Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Will Don Quichotte Be the Last Production at San Diego Opera?

This quotation from Cervantes was displayed before the opening of the opera’s final scene:

“The greatest madness a man can commit in this life is to let himself die, just like that, without anybody killing him or any other hands ending his life except those of melancholy.”

Gound Faust - Calleja and Terfel, Royal Opera House London

Gounod's Faust makes a much welcomed return to the Royal Opera House. With each new cast, the dynamic changes as the balance between singers shifts and brings out new insights. In that sense, every revival is an opportunity to revisit from new perspectives. This time Bryn Terfel sang Méphistophélès, with Joseph Calleja as Faust - stars whose allure certainly helped fill the hall to capacity. And the audience enjoyed a very good show.

Syracuse Opera’s Porgy and Bess
Got Plenty O’ Plenty

The company ends its 2013-14 season on a high note with a staged performance of Gershwin’s theatrical masterpiece

A New Rusalka in Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new production of Antonin Dvorak’s Rusalka is visually impressive and fulfills all possible expectations musically with unquestioned excitement.

Karlsruhe’s Mixed Blessing Ballo

The reliable Badisches Staatstheater has assembled plenty of talent for its new Un Ballo in Maschera.

Louise Alder, Wigmore Hall

This varied, demanding programme indisputably marked soprano Louise Alder as a name to watch.

Luke Bedford: Through His Teeth, Linbury, Royal Opera House

Can this be the best British opera in years? Luke Bedford’s Through His Teeth at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre is exceptional. Drop everything and go.

Powder Her Face, ENO

As one descends the steel steps into the cavernous bunker of Ambika P3, one seems about to enter rather insalubrious realms — just right one might imagine, then, for an opera which delves into the depths of the seedier side of celebrity life.

Iphigénie Fascinates in the Pfalz

Kaiserslautern’s Pfalztheater has produced a tantalizing realization of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide, characterized by intriguing staging, appealing designs, and best of all, superlative musical standards.

ROH presents Cavalli’s L’Ormindo at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London

Never thought I’d say it but......

Harrison Birtwistle, Elliott Carter, Wigmore Hall, London

Celebrating the 80th birthday of one of the UK's greatest composers (if not the greatest), this concert was an intriguing, and not always stimulating, mix. Birtwistle with Carter makes sense, but Birtwistle with Adams does not - or at least only within the remit of the concert series. The concert was actually entitled “Nash Inventions: American and British Masterworks, including an 80th Birthday Tribute to Sir Harrison Birtwistle” and was the final concert in the “Inventions” series.

Requiem for a Lost Opera Company

On Wednesday, March 19, 2014, General Director Ian Campbell of San Diego Opera announced that the company would go out of business at the end of this season. The next day the company performed their long-planned Verdi Requiem with a stellar cast including soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, tenor Piotr Beczala, and bass Ferruccio Furlanetto.

The Met’s Werther a tasty mix of singing, staging, acting and orchestral splendor

Visual elements in Richard Eyre’s striking production offset Massenet’s melodic shortcomings

Chicago’s New Barber of Seville

New productions of repertoire staples such as Gioachino Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia bear much anticipation for both performers and staging.

Lucia in LA: A Performance to Remember

On March 15, 2014, Los Angeles Opera presented Elkhanah Pulitzer’s production of the opera, which she set in 1885 when women were beginning to be recognized as persons separate from their fathers, brothers and husbands. At that time many European countries were beginning to allow women to own property, obtain higher education, and choose their husbands.

San Diego Opera Presents an All Star Ballo in Maschera

On March 11, 2014, San Diego Opera presented Verdi’s A Masked Ball in a traditional production by Leslie Koenig. Metropolitan Opera star tenor Piotr Beczala was Gustav III, the king of Sweden, and Krassimira Stoyanova gave an insightful portrayal of Amelia, his troubled but innocent love interest.

Anne Schwanewilms, Wigmore Hall

From the moment she walked, resplendent in red, onto the Wigmore Hall platform, Anne Schwanewilms radiated a captivating presence — one that kept the audience enthralled throughout this magnificent programme of Romantic song.

Die Frau ohne Schatten, Royal Opera

Magnificent! Following the first night of this new production of Die Frau ohne Schatten, I quipped that I could forgive an opera house anything for musical performance at this level, whether orchestral, vocal, or, in this case, both.

La Fille du regiment, Royal Opera

Donizetti’s opera comique La Fille du regiment returned to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, for its third revival.

Schoenberg and company

With Schoenberg, I tend to take every opportunity I can — at least since my first visit to the Salzburg Festival, when understandably I chose to see Figaro over Boulez conducting Moses und Aron, though I have rued the loss ever since.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

David Daniels as Oscar Wilde and Reed Luplau as Bosie [Photo © Ken Howard]
13 Aug 2013

Oscar: A Viable New Opera

Oscar Wilde wrote: “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” On July 27, 2013, Theodore Morrison’s opera Oscar had its world premiere at Santa Fe.

Oscar: A Viable New Opera

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: David Daniels as Oscar Wilde and Reed Luplau as Bosie

Photos © Ken Howard

 

The opera deals with Oscar Wilde’s decision to stay in England and face trial on grounds of “gross indecency” when he could easily have slipped away to France.

OSCR_3325.gifDavid Daniels as Oscar Wilde and Heidi Stober as Ada Leverson

In 1893, before his trial and incarceration, Oscar Wilde wrote in The Duchess of Padua: "We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell." If only he had capitulated and fled to France… but then that was not in his character.

On July 27, 2013, Theodore Morrison’s opera Oscar had its world premiere at Santa Fe but I did not see it until the third performance on August 9th. The opera deals with Oscar Wilde’s decision to stay in England and face trial on grounds of “gross indecency” when he could easily have slipped away to France. The work depicts his conviction, his two years at Reading Gaol and his release into a Victorian society that was not ready to accept him. The role of Oscar was written for countertenor David Daniels and it was a fine showcase for his talent.

John Cox and Theodore Morrison's opera begins as narrator Walt Whitman, portrayed by Dwayne Croft, tells of his encounter with Wilde who was in the United States on a lecture tour. He gives us some necessary background on the events that culminated in the infamous trial. By encouraging accurate character portrayals, director Kevin Newbury transported the audience back into Victorian London and showed some of the horrors of that era. David Korins’ scenery, much of which looked like wrought iron, was readily mobile and allowed quick changes of the stage picture from hotel lobby to home and from courtroom to prison. David C. Woolard’s costumes placed the action firmly in the final decade of the nineteenth century.

OSCR_0012.gifDwayne Croft as Walt Whitman

David Daniels was a most sympathetic Oscar. He sang with exquisite phrasing and the sweet tones for which he is most justly famous. Wearing all white as the spirit of Whitman who had died before the opera takes place, Croft was a commanding character who pointed out the salient parts of Wilde’s story with robust dark tones. Heidi Stober sang the lyrical role of Ada Leverson with easy high notes, and her voice soared over the orchestra with a lustrous, radiant sound. In a circus of a courtroom, Kevin Burdette was a comical Jack-in-the-box as Mr. Justice Sir Alfred Willis. Later he returned as a dark toned, evil-minded prison governor.

Lyric tenor William Burden was an understanding Frank Harris whose beauty of tone signified his compassion. It was he who tried valiantly to help Oscar. First he offered to take him to France on a private yacht. His lover, Bosie, was already there. Dancer Reed Luplau portrayed Bosie as imagined by Oscar. Dancing Seán Curran’s choreography, Luplau gracefully whirled and jumped about in what would have been uncomfortably confining spaces for most dancers. His athletic portrayal allowed the audience to see Oscar’s vision of Bosie, the man the Irish poet loved with all his heart. Since Oscar would not agree to run away, Harris used his political influence to ameliorate prison conditions for him and for others like him.

Tenor Aaron Pegram and apprentice bass Rocky Sellars were nasty detectives and sadistic prison warders. Written for Santa Fe, this opera had a great many small parts for the company’s numerous talented apprentices. Ricardo Rivera was a spineless hotel clerk, Patrick Guetti an obsequious butler, and Yoni Rose a tough bailiff. Reuben Lillie was an implacable jury foreman, Christian Sanders an unsympathetic chaplain, while David Blalock and Benjamin Sieverding were infirmary patients whose own tragedies formed interlocking puzzle parts with Oscar’s sad tale.

OSCR_2299.gifThe Trial

Evan Rogister conducted the most excellent Santa Fe Opera Orchestra in this performance of Morrison’s first opera. Since the composer had written numerous choral works, he was accustomed to writing for the voice, but it was his orchestration that fascinated me. In the first act, the writing was often bi tonal with some excursions into coloratura to showcase the countertenor’s ability to sing florid music. Although we could occasionally hear sonorities that were reminiscent of Ravel, Stravinsky, and Richard Strauss, generally the music was in Morrison’s own particular style. Act One seemed a bit long, but the second act kept the audience’s interest all the way to the end. Rogister and the orchestra played Morrison’s difficult music as though it was a walk in the park but we know it must have taken a great deal of time to learn. Oscar was co-commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia, which will stage it in 2015.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production Information:

Walt Whitman, Duane Croft; Oscar Wilde, David Daniels; Bosie, Reed Luplau; Detectives, Aaron Pegram and Rocky Sellers; Hotel Manager, Ricardo Rivera; Ada Leverson, Heidi Stober; Leggatt the Butler, Patrick Guetti; Frank Harris, Willian Burden; Bailiff, Yoni Rose; Mr. Justice Sir Alfred Willis, Kevin Burdette; Jury Foreman, Reuben Lillie; Prison Warders, Aaron Pegram and Rocky Sellers; Colonel Isaacson, Kevin Burdette; Chaplain, Christian Sanders; Infirmary Patients, David Blalock and Benjamin Sieverding; Warder Thomas Martin, Ricardo Rivera. Conductor, Evan Rogister; Director Kevin Newbury; Scenic Design, David Korins; Costume Design, David C. Woolard; choreographer, Seán Curran; Chorus Master Susanne Sheston.

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):