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Florilegium, Wigmore Hall

During this exploration of music from the Austro-German Baroque, Florilegium were joined by the baritone Roderick Williams in a programme of music which placed the music and career of J.S. Bach in the context of three older contemporaries: Franz Tunder (1614-67), Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1701) and Heinrich Biber (1644-1704). The work of these three composers may be less familiar to listeners, but Florilegium revealed the musical sophistication - under the increasing influence of the Italian style - and emotional range of this music which was composed during the second half of the seventeenth century.

Leoncavallo: Zazà - Opera Rara

Charismatic charm, vivacious insouciance, fervent passion, dejected self-pity, blazing anger and stoic selflessness: Zazà - a chanteuse raised from the backstreets to the bright lights - is a walking compendium of emotions. Ruggero Leoncavallo’s eponymous opera lives by its heroine. Tackling this exhausting, and perilous, role at the Barbican Hall, The soprano Ermonela Jaho gave an absolutely fabulous performance, her range, warmth and total commitment ensuring that the hooker’s heart of gold shone winningly.

L'ospedale - an anonymous opera rediscovered

‘Stay away from doctors; they are bad for your health.’ This seems to be the central message of L’Ospedale - a one-hour opera by an unknown seventeenth-century composer, with a libretto by Antonio Abati which presents a satirical critique of the medical profession of the day and those who had the misfortune to need curative treatment for their physical and mental ills.

Šimon Voseček : Beidermann and the Arsonists

‘In these times of heightened security … we are listening, watching …’

René Pape, Joseph Calleja, Kristine Opolais, Boito Mefistofele, Munich

Arrigo Boito Mefistofele was broadcast livestream from the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich last night. What a spectacle !

Calixto Bieito’s The Force of Destiny

The monochrome palette of Picasso’s Guernica and the mural’s anti-war images of suffering dominate Calixto Bieito’s new production of Verdi’s The Force of Destiny for English National Opera.

Morgen und Abend — World Premiere, Royal Opera House

The world premiere of Morgen und Abend by Georg Friedrich Haas at the Royal Opera House, London — so conceptually unique and so unusual that its originality will confound many.

Company XIV Combines Classic and Chic in an Exquisite Cinderella

Company XIV’s production of Cinderella is New York City theater at its finest. With a nod to the court of Louis the XIV and the grandiosity of Lully’s opera theater, Company XIV manages to preserve elements of the French Baroque while remaining totally innovative, and never—in fact, not once for the entire two and a half hour show—falls prey to the predictable. Not one detail is left to chance in this finely manicured yet earthily raw production of Cinderella.

Monteverdi by The Sixteen at Wigmore Hall

This was a concert where immense satisfaction was derived equally from the quality of musicianship displayed and the coherence and resourcefulness of the programme presented. In 1610, Claudio Monteverdi published his Vespro della Beata Vergine for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

Félicien David: Songs for voice and piano

This well-packed disc is a delight and a revelation. Until now, even the most assiduous record collector had access to only a few of the nearly 100 songs published by Félicien David (1810-76), in recordings by such notable artists as Huguette Tourangeau, Ursula Mayer-Reinach, Udo Reinemann, and Joan Sutherland (the last-mentioned singing the duet “Les Hirondelles” with herself!).

Dialogues des Carmélites Revival at Dutch National Opera

If not timeless, Robert Carsen’s production of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites is highly age-resistant.

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Le donne curiose

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari was one of the Italian composers of the post-Puccini generation (which included Licinio Refice, Riccardo Zandonai, Umberto Giordano and Franco Leoni) who struggled to prolong the verismo tradition in the early years of the twentieth century.

Moby-Dick Surfaces in the City of Angels

On Saturday evening October 31, 2015, the Nantucket whaling ship Pequod journeyed to Los Angeles Opera and began its sixth voyage in the attempt to kill the elusive whale called Moby-Dick.

Great Scott at the Dallas Opera

Great Scott is a combination of a parody of bel canto opera and an operatic version of All About Eve. Beloved American diva Arden Scott (Joyce DiDonato), has discovered the score to a long-lost opera “Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompeii” and has become committed to getting the work revived as a vehicle for her. “Rosa Dolorosa” has grand musical moments and a hilariously absurd plot.

Schubert and Debussy at Wigmore Hall

The most recent instalment of the Wigmore Hall’s ambitious series, ‘Schubert: The Complete Songs’, was presented by soprano Lucy Crowe, pianist Malcolm Martineau and harpist Lucy Wakeford.

John Taverner: Missa Corona spinea

This new release of John Taverner’s virtuosic and florid Missa Corona spinea (produced by Gimell Records) comes two years after The Tallis Scholars’ critically esteemed recording of the composer’s Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, which topped the UK Specialist Classical Album Chart for 6 weeks, and with which the ensemble celebrated their 40th anniversary. The recording also includes Taverner’s two settings of Dum transisset Sabbatum.

A Bright and Accomplished Cenerentola at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in a production new to this venue and one notable for several significant debuts along with roles taken by accomplished, familiar performers.

La Bohème, ENO

Back in 2000, Glyndebourne Touring Opera dragged Puccini’s sentimental tale of suffering bohemian artists into the ‘modern urban age’, when director David McVicar ditched the Parisian garrets and nineteenth-century frock coats in favour of a squalid bedsit in which Rodolfo and painter Marcello shared a line of cocaine under the grim glare of naked light bulbs and the clientele at Café Momus included a couple of gaudily attired transvestites.

Luigi Rossi: Orpheus

Just as Orpheus embarks on a quest for his beloved Eurydice, so the Royal Opera House seems to be in pursuit of the mythical music-maker himself: this year the house has presented Monteverdi’s Orfeo at the Camden Roundhouse (with the Early Opera Company in January), Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice on the main stage (September), and, in the Linbury Studio Theatre, both Birtwistle’s The Corridor (June) and the Paris-music-hall style Little Lightbulb Theatre/Battersea Arts Centre co-production, Orpheus (September).

64th Wexford Festival Opera

Wexford Festival Opera has served up another thought-provoking and musically rewarding trio of opera rarities — neglected, forgotten or seldom performed — in 2015.



Giuseppe Filianoti as Nemorino, Malcolm MacKenzie as Belcore and Tatiana Lisnic as Adina [Photo by Cory Weaver]
02 Mar 2014

San Diego Opera’s Elixir of Love

On Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2014, San Diego Opera presented The Elixir of Love in a traditional production by Stephen Lawless.

San Diego Opera’s Elixir of Love

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Giuseppe Filianoti as Nemorino, Malcolm MacKenzie as Belcore and Tatiana Lisnic as Adina

Photos by Cory Weaver


He told the story in an easily understandable manner and gave the singers a great deal of comedy that kept the action moving forward.

Gaetano Donizetti often wrote his operas in an amazingly short time. He and librettist Felice Romani wrote L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) in six weeks, using a translation of Eugène Scribe’s libretto for Daniel Auber’s Le Philtre, (The Potion) as a model. They made the Italian opera more romantic than its French relative with the introduction of what is now the best-known aria in the piece, “Una Furtiva Lagrima”, and the addition of a duet for Adina and Nemorino in Act I.

Donizetti must have felt a personal relationship with the character of Nemorino because a wealthy lady had once bought him out of an army contract. The opera’s premiere at the Teatro della Canobbiana in Milan on May 12, 1832, was a tremendous success and L’Elisir became the most often performed opera in Italy between 1838 and 1848. According to Operabase, it is still one of the world’s most frequently performed operas.

On Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2014, San Diego Opera presented The Elixir of Love in a traditional production by Stephen Lawless that had also been seen in Geneva and Los Angeles. He told the story in an easily understandable manner and gave the singers a great deal of comedy that kept the action moving forward. Johan Engels’ set showed the inside of a large barn with many doors that open up onto farmland growing hay and flowers. Thus, most of the action took place in the barn at the front of the stage. Engels’ artfully detailed costumes set the action firmly in the nineteenth century.

ELX_fil n chor 3268.pngGiuseppe Filianoti as Nemorino with chorus

As Nemorino, Giuseppe Filianoti was a lovable, totally unsophisticated country boy who gets into some thoroughly amusing slapstick situations. He looked adorable and proved to be a fine actor, but at this performance his intonation was a serious problem. The Adina, Tatiana Lisnic had no such drawbacks. She hit all the notes correctly while giving a passionate portrayal of the young, attractive landowner. Remember her name. She is a fine talent from whom more great performances can be expected. I hope she will soon again sing in California.

This edition of the score gave Adina’s friend Giannetta more music than usual to sing and Stephanie Weiss sang it to good advantage. Malcolm MacKenzie has a powerful baritone voice with distinctive colors and it underscored his amusing portrayal of the strutting, self-important Sergeant Belcore. Kevin Burdette was a rather different Dr. Dulcamara. Instead of the usual portly basso buffo, this patent medicine salesman was tall, lean, and always ready to run away when someone started to uncover his larcenous ways. He sang with robust tones and his fast patter was a joy to hear.

Charles Prestinari’s chorus sang with delightful harmonies as they moved in small groups to give the impression of farmers, soldiers and townspeople. American conductor Karen Kamensek, music director of Staatsoper Hanover, is a powerhouse on the podium. She opened with brisk tempi and kept the performance moving. The comedy never lagged but the singers always had the leeway they needed to be at their best. She is a fine addition to San Diego Opera and I hope they will have her back soon. Although this was not a perfect performance, it was a a good one that kept the audience interested and amused for a wonderful Sunday afternoon.

Maria Nockin

Cast and production information:

Gianetta, Stephanie Weiss; Nemorino, Giuseppe Filianoti; Adina, Tatiana Lisnic; Sergeant Belcore, Malcolm MacKenzie; Dr. Dulcamara, Kevin Burdette; Conductor, Karen Kamensek; Director, Stephen Lawless; Set and Costume Design, Johan Engels; Lighting Design, Joan /sulliven-Genthe; Chorus Master Charles F. Prestinari.

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