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

Stacy Tappan
19 Oct 2012

Lucia di Lammermoor at Arizona Opera

The role of Lucia in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor was written for Fanny Tacchinardi Persiani who lived from 1812 to 1867.

Lucia di Lammermoor at Arizona Opera

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Stacy Tappan (Lucia)

 

The daughter of the famous Italian tenor and cellist, Nicola Tacchinardi, Fanny began working on her vocal technique in childhood. Eventually she became associated with the music of bel canto composers, such as Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, and the young Verdi. In 1832, she made her stage debut at Livorno and she soon appeared in major Italian cities singing major roles in operas such as Tancredi, La gazza ladra, Il pirata, and L’elisir d’amore.

When Donizetti heard her in 1833, he described her voice as “rather cold, but quite accurate and perfectly in tune.” He chose her to create title roles in three of his operas: Rosmonda d’Inghilterra, Pia de’ Tolomei, and Lucia di Lammermoor. Her voice has elsewhere been described as sweet and light with a brilliant upper register. We know that she had remarkable agility and that she could sing a given aria several times in succession, each time with a different cadenza. It seems that she caused an unfortunate dispute during the rehearsals for the Lucia premiere. Donizetti wrote that she made a fuss, which terrified tenor Gilbert Duprez, because she wanted the last scene of the opera to be sung by the soprano, not the tenor.

Gilbert Duprez (1806-1896), the French tenor famous for pioneering the delivery of an operatic high C from the chest, created the role of Edgardo in Lucia. Having made his debut as Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia in Paris in 1825, a few years later he decided to try his luck in Italy. There, the operatic scene was more active and he found work even though he preferred to sing operas in which there were few elaborate coloratura passages. In 1831, Duprez took part in the first Italian performance of Rossini’s Guglielmo Tell and, for the first time during the performance of an opera, he sang a high C full voice, not in the so-called falsetto register as was usual at that time. After that, his success was assured in Italy. By 1835, when he sang Edgardo at the world premiere of Lucia di Lammermoor at the San Carlo Opera House in Naples, his reputation was well established. He also sang leading roles in other Donizetti premieres such as La favorite, Les Martyrs, and Dom Sébastien. In 1851, he made his last public appearance as Edgardo at the Théâtre des Italiens in Paris. By that time his high C from the chest had become a standard feature of operatic singing. His legacy was the tenore di forza, a direct ancestor of today’s dramatic tenor.

Domenico Cosselli (1801-1855) was an Italian bass-baritone most often associated with the florid singing of Rossini’s operas. For Donizetti, however, he created: Olivo in Olivo e Pasquale, Azzo in Parisina, and Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor. He was one of the first singers to make the transition from the old concept of a bass to what we know today as a baritone, a voice type that in 1835 was still in its infancy. He gave the role of Enrico a new dimension that looked forward to the idea of the Verdi baritone.

On Saturday evening October 13, Arizona Opera presented Lucia di Lammermoor in a traditional production with sets by Robert R. O’Hearn that was originally seen at Florida Grand Opera. Fenlon Lamb, who has sung mezzo-soprano roles on the opera stage, directed it in Arizona. She told Lucia’s sad tale in a most realistic manner. Some might have questioned her use of an actress to embody the ghost that Lucia says she sees at the fountain, but it did underline the young woman’s desperate mental state. The attractive, detailed costumes from A.T. Jones and Sons were correct for the time and place. Douglas Provost’s evocative lighting added much to the show’s gothic ambience.

The Lucia was Stacy Tappan, who sang one of the Rhine Maidens in the recent Los Angeles Ring of the Nibelungen. Hers is a substantial lyric coloratura voice and she has the technical resources to follow in the steps of singers like Tacchinardi Persiani. Joseph Wolverton was a romantic Edgardo who sang with a secure line. The surprise of the evening was the Enrico of Mark Walters. He sang his first scene aria, “Cruda, funesta smania”, with powerful low tones and thrilling top notes. Jordan Bisch, who has a dark, dense voice, made an auspicious debut as Raimondo, the minister who tries to make peace between the families. Samuel Levine was an appropriately smarmy Normanno and Laura Wilde a dramatic Alisa. David Margulis, whom I last heard as an apprentice at Santa Fe Opera, was a radiant voiced Arturo who held his own in the beautifully sung sextet. The chorus is most important in this opera and, thanks to the hard work of Henri Venanzi, Arizona Opera has a truly first class choral group. They acted individually and sang their harmonies with exquisite precision. Steven White conducted at a brisk pace, never letting the tension sag in the least. He shaped the orchestral sound so as to bring out every color and detail of Donizetti’s magnificent score. This was a fine performance and an auspicious opening for Arizona Opera’s 2012-2013 season.

Maria Nockin


Cast:

Lucia: Stacy Tappan; Edgardo: Joseph Wolverton; Enrico: Mark Walters; Raimondo: Jordan Bisch; Normanno: Samuel Levine; Arturo: David Margulis; Alisa: Laura Wilde; Conductor: Steven White; Director: Fenlon Lamb; Chorus Master: Henri Venanzi; Set Designer: Robert R. O’Hearn; Costumes: A.T. Jones and Sons; Lighting Design: Douglas Provost.

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):