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

Nikki Einfeld [Photo: http://www.nikkieinfeld.com/]
30 Dec 2013

Don Pasquale, Manitoba Opera

Manitoba Opera opened its 41st season with a rootin’ tootin’ new production of Don Pasquale from November 23 through 29, last staged by the Prairie company in 1997.

Don Pasquale, Manitoba Opera

A review by Holly Harris

Above: Nikki Einfeld [Photo courtesy of artist]

 

Donizetti’s opera buffa is typically set in circa 1840s Rome. 1840s Rome. This tongue-in-cheek version à la spaghetti western based on San Diego Opera’s 2002 production (originally conceived by David Gately) transplants the story 40 years later to an imagined American Wild West, where men were men and women pack pistols while belting out high Fs.

Stage directed by Winnipegger Robert Herriot, the 160-minute (with two intermissions) production also featured the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra led by Tyrone Paterson. Tony Fanning’s intricately detailed sets on loan from the SDO featured a hotel lobby, study and garden, with a wheeled horse providing dramatic entrances for the cowpokes. Bill Williams’ lighting design and period, western costumes by Helen Rodgers rounded out the show.

Manitoba Opera is to be commended for daring to mess with the popular comedy. However, all too often, the extra hijinks and stage business pulled focus from many of the opera’s “big” vocal moments, which inadvertently competed with mariachi bands, pantalooned floozies and even a stuffed squirrel. Ruffini’s libretto contains enough inherent comedy; by negating or avoiding poignant contrasts, such as with Norina and Ernesto’s heartfelt Act III duet “Tornami a dir che m’ami” in which they pledge their love, “more” actually became “less.”

However, Donizetti’s operas are ultimately about bel canto and MO’s newest production teemed with soaring arias and vocal pyrotechnics delivered (almost) flawlessly by the fine international cast.

Last seen delivering a sparkling portrayal of Marie in MO’s 2012 production of Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment, Winnipeg-born Nikki Einfeld flounced about the stage as sassy widow Norina during her opening cavatinaQuel guardo il cavliere/So anch’io la virtù magic” before her wheedling “Via, caro sposino ” replete with gravity-defying runs. Her clear lyric colouratura soprano has only grown stronger and more confident with each passing year – plus she swings a mean lasso; proving herself both a comedic and vocal heir apparent to her renowned mentor, Tracy Dahl who performed the same role in 1997.

Another pleasure was seeing acclaimed character bass-baritone, Peter Strummer in the title role, last heard three years ago as Dr. Bartolo during MO’s The Barber of Seville. After a few balance problems with the orchestra resolved during opening “Ah, un foco insolito,” his booming voice and fearless buffo comedy always entertained.

American tenor Michele Angelini’s chaps-wearing cowboy Ernesto enthralled right from his first aria “Mi fa il destino mendico.” In Act II’s“ Cercherò lontana terra” his golden voice floated even higher than the frothy bubbles in his bathtub.

Lyric baritone Brett Polegato’s Dr. Malatesta stylized as a cigar-toting Buffalo Bill with requisite sidekick Hop Sing (Alan Wong) machinated the plot like a master puppeteer. His robust opening aria “Bella siccome un angelo” was matched equally by his rapid-fire delivery of “Aspetta, aspetta, cara sposina” performed with a spluttering Strummer. An encore reprise (usually performed), would have been the icing on this multi-syllabic show-stopper.

The Manitoba Opera Chorus ably prepared by Tadeusz Biernacki injected welcomed spectacle and energy as the newly hired household help during Act III’s “I diamanti, presto, presto” and later “Che interminabile andirivieni!” performed with mocking glee.

Holly Harris

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):