Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

J. C. Bach: Adriano in Siria

At this start of the year, Classical Opera embarked upon an ambitious project. MOZART 250 will see the company devote part of its programme each season during the next 27 years to exploring the music by Mozart and his contemporaries which was being written and performed exactly 250 years previously.

Bethan Langford, Wigmore Hall

The Concordia Foundation was founded in the early 1990s by international singer and broadcaster Gillian Humphreys, out of her ‘real concern for building bridges of friendship and excellence through music and the arts’.

Tansy Davies: Between Worlds (world premiere)

An opera dealing with — or at least claiming to deal with — the events of 11 September 2001? I suppose it had to come, but that does not necessarily make it any more necessary.

Arizona Opera Ends Season in Fine Style with Fille du Régiment

On April 10, 2015, Arizona Opera ended its season with La Fille du Régiment at Phoenix Symphony Hall. A passionate Marie, Susannah Biller was a veritable energizer bunny onstage. Her voice is bright and flexible with a good bloom on top and a tiny bit of steel in it. Having created an exciting character, she sang with agility as well as passion.

Il turco in Italia, Royal Opera

This second revival of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser’s 2005 production of Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia seems to have every going for it: excellent principals comprising experienced old-hands and exciting new voices, infinite gags and japes, and the visual éclat of Agostino Cavalca’s colour-bursting costumes and Christian Fenouillat’s sunny sets which evoke the style, glamour and ease of La Dolce Vita.

The Siege of Calais
——
The Wild Man of the West Indies

English Touring Opera’s 2015 Spring Tour is audacious and thought-provoking. Alongside La Bohème the company have programmed a revival of their acclaimed 2013 production of Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais (L’assedio di Calais) and the composer’s equally rare The Wild Man of the West Indies (Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo).

The Met’s Lucia di Lammermoor

Mary Zimmerman’s still-fresh production is made fresher still by Shagimuratova’s glimmering voice, but the acting disappoints

Voices, voices in space, and spaces: Thoughts on 50 years of Meredith Monk

When WNYC’s John Schaefer introduced Meredith Monk’s beloved Panda Chant II, which concluded the four-and-a-half hour Meredith Monk & Friends celebration at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, he described it as “an expression of joy and musicality” before lamenting the fact that playing it on his radio show could never quite compete with a live performance.

St. John Passion by Soli Deo Gloria, Chicago

This year’s concert of the Chicago Bach Project, under the aegis of the Soli Deo Gloria Music Foundation, was a presentation of the St. John Passion (BWV 245) at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park.

Fedora in Genoa

It is not an everyday opera. It is an opera that illuminates a larger verismo history.

The Marriage of Figaro, LA Opera

On March 26, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). The Ian Judge production featured jewel-colored box sets by Tim Goodchild that threw the voices out into the hall. Only for the finale did the set open up on to a garden that filled the whole stage and at the very end featured actual fireworks.

The Tempest Songbook, Gotham Chamber Opera

Gotham Chamber Opera’s latest project, The Tempest Songbook, continues to explore the possibilities of unconventional spaces and unconventional programs that the company has made its hallmark. The results were musically and theatrically thought-provoking, and left me wanting more.

San Diego Opera presents Adams’ Riveting Nixon in China

Nixon in China is a three-act opera with a libretto by Alice Goodman and music by John Adams that was first seen at the Houston Grand Opera on October 22, 1987. It was the first of a notable line of operas by the composer.

Ars Minerva presents Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra in San Francisco

It is thanks to Céline Ricci, mezzo-soprano and director of Ars Minerva, that we have been able to again hear Daniele Castrovillari’s exquisite melodies because she is the musician who has brought his 1662 opera La Cleopatra to life.

An Ideal Cast in Chicago’s Tannhäuser

Lyric Opera of Chicago, in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, has staged a production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser with an estimable cast.

Madame Butterfly, Royal Opera

Puccini and his fellow verismo-ists are commonly associated with explosions of unbridled human passion and raw, violent pain, but in this revival (by Justin Way) of Moshe Leiser’s and Patrice Caurier’s 2003 production of Madame Butterfly, directorial understatement together with ravishing scenic beauty are shown to be more potent ways of enabling the sung voice to reveal the emotional depths of human tragedy.

Tosca in Marseille

Rarely, very rarely does a Tosca come around that you can get excited about. Sure, sometimes there is good singing, less often good conducting but rarely is there a mise en scène that goes beyond stock opera vocabulary.

Poetry beyond words — Nash Ensemble, Wigmore Hall

The Nash Ensemble’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations at the Wigmore Hall were crowned by a recital that typifies the Nash’s visionary mission. Above, the dearly-loved founder, Amelia Freeman, a quietly revolutionary figure in her own way, who has immeasurably enriched the cultural life of this country.

Arizona Opera Presents Magritte Style Magic Flute

On March 7, 2015, Arizona Opera presented Dan Rigazzi’s production of Die Zauberflöte in Tucson. Inspired by the works of René Magritte, designer John Pollard filled the stage with various sizes of picture frames, windows, and portals from which he leads us into Mozart and Schikaneder’s dream world.

Henry Purcell: A Retrospective

There are some concert programmes which are not just wonderful in their execution but also delight and satisfy because of the ‘rightness’ of their composition. This Wigmore Hall recital by soprano Carolyn Sampson and three period-instrument experts of arias and instrumental pieces by Henry Purcell was one such occasion.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Photo by Robert Kusel
29 Sep 2013

Lyric Opera of Chicago Introduces its Season

In its annual concert presented to the city at Millennium Park, Lyric Opera of Chicago introduced its 2013-14 season on a recent weekend evening with a program of selections featuring several present, past, and future stars of the company.

Lyric Opera of Chicago Introduces its Season

A review by Salvatore Calomino

Above photo by Robert Kusel

 

In this year’s concert the Lyric Opera Chorus was featured in a variety of pieces under the direction of its new permanent chorus master, Michael Black. After a prefatory address delivered by the company’s General Manager Anthony Freud the evening’s performance was conducted by Ward Stare.

As a start to the program Mr. Stare led the Lyric Opera Orchestra in a spirited performance of the overture to Béatrice et Bénédict by Hector Berlioz. Tempos were appropriately brisk in the opening section, while Mr. Stare showed a nice attention to legato playing in the subsequent, slower section. Flute and horn passages were especially well controlled in passages that led the orchestra back to its opening tempos and to an energetic and effective conclusion.

The remainder of the first part of the concert was devoted to excerpts from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, which will be featured with two casts in the upcoming season at Lyric Opera. Ana María Martínez and James Valenti sang the parts of Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton. As the geisha Cio-Cio-San muses while alone on the anticipated return of her beloved Pinkerton, she imagines first the sight of his ship on the horizon. As Ms. Martínez intoned the start of her aria “Un bel dì” (“One fine day”) expectation built noticeably on a rising vocal line until she declared “romba il suo salute” (“will thunder its salute”) with an impressive forte pitch. Martínez expressed Cio-Cio-San’s determination with her middle range focused on “non mi pesa” (“will not weary me”), until she envisioned the approach of Pinkerton from afar, starting as “un picciol punto” (“a tiny speck”) in an appropriately piano vision. Hints of later tragedy were expressed with touching innocence, as the words “celia” and “morire” (“to tease”… “to die”) were interwoven vocally. As she identified with her character’s unflagging faith, Martínez concluded this committed performance with a valiant top note on “l’aspetto” (“I shall await him”). Mr. Valenti’s aria from the final act of the opera, “Addio fiorito asil” (“Farewell, flowery refuge”), was performed with good attention to line, a technique which emphasized the haunting memories that would continue to plague him. Valenti’s lower register was somewhat underused yet his high notes in the conclusion of this brief scene (“ah, son vil” [“Oh, I am despicable!”]) were exemplary.

The Lyric Opera Chorus performed the “Humming Chorus” from Act III of Madama Butterfly as a fitting contribution to this first part of the concert. The final piece from Puccini’s opera featured Martínez and Valenti in the extended love scene from the conclusion of Act I (‘Bimba, bimba, non piangere” [“My child, do not cry”]). Laura Wilde sang the role of Suzuki, Cio-Cio-San’s confidante, in the opening of the scene. Once the couple is left alone by Suzuki, the lovers’ passion seems to bloom. Perhaps because of the distance implied in the initially shy or awkward dialogue of the characters, the soloists here sang a convincingly emotional line toward the close of their duet. With Valenti proclaiming at the close “Ah! Vien, sei mia!” [“Ah, come you are mine!”]), there was no doubt that love had indeed been awakened.

In the second part of the concert the Lyric Opera Chorus and Orchestra performed highlights from Lohengrin, Verdi’s Otello, and Il Trovatore. Mr. Black has clearly worked with his forces to achieve a well-prepared ensemble. The varying ranges and effects in the Act III Prelude and Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin were distinct yet well integrated. Tempos were restrained in the Verdian choruses with attention to specific orchestral details magnifying the overall impression.

The final excerpt presented was Act III, Scene 2 of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. Again the chorus was given the opportunity to set the tone of ephemeral happiness, here as the guests celebrated with vocal delights the wedding of Lucia. At the height of this joy Raimondo interrupts the ospiti to reveal the tragedy of the bridal chamber: Lucia has stabbed the husband she was forced to marry and lost her reason. Albina Shagimuratova shared the stage with Evan Boyer as Lucia and Raimondo, tutor of the young woman, with Anthony Clark Evans performing the role of Enrico, Lucia’s brother. Mr. Boyer made a strong impression as the initial soloist. He drew on a fully developed palette of vocal colors in order to express the conflicting emotions in Raimondo’s mix of horror and sympathy over Lucia’s actions. “Dalle stanze” (“From the apartments”) showed a smooth lyrical delivery with judicious application of vibrato. Boyer’s chilling enunciation of “insanguinato” (“blood-stained”) made of his voice a convincing witness to the aftermath of the murderous deed. Boyer’s sense of decoration was evident on telling lines, e.g., rising pitches on “l’ira no chiami su noi del ciel” (“may it not call down upon us the wrath of heaven”). At Lucia’s entrance Shagimuratova communicated immediately the sense of a woman unhinged. Notes sung piano and diminuendo as a means to delineate character were in evidence from the start , as she recalled hearing the voice of her true beloved Edgardo (“nel cor discesa!” [“won my heart!”]). Seeming happiness was declaimed on “lieto giorno” (“happy day”), just as Shagimuratova indulged in melismatic richness on the line “A me ti dona un dio” (“God has given you to me”). As she descended further into a mad reverie, Shagimuratova became more ambitious in the insertion of trills and well-chosen decoration. The conclusion was an exciting cap to the evening with a season of vocal drama still awaiting.

Salvatore Calomino

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):