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

Cold Mountain, Philadelphia

Opera Philadelphia deserves congratulations on yet another coup. The company co-commissioned Cold Mountain, an opera by Jennifer Higdon based on Gene Scheer’s adaptation of Charles Frazier’s celebrated Civil War epic.

Christian Gerhaher Wolfgang Rihm Wigmore Hall

For their first of two recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber devised an interesting programme - popular Schubert mixed with songs by Wolfgang Rihm and by Huber himself.

Götterdämmerung in Palermo

There are not many opera productions that you would cross oceans to see. Graham Vick’s Götterdämmerung in Sicily however compelled such a voyage.

Emmanuel Chabrier L’Étoile — Royal Opera House London

Premièred in 1877 at Offenbach’s own Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, Emmanuel Chabrier’s L’Étoile has a libretto, by Eugène Leterrier and Albert Vanloo, which stirs the blackly comic, the farcical and the bizarre into a surreal melange, blending contemporary satire with the frankly outlandish.

Robert Ashley’s Quicksand at the Kitchen

Robert Ashley’s opera-novel Quicksand makes for a novel experience

Premiere of Raskatov’s Green Mass

One of the leading Russian composers of his generation, Alexander Raskatov’s reputation in the UK and western Europe derives from several, recent large-scale compositions, such as his reconstruction of Alfred Schnittke’s Ninth Symphony from a barely legible manuscript (the work was first performed in 2007 in the Dresden Frauenkirche by the Dresden Philharmonic under Dennis Russell Davies), and his 2010 opera A Dog’s Heart, based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s satire (which was directed by Simon McBurney at English National Opera in 2010, following the opera’s premiere at Netherlands Opera earlier that year).

Orpheus in the Underworld, Opera Danube

I’m not sure that St John’s Smith Square was the most appropriate venue for Opera Danube’s latest production: Jacques Offenbach’s satirical frolic, Orpheus in the Underworld.

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in Lyon

This nasty little opera evening in Lyon lived up to the opera’s initial reputation as pure pornophony. This is the erotic Shostakovich of the D minor cello sonata, it is the sarcastic and complicated Shostakovich of The Nose . . .

Bel Canto: A World Premiere at Lyric Opera of Chicago

During December 2015 and presently in January Lyric Opera of Chicago has featured the world premiere of the opera Bel Canto, with music by Jimmy López and libretto by Nilo Cruz, based on the novel by Ann Patchett.

Tosca, Royal Opera

Christmas at the Royal Opera House is all about magic, mystery and miracles: as represented by the conjuror’s exploits in The Nutcracker — with its Kingdom of Sweets and Sugar Plum Fairy — or, as in the Linbury Theatre this year, the fantastical adventures of the Firework-Maker’s Daughter, Lila, and her companions — a lovesick elephant, swashbuckling pirates, tropical beasts and Fire-Fiends.

Lianna Haroutounian resplendent in Madama Butterfly at the Concertgebouw

The title role is a deciding factor in Madama Butterfly. Despite a last-minute conductor cancellation, last Saturday’s concert performance at the Concertgebouw was a resounding success, thanks to Lianna Haroutounian’s opulent, heart-stealing Cio-Cio-San.

Classical Opera: MOZART 250 — 1766: A Retrospective

With this performance of vocal and instrumental works composed by the 10-year-old Mozart and his contemporaries during 1766, Classical Opera entered the second year of their 27-year project, MOZART 250, which is designed to ‘contextualise the development and influences of [sic] the composer’s artistic personality’ and, more audaciously, to ‘follow the path that subsequently led to some of the greatest cornerstones of our civilisation’.

Benjamin Appl — Schubert, Wigmore Hall London

Luca Pisaroni and Wolfram Rieger were due to give the latest installment in the Wigmore Hall's complete Schubert songs series, but both had to cancel at short notice. Fortunately, the Wigmore Hall rises to such contingencies, and gave us Benjamin Appl and Jonathan Ware. Since there's a huge buzz about Appl, this was an opportunity to hear more of what he can do.

Ferrier Awards Winners’ Recital

The phrase ‘Sunday afternoon concert’ may suggest light, post-prandial entertainment, but soprano Gemma Lois Summerfield and her accompanist, Simon Lepper, swept away any such conceptions in this demanding programme at St. John’s Smith Square.

Pelléas et Mélisande at the Barbican

When, o when, will someone put Peter Sellars and his compendium of clichés out of our misery?

L'Arpeggiata: La dama d’Aragó, Wigmore Hall

Having recently followed some by-ways through the music of Purcell, Monteverdi and Cavalli, L’Arpeggiata turned the spotlight on traditional folk music in this characteristically vibrant and high-spirited performance at the Wigmore Hall.

Tippett : A Child of Our Time, London

Edward Gardner brought all his experience as a choral and opera conductor to bear in this stirring performance of Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time at the Barbican Hall, with a fine cast of soloists, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Symphony Chorus.

Taverner and Tavener, Fretwork, London

‘Apt for voices or viols’: eager to maximise sales among the domestic market in Elizabethan England, publishers emphasised that the music contained in collections such as Thomas Morley’s First Book of Madrigals to Four Voices of 1594 was suitable for performance by any combination of singers and players.

Fall of the House of Usher in San Francisco

It was a single title but a double bill and there was far more happening than Gordon Getty and Claude Debussy. Starting with Edgar Allen Poe.

The Merry Widow at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its latest production of the current season Lyric Opera of Chicago is presenting Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow (Die lustige Witwe) featuring Renée Fleming /Nicole Cabell as the widow Hanna Glawari and Thomas Hampson as Count Danilo Danilovich.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Zach Borichevsky as  Roméo and Corinne Winters as Juliette [Photo courtesy of Arizona Opera]
23 Nov 2012

Roméo et Juliette by Arizona Opera

French composer Charles Gounod wrote his five-act opera  Roméo et Juliette  to a libretto that Jules Barbier and Michel Carré based on William Shakespeare’s  Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

Roméo et Juliette by Arizona Opera

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Zach Borichevsky as Roméo and Corinne Winters as Juliette [Photo courtesy of Arizona Opera]

 

The opera had its world première at the Théâtre Lyrique Impérial du Châtelet in Paris on April 27, 1867. It was Gounod’s biggest hit after Faust, which was first seen in 1859, and it was sorely needed. Faust had been performed 300 times since its premiere, but his next operatic compositions: Philemon et Baucis, La Colombe and Mireille, were nowhere near as successful.

After its Paris opening, Roméo was seen in Italian at Covent Garden in London on July 11, 1867 and in French at the Academy of Music in New York on November 15 of that year. The opera was originally thought to be most notable for its exquisitely constructed duets and for Juliette’s first act waltz song, ‘Je veux vivre’. Since then, however, her dramatic Poison Aria ‘Amour ranime mon courage,’ which was sometimes omitted in earlier performances, has become one of the work’s centerpieces. 

On November 16, 2012, Arizona Opera presented Roméo et Juliette at Phoenix’s Symphony Hall in a mostly traditional production by Candace Evans. She told the story in an easily understandable manner that brought out the personalities of the work’s many characters. The one controversial aspect of Evans’ production was her use of narrators to present some of Shakespeare’s original lines. They spoke over the orchestral music during the overture and the interludes. Fight director Andrea Robertson had the young men dueling quite realistically. The fact that every move was carefully choreographed was never evident. The scenery, originally designed by R. Keith Brumley for Lyric Opera of Kansas City, was dark and colorless, but functional. Corinna Rose Bohren’s costumes, fashioned after the work of Peter J. Hall, added the necessary color to the stage picture. Douglas Provost’s lighting design, too, served to add some spice to the stage picture.

It was the inspired conducting of James Meena that held this production together. His tempi were taught but he always allowed the singers any leeway they needed. Zach Borichevsky and Corinne Winters, a couple in real life, sang Roméo and Juliette most convincingly. Tall and slim with an exciting sound to his tenor voice, Borichevsky was perfect for his part, while Winters, a petite Juliette, had both the lustrous vocal timbre for the Waltz Song and the bold dramatic colors for the Poison Aria.   Both these singers can act, too, and that added measurably to this performance. Borichevsky sang a small part in Richard Strauss’ Arabella last summer in Santa Fe but even that few minutes onstage were enough to alert the audience to his significant talent.

Jamie Offenbach was a stentorian and commanding pater familias as Capulet and David Adam Moore sang his technically difficult Queen Mab Aria with pizzazz. Contralto Meredith Arwady is a talented comedian and her scenes afforded considerable relief to the otherwise unrelenting tragedy of the story. Singing the dual roles of Frère Laurent and the Duke of Verona was the sumptuous-voiced Jordan Bisch who created believable characters in both cases.

In her portrayal of Stéphano, resident artist Laura Wilde sang her aria with robust tones that could have had a bit more dynamic variation. David Margulis and Thomas Cannon, also members of the company’s young artist program, were thoroughly committed to their roles of Benvolio and Grégorio. Henri Venanzi’s chorus is always a delight and this performance was no exception. They French was good and so was their musical performance. The staging had them sometimes standing as a block, but when they did move they were individual family members and townspeople. This was a well though out production that gave the Arizona audience a chance to appreciate some fine new singers. 

Maria Nockin


Cast and Production

Roméo: Zach Borichevsky; Juliette: Corinne Winters; Capulet: Jamie Offenbach; Mercutio: David Adam Moore; Frère Laurent and The Duke of Verona: Jordan Bisch; Gertrude: Meredith Arwady; Stéphano: Laura Wilde; Benvolio David Margulis; Grégorio Thomas Cannon; Narrators: Sterling Beeaff, Peter Oldak, Natalie Sanchez; Conductor: James Meena; Director: Candace Evans; Chorus Master: Henri Venanzi; Fight Director: Andrea Robertson; Scenic Designer: R. Keith Brumley; Costume Designer: Corinna Rose Bohren; Lighting Designer: Douglas Provost. Arizona Opera at Phoenix Symphony Hall November 17, 2012.

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):