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

Santa Fe: Secondary Mozart in First Rate Staging

Impresario Boris Goldovsky famously referred to La finta giardiniera as The Phony Farmerette.

Regimented Daughter in Santa Fe

At Santa Fe Opera, Donizetti’s effervescent The Daughter of the Regiment can’t quite decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

Santa Fe’s Celebratory Jester

Santa Fe Opera noted a landmark two-thousandth performance in their distinguished history with a stylish new production of Rigoletto.

Sibelius Kullervo, BBC Proms, London

Why did Jean Sibelius suppress Kullervo (Op7, 1892)? There are many theories why he didn't allow it to be heard after its initial performance, though he referred to it fondly in private.

Aïda at Aspen

Most opera professionals, including the individuals who do the casting for major houses, despair of finding performers who can match historical standards of singing in operas such as Aïda. Yet a concert performance in Aspen gives a glimmer of hope. It was led by four younger singers who may be part of the future of Verdi singing in America and the world.

Prom 53: Shostakovich — Orango

One might have been forgiven for thinking that both biology and chronology had gone askew at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday evening.

Written on Skin at Lincoln Center

Three years ago I made what may have been my single worst decision in a half century of attending opera. I wasn’t paying close attention when some conference organizers in Aix-en-Provence offered me two tickets to the premiere of a new opera. I opted instead for what seemed like a sure thing: William Christie conducting some Charpentier.

La Púrpura de la Rosa

Advertised in the program as the first opera written in the New World, La Púrpura de la Rosa (PR) was premiered in 1701 in Lima (Peru), but more than the historical feat, true or not, accounts for the piece’s interest.

Pesaro’s Rossini Festival 2015

The 36th Rossini Opera Festival in Rossini’s Pesaro! La gazza ladra (1817), La gazzetta (1816) and L'inganno felice (1812) — the little opera that made Rossini famous.

Santa Fe: Placid Princess of Judea

Unlike the brush fire in a distant neighborhood of the John Crosby Theatre, Santa Fe Opera’s Salome stubbornly failed to ignite.

Airy and Bucolic Glimmerglass Flute

As part of a concerted effort to incorporate local color and resonance into its annual festival, Glimmerglass has re-imagined The Magic Flute in a transformative woodland setting.

Glimmerglass Conquers Cato

Bravura singing and vibrant instrumental playing were on ample display in Glimmerglass Festival’s riveting Cato in Utica.

Energetic Glimmerglass Candide

Bernstein’s Candide seems to have more performance versions than Tales of Hoffmann.

Die Eroberung von Mexico in Salzburg

That’s The Conquest of Mexico, an historical music drama composed in 1991 by German composer Wolfgang Rihm (b. 1952). But wait. Wolfgang Rihm construed a few sentences of Artaud’s La Conquête du Mexique (1932) mixed up with bits of Aztec chant and bits of poem(s) by Mexico’s Octavio Paz (d. 1998) to make a libretto.

Scottish Sensation at Glimmerglass

Glimmerglass is celebrating its 40th Festival season with a stylish new production of Verdi’s Macbeth.

Norma in Salzburg

This Salzburg Norma is not new news. This superb production was first seen at the Salzburg Festival’s springtime Whitsun Festival in 2013 with this same cast. It will now travel to a few major European cities.

The power of music: a young cast in a semi-stage account of Monteverdi’s first opera

John Eliot Gardiner conducted a much anticipated performance of Monteverdi’s first opera L’Orfeo at the BBC Proms on 4 August 2015, with his own Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.

Cold Mountain Wows Audience at Santa Fe World Premiere

On August 1, 2015, Santa Fe Opera presented the world premiere of Cold Mountain, a brand new opera composed by Pulizer Prize and Grammy winner Jennifer Higdon.

Manon Lescaut, Munich

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. Some will scream in rage but in its austerity it reaches to the heart of the opera.

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

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):