Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Hampstead Garden Opera presents Partenope-on-sea

“Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside! I do like to be beside the sea!” And, it was off to the Victorian seaside that we went for Hampstead Garden Opera’s production of Handel’s Partenope - not so much for a stroll along the prom, rather for boisterous battles on the beach and skirmishes by the shore.

Henze's Phaedra: Linbury Theatre, ROH

A song of love and death, loss and renewal. Opera was born from the ambition of Renaissance humanists to recreate the oratorical and cathartic power of Greek tragedy, so it is no surprise that Greek myths have captivated composers of opera, past and present, offering as they do an opportunity to engage with the essential human questions in contexts removed from both the sacred and the mundane.

Actress x Stockhausen Sin {x} II - a world premiere

Is it in any sense aspirational to imitate - or even to try to create something original - based on one of Stockhausen’s works? This was a question I tried to grapple with at the world premiere of Actress x Stockhausen Sin {x} II.

The BBC Singers and the Academy of Ancient Music join forces for Handel's Israel in Egypt

The biblical account of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is the defining event of Jewish history. By contrast, Handel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt has struggled to find its ‘identity’, hampered as it is by what might be termed the ‘Part 1 conundrum’, and the oratorio has not - despite its repute and the scholarly respect bestowed upon it - consistently or fully satisfied audiences, historic or modern.

Measha Brueggergosman: The Art of Song – Ravel to John Cage

A rather charming story recently appeared in the USA of a nine-year old boy who, at a concert given by Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society, let out a very audible “wow” at the end of Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music. I mention this only because music – whether you are neurotypical or not – leads to people, of any age, expressing themselves in concerts relative to the extraordinary power of the music they hear. Measha Brueggergosman’s recital very much had the “wow” factor, and on many distinct levels.

World premiere of Cecilia McDowall's Da Vinci Requiem

The quincentennial of the death Leonardo da Vinci is one of the major events this year – though it doesn’t noticeably seem to be acknowledged in new music being written for this.

Aribert Reimann’s opera Lear at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

In 1982, while studying in Germany, I had the good fortune to see Aribert Reimann’s opera Lear sung in München by the original cast, which included Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Júlia Várady and Helga Dernesch. A few years later, I heard it again in San Francisco, with Thomas Stewart in the title role. Despite the luxury casting, the harshly atonal music—filled with quarter-tones, long note rows, and thick chords—utterly baffled my twenty-something self.

Berlioz’s Requiem at the Concertgebouw – earthshakingly stupendous

It was high time the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra programmed Hector Berlioz’s Grande Messe des morts. They hadn’t performed it since 1989, and what better year to take it up again than in 2019, the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’s death?

Matthew Rose and Friends at Temple Church

I was very much looking forward to this concert at Temple Church, curated by bass Matthew Rose and designed to celebrate music for voice commissioned by the Michael Cuddigan Trust, not least because it offered the opportunity to listen again to compositions heard recently - some for the first time - in different settings, and to experience works discussed coming to fruition in performance.

Handel's Athalia: London Handel Festival

There seems little to connect the aesthetics of French neoclassical theatre of the late-seventeenth century and English oratorio of the early-eighteenth. But, in the early 1730s Handel produced several compositions based on Racine’s plays, chief among them his Israelite-oratorios, Esther (1732) and Athalia (1733).

Ravel’s L’heure espagnole: London Symphony Orchestra conducted by François-Xavier Roth

Although this concert was devoted to a single composer, Ravel, I was initially a little surprised by how it had been programmed. Thematically, all the works had the essence of Spain running through them - but chronologically they didn’t logically follow on from each other.

Breaking the Habit: Stile Antico at Kings Place

Renaissance patronage was a phenomenon at once cultural, social, political and economic. Wealthy women played an important part in court culture and in religious and secular life. In particular, music, musical performances and publications offered a female ruler or aristocrat an important means of ‘self-fashioning’. Moreover, such women could exercise significant influence on the shaping of vernacular taste.

The Secrets of Heaven: The Orlando Consort at Wigmore Hall

Leonel Power, Bittering, Roy Henry [‘Henry Roi’?], John Pyamour, John Plummer, John Trouluffe, Walter Lambe: such names are not likely to be well-known to audiences but alongside the more familiar John Dunstaple, they were members of the generation of Englishmen during the Middle Ages whose compositions were greatly admired by their fellow musicians on the continent.

Manitoba Opera: The Barber of Seville

Manitoba Opera capped its season on a high note with its latest production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, sung in the key of goofiness that has inspired even a certain “pesky wabbit,” a.k.a. Bugs Bunny’s The Rabbit of Seville.

Handel and the Rival Queens

From Leonardo vs. Michelangelo to Picasso vs. Matisse; from Mozart vs. Salieri to Reich v. Glass: whether it’s Maria Callas vs. Renata Tebaldi or Herbert von Karajan vs. Wilhelm Furtwängler, the history of culture is also a history of rivalries nurtured and reputations derided - more often by coteries and aficionados than by the artists themselves.

Britten's Billy Budd at the Royal Opera House

“Billy always attracted me, of course, the radiant young figure; I felt there was going to be quite an opportunity for writing nice dark music for Claggart; but I must admit that Vere, who has what seems to me the main moral problem of the whole work, round [him] the drama was going to centre.”

Cool beauty in Dutch National Opera’s Madama Butterfly

It is hard to imagine a more beautifully sung Cio-Cio-San than Elena Stikhina’s.

Kurt Weill’s Street Scene

Kurt Weill’s “American opera,” Street Scene debuted this past weekend in the Kay Theatre at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, with a diverse young cast comprised of students and alumni of the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS).

Handel's Brockes-Passion: The Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican Hall

Perhaps it is too fanciful to suggest that the German poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747) was the Metastasio of Hamburg?

POP Butterfly: Oooh, Cho-Cho San!

I was decidedly not the only one who thought I was witnessing the birth of a new star, as cover artist Janet Todd stepped in to make a triumphant appearance in the title role of Pacific Opera Project’s absorbing Madama Butterfly.

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):