Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Bampton Classical Opera: Bride & Gloom at St John's Smith Square

Last week the Office of National Statistics published figures showing that in the UK the number of women getting married has fallen below 50%.

La traviata at the Palais Garnier

The clatter of information was overwhelmed by soaring bel canto, Verdi’s domestic tragedy destroyed by director Simon Stone, resurrected by conductor Michele Mariotti, a tour de force for South African soprano Pretty Yende.

San Jose Pops the Cork With Fledermaus

Opera San Jose vivaciously kicked off its 2019–2020 season with a heady version of Strauss’ immortal Die Fledermaus that had all the effervescence of vintage champagne.

Tempestuous Francesca da Rimini opens Concertgebouw Saturday matinee series

Two Russian love letters to the tragic thirteenth century noblewoman Francesca da Rimini inaugurated the Saturday matinee series at the Concertgebouw.

Immortal Beloved: Beethoven Festival at Wigmore Hall

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park 2019

Lyric Opera of Chicago presented this year’s annual concert, Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park. The evening’s program featured a range of selections from works to be presented in the 2019–2020 season along with arias and scenes from other notable and representative operas.

Prom 74: Uplifting Beethoven from Andrew Manze and the NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover

Ceremony, drama and passion: this Beethoven Night by the NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover under their Chief Conductor Andrew Manze had all three and served them up with vigour and a compelling freshness, giving Prommers at this eve-of-Last-Night concert an exciting and uplifting evening.

Prom 69: Elena Stikhina’s auspicious UK debut in a dazzling Czech Philharmonic concert

Rarely can any singer have made such an unforgettable UK debut in just twelve minutes of music. That was unquestionably the case with the Russian soprano, Elena Stikhina, who in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin, sang with such compelling stage magnetism and with a voice that has everything you could possibly want.

Prom 68: Wagner Abend - Christine Goerke overwhelms as Brünnhilde

Wagner Nights at the Proms were once enormously popular, especially on the programmes of Sir Henry Wood. They have become less so, perhaps because they are simply unfashionable today, but this one given by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Marc Albrecht steered clear of the ‘bleeding chunk’ format which was usually the norm. It was still chunky, but in an almost linear, logical way and benefited hugely from being operatic (when we got to the Wagner) rather than predominantly orchestral.

Prom 65: Danae Kontora excels in Mozart and Strauss

On the page this looked rather a ‘pick-and-mix’ sort of Prom from the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen under Greek conductor Constantinos Carydis, who was making his Proms debut. In the event, it was not so much a Chinese take-away as a Michelin-starred feast for musical gourmands.

British Youth Opera: Rossini's La Cenerentola

Stendhal (as recorded in his Life of Rossini) was not a fan of Rossini’s La Cenerentola, complaining that after the first few bars of the Introduzione he was already suffering from a ‘faint feeling of nausea’, a condition which ‘never entirely dissipated, [recurring] periodically throughout the opera, and with increasing violence’.

La traviata at the Arena di Verona

There is esoteric opera — 16,500 spectators at this year’s Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, and there is pop opera — upwards of 500,000 spectators for the opera festival at the Arena di Verona, one quarter of them for an over-the-top new production of La traviata, designed and directed by Franco Zeffirelli.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner brings Benvenuto Cellini to the Proms

Berlioz' Benvenuto Cellini is quite rarity on UK stages. Covent Garden last performed it in 1976 and English National Opera performed it for the first time in 2014 (in Terry Gilliam's riotous production), and yet the opera never quite goes away either.

Prom 58: varied narratives from the BBCSSO and Ilan Volkov

There are many ways and means to tell a story: through prose, poetry, sounds, pictures, colours, movement.

Prom 53: Elgar’s emotionally charged Music Makers

British music with an English and strong European accent marked this Prom featuring three well-wrought works, stylistically worlds apart but each characterised by a highly individual musical personality.

Scoring a Century: British Youth Opera at the Peacock Theatre

‘It is well known that Eisler was a master of the art of self-contradiction, using non-sequitur, change of tack and playing devil’s advocate in a brilliantly ironic way in an attempt to look at a problem from every angle, to expose it fully to the gaze of his interlocutor. For an ordinary person to take part in this, let alone keep up with the pace and fully appreciate the wide range of references, which his enormous reading threw out, was wonderfully stimulating, and exhausting.’

Prom 55: Handel's Jephtha

‘For many it is the masterpiece among his oratorios.’

Opera della Luna's HMS Pinafore sails the seas at Wilton's Music Hall

The original production of HMS Pinafore opened at the Opera Comique in London on 25th May 1878 and ran for an astonishing 571 performances. Opera della Luna’s HMS Pinafore, which has been cresting the operatic oceans for over twenty years now, has notched up almost as many performances.

Spectra Ensemble present Treemonisha at Grimeborn

‘We see him now as one of the most important creators of his generation, certainly comparable to Schoenberg.’ T.J. Anderson, who reconstructed the score of Scott Joplin’s only surviving opera, Treemonisha, for its first staged production in 1972, was probably rather over-enthusiastic in his assessment.

Fortieth Anniversary Gala of the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro

Earlier this month I reported from the Macerata Opera Festival – a largely Italian affair frequented by few foreigners. One week later I attended the 40th anniversary gala of the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, about 100 km north in the same region of Le Marche and a prominent stop on the international circuit. One one hears much English, French, German and Japanese, and the printed program features a long list of non-Italian financial sponsors.

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):