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

Lust for Revenge: Barenboim and Herlitzius fire up Strauss’s Elektra in Berlin

As the German language describes so beautifully, a “Schrei aus tiefstem Herzen” was felt as Evelyn Herlitzius channelled an Elektra from the depths of her soul.

Semyon Bychkov heading to NYC and DC with Glanert and Mahler

Heading to N.Y.C and D.C. for its annual performances, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra invited Semyon Bychkov to return for his Mahler debut with the Fifth Symphony. Having recently returned from Vienna with praise for their rendition, the orchestra now presented it at their homebase.

Lost Stravinsky re-united with Rimsky-Korsakov, Gergiev, Mariinsky

Igor Stravinsky's lost Funeral Song, (Chante funèbre) op 5 conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky in St Petersburg This extraordinary performance was infinitely more than an ordinary concert, even for a world premiere of an unknown work.

Philippe Jaroussky at the Wigmore Hall: Baroque cantatas by Telemann and J.S.Bach

On Tuesday evening this week, I found myself at The Actors Centre in London’s Covent Garden watching a performance of Unknowing, a dramatization of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben and Dichterliebe (in a translation by David Parry, in which Matthew Monaghan directed a baritone and a soprano as they enacted a narrative of love, life and loss. Two days later at the Wigmore Hall I enjoyed a wonderful performance, reviewed here, by countertenor Philippe Jaroussky with Julien Chauvin’s Le Concert de la Loge, of cantatas by Telemann and J.S. Bach.

The new Queen of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Here is one of the next new great conductors. That’s a bold statement, but even the L.A. Times agrees: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s appointment “is the biggest news in the conducting world.” But Ms. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will be getting a lot of weight on her shoulders.

Falstaff at Manitoba Opera

Manitoba Opera chose to open its 44th season by going for the belly laughs — literally — as it notably presented its inaugural production of Verdi’s Falstaff.

Gothic Schubert : Wigmore Hall, London

Macabre and moonstruck, Schubert as Goth, with Stuart Jackson, Marcus Farnsworth and James Baillieu at the Wigmore Hall. An exceptionally well-planned programme devised with erudition and wit, executed to equally high standards.

Rusalka, AZ Opera

On November 20, 2016, Arizona Opera completed its run of Antonín Dvořák’s fairy Tale opera, Rusalka. Loosely based on Hand Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, Joshua Borths staged it with common objects such as dining room chairs that could be found in the home of a child watching the story unfold.

First new Ring Cycle in 40 Years, Leipzig

Consistently overshadowed by the neighboring Bayreuth, the far less stuffy Oper Leipzig (Wagner’s birthplace) programmed after forty years their first complete Ring Cycle.

San Jose’s Beta-Carotene Rich Barber

You didn’t have to know the Bugs Bunny oeuvre to appreciate Opera San Jose’s enchanting Il barbiere di Sivigila, but it sure enhanced your experience if you did.

Manon Lescaut at Covent Garden

If there was ever any doubt that Puccini’s Manon is on a road to nowhere, then the closing image of Jonathan Kent’s 2014 production of Manon Lescaut (revived here for the first time, by Paul Higgins) leaves no uncertainty.

Fierce in War, dazzling in Peace: Joyce DiDonato at the Concertgebouw

Many opera singers are careful to maintain an air of political neutrality. Not so mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who is outspoken about causes she holds dear. Her latest project, a very personal response to the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, puts her audience through the emotional wringer, but also showers them with musical rewards.

Simplicius Simplicissimus

I wonder if Karl Amadeus Hartmann saw something of himself in the young Simplicius Simplicissimus, the eponymous protagonist of his three-scene chamber opera of 1936. Simplicius is in a sort of ‘Holy Fool’ who manages to survive the violence and civil strife of the Thirty Years War (1618-48), largely through dumb chance, and whose truthful pronouncements fall upon the ears of the deluded and oppressive.

Lucia di Lammermoor at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its second opera of the 2016-17 season Lyric Opera of Chicago has staged Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in a production seen at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Grand Théâtre de Genève.

Akhnaten Offers L A Operagoers Both Ear and Eye Candy

Akhnaten is the third in composer Philip Glass’s trilogy of operas about people who have made important contributions to society: Albert Einstein in science, Mahatma Gandhi in politics, and Akhnaten in religion. Glass’s three operas are: Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten.

Shakespeare in the Late Baroque - Bampton Classical Opera

Shakespeare re-imagined for the very Late Baroque, with Bampton Classical Opera at St John's Smith Square. "Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare....the God of Our Idolatory". So wrote David Garrick in his Ode to Shakespeare (1759) through which the actor and showman marketed Shakespeare to new audiences, fanning the flames of "Bardolatory". All Europe was soon caught up in the frenzy.

Soldier Songs in San Diego

David Little composed his one-man opera, Soldier Songs, ten years ago and the International Festival of Arts & Ideas of New Haven, Connecticut, premiered it in 2011. At San Diego Opera, the fifty-five minute musical presentation and the “Talk Back” that followed it were part of the Shiley dētour Series which is held in the company’s smaller venue, the historic Balboa Theatre.

Barber of Seville [Hollywood Style] in Los Angeles

On Saturday evening November 12, 2016, Pacific Opera Project presented Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville in an updated version that placed the action in Hollywood. It was sung in the original Italian but the translation seen as supertitles was specially written to match the characters’ Hollywood identities.

Madama Butterfly in San Francisco

A Butterfly for the ages in a Butterfly marred by casting ineptness and lugubrious conducting.

Kiss Me, Kate: Welsh National Opera at the Birmingham Hippodrome

In 1964, 400 years after the birth of the Bard, the writer Anthony Burgess saw Cole Porter’s musical comedy Kiss Me, Kate, a romping variation on The Taming of the Shrew. Shakespeare’s comedy, Burgess said, had a ‘good playhouse reek about it’, adding ‘the Bard might be regarded as closer to Cole Porter and Broadway razzmatazz’ than to the scholars who were ‘picking him raw’.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Tracy Dahl as Gilda and Todd Thomas as Rigoletto [Photo by R. Tinker  courtesy of Manitoba Opera]
07 Dec 2012

Rigoletto, Manitoba Opera

Manitoba Opera launched its celebratory, all-Verdi 40th anniversary season with the Italian master’s Rigoletto that still rattles the soul with its tale of revenge, murder, deceit and heart-wrenching pathos.

Rigoletto, Manitoba Opera

A review by Holly Harris

Above: Tracy Dahl as Gilda and Todd Thomas as Rigoletto [Photo by R. Tinker courtesy of Manitoba Opera]

 

Its three-performances were held November 24through 30, 2012 at Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall.

Based on Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse (The King Amuses Himself), the three-act opera composed in 1851 is considered one of Verdi’s greatest works also including his (slightly) later Il Trovatore and La Traviata. Its complicated plot set in 16th century Mantua revolves around hunchbacked court jester Rigoletto, torn between defending his cherished only daughter Gilda’s virtue and avenging the lascivious Duke of Mantua who has dishonoured her. But — like any good opera — it also firmly posits the redemptive power of love as well as becomes its own cautionary tale about the vicious games people play.

Any piece of theatre is often only as good as its casting. In this case, a stellar choice of leads directed by former Winnipegger Robert Herriot created a strong production with nary a weak link onstage. Realistic sets designed by Lawrence Schafer (New Orleans Opera) depicting the opera’s respective locales of castle, house and inn helped create effective stage pictures — including a striking opening tableau for the opening party/orgy scene. MO music advisor/principal conductor Tyrone Paterson sensitively led the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra throughout the three-hour evening.

American baritone Todd Thomas’ powerhouse performance as the white-faced, sunken-eyed jester showcased not only his booming voice, but equally mesmerizing acting ability. He subtly nuanced his title character with every emotional shade imaginable, turning instantly on a dime from bitter pitifulness during Act I aria “Pari siamo!” — including self-flagellating while decrying his deformity — to hell-bent fury against all those who torment him.

Winnipeg’s musical treasure, world-class colouratura soprano Tracy Dahl also triumphed in the role of Gilda. The petite singer with a stratospheric voice hit just the right note with her not-so-innocent character desperately longing for love and freedom. Her electrifying Caro Nome, with each note crafted as a multi-faceted jewel rightfully earned sustained applause from the audience. Dahl’s effortlessly sung Act II aria “Tutte le feste al tempio” also displayed her innate gifts as a singing actress, as did touching finale “Chi mai, chi è qui in sua vece?” where she tearfully begs her father for forgiveness.

Newfoundland tenor David Pomerory imbued his lecherous Duke with hotheaded passion and wanton playfulness. He projected his deeply resonant voice well beyond the footlights in opening “Questa o quello«, as well as during Act II’s intricate quartet “Bella figlia dell’amore« sung with Dahl, Thomas and South African-Canadian mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal as seductive harlot Maddalena. Pomerory also filled the opera’s eternally famous aria La donna è mobile with swaggering confidence and ringing high notes that becomes key to its tragic dénouement.

American bass Peter Volpe double-cast as the villainous Count Monterone and assassin Sparafucile created an intriguing doppelgänger worthy of further contemplation. Volpe’s thunderous curse on the jester as the Count during Act I’s ”Ch'io gli parli” would make anyone collapse in fear. His slithery hit man included his declamatory voice sinking to the utter depths in “Quel vecchio maledivami!”

An all-male ensemble from the MO Chorus prepared by Tadeusz Biernacki presented as the velvety-courtiers, crisply enunciating choruses Zitti, ziti and later Possente amor mi chiama. But as pranksters who ultimately drive the action by goading the jester, they often appeared too courtly-mannered, with their relatively stiff staging bypassing many golden opportunities to show their true, nasty stripes.

Bill Williams’ lighting design proved mostly effective despite Act III’s wild storm flashes that appeared too stylized in an otherwise traditional production. And Dahl — especially when costumed in her drab boy’s disguise in the final scene virtually disappeared into the shadows during trio “Ah, più non ragiono!” where she vows to sacrifice herself for her lover.

It might seem a no-brainer for Manitoba Opera to program an entire season of Verdi’s works, especially during its milestone anniversary season that also includes Aida next spring. The composer’s intensely dramatic operas still resonate — for better or worse — with 21st century audiences. Still, MO has made a wise choice in Rigoletto, with its particularly strong cast fearlessly delivering this timeless and ever-tragic tale.

Holly Harris


Click here for cast and production information.

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):