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

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.)

The Maid of Pskov (Pskovityanka) , St. Petersburg

I recently spent four days in St. Petersburg, timed to coincide with the annual Stars of the White Nights Festival. Yet the most memorable singing I heard was neither at the Mariinsky Theater nor any other performance hall. It was in the small, nearly empty church built for the last Tsar, Nicholas II, at Tsarskoye Selo.

Prom 11 — Grange Park Opera: Fiddler on the Roof

As I walked up Exhibition Road on my way to the Royal Albert Hall, I passed a busking tuba player whose fairground ditties were enlivened by bursts of flame which shot skyward from the bell of his instrument, to the amusement and bemusement of a rapidly gathering pavement audience.

Saul, Glyndebourne

A brilliant theatrical event, bringing Handel’s theatre of the mind to life on stage

Roberta Invernizzi, Wigmore Hall

‘Here, thanks be to God, my opera is praised to the skies and there is nothing in it which does not please greatly.’ So wrote Antonio Vivaldi to Marchese Guido Bentivoglio d’Aragona in Ferrara in 1737.

Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre Re

Asphyxiations, atrophy by poison, assassination: in Italo Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre Re (The Love of the Three Kings, 1913) foul deed follows foul deed until the corpses are piled high. 

Prom 4: Andris Nelsons

The precision of attack in the opening to Beethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus Overture signalled thoroughgoing excellence in the contribution of the CBSO to this concert.

BBC Proms: The Cardinall’s Musick

When he was skilfully negotiating the not inconsiderable complexities, upheavals and strife of musical and religious life at the English royal court during the Reformation, Thomas Tallis (c.1505-85) could hardly have imagined that more than 450 years later people would be queuing round the block for the opportunity spend their lunch-hour listening to the music that he composed in service of his God and his monarch.

Oberon, Persephone and Iolanta at the Aix Festival

Two of the important late twentieth century stage directors, Robert Carsen and Peter Sellars, returned to the Aix Festival this summer. Carsen’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a masterpiece, Sellars’ strange Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky double bill is simply bizarre.

Betrothal and Betrayal : JPYA at the ROH

The annual celebration of young talent at the Royal Opera House is a magnificent showcase, and it was good to see such a healthy audience turnout.

Jenůfa Packs a Wallop at DMMO

There are few operas that can rival the visceral impact of a well-staged Jenůfa and Des Moines Metro Opera has emphatically delivered the goods.

Des Moines Fanciulla a Minnie-Triumph

The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West) often gets eclipsed when compared to the rest of the mature Puccini canon.

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015

First Night of the BBC Proms 2015 with Sakari Oramo in exuberant form, pulling off William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the theatrical flair it deserves.

Monsters and Marriage at the Aix Festival

Plus an evening by the superb Modigliani Quartet that complimented the brief (55 minutes) a cappella opera for six female voices Svadba (2013) by Serbian composer Ana Sokolovic (b. 1968). She lives in Canada.

Des Moines: A Whole Other Secret Garden

With its revelatory production of Rappaccini’s Daughter performed outdoors in the city’s refurbished Botanical Gardens, Des Moines Metro Opera has unlocked the gate to a mysterious, challenging landscape of musical delights.

Seductive Abduction in Iowa

Des Moines Metro Opera has quite a crowd-pleasing production of The Abduction from the Seraglio on its hands.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Garsington Opera

Even by Shakespeare’s standards A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of his earlier plays, boasts a particularly fantastical plot involving a bunch of aristocrats (the Athenian Court of Theseus), feuding gods and goddesses (Oberon and Titania), ‘Rude Mechanicals’ (Bottom, Quince et al) and assorted faeries and spirits (such as Puck).

Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

What do we call Tristan und Isolde? That may seem a silly question. Tristan und Isolde, surely, and Tristan for short, although already we come to the exquisite difficulty, as Tristan and Isolde themselves partly seem (though do they only seem?) to recognise of that celebrated ‘und’.

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

So this was it, the Pelléas which had apparently repelled critics and other members of the audience on the opening night. Perhaps that had been exaggeration; I avoided reading anything substantive — and still have yet to do so.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Karen Slack
11 Mar 2013

Il Trovatore at Arizona Opera

Giuseppe Verdi and his librettist, Salvatore Cammarano, based the opera on Antonio García Gutiérrez’s Spanish play El Trovador.

Il Trovatore at Arizona Opera

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Karen Slack

Production photos by Jeff Reeder courtesy of Arizona Opera

 

It’s important to realize that the play sets the time of the action in the fifteenth century, the time of Ferdinand and Isabella, and of Columbus. Beliefs, customs, and relationships were very different then. People believed that a witch could make you sick by giving you the evil eye. It was an age when few lived beyond the age of forty. Women had almost no rights and more than thirty percent of children died before the age of four. Aspects of the plot that may seem outlandish now, were quite real in the fourteen hundreds.

Unfortunately, Cammarano died before completing his libretto. Verdi then took over revising it and asked Leone Emanuele Bardare to finish it. In doing so, he added a great deal to the leading soprano part. On 19 January 1853 the opera was premièred at the Apollo Theater in Rome. Rigoletto had been a tremendous success in 1851 and Il trovatore was Verdi’s next blockbuster. It swept through European musical capitals like wild fire. By 1855 it was being performed at the recently opened Academy of Music in New York and at Covent Garden in London. Two years later L’Opéra staged Verdi’s Paris version of the opera with a newly written ballet scene.

0288IMG_6291.gif Count (Malcolm MacKenzie) duelling with Manrico (Dongwon Shin)

On 2 March 2013 Arizona Opera presented a traditional production of Verdi’s Il trovatore directed by John Hoomes at Symphony Hall in Phoenix. Actually, since a brand new rear projection screen supplied much of the scenery, it only looked traditional. Technically, it was up to the minute even though the audience was looking at Projection Designer Douglas Provost’s glorious images of fifteenth century Spain.

The first character heard in the opera is the soldier, Ferrando, recounting important background information. When a play is made into an opera only one-third of the dialogue can be used so someone has to recount some of the story. Director Hoomes saw to it that we always knew what was happening. Verdi made that bit of history into a catchy aria and Peter Volpe sang it with vigorous bronze tones. Karen Slack, who sang Leonora, the much fought over heroine, has a voluptuous soprano voice with silvery top notes and a formidable chest register. She seemed to throw care to the winds as she successfully navigated her music’s many pitfalls. The result was an exciting performance of this difficult role. Dongwon Shin was an energetic troubadour with a warm tenor voice, naturally musical phrasing and more than enough squillo for ‘Di quella pira’. He excelled in a role that few tenors attempt, so it’s no wonder that he has sung it in many cities.

0343IMG_6346.gifAzucena (Mary Phillips) and Manrico (Dongwon Shin)

Mary Phillips had an amazing grasp of the role of Azucena. Verdi himself told us that she was not crazy, but her actions are that of a very troubled woman. These days we might blame it on traumatic stress resulting from having seen her mother’s fiery execution. Phillips made her real and totally believable, both when she showed her love for her presumed son and when she spat like a caged animal during her capture. Phillips colored her opulent mezzo-soprano voice with the myriad textures of this dramatic part. Some of the best singing in this delightful performance came from the villain, Count di Luna, portrayed by Malcolm MacKenzie. He phrased with great artistry and his sound was pure gold. He will be in Murder in the Cathedral at San Diego Opera later this month.

As Inez and Ruiz, Bevin Hill and David Margolis handled their parts with ease and added considerably to this excellent performance. Henri Venanzi’s chorus sang with ardor and commitment. Their ‘Anvil Chorus’ rang with stunning harmonies punctuated by the blows on a two toned anvil. Joel Revzen was the conductor who held everything together for this excellent performance. With a brisk, light approach, he gave a propulsive account of the score that pushed forward with relentless power.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Manrico, Dongwon Shin; Leonora, Karen Slack; Count di Luna, Malcolm Mackenzie; Azucena, Mary Phillips; Ferrando, Peter Volpe; Ruiz, David Margulis; Inez, Bevan Hill. Arizona Opera Chorus and Orchestra; Conductor, Joel Revzen; Chorus Master, Henri Venanzi. Scenic Design, Lighting Design, and Projections, Douglas Provost. Costumes, AT Jones and Sons. Fight Director, Andrea Robertson.

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):