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

Pacific Opera Project Recreates Mozart and Salieri Contest

On February 7, 1786, Emperor Joseph II of Austria had brand new one-act operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri performed in the Schönbrunn Palace’s Orangery.

Powerful chemistry in La Cenerentola in Cologne

Those poor opera lovers in Cologne have a never ending problem with the city’s opera house. Together with the rest of city, the construction of the new opera house is mired in political incompetence.

Tannhäuser: Royal Opera House, London

London remains starved of Wagner. This season, its major companies offer but two works, Tannhäuser from the Royal Opera and Tristan from ENO.

The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf

Dmitry Bertman’s hilarious staging of Rimsky-Korsakov’s political sex-comedy The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf.

San Diego Opera Presents a Tragic Madama Butterfly

On April 16, 2016, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s sixth opera, Madama Butterfly, in an intriguing production by Garnett Bruce. Roberto Oswald’s scenery included the usual Japanese styled house with many sliding doors and walls. On either side, however, were blooming cherry trees with rough trunks and gnarled branches that looked as though they had been growing on the property for a hundred years.

Simon Rattle conducts Tristan und Isolde

New Co-Production Tristan und Isolde with Metropolitan: Simon Rattle and Westbroek electrify Treliński’s Opera-Noir.

San Jose’s Smooth Streetcar Ride

In an operatic world crowded with sure-fire bread and butter repertoire, Opera San Jose has boldly chosen to lavish a new production on a dark horse, Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

Roméo et Juliette: Dutch National Opera and Ballet seal merger with leaden Berlioz

Choral symphony, oratorio, symphonic poem — Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette does not fit into any mould. It has the potential to work as an opera-ballet, but incoherent storytelling and uninspired conducting undermined this production.

Donizetti : Lucia di Lammermoor, Royal Opera House

When Kasper Holten took the precaution of pre-warning ticket-holders that the Royal Opera House’s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor featured scene portraying ‘sexual acts’ and ‘violence’, one assumed that he was aiming to avert a re-run of the jeering and hectoring that accompanied last season’s Guillaume Tell. He even went so far as to offer concerned patrons a refund.

Five Reviews of Regina at Maryland Opera Studio

These are five very different reviews by students at the University of Maryland on its Opera Studio production of Regina — an interesting, informative and entertaining read . . .

Three Cheers for the English Touring Opera

‘Remember me, the one who is Pia;/ Siena made me, Maremma undid me.’ The speaker is Pia de’ Tolomei. She appears in a brief episode of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Purgatorio V, 130-136) which was the source for Gaetano Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei - by way of Bartolomeo Sestini’s verse-novella of 1825.

Andriessen's De Materie at the Park Avenue Armory

"The large measure of formalism which forms the basis of De Materie does not in itself offer any guarantee that the work will be beautiful," says Dutch composer Louis Andriessen of his four-movement opera.

Falstaff Makes a Big Splash in Phoenix

On April 1, 2016, Arizona Opera presented Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) in Phoenix. Although Boito based most of his libretto on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, he used material from Henry IV as well. Verdi wrote the music when he was close to the age of eighty. He was concerned about his ability at that advanced age, but he was immensely pleased with Boito’s text and decided to compose his second comedy, despite the fact that his first, Un giorno di regno, had not been successful.

Svadba in San Francisco

The brand new SF Opera Lab opened last month with artist William Kentridge’s staged Schubert Winterreise. Its second production just now, Svadba-Wedding — an a cappella opera for six female voices — unabashedly exposes the space in a different, non-theatrical configuration.

Benvenuto Cellini in Rome

One may think of Tosca as the most Roman of all operas, after all it has been performed at the Teatro Costanzi (Rome’s opera house) well over a thousand times since 1900. Though equally, maybe even more Roman is Hector Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini that has had only a dozen or so performances in Rome since 1838.

Handel : Elpidia - Opera Settecento

Roll up! A new opera by Handel is to be performed, L’Elpidia overo li rivali generosi. It is based upon a libretto by Apostolo Zeno with music by Leonardo Vinci - excepting a couple of arias by Giuseppe Orlandini and, additionally, two from Antonio Lotti’s Teofane (which the star bass, Giuseppe Maria Boschi , on bringing with him from the Dresden production of 1719).

Roberto Devereux in Genova

Radvanovsky in New York, Devia in Genoa — Donizetti queens are indeed in the news! Just now in Genoa Mariella Devia was the Elizabeth I for her beloved Roberto Devereux in a new trilogy of Donizetti queens (Maria Stuarda and Anne Bolena) directed by baritone Alfonso Antoniozzi.

The Importance of Being Earnest, Royal Opera

‘All men become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his.’ ‘Is that clever?’ ‘It is perfectly phrased!’

Mahler’s Third, Concertgebouw

Evolving in Mahler’s Third: Dudamel and L.A. Philharmonic’s impressive adaption to the Concertgebouw

La Juive in Lyon

Though all big opera is called grand opera, French grand opera itself is a very specific genre. It is an ephemeral style not at all easy to bring to life. For example . . .

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):