever-patient wife on King of Kensington was a late replacement for ailing comedienne Mary Walsh. Reid, as the Duchess of Krackenthorp, had us in stitches in what amounted to a stand-up routine full of hysterical cracks about Winnipeg and Canadian politicians. From our rapid transit system to Mayor Katz to the controversial water park project and new Ikea, Reid poked fun at our city to the crowd’s delight.

The entire ensemble was strong, with tenor John Tessier a most romantic Tonio, Marie’s love interest. Tessier has a lovely, limpid voice that carries extremely well. With its warm timbre, he seems to float to the highest notes, as in the famous aria “A mes amis,” in which he reeled off a whopping nine high Cs, completely free of strain. Best of all was the chemistry between the two lovers. Marie, desolate at having to leave the regiment to live with her new-found aunt, the Marquise of Berkenfeld, exhibited abundant control in her silkily crafted phrases, soaked in sadness. In “Qui! Vous m’aimez?,” Tonio expressed his love for Marie so sweetly, it was all she could do to resist. The passion was palpable.

Mezzo soprano Rebecca Hass was delightfully haughty as the Marquise, showing great comic style. Fancying herself an attractive target for the French soldiers, she preened and criticized in “Pour une femme de mon nom” in clear and true voice. David Playfair played her nattily dressed butler, Hortensius with superb physical humour and panache.

Baerg’s fatherly Sulpice was one of the strongest showings of the evening. In colourful uniform, (wardrobe by Malabar Ltd. Toronto) he cut a dashing figure with his silvery hair. And then there was his voice — a voice that warms the cockles of your heart with its richness and commitment. Baerg threw himself whole-heartedly into the role of Marie’s protector.

The Manitoba Opera Chorus was kept busy: practically every scene demanded their presence. They were wonderful — dressed to the nines, with convincing acting and full-bodied singing. As Marie’s many fathers, the soldiers’ doting was especially appealing.

As always, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra helped make this production special. From the opening plaintive horn call to the final triumphant note of “Salut à la France,” conductor Tadeusz Biernacki milked every melody to its fullest. Special mention must be offered for the touching cello line in Marie’s aria, “C’en est donc fait” that set the scene so beautifully.

Gwenda Nemerofsky

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):