Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

J. C. Bach: Adriano in Siria

At this start of the year, Classical Opera embarked upon an ambitious project. MOZART 250 will see the company devote part of its programme each season during the next 27 years to exploring the music by Mozart and his contemporaries which was being written and performed exactly 250 years previously.

Bethan Langford, Wigmore Hall

The Concordia Foundation was founded in the early 1990s by international singer and broadcaster Gillian Humphreys, out of her ‘real concern for building bridges of friendship and excellence through music and the arts’.

Tansy Davies: Between Worlds (world premiere)

An opera dealing with — or at least claiming to deal with — the events of 11 September 2001? I suppose it had to come, but that does not necessarily make it any more necessary.

Arizona Opera Ends Season in Fine Style with Fille du Régiment

On April 10, 2015, Arizona Opera ended its season with La Fille du Régiment at Phoenix Symphony Hall. A passionate Marie, Susannah Biller was a veritable energizer bunny onstage. Her voice is bright and flexible with a good bloom on top and a tiny bit of steel in it. Having created an exciting character, she sang with agility as well as passion.

Il turco in Italia, Royal Opera

This second revival of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser’s 2005 production of Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia seems to have every going for it: excellent principals comprising experienced old-hands and exciting new voices, infinite gags and japes, and the visual éclat of Agostino Cavalca’s colour-bursting costumes and Christian Fenouillat’s sunny sets which evoke the style, glamour and ease of La Dolce Vita.

The Siege of Calais
——
The Wild Man of the West Indies

English Touring Opera’s 2015 Spring Tour is audacious and thought-provoking. Alongside La Bohème the company have programmed a revival of their acclaimed 2013 production of Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais (L’assedio di Calais) and the composer’s equally rare The Wild Man of the West Indies (Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo).

The Met’s Lucia di Lammermoor

Mary Zimmerman’s still-fresh production is made fresher still by Shagimuratova’s glimmering voice, but the acting disappoints

Voices, voices in space, and spaces: Thoughts on 50 years of Meredith Monk

When WNYC’s John Schaefer introduced Meredith Monk’s beloved Panda Chant II, which concluded the four-and-a-half hour Meredith Monk & Friends celebration at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, he described it as “an expression of joy and musicality” before lamenting the fact that playing it on his radio show could never quite compete with a live performance.

St. John Passion by Soli Deo Gloria, Chicago

This year’s concert of the Chicago Bach Project, under the aegis of the Soli Deo Gloria Music Foundation, was a presentation of the St. John Passion (BWV 245) at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park.

Fedora in Genoa

It is not an everyday opera. It is an opera that illuminates a larger verismo history.

The Marriage of Figaro, LA Opera

On March 26, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). The Ian Judge production featured jewel-colored box sets by Tim Goodchild that threw the voices out into the hall. Only for the finale did the set open up on to a garden that filled the whole stage and at the very end featured actual fireworks.

The Tempest Songbook, Gotham Chamber Opera

Gotham Chamber Opera’s latest project, The Tempest Songbook, continues to explore the possibilities of unconventional spaces and unconventional programs that the company has made its hallmark. The results were musically and theatrically thought-provoking, and left me wanting more.

San Diego Opera presents Adams’ Riveting Nixon in China

Nixon in China is a three-act opera with a libretto by Alice Goodman and music by John Adams that was first seen at the Houston Grand Opera on October 22, 1987. It was the first of a notable line of operas by the composer.

Ars Minerva presents Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra in San Francisco

It is thanks to Céline Ricci, mezzo-soprano and director of Ars Minerva, that we have been able to again hear Daniele Castrovillari’s exquisite melodies because she is the musician who has brought his 1662 opera La Cleopatra to life.

An Ideal Cast in Chicago’s Tannhäuser

Lyric Opera of Chicago, in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, has staged a production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser with an estimable cast.

Madame Butterfly, Royal Opera

Puccini and his fellow verismo-ists are commonly associated with explosions of unbridled human passion and raw, violent pain, but in this revival (by Justin Way) of Moshe Leiser’s and Patrice Caurier’s 2003 production of Madame Butterfly, directorial understatement together with ravishing scenic beauty are shown to be more potent ways of enabling the sung voice to reveal the emotional depths of human tragedy.

Tosca in Marseille

Rarely, very rarely does a Tosca come around that you can get excited about. Sure, sometimes there is good singing, less often good conducting but rarely is there a mise en scène that goes beyond stock opera vocabulary.

Poetry beyond words — Nash Ensemble, Wigmore Hall

The Nash Ensemble’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations at the Wigmore Hall were crowned by a recital that typifies the Nash’s visionary mission. Above, the dearly-loved founder, Amelia Freeman, a quietly revolutionary figure in her own way, who has immeasurably enriched the cultural life of this country.

Arizona Opera Presents Magritte Style Magic Flute

On March 7, 2015, Arizona Opera presented Dan Rigazzi’s production of Die Zauberflöte in Tucson. Inspired by the works of René Magritte, designer John Pollard filled the stage with various sizes of picture frames, windows, and portals from which he leads us into Mozart and Schikaneder’s dream world.

Henry Purcell: A Retrospective

There are some concert programmes which are not just wonderful in their execution but also delight and satisfy because of the ‘rightness’ of their composition. This Wigmore Hall recital by soprano Carolyn Sampson and three period-instrument experts of arias and instrumental pieces by Henry Purcell was one such occasion.

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):