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 Commentary

In conversation with Nina Brazier

When British opera director Nina Brazier tries to telephone me from Frankfurt, where she is in the middle of rehearsals for a revival of Florentine Klepper’s 2015 production of Martinů’s Julietta, she finds herself - to my embarrassment - ‘blocked’ by my telephone preference settings. The technical hitch is soon solved; but doors, in the UK and Europe, are certainly very much wide open for Nina, who has been described by The Observer as ‘one of Britain’s leading young directors of opera’.

2019 Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition

Russian bass-baritone Mikhail Timoshenko has won the top prize at the 2019 Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition.

An Englishman in Vienna: Stephen Storace

When his first opera, Gli sposi malcontenti, premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 1st June 1985, the 23-year-old Stephen Storace must have been confident that his future fame and fortune were assured.

Stendhal on the Rossini Revolution

Some Details concerning the Revolution inaugurated by Rossini

Louise Jeffreys to become Deputy Chair of ENO

English National Opera (ENO) is pleased to announce that Louise Jeffreys is to become Deputy Chair of English National Opera and the London Coliseum. She replaces Nicholas Allan. Louise is currently Artistic Director of the Barbican where she leads...

Verdi Treasures from Milan’s Ricordi Archive make US debut

Rare testimonies to the history of Italian opera from the Milan-based, Bertelsmann-owned Ricordi Archive will now be shown in the United States for the first time. Fans of classical music and literature can look forward to the exhibition “Verdi: Creating Otello and Falstaff - Highlights from the Ricordi Archive”, which will be on view at the renowned Morgan Library & Museum in New York from September 6, 2019 to January 5, 2020.

Odyssey Opera Resurrects Henry VIII

BOSTON, MA (For Release 07.18.19) — One of the nation’s most adventurous opera companies, Odyssey Opera, begins its seventh season with a concert performance of Henry VIII (1883) by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns based on El cisma en Inglaterra (The schism in England) by Pedro Calderón de la Barca.

Glyndebourne Announces the Return of the Glyndebourne Opera Cup in 2020

Glyndebourne’s major new international singing competition returns in 2020 with a renewed commitment to supporting diversity in opera. The Glyndebourne Opera Cup - the international competition for opera singers is designed to discover and spotlight the best young singers around the world, offering a top prize of £15,000 and a guaranteed role at a leading international opera house. The final will once again be broadcast live on Sky Arts on 7 March 2020 and the series is produced by Factory Films.

Garsington Opera: Five Young Singers Win Prestigious Awards

Winners of this year’s prestigious Leonard Ingrams Foundation awards are mezzo-soprano Bianca Andrew and tenor Oliver Johnston. These awards support, encourage and nurture the best young artists involved in the creative process of bringing opera to the stage, and are made in memory of Garsington Opera’s founder Leonard Ingrams, to ensure the continuity of his vision.

Bill Bankes-Jones on the twelfth Tête à Tête Opera Festival

“We need to stop talking about ‘diversity’ and think instead about ‘inclusivity’,” says Bill Bankes-Jones, when we meet to talk about the forthcoming twelfth Tête à Tête Opera Festival which runs from 24th July to 10th August.

The Italian Opera Connection at ‘The English Versailles’: The Duchess of Buccleuch and the Georgian Stage at Boughton House

As part of its annual programme of events, Boughton House in Northamptonshire hosts ‘A Passion for Opera’, a rare exhibition portraying the musical life of Lady Elizabeth Montagu (1743–1827) and the world of Georgian operatic culture.

An interview with composer Dani Howard

The young Hong Kong-born British composer Dani Howard is having quite a busy year.

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycle

Lyric Opera of Chicago has announced both schedules and cast-lists for is Spring 2020 performances of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Given the series of individual productions already staged by the company since Fall 2016, that pave the way for the complete cycle, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s complete production should affirm the artistic might of the great composer.

Irish mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy on Salzburg, Sellars and Singing

For Peter Sellars, Mozart’s Idomeneo is a ‘visionary’ work, a utopian opera centred on a classic struggle between a father and a son written by an angry 25-year-old composer who wanted to show the musical establishment what a new generation could do.

London Bel Canto Festival 2019: an interview with Ken Querns-Langley

“Physiognomy, psychology and technique.” These are the three things that determine the way a singer’s sound is produced, so Ken Querns-Langley explains when we meet in the genteel surroundings of the National Liberal Club, where the training programmes, open masterclasses and performances which will form part the third London Bel Canto Festival will be held from 5th-24th August.

The Royal Opera Tours to Japan in September 2019

The Royal Opera is delighted to be returning to Japan in September 2019 as part of an exciting year of UK-Japan exchanges, titled UK in Japan 2019-20, following the Company’s hugely successful tour in autumn 2015.

Longborough Festival Opera announces collaboration with The Academy of Ancient Music in 2020

Longborough Festival Opera will collaborate with the Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) for its production of Monteverdi The Return of Ulysses in 2020. Robert Howarth will conduct Monteverdi’s beautiful, compassionate drama, with Tom Randle in the title role.

Glyndebourne’s first production of Dialogues des Carmélites to open Glyndebourne Festival 2020

Glyndebourne’s first production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites will open Glyndebourne Festival 2020, it was announced today. The opera house unveiled its 2020 plans at an event in its recently built Production Hub, hosted by Glyndebourne’s new senior leadership team, Artistic Director Stephen Langridge and Managing Director Sarah Hopwood, who jointly replace the former position of General Director.

Garsington Opera Announces 2020 season and 2019 Paris Performance

Garsington Opera is delighted to announce the 2020 season that will open on 28 May, featuring three new productions - Verdi’s Un giorno di regno, Mozart’s Mitridate, re di Ponto, Dvořák’s Rusalka and a revival of John Cox’s legendary production of Beethoven’s Fidelio.

Un ballo in maschera at Investec Opera Holland Park: in conversation with Alison Langer

“Sop. Page, attendant on the King.” So, reads a typical character description of the loyal page Oscar, whose actions, in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, unintentionally lead to his monarch’s death. He reveals the costume that King Gustavo is wearing at the masked ball, thus enabling the monarch’s secretary, Anckarstroem, to shoot him. The dying King falls into the faithful Oscar’s arms.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

30 Jul 2012

Laurent Pelly on Glyndebourne's Ravel Double Bill

The Glyndebourne Festival highlight this year could be the Ravel double bill - L’heure espagnole and L'enfant et les sortilèges. Laurent Pelly directs. Anyone who saw his brilliant Humperdinck Hansel und Gretel at Glyndebourne in 2008 will know what to expect - a staging of great imagination and verve, true to the spirit of the composer.

“It is the genius of Ravel that inspires me”, says Pelly, his face animated with expression. “I adore Ravel, I love the whole musical movement of that epoch, from Chabrier and Offenbach to Massenet, to Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc. That whole period, from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century was full of artistic riches”, he adds, enthusiastically.

Pelly’s iconic Glyndebourne Hansel und Gretel is only one of many triumphs. His Massenet Manon (with Anna Netrebko) was well received at the Met and at the Royal Opera House. His Massenet Cendrillon i(with Joyce DiDonato) was a hit in London and at the Opéra Comique, Paris. His Donizetti La Fille du regiment and L'Elisir d'amore are greatly admired.

Glyndebourne presented Ravel’s L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les sortilèges as a double bill nearly 25 years ago, with visuals by children’s author Maurice Sendak. Pelly, however, is an all round man of the opera. He not only directs and designs, but has extensive practical experience as an actor in theatre. Pelly directed L’heure espagnole nine years ago with the Opéra de Paris, but this time it will be quite different, since it’s paired with L'enfant et les sortilèges, an even more daring and innovative piece, Doing both Ravel operas together will enhance the way Pelly can present the scope of Ravel’s vision. “These operas are very theatrical and very well written musically. When Glyndebourne offered them to me, I said 'Yes! Yes!' The conditions here are marvellous, we’re surrounded by nature”.

“These operas come from a time when there was so much imagination. They are full of poetry, drollness and also gravity, intelligence and spirituality, profoundity and madcap silliness at the same time. The two pieces are very different though they are both surrealist fantasies”. In L’heure espagnole a woman juggles lovers while her husband is obsessed with clockwork mechanisms. “It is set in Spain, but it’s very French”, says Pelly. Ravel could write farce about sexual mores by disguising it in an exotic situation.

L’enfant et les sortilèges is a work that makes us understand what it’s like to be a child, maybe 6, 7, 8 to 10 years old. I was 14 years old when I first got to know it, and I was very moved. It lasts about 45 minutes, but it has the depth of an opera of three or four hours. There are so many images, so many personalities, and so many ideas! When I think about the music and its freedom and inventiveness, and the poetry in the text by Colette, I’m so happy that I’m doing it at Glyndebourne.“

L’enfant is about a nightmare, but the nightmare is the child’s vision of the world of adults. For me, the teapot, the teacup and the shepherdesses represent adults”. The child doesn’t understand the adult world, so he sees familiar objects come to life and threaten him. It’s fantasy but at the same time understandable “You see the world through the eyes of a child”, says Pelly.

There are parallels between L’enfant et les sortilèges and Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel. In both operas, children are dealing with traumatic situations by projecting their anxieties onto fantasy objects. When they defeat these things, they learn to deal with their fears. Of Hansel und Gretel, Pelly says “it’s difficult today to stage a story about poor children who have nothing to eat. Especially, when the audience looking on is wealthy”, he adds with a grin, a reference perhaps to Glyndebourne and its tradition of fine dining. “So I decided to transform it to make it more interesting, and make references to conservation”. Humorous as Pelly’s production was, it was a pointed commentary on consumer excess and emotional impoverishment.

“In L’enfant, it’s necessary that the audience rediscovers the soul of childhood, and thinks through a child’s feelings. The music is magic, it describes so much. Technically it’s very difficult to stage. You need to get everything right, the costumes, the décor, the lighting”. Some of Ravel’s concepts are abstract, like the arithmetic the child rebels against. Pelly has long been fascinated by experimental and surrealist film, like the films of Cocteau and of Buñuel . “Un chien Andalou” he adds, a film from the same period. . Speaking of film, Pelly says “Today we have a wider variety of techniques we can use”, which may come in handy with Ravel’s surrealist fantasies.

Film and live opera are different disciplines, though. “We work in the same direction but we aren’t the same”, he says of film directors. Live opera is a unique experience “After my Manon in New York”, he says, “I went home to Toulouse, and watched it in the cinema there, sitting with the audience. They used at least 15 cameras to make the film, to make it lively, and the audience loved it. But filming and stage are not the same at all”.

Laurent Pelly’s great passion is French opera. He has directed in other languages, such as Mozart and Verdi and an interesting 2009 Janáček The Cunning Little Vixen (Saito Kinen and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino) but French repertoire is his first love. “These days there’s so much more choice with singers”, he says, since more are coming to appreciate the unique aesthetic of French style.

This suits Pelly, for he’s keen to explore less well known repertoire. “La Traviata and Carmen, everyone knows”, he says, “and you have to find something to say. But there’s so much else that needs to done. Pelly has directed a great deal of Offenbach, for example, including Les Contes d'Hoffmann, La Belle Hélène, (Santa Fe), La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein, La Périchole, and La Vie parisienne. “I adore Massenet”, he says. He’s had such success with Manon and Cendrillon that the prospect of more Massenet intrigues. “Don Quichotte”, he smiles, “Hérodiade, or Le Jongleur de Notre Dame”.

In December, Pelly is directing the first Meyerbeer Robert le Diable to be staged in London for decades. It’s quite a challenge as tastes in Meyerbeer’s time and in ours are different. So if anyone can present a superlative Ravel double bill, it's Laurent Pelly. The production starts 4th August 2102. All ears and eyes on Glyndebourne!

Glyndebourne's Ravel Double Bill is reviewed here in Opera Today.
For more information please see the Glyndebourne Festival site.

Anne Ozorio

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):