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

Lust for Revenge: Barenboim and Herlitzius fire up Strauss’s Elektra in Berlin

As the German language describes so beautifully, a “Schrei aus tiefstem Herzen” was felt as Evangeline Herlitzius channelled an Elektra from the depths of her soul.

Semyon Bychkov heading to NYC and DC with Glanert and Mahler

Heading to N.Y.C and D.C. for its annual performances, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra invited Semyon Bychkov to return for his Mahler debut with the Fifth Symphony. Having recently returned from Vienna with praise for their rendition, the orchestra now presented it at their homebase.

Lost Stravinsky re-united with Rimsky-Korsakov, Gergiev, Mariinsky

Igor Stravinsky's lost Funeral Song, (Chante funèbre) op 5 conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky in St Petersburg This extraordinary performance was infinitely more than an ordinary concert, even for a world premiere of an unknown work.

Philippe Jaroussky at the Wigmore Hall: Baroque cantatas by Telemann and J.S.Bach

On Tuesday evening this week, I found myself at The Actors Centre in London’s Covent Garden watching a performance of Unknowing, a dramatization of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben and Dichterliebe (in a translation by David Parry, in which Matthew Monaghan directed a baritone and a soprano as they enacted a narrative of love, life and loss. Two days later at the Wigmore Hall I enjoyed a wonderful performance, reviewed here, by countertenor Philippe Jaroussky with Julien Chauvin’s Le Concert de la Loge, of cantatas by Telemann and J.S. Bach.

The new Queen of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Here is one of the next new great conductors. That’s a bold statement, but even the L.A. Times agrees: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s appointment “is the biggest news in the conducting world.” But Ms. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will be getting a lot of weight on her shoulders.

Falstaff at Manitoba Opera

Manitoba Opera chose to open its 44th season by going for the belly laughs — literally — as it notably presented its inaugural production of Verdi’s Falstaff.

Gothic Schubert : Wigmore Hall, London

Macabre and moonstruck, Schubert as Goth, with Stuart Jackson, Marcus Farnsworth and James Baillieu at the Wigmore Hall. An exceptionally well-planned programme devised with erudition and wit, executed to equally high standards.

Rusalka, AZ Opera

On November 20, 2016, Arizona Opera completed its run of Antonín Dvořák’s fairy Tale opera, Rusalka. Loosely based on Hand Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, Joshua Borths staged it with common objects such as dining room chairs that could be found in the home of a child watching the story unfold.

First new Ring Cycle in 40 Years, Leipzig

Consistently overshadowed by the neighboring Bayreuth, the far less stuffy Oper Leipzig (Wagner’s birthplace) programmed after forty years their first complete Ring Cycle.

San Jose’s Beta-Carotene Rich Barber

You didn’t have to know the Bugs Bunny oeuvre to appreciate Opera San Jose’s enchanting Il barbiere di Sivigila, but it sure enhanced your experience if you did.

Manon Lescaut at Covent Garden

If there was ever any doubt that Puccini’s Manon is on a road to nowhere, then the closing image of Jonathan Kent’s 2014 production of Manon Lescaut (revived here for the first time, by Paul Higgins) leaves no uncertainty.

Fierce in War, dazzling in Peace: Joyce DiDonato at the Concertgebouw

Many opera singers are careful to maintain an air of political neutrality. Not so mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who is outspoken about causes she holds dear. Her latest project, a very personal response to the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, puts her audience through the emotional wringer, but also showers them with musical rewards.

Simplicius Simplicissimus

I wonder if Karl Amadeus Hartmann saw something of himself in the young Simplicius Simplicissimus, the eponymous protagonist of his three-scene chamber opera of 1936. Simplicius is in a sort of ‘Holy Fool’ who manages to survive the violence and civil strife of the Thirty Years War (1618-48), largely through dumb chance, and whose truthful pronouncements fall upon the ears of the deluded and oppressive.

Lucia di Lammermoor at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its second opera of the 2016-17 season Lyric Opera of Chicago has staged Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in a production seen at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Grand Théâtre de Genève.

Akhnaten Offers L A Operagoers Both Ear and Eye Candy

Akhnaten is the third in composer Philip Glass’s trilogy of operas about people who have made important contributions to society: Albert Einstein in science, Mahatma Gandhi in politics, and Akhnaten in religion. Glass’s three operas are: Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten.

Shakespeare in the Late Baroque - Bampton Classical Opera

Shakespeare re-imagined for the very Late Baroque, with Bampton Classical Opera at St John's Smith Square. "Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare....the God of Our Idolatory". So wrote David Garrick in his Ode to Shakespeare (1759) through which the actor and showman marketed Shakespeare to new audiences, fanning the flames of "Bardolatory". All Europe was soon caught up in the frenzy.

Soldier Songs in San Diego

David Little composed his one-man opera, Soldier Songs, ten years ago and the International Festival of Arts & Ideas of New Haven, Connecticut, premiered it in 2011. At San Diego Opera, the fifty-five minute musical presentation and the “Talk Back” that followed it were part of the Shiley dētour Series which is held in the company’s smaller venue, the historic Balboa Theatre.

Barber of Seville [Hollywood Style] in Los Angeles

On Saturday evening November 12, 2016, Pacific Opera Project presented Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville in an updated version that placed the action in Hollywood. It was sung in the original Italian but the translation seen as supertitles was specially written to match the characters’ Hollywood identities.

Madama Butterfly in San Francisco

A Butterfly for the ages in a Butterfly marred by casting ineptness and lugubrious conducting.

Kiss Me, Kate: Welsh National Opera at the Birmingham Hippodrome

In 1964, 400 years after the birth of the Bard, the writer Anthony Burgess saw Cole Porter’s musical comedy Kiss Me, Kate, a romping variation on The Taming of the Shrew. Shakespeare’s comedy, Burgess said, had a ‘good playhouse reek about it’, adding ‘the Bard might be regarded as closer to Cole Porter and Broadway razzmatazz’ than to the scholars who were ‘picking him raw’.

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):