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Florilegium, Wigmore Hall

During this exploration of music from the Austro-German Baroque, Florilegium were joined by the baritone Roderick Williams in a programme of music which placed the music and career of J.S. Bach in the context of three older contemporaries: Franz Tunder (1614-67), Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1701) and Heinrich Biber (1644-1704). The work of these three composers may be less familiar to listeners, but Florilegium revealed the musical sophistication - under the increasing influence of the Italian style - and emotional range of this music which was composed during the second half of the seventeenth century.

Leoncavallo: Zazà - Opera Rara

Charismatic charm, vivacious insouciance, fervent passion, dejected self-pity, blazing anger and stoic selflessness: Zazà - a chanteuse raised from the backstreets to the bright lights - is a walking compendium of emotions. Ruggero Leoncavallo’s eponymous opera lives by its heroine. Tackling this exhausting, and perilous, role at the Barbican Hall, The Albanaian soprano Ermonela Jaho gave an absolutely fabulous performance, her range, warmth and total commitment ensuring that the hooker’s heart of gold shone winningly.

L'ospedale - an anonymous opera rediscovered

‘Stay away from doctors; they are bad for your health.’ This seems to be the central message of L’Ospedale - a one-hour opera by an unknown seventeenth-century composer, with a libretto by Antonio Abati which presents a satirical critique of the medical profession of the day and those who had the misfortune to need curative treatment for their physical and mental ills.

Šimon Voseček : Biedermann and the Arsonists

‘In these times of heightened security … we are listening, watching …’

René Pape, Joseph Calleja, Kristine Opolais, Boito Mefistofele, Munich

Arrigo Boito Mefistofele was broadcast livestream from the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich last night. What a spectacle !

Calixto Bieito’s The Force of Destiny

The monochrome palette of Picasso’s Guernica and the mural’s anti-war images of suffering dominate Calixto Bieito’s new production of Verdi’s The Force of Destiny for English National Opera.

Morgen und Abend — World Premiere, Royal Opera House

The world premiere of Morgen und Abend by Georg Friedrich Haas at the Royal Opera House, London — so conceptually unique and so unusual that its originality will confound many.

Company XIV Combines Classic and Chic in an Exquisite Cinderella

Company XIV’s production of Cinderella is New York City theater at its finest. With a nod to the court of Louis the XIV and the grandiosity of Lully’s opera theater, Company XIV manages to preserve elements of the French Baroque while remaining totally innovative, and never—in fact, not once for the entire two and a half hour show—falls prey to the predictable. Not one detail is left to chance in this finely manicured yet earthily raw production of Cinderella.

Monteverdi by The Sixteen at Wigmore Hall

This was a concert where immense satisfaction was derived equally from the quality of musicianship displayed and the coherence and resourcefulness of the programme presented. In 1610, Claudio Monteverdi published his Vespro della Beata Vergine for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

Dialogues des Carmélites Revival at Dutch National Opera

If not timeless, Robert Carsen’s production of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites is highly age-resistant.

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Le donne curiose

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari was one of the Italian composers of the post-Puccini generation (which included Licinio Refice, Riccardo Zandonai, Umberto Giordano and Franco Leoni) who struggled to prolong the verismo tradition in the early years of the twentieth century.

Moby-Dick Surfaces in the City of Angels

On Saturday evening October 31, 2015, the Nantucket whaling ship Pequod journeyed to Los Angeles Opera and began its sixth voyage in the attempt to kill the elusive whale called Moby-Dick.

Great Scott at the Dallas Opera

Great Scott is a combination of a parody of bel canto opera and an operatic version of All About Eve. Beloved American diva Arden Scott (Joyce DiDonato), has discovered the score to a long-lost opera “Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompeii” and has become committed to getting the work revived as a vehicle for her. “Rosa Dolorosa” has grand musical moments and a hilariously absurd plot.

Schubert and Debussy at Wigmore Hall

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A Bright and Accomplished Cenerentola at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in a production new to this venue and one notable for several significant debuts along with roles taken by accomplished, familiar performers.

La Bohème, ENO

Back in 2000, Glyndebourne Touring Opera dragged Puccini’s sentimental tale of suffering bohemian artists into the ‘modern urban age’, when director David McVicar ditched the Parisian garrets and nineteenth-century frock coats in favour of a squalid bedsit in which Rodolfo and painter Marcello shared a line of cocaine under the grim glare of naked light bulbs and the clientele at Café Momus included a couple of gaudily attired transvestites.

Luigi Rossi: Orpheus

Just as Orpheus embarks on a quest for his beloved Eurydice, so the Royal Opera House seems to be in pursuit of the mythical music-maker himself: this year the house has presented Monteverdi’s Orfeo at the Camden Roundhouse (with the Early Opera Company in January), Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice on the main stage (September), and, in the Linbury Studio Theatre, both Birtwistle’s The Corridor (June) and the Paris-music-hall style Little Lightbulb Theatre/Battersea Arts Centre co-production, Orpheus (September).

64th Wexford Festival Opera

Wexford Festival Opera has served up another thought-provoking and musically rewarding trio of opera rarities — neglected, forgotten or seldom performed — in 2015.

Christoph Prégardien, Schubert, Wigmore Hall London

Another highlight of the Wigmore Hall complete Schubert Song series - Christoph Prégardien and Christoph Schnackertz. The core Wigmore Hall Lieder audience were out in force. These days, though, there are young people among the regulars : a sign that appreciation of Lieder excellence is most certainly alive and well at the Wigmore Hall. .

The Magic Flute in San Francisco

How did it go? Reactions of my neighbors varied. Some left at the intermission, others remarked that they thought the singing was good.



Opera National de Paris/Agathe Poupeney
15 Mar 2013

Cenerentola at Paris Opéra

Rossini's “other” comic masterpiece of 1817 came into the world only a few weeks after the much better known The Barber of Seville. But it has had a place in the repertoire since its premiere.

Cenerentola at Paris Opéra

A review by Paul du Quenoy

Above photo by Opera National de Paris/Agathe Poupeney


A version of the enduringly popular Cinderella tale, it famously sheds much of the magic. There is no pumpkin or glass slipper. A fairy godfather takes the place of a fairy godmother. A buffoonishly wicked stepfather fills in for a simply evil wicked stepmother. Still, the opera soared in popularity all over the world (it was the first opera presented in Australia, for example). Nevertheless, it was a relative latecomer to the Paris Opéra, only arriving here only in 1977. The current production, by the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, is even older, dating back to its 1968 premiere at Munich's Bavarian State Opera. Paris audiences only saw this version for the first time when it entered the repertoire last season.

Lately, Cenerentola has enjoyed a renaissance in operatic capitals, with the principal roles going in recent years to such stars as Cecilia Bartoli, Juan Diego Florez, Lawrence Brownlee, and Joyce DiDonato (who will sing the title part at New York's Metropolitan Opera next season). The Opéra's effort is more subdued, though the great basso buffo Simone Alaimo, now a bit worn of voice, shares the role of Don Magnifico. His nephew, baritone Nicola Alaimo, is the alternate cast's Dandini, leading us to wonder what synergies these operatic relatives might make if paired on stage and why they were not. The question lingered in my mind, but the older Alaimo was a tour de force, impossible not to watch in his boorish physical comedy. It is the title role that really sparkles, however, and in the promising young mezzo Serena Malfi the Opéra made a most fortunate casting decision. Lithe lyricism and a purring lower register, together with crystal clear coloratura runs, evoked a young Bartoli. Already scheduled for a Metropolitan Opera debut, the public has much to look forward to in this exciting new artist, who only made her stage debut in 2009 and has room to grow. Tenor Antonio Siragusa has nothing to answer for in a Cenerentola universe dominated by Florez and Brownlee. A fine lyric tenor, he scaled the role's difficult ascents with admirable confidence and enjoyable flair. "Si, ritrovarla io giuro" was easily the evening's highlight among the male singing. Riccardo Novaro's Dandini accomplished this difficult role with zeal — a servant, Dandini must impersonate his master and then switch back again. François Lis's less well articulated legato eviscerated the charm of the fairy godfather Alidoro. Jeannette Fischer and Cornelia Oncioiu played up the comic notes in the stepsister roles of Clorinda and Tisbe. Riccardo Frizza led a delicate and well balanced performance that took appreciable advantage of the Palais Garnier's intimacy. The time may have come for heavier works to be staged there again.

Ponnelle's production, for which he also designed the sets and costumes, looks like a giant dollhouse, with individual rooms in Don Magnifico's run down manor and Don Ramiro's palace emerging from behind sliding screens. It is a bit quaint, but tells the story most effectively and avoids the current preoccupation with overdirecting classic opera.

Paul du Quenoy

Click here for cast and production information.

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