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

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered, from SOMM Recordings, makes available on CD archive broadcasts of British and German song. All come from BBC broadcasts made between 1947 and 1952. Of the 26 tracks in this collection, 19 are "new", not having been commercially released. The remaining seven have been remastered by sound restoration engineer Ted Kendall. Something here even for those who already own the complete recordings.

Saint Louis Butterfly Soars

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis knew to trust the surefire potential of Madame Butterfly, and pretty much stayed out of its way.

Saint Louis: Gordon’s Revised Grapes

If opera is to remain a viable, accessible 21st century art form, it will be largely owing to the commitment of visionary companies like Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Titus Lightens Up in Saint Louis

Mozart’s opera seria, La Clemenza di Tito, performed in English at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis did something I did not think possible.

Il turco in Italia: Garsington Opera

Martin Duncan's production of Rossini's Il turco in Italia debuted in 2011, only the second production to be performed in Garsington Opera's then new home at Wormsley. Revived for the first time on 25 June 2017, David Parry was again conducting with Quirijn de Lang as Selim, Geoffrey Dolton as Don Geronio and Mark Stone as Prosdocimo returning to their roles, plus Sarah Tynan as Fiorilla, Katie Bray as Zaide, Luciano Botelho as Narciso and Jack Swanson as Albazar. Designs were by Francis O'Connor, with lighting by Mark Jonathan and movement by Nick Winston.

Glyndebourne's wartime Ariadne auf Naxos

It’s country-house opera season, and Glyndebourne have decided it’s time for a return of Katharina Thoma’s country-house-set Ariadne auf Naxos, first seen in 2013. Thoma locates Strauss’s opera-about-opera in a 1940s manor house which has been sequestered as a military hospital, neatly alluding to Glyndebourne’s own history when it transformed itself into a centre for evacuees from east London and the Christie children’s nursery became a sick bay.

On Trial in Saint Louis

That Opera Theatre of Saint Louis fearlessly embraces the cutting edge is once again evidenced by their compelling American premiere of The Trial.

A Traditional Rigoletto in Las Vegas

On June 9, 2017, Opera Las Vegas presented a traditional production of Verdi’s Rigoletto conducted by Music Director Gregory Buchalter with a cast headed by veteran baritone Michael Chioldi. A most convincing Rigoletto, Chioldi was a man in psychological pain from the begining of the opera. His fear and his vulnerability to the whims of the nobility were evident in every meaty, well-colored phrase he sang.

Thumbprint, An Amazing Woman Leaves an Indelible Mark

Thumbprint is the story of the young, innocent and illiterate Mukhtar Mai who was assaulted by a group of powerful men. Following the attack, Mukhtar, having supposedly been disgraced, was expected to commit suicide. Instead, she amazed everyone who knew her by going to the police and calling for the arrest of her attackers.

Kaufmann's first Otello: Royal Opera House, London

Out of the blackness, Keith Warner’s new production of Verdi’s Otello explodes into being with a violent gesture of fury. Not the tempest raging in the pit - though Antonio Pappano conjures a terrifying maelstrom from the ROH Orchestra and the enlarged ROH Chorus hurls a blood-curdling battering-ram of sound into the auditorium. Rather, Warner offers a spot-lit emblem of frustrated malice and wrath, as a lone soldier fiercely hurls a Venetian mask to the ground.

Don Carlo in Marseille

First mounted in 2015 at the Opéra National de Bordeaux this splendid Don Carlo production took stage just now at the Opéra de Marseille with a completely different cast and conductor. This Marseille edition achieved an artistic stature rarely found hereabouts, or anywhere.

Diamanda Galás: Savagery and Opulence

Unconventional to the last, Diamanda Galás tore through her Barbican concert on Monday evening with a torrential force that shattered the inertia and passivity of the modern song recital. This was operatic activism, pure and simple. Dressed in metallic, shimmering black she moved rather stately across the stage to her piano - but there was nothing stately about what unfolded during the next 90 minutes.

Schubert Wanderer Songs - Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

A summit reached at the end of a long journey: Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau at the Wigmore Hall, as the two-year Complete Schubert Song series draws to a close. Unmistakably a high point in the whole traverse. A well-planned programme of much-loved songs performed exceptionally well, with less well known repertoire presented with intelligent flourish.

La Bohème in San Francisco

In 2008 it was the electrifying conducting of Nicola Luisotti and the famed Mimì of Angela Gheorghiu, in 2014 it was the riveting portrayals of Michael Fabbiano’s Rodolfo and Alexey Markov’s Marcelo. Now, in 2017, it is the high Italian style of Erika Grimaldi’s Mimì — and just about everything else!

A heart-rending Jenůfa at Grange Park Opera

Katie Mitchell’s 1998 Welsh National Opera production of Janáček’s first mature opera, Jenůfa, is a good choice for Grange Park Opera’s first season at its new home, West Horsley Place. Revived by Robin Tebbutt, Mitchell and designer Vicki Mortimer’s 1930s urban setting emphasises the opera’s lack of sentimentality and subjectivism, and this stark realism is further enhanced by the narrow horseshoe design of architect Wasfi Kani’s ‘Theatre in the Woods’ whose towering walls and narrow width seem to add further to the weight of oppression which constricts the lives of the inhabitants.

Pelléas et Mélisande at Garsington Opera

“I am nearer to the greatest secrets of the next world than I am to the smallest secrets of those eyes!” So despairs Golaud, enflamed by jealousy, suspicious of his mysterious wife Mélisande’s love for his half-brother Pelléas. Michael Boyd’s thought-provoking new production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande at Garsington Opera certainly ponders plentiful secrets: of the conscience, of the subconscious, of the soul. But, with his designer Tom Piper, Boyd brings the opera’s dreams and mysteries into landscapes that are lit, symbolically and figuratively, with precision.

Carmen: The Grange Festival

The Grange Festival, artistic director Michael Chance, has opened at Northington Grange giving everyone a chance to see what changes have arisen from this change of festival at the old location. For our first visit we caught the opening night of Annabel Arden's new production of Bizet's Carmen on Sunday 11 June 2017. Conducted by Jean-Luc Tingaud with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the pit, the cast included Na'ama Goldman as Carmen, Leonardo Capalbo as Don Jose, Shelley Jackson as Micaela and Phillip Rhodes as Escamillo. There were also two extra characters, Aicha Kossoko and Tonderai Munyevu as Commere and Compere. Designs were by Joanna Parker (costume co-designer Ilona Karas) with video by Dick Straker, lighting by Peter Mumford. Thankfully, the opera comique version of the opera was used, with dialogue by Meredith Oakes.

Don Giovanni in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera revved up its 2011 production of Don Giovanni with a new directorial team and a new conductor. And a blue-chip cast.

Dutch National Opera puts on a spellbinding Marian Vespers

A body lies in half-shadow, surrounded by an expectant gathering. Our Father is intoned in Gregorian chant. The solo voices bloom into a chorus with a joyful flourish of brass.

Into the Wood: A Midsummer Night's Dream at Snape Maltings

‘I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where Oxlips and the nodding Violet grows.’ In her new production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Netia Jones takes us deep into the canopied groves of Oberon’s forest, luring us into the nocturnal embrace of the wood with a heady ‘physick’ of disorientating visual charms.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

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.


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):