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 Reviews

Don Quichotte at Chicago Lyric

A welcome addition to Lyric Opera of Chicago’s roster was its recent production of Jules Massenet’s Don Quichotte.

Written on Skin: Royal Opera House

800 years ago, every book was a precious treasure - ‘written on skin’. In George Benjamin’s and Martin Crimp’s 2012 opera, Written on Skin, modern-day archivists search for one such artefact: a legendary 12th-century illustrated vanity project, commissioned by an unnamed Protector to record and celebrate his power.

Madama Butterfly at Staatsoper im Schiller Theater

It was like a “Date Night” at Staatsoper unter den Linden with its return of Eike Gramss’ 2012 production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. While I entered the Schiller Theater, the many young couples venturing to the opera together, and emerging afterwards all lovey-dovey and moved by Puccini’s melodramatic romance, encouraged me to think more positively about the future of opera.

It’s the end of the world as we know it: Hannigan & Rattle sing of Death

For the Late Night concert after the Saturday series, fifteen Berliners backed up Barbara Hannigan in yet another adventurous collaboration on a modern rarity with Simon Rattle. I was completely unfamiliar with the French composer, but the performance tonight made me fall in love with Gérard Grisey’s sensually disintegrating soundscape Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil, or “Fours Songs to cross the Threshold”.

A Vocally Extravagant Saturday Night with Berliner Philharmoniker

One of the things I love about the Philharmonie in Berlin, is the normalcy of musical excellence week after week. Very few venues can pull off with such illuminating star wattage. Michael Schade, Anne Schwanewilms, and Barbara Hannigan performed in two concerts with two larger-than-life conductors Thielemann and Rattle. We were taken on three thrilling adventures.

Les Troyens at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s original and superbly cast production of Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens has provided the musical public with a treasured opportunity to appreciate one of the great operatic achievements of the nineteenth century.

Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock

The Little Opera Company opened its 21st season by championing its own, as it presented the world premiere of Winnipeg composer Neil Weisensel’s Merry Christmas, Stephen Leacock.

Bampton Classical Opera 2017

In 2015, Bampton Classical Opera’s production of Salieri’s La grotta di Trofonio - a UK premiere - received well-deserved accolades: ‘a revelation ... the music is magnificent’ (Seen and Heard International), ‘giddily exciting, propelled by wit, charm and bags of joy’ (The Spectator), ‘lively, inventive ... a joy from start to finish’ (The Oxford Times), ‘They have done Salieri proud’ (The Arts Desk) and ‘an enthusiastic performance of riotously spirited music’ (Opera Britannia) were just some of the superlative compliments festooned by the critical press.

The nature of narropera?

How many singers does it take to make an opera? There are single-role operas - Schönberg’s Erwartung (1924) and Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies (1969) spring immediately to mind - and there are operas that just require a pair of performers, such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart i Salieri (1897) or The Telephone by Menotti (1947).

A Christmas Festival: La Nuova Musica at St John's Smith Square

Now in its 31st year, the 2016 Christmas Festival at St John’s Smith Square has offered sixteen concerts performed by diverse ensembles, among them: the choirs of King’s College, London and Merton College, Oxford; Christchurch Cathedral Choir, Oxford; The Gesualdo Six; The Cardinall’s Musick; The Tallis Scholars; the choirs of Trinity College and Clare College, Cambridge; Tenebrae; Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightment.

Fleming's Farewell to London: Der Rosenkavalier at the ROH

As 2016 draws to a close, we stand on the cusp of a post-Europe, pre-Trump world. Perhaps we will look back on current times with the nostalgic romanticism of Richard Strauss’s 1911 paean to past glories, comforts and certainties: Der Rosenkavalier.

Loft Opera’s Macbeth: Go for the Singing, Not the Experience

Ah, Loft Opera. It’s part of the experience to wander down many dark streets, confused and lost, in a part of Brooklyn you’ve never been. It is that exclusive—you can’t even find the performance!

A clipped Walküre in Amsterdam

Let’s start by getting a couple of gripes out of the way. First, the final act of Die Walküre does not constitute a full-length concert, even with a distinguished cast and orchestra, and with animated drawings fluttering on a giant screen.

A Leonard Bernstein Delight

When you combine two charismatic New York stage divas with the artistry of Los Angeles Opera, you have a mix that explodes into singing, dancing and an evening of superb entertainment.

An English Winter Journey

Roderick Williams’ and Julius Drake’s English Winter Journey seems such a perfect concept that one wonders why no one had previously thought of compiling a sequence of 24 songs by English composers to mirror, complement and discourse with Schubert’s song-cycle of love and loss.

History Repeating Itself: Prokofiev’s Semyon Kotko, Amsterdam Concertgebouw

A historical afternoon at the NTR Saturday Matinee occurred with an epic concert version of Prokofiev’s Soviet Opera Semyon Kotko.

L’amour de loin at the Metropolitan Opera

Opening night at the Metropolitan is a gleeful occasion even when the composer is long gone, but December 1st was an opening for a living composer who has been making waves around the world and is, gasp, a woman — the second woman composer ever to have an opera presented at the Met.

Early Swedish opera - Stenhammer world premiere

The Feast at Solhaug : Henrik Ibsen's play Gildet paa Solhaug (1856) inspired Wilhelm Stenhammer's opera Gillet på Solhaug. The world premiere recording is now available via Sterling CD, in a 3 disc set which includes full libretto and background history.

La finta giardiniera at the Royal College of Music

For an opera that has never quite made it over the threshold into the ‘canonical’, the adolescent Mozart’s La finta giardiniera has not done badly of late for productions in the UK. In 2014, Glyndebourne presented Frederic Wake-Walker’s take on the eighteen-year-old’s dramma giocoso. Wake-Walker turned the romantic shenanigans and skirmishes into a debate on the nature of reality, in which the director tore off layers of theatrical artifice in order to answer Auden’s rhetorical question, ‘O tell me the truth about love’.

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 Evelyn Herlitzius channelled an Elektra from the depths of her soul.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Adriano Graziani as Alfredo and Caitlin Lynch as Violetta in the final scene. [Photo by Tim Trumble]
04 Mar 2014

Arizona Opera Presents La Traviata as Violetta’s Dream

Nashville Opera Artistic Director John Hoomes set the opera as Violetta’s dying dream, so colors and other aspects of the backgrounds were symbolic and bright.

Arizona Opera Presents La Traviata as Violetta’s Dream

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Adriano Graziani as Alfredo and Caitlin Lynch as Violetta in the final scene.

Photos by Tim Trumble

 

She remembered the party at which she first met Alfredo as a study in shades of red. The scene at her country home was all in light neutrals while Flora’s party was held amongst dark shades that portended darker events.

The libretto for Verdi’s La traviata is based on the life of Alphonsine Rose Plessis, a French “call girl” who changed her name to Marie and mixed with upper class men in the early years of the nineteenth century. Verdi first called the opera Violetta after the name he and librettist Francesco Maria Piave gave the title character, but the more disparaging term Traviata or fallen woman better fit the mindset of the time. Piave based the libretto on the text of the play, La dame aux Camélias. The play grew out of a novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils, who had actually known the woman. Franz Liszt knew her, too, as did many artists of the time, because she was well read and a good conversationalist.

In truth, Marie had little schooling, but combined physical beauty with a natural refinement. An English gentleman recalling her said, "Her inbred tact and instinctive delicacy compensated for a totally inadequate education. Whatever she recognized as admirable in her friends she strove to master herself, so that her natural appeal was enhanced by the flower of her intelligence." She died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-three. After a lavish funeral at the church of La Madeleine, her possessions were auctioned off, her debts were paid, and her sister Delphine inherited enough money to open a modest shop.

Traviata_AZ_2014_01.gifMark Walters as Germont asks Caitlin Lynch as Violetta to leave Alfredo.

It is up to the stage director to decide which of the various aspects of this young woman’s life to show. Nashville Opera Artistic Director John Hoomes set the opera as Violetta’s dying dream, so colors and other aspects of design were symbolic and bright. She remembered the party at which she first met Alfredo as a study in shades of red. The scene at her country home was all in light neutrals while Flora’s party was held amongst dark shades that portended darker events. Hoomes’ production has also been seen at Opera Colorado and Boston Lyric Opera.

Soprano Caitlin Lynch, familiar to the Arizona Opera audience because she had already sung two Mozart heroines with the company, exhibited her ability to sing precise and accurate coloratura in the first act of La traviata. Although the role was new to her, she went on to imbue the more lyrical later acts with floods of gorgeous tone, while her interpretation of the character brought out the handkerchiefs in the scene with the elder Germont and at the end. Tenor Adriano Graziani was a handsome Alfredo whose interpretation was effective, but he had occasional problems staying in tune. Baritone Mark Walters had no such difficulty. His Germont was robust and as judgmental as only a nineteenth century self-righteous bourgeois gentleman could be. Best of all, he sang with burnished unwavering tones.

David Margulis was a jack-of-all-trades in this performance. He sang, he danced, and he played the part of “El Toro” in a faux bullfight. A second year member of the Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio, he will probably be a valuable character tenor in future years. Chris Carr was an impressive Baron Douphol and a plausible threat to Alfredo. As Flora, Beth Lytwynec was quite the dominatrix in her half skirt over pants and boots. Stefan Gordon sang the Marquis d’Obigny with a polished sound. Calvin Griffin was a sonorous Doctor and Andrea Shokery a submissive Annina. Conductor Steven White led a brisk reading of Verdi’s score with a huge dynamic range. When necessary, he held the orchestral sound down to allow the artists on stage to produce their tones with ease and he always allowed them any necessary leeway.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Violetta Valéry, Caitlin Lynch; Alfredo Germont, Adriano Graziani; Giorgio Germont, Mark Walters; Gastone, David Margulis1; Baron Duphol, Chris Carr1; Marchese d’Obigny, Stefan Gordon1; Dr. Grenvil, Calvin Griffin1; Flora Bervoix, Beth Lytwynnec1; Annina, Andrea Shokery1; Giuseppe, Francisco Renteria; Messenger, Earl Hazell; Flora’s Servant, Greg Guenther; Conductor, Steven White; Director, John Hoomes; Chorus Master, Henri Venanzi; Choreographer, Michele Ceballos Michot; Lighting Designer, Douglas Provost.

1Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artist

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):