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

Kaufmann's first Otello: Royal Opera House, London

Out of the blackness, Keith Warner’s new production of Verdi’s Otello explodes into being with a violent gesture of fury. Not the tempest raging in the pit - though Antonio Pappano conjures a terrifying maelstrom from the ROH Orchestra and the enlarged ROH Chorus hurls a blood-curdling battering-ram of sound into the auditorium. Rather, Warner offers a spot-lit emblem of frustrated malice and wrath, as a lone soldier fiercely hurls a Venetian mask to the ground.

Don Carlo in Marseille

First mounted in 2015 at the Opéra National de Bordeaux this splendid Don Carlo production took stage just now at the Opéra de Marseille with a completely different cast and conductor. This Marseille edition achieved an artistic stature rarely found hereabouts, or anywhere.

Diamanda Galás: Savagery and Opulence

Unconventional to the last, Diamanda Galás tore through her Barbican concert on Monday evening with a torrential force that shattered the inertia and passivity of the modern song recital. This was operatic activism, pure and simple. Dressed in metallic, shimmering black she moved rather stately across the stage to her piano - but there was nothing stately about what unfolded during the next 90 minutes.

Schubert Wanderer Songs - Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

A summit reached at the end of a long journey: Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau at the Wigmore Hall, as the two-year Complete Schubert Song series draws to a close. Unmistakably a high point in the whole traverse. A well-planned programme of much-loved songs performed exceptionally well, with less well known repertoire presented with intelligent flourish.

La Bohème in San Francisco

In 2008 it was the electrifying conducting of Nicola Luisotti and the famed Mimì of Angela Gheorghiu, in 2014 it was the riveting portrayals of Michael Fabbiano’s Rodolfo and Alexey Markov’s Marcelo. Now, in 2017, it is the high Italian style of Erika Grimaldi’s Mimì — and just about everything else!

A heart-rending Jenůfa at Grange Park Opera

Katie Mitchell’s 1998 Welsh National Opera production of Janáček’s first mature opera, Jenůfa, is a good choice for Grange Park Opera’s first season at its new home, West Horsley Place. Revived by Robin Tebbutt, Mitchell and designer Vicki Mortimer’s 1930s urban setting emphasises the opera’s lack of sentimentality and subjectivism, and this stark realism is further enhanced by the narrow horseshoe design of architect Wasfi Kani’s ‘Theatre in the Woods’ whose towering walls and narrow width seem to add further to the weight of oppression which constricts the lives of the inhabitants.

Pelléas et Mélisande at Garsington Opera

“I am nearer to the greatest secrets of the next world than I am to the smallest secrets of those eyes!” So despairs Golaud, enflamed by jealousy, suspicious of his mysterious wife Mélisande’s love for his half-brother Pelléas. Michael Boyd’s thought-provoking new production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande at Garsington Opera certainly ponders plentiful secrets: of the conscience, of the subconscious, of the soul. But, with his designer Tom Piper, Boyd brings the opera’s dreams and mysteries into landscapes that are lit, symbolically and figuratively, with precision.

Carmen: The Grange Festival

The Grange Festival, artistic director Michael Chance, has opened at Northington Grange giving everyone a chance to see what changes have arisen from this change of festival at the old location. For our first visit we caught the opening night of Annabel Arden's new production of Bizet's Carmen on Sunday 11 June 2017. Conducted by Jean-Luc Tingaud with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the pit, the cast included Na'ama Goldman as Carmen, Leonardo Capalbo as Don Jose, Shelley Jackson as Micaela and Phillip Rhodes as Escamillo. There were also two extra characters, Aicha Kossoko and Tonderai Munyevu as Commere and Compere. Designs were by Joanna Parker (costume co-designer Ilona Karas) with video by Dick Straker, lighting by Peter Mumford. Thankfully, the opera comique version of the opera was used, with dialogue by Meredith Oakes.

Don Giovanni in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera revved up its 2011 production of Don Giovanni with a new directorial team and a new conductor. And a blue-chip cast.

Dutch National Opera puts on a spellbinding Marian Vespers

A body lies in half-shadow, surrounded by an expectant gathering. Our Father is intoned in Gregorian chant. The solo voices bloom into a chorus with a joyful flourish of brass.

Into the Wood: A Midsummer Night's Dream at Snape Maltings

‘I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where Oxlips and the nodding Violet grows.’ In her new production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Netia Jones takes us deep into the canopied groves of Oberon’s forest, luring us into the nocturnal embrace of the wood with a heady ‘physick’ of disorientating visual charms.

Rigoletto in San Francisco

Every once in a while a warhorse redefines itself. This happened last night in San Francisco when Rigoletto propelled itself into the ranks of the great masterpieces of opera as theater — the likes of Falstaff and Tristan and Rossini’s Otello.

My Fair Lady at Lyric Opera of Chicago

In its spring musical production of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s My Fair Lady Lyric Opera of Chicago has put together an ensemble which does ample justice to the wit and lyrical beauty of the well-known score.

Henze: Elegie für junge Liebende

Hans Werner Henze’s compositions include ten fine symphonies, various large choral and religious works, fourteen ballets (among them one, Undine, that ranks the greatest of modern times), numerous prominent film scores, and hundreds of additional works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, solo instruments or voice. Yet he considered himself, above all, a composer of opera.

Werther at Manitoba Opera

If opera ultimately is about bel canto, then one need not look any further than Manitoba Opera’s company premiere of Massenet’s Werther, its lushly scored portrait of an artist as a young man that also showcased a particularly strong cast of principal artists. Notably, all were also marking their own role debuts, as well as this production being the first Massenet opera staged by organization in its 44-year history.

Seattle: A seamlessly symphonic L’enfant

Seattle Symphony’s “semi-staged” presentation of L’enfant et les sortilèges was my third encounter with Ravel’s 1925 one-act “opera.” It was incomparably the most theatrical, though the least elaborate by far.

Der Rosenkavalier: Welsh National Opera in Cardiff

Olivia Fuchs' new production of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier is a co-production between Welsh National Opera and Theater Magdeburg. The production debuted in Magdeburg last year and now Welsh National Opera is presenting the production as part of its Summer season, the company's first Der Rosenkavalier since 1990 (when the cast included Rita Cullis as the Marschallin and Amanda Roocroft making her role debut as Sophie).

Don Giovanni takes to the waves at Investec Opera Holland Park

There’s no reason why Oliver Platt’s imaginative ‘concept’ for this new production of Don Giovanni at Investec Opera Holland Park shouldn’t work very well. Designer Neil Irish has reconstructed a deck of RMS Queen Mary - the Cunard-White Star Line’s flag-ship cruiser during the 1930s, that golden age of trans-Atlantic cruising. Spanning the entire width of the OHP stage, the deck is lined with port-holed cabin doors - perfect hideaways for one of the Don’s hasty romantic dalliances.

"Recreated" Figaro at Garsington delights

After the preceding evening’s presentation of Annilese Miskimmon’s sparkling production of Handel’s Semele - an account of marital infidelity in immortal realms - the second opera of Garsington Opera’s 2017 season brought us down to earth for more mundane disloyalties and deceptions amongst the moneyed aristocracy of the eighteenth-century, as presented by John Cox in his 2005 production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.

Semele: star-dust and sparkle at Garsington Opera

To open the 2017 season at Garsington Opera, director Annilese Miskimmon and designer Nicky Shaw offer a visually beautifully new production of Handel's Semele in which comic ribaldry and celestial feuding converge and are transfigured into star-dust.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Charles Castronovo as Tamino [Photo © ROH / Mike Hoban]
23 Apr 2013

Die Zauberflöte, Royal Opera

Back for its fourth revival, David McVicar’s 2003 production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte has much charm, beauty and artistry.

Die Zauberflöte, Royal Opera

A review by Claire Seymour

Above: Charles Castronovo as Tamino

Photos © ROH / Mike Hoban

 

But, with the oft-exhumed sets now looking rather creased and crumpled, on this occasion some of the sparkle seemed to have rubbed off.

ZAUBERFLOTE_ROH_1197.pngEkaterina Siurina as Pamina

Dedicated to the late Sir Colin Davis (who conducted the premiere and the most recent revival in 2011), this performance was at times disappointingly lacklustre: the crescent moon gleamed and glinted, the sumptuous tableaux impressed, the choreography was slick, but overall there was an absence of simple youthful vitality and dreamy enchantment.

Conductor Julia Jones established some brisk tempi; she was perhaps a bit too swift for her players at the start, for the opening three ‘knocks at the door’ were rather messy, lacking in masonic authority and imperiousness. Certainly there was tension and anxiety during Tamino’s tussle with the serpent, but elsewhere Jones might have adopted a more spacious, composed approach — for there the opera presents much farce and fury but also sobriety and solemnity.

Reprising the role of Papageno, Christopher Maltman was in superb form, relishing the physical and vocal humour and winning over the audience with his mischievous appeal and essential good nature. Maltman’s duet with Ekaterina Siurina (Pamina), ‘Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen’, in which they reflect on the sacred duties and divine purity of marital love, was one of the highlights of the evening — although it did unfortunately expose Siurina’s somewhat unidiomatic German pronunciation alongside Maltman’s immaculate diction.

ZAUBERFLOTE_ROH_0587.pngChristopher Maltman as Papageno and Ekaterina Siurina as Pamina

Siurina’s soprano is wonderfully rounded and rich — and she possesses a similarly beautiful, touching pianissimo too, as she proved in a deeply heart-rending ‘Ach, ich fuhls’. She can bring a characterful glint to her voice, but to my ear the overall tone was a little too full for the role and her stage persona rather too assertive and spirited.

The same was true of her Tamino, Charles Castronovo, who strode the stage with the same confident ease with which he vocally assailed the melodic heights; but, while his athleticism and purposefulness brought some expedient dynamism to the production, surely Tamino is a prince learning his heroic craft rather than a king who has already earned his stripes. After a slightly hesitant start musically, Castronovo’s tone was gracious and dignified, and his articulation of the text matched Maltman’s for clarity. Technically secure throughout, his Act 1 aria ‘Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön’ was certainly ardent but a little lacking in youthful freshness.

Albina Shagimuratova was a pitch-perfect Queen of the Night, dispatching the coloratura extravagances of ‘O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn’ with grace and buoyancy. Her effortless runs did not always convey the necessary glint of latent malevolence, however, and she made a less striking dramatic impact than one might have expected. ‘Der Hölle Rache’ was less polished technically but the tone was still gleaming and sweet.

ZAUBERFLOTE_ROH_0565.pngAlbina Shagimuratova as Queen of the Night

As Sarastro, Brindley Sherratt, singing with rich lyricism and poise, was suitably dignified but like Shagimuratova, at times needed more stage presence and profundity. Peter Hoare deftly emphasised the hyperactive hypocrisy of the villainous Monostatos.

The minor roles were all laudable with Sebastian Holocek a distinctive Speaker, and David Butt Philip and Jihoon Kim commendable in the roles of the First and Second Armed Man respectively. Susana Gaspar overcame the ugly inaptness of her Essex-girl attire as a perky Papagena who wins over her Papageno.

Overall, this production is beautiful to the eye and ear, but despite the zippy tempi it felt rather weary; time has dulled the magic dust.

Claire Seymour


Cast and production:

Tamino — Charles Castronovo; First Lady — Anita Watson; Second Lady — Hanna Hipp; Third Lady — Gaynor Keeble; Papageno — Christopher Maltman; Queen of the Night — Albina Shagimuratova; Pamina — Ekaterina Siurina; Monostatos — Peter Hoare; First Boy — Archie Buchanan; Second Boy — Luciano Cusack; Third Boy — Filippo Turkheimer; Speaker of the Temple — Sebastian Holecek; Sarastro — Brindley Sherratt; First Priest— Harry Nicoll; Second Priest— Donald Maxwell Pagagena — Susana Gaspar; First Man in Armour — David Butt Philip; Second Man in Armour — Jihoon Kim; Conductor —Julia Jones; David McVicar — Director; Leah Hausman — Revival & Movement Director; John Macfarlane — Designs; Paule Constable — Lighting Design. Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, Tuesday, 16th April 2013.

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):