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

High Voltage Tosca in Cologne

I saw two operas consecutively at Oper Koln. First, the utterly bewildering Lucia di Lammermoor; then Thilo Reinhardt’s thrilling Tosca. His staging was pure operatic joy with some Hitchcockian provocations.

Haitink at the Lucerne Festival

Bernard Haitink’s monumental Bruckner and Mahler performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) got me hooked on classical music. His legendary performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C-minor, where in the Finale loosened plaster fell from the Concertgebouw ceiling, is still recounted in Amsterdam.

BBC Prom 45 - Janáček: The Makropulos Affair

Karita Mattila was born to sing Emilia Marty, the diva around whom revolves Leoš Janáček's The Makropulos Affair (Věc Makropulos). At Prom 45, she shone all the more because she was conducted by Jirí Belohlávek and performed alongside a superb cast from the National Theatre, Prague, probably the finest and most idiomatic exponents of this repertoire.

Two Tales of Offenbach: Opera della Luna at Wilton's Music Hall

‘Two outrageous operas in one crazy evening,’ reads the bill. Hyperbole? Certainly not when the operas are two of Jacques Offenbach’s more off-the-wall bouffoneries and when the company is Opera della Luna whose artistic director, Jeff Clarke, is blessed with the comic imagination and theatrical nous to turn even the most vacuous trivia into a sharp and sassy riotous romp.

Britten Untamed! Glyndebourne: A Midsummer Night's Dream

This performance of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Glyndebourne was so good that it was the highlight of the whole season, making the term ‘revival’ utterly irrelevant. Jakub Hrůša is always stimulating, but on this occasion, his conducting was so inspired that I found myself closing my eyes in order to concentrate on what he revealed in Britten's quirky but brilliant score. Eyes closed in this famous production by Peter Hall, first seen in 1981?

Salzburg encores

A staged piano recital and an opera as a concert.  Pianist András Schiff accompanied the Salzburg Marionette Theater at the Mozarteum Grosser Saal and Anna Netrebko sang Manon Lescaut at the Grosses Festspielhaus.

Leah Crocetto at Santa Fe

On August 4, 2016, soprano Leah Crocetto and accompanist Tamara Sanikidze gave a recital at the Scottish Rite Center in Santa Fe New Mexico. A winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Contest, this year Crocetto was singing Donna Anna in Santa Fe Opera’s excellent Don Giovanni.

Angela Meade at Sante Fe

On July 31, 2016, against the ethereal beauty of the main hall in the Scottish Rite Center, soprano Angela Meade and pianist Joe Illick gave a recital offering both opera and art songs ranging in origin from early nineteenth century Europe to mid twentieth century America. Many in the audience probably remembered Meade’s recent excellent portrayal of Norma at Los Angeles Opera.

Turco in Italia in Pesaro

When more is definitely more, and less would indeed be less. Two of the biggest names in Italian theater art collide in an eponymous theater.

Proms Chamber Music 5: Shakespeare at 400

It was the fifth Proms Chamber Music concert at Cadogan Hall this season, and we were celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th. And, given the extent and range of the composers and artists, and the diversity and profundity of the musical achievement inspired by the Bard, we could probably keep celebrating in this fashion ad infinitum.

La donna del lago in Pesaro

Each August the bleak and leaky, 12,000 seat Arena Adriatica (home of the famed Pesaro basketball team) magically transforms itself into an improvised opera house that boasts the ultimate in opera chic — exemplary Rossini production standards for its now twelve hundred seats.

Proms at … Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

This highly enjoyable Prom, part of 2016’s ‘Proms at …’ mini-series, took as its guiding concept the reopening of London’s theatres following the Restoration, focusing in particular upon musical and dramatic responses to Shakespeare. Purcell, rightly, loomed large, with John Blow and Matthew Locke joining him. Receiving their Proms premieres were the excerpts from Timon of Athens and those from Locke’s The Tempest.

Santa Fe: Straussian Sweet Nothings

With all the bombast of the presidential campaigns rattling in our heads, with invectives being exchanged and measured discussion all but absent, how utterly lovely to retreat and relax into the harmonious soundscape and well-reasoned debate posed in Strauss’ Capriccio, on magnificent display at Santa Fe Opera.

Santa Fe’s Civil War Gounod

When we entered the Crosby Theatre for Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette the stage was surprisingly dominated by a somber, semi-circular black mausoleum, many chambers inscribed with scrambled names of US Civil War era dead.

Coolly Elegant Vanessa in the Desert

Molten passions were seething just below the icy Nordic exterior of Santa Fe Opera’s wholly masterful production of Barber’s Vanessa.

Le Comte Ory, Seattle

Farce is probably the most difficult of dramatic comedy sub-genres to put across. A farce got up in the stately robes of opera sets its presenters an even higher bar. Presenting an operatic farce on a notoriously chilly and cavernous auditorium is to risk catastrophe.

Racette’s Golden Girl in New Mexico

Fan interest began raging when Santa Fe Opera engaged venerable artist Patricia Racette to make her role debut as Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West.

Santa Fe’s Mozart Cast Sweeps All Before It

A funny thing happened on the way to Andalusia.

Die Liebe der Danae in Salzburg

The tale of a Syrian donkey driver. And, yes, the donkey stole the show! The competition was intense — the Vienna Philharmonic and the Grosses Festspielhaus in full production regalia for starters.

Snape Proms: Bostridge sings Brahms and Schumann

Two men, one woman. Both men worshipped and enshrined her in their music. The younger man was both devotee of and rival to the elder.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

A scene from Die Walküre [Photo courtesy of Paris Opéra]
05 Apr 2013

Die Walküre, Paris

The Paris Opéra has not staged a full Ring Cycle since 1957, but its current season will conclude with a correction of this grand operatic gap.

Die Walküre, Paris

A review by Paul du Quenoy

Above: A scene from Die Walküre [Photo courtesy of Paris Opéra]

 

Full cycles are unfolding in monthly installments this spring, and there will be one complete, composite cycle in June. Each of the four operas that comprise the Ring premiered in previous seasons, beginning with Das Rheingold in March 2010. Die Walküre, which opened in May 2010, is now revisited, starring some of the principals who will take the role in the summer.

Günter Krämer’s productions have been criticized both for being too dark and for excessive whimsy. To cite a few of their more bizarre affectations in his Paris Ring, the giants in Das Rheingold lead a revolt of aggrieved union workers carrying red flags. Mime in Siegfried is a 1950s beatnik who grows a marijuana lab. The musical postlude to the Immolation Scene in Götterdämmerung is accompanied by a video game-style projection of a burning Valhalla, in which a laser gun icon blows away Valkyries. Walküre is not immune to these problems. For much of the performance the stage is barely illuminated against a dark background. In some scenes the set is dominated by a steeply ascending metallic staircase that resembles athletic bleachers. The Act I prelude shows a group of nude actors being chased up the stairs and then slaughtered by warriors with swords. Wotan’s vicissitudes in Act II are highlighted by giant letters spelling “Germania,” the old Roman designation for Wagner’s country and the putative name for a new Nazi German capital to be designed by Hitler’s top architect Albert Speer. When Wotan really gets upset, he knocks down the first three letters, rather obviously leaving the rest to spell “mania.” In Act III the Valkyries are tough nurses who revive their fallen heroes and refit them as soldiers.

It is always possible for a fine musical performance to take us beyond a fractured production concept. There were hints of that here. Stuart Skelton well deserves his frequent Heldentenor casting. His Siegmund was a skilled and clarion vocal performance. It was only disappointing to see how little it was reflected in his dramatic abilities, which left this dynamic character wooden. Günther Groissböck’s menacing Hunding revealed a strong, stentorian bass and a refreshingly powerful characterization. The fine baritone of Thomas Johannes Mayer rests a bit too high for this incarnation of Wotan (he is more successful in the Rheingold version) but still delivered with the necessary authority. Martina Serafin’s passionate and strident Sieglinde showed off this rising star’s accomplishments. And the grand mezzo Sophie Koch sang a poignant and convincing Fricka; she steadfastly avoided the easy temptation to reduce the role to a shrill hag. The weakest link was the production’s Brünnhilde, sung by Welsh soprano Alwyn Mellor. At times it was hard to hear her over the orchestra, but a general tonic pallor led one to wonder if Wagner is truly for her.

Paris’s young music director Philippe Jordan brings a crisp approach to Wagner that is often lighter than what one usually hears. Acts I and III featured some truly exhilarating orchestral playing. Inexplicably, however, Act II seemed to drag at an extremely slow pace that lost or passed over the tension of its most dramatic moments. The enjoyable acts that bracketed it should have set a more consistent tone.

Paul du Quenoy

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):