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

Cold Mountain, Philadelphia

Opera Philadelphia deserves congratulations on yet another coup. The company co-commissioned Cold Mountain, an opera by Jennifer Higdon based on Gene Scheer’s adaptation of Charles Frazier’s celebrated Civil War epic.

Christian Gerhaher Wolfgang Rihm Wigmore Hall

For their first of two recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber devised an interesting programme - popular Schubert mixed with songs by Wolfgang Rihm and by Huber himself.

Götterdämmerung in Palermo

There are not many opera productions that you would cross oceans to see. Graham Vick’s Götterdämmerung in Sicily however compelled such a voyage.

Emmanuel Chabrier L’Étoile — Royal Opera House London

Premièred in 1877 at Offenbach’s own Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, Emmanuel Chabrier’s L’Étoile has a libretto, by Eugène Leterrier and Albert Vanloo, which stirs the blackly comic, the farcical and the bizarre into a surreal melange, blending contemporary satire with the frankly outlandish.

Robert Ashley’s Quicksand at the Kitchen

Robert Ashley’s opera-novel Quicksand makes for a novel experience

Premiere of Raskatov’s Green Mass

One of the leading Russian composers of his generation, Alexander Raskatov’s reputation in the UK and western Europe derives from several, recent large-scale compositions, such as his reconstruction of Alfred Schnittke’s Ninth Symphony from a barely legible manuscript (the work was first performed in 2007 in the Dresden Frauenkirche by the Dresden Philharmonic under Dennis Russell Davies), and his 2010 opera A Dog’s Heart, based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s satire (which was directed by Simon McBurney at English National Opera in 2010, following the opera’s premiere at Netherlands Opera earlier that year).

Orpheus in the Underworld, Opera Danube

I’m not sure that St John’s Smith Square was the most appropriate venue for Opera Danube’s latest production: Jacques Offenbach’s satirical frolic, Orpheus in the Underworld.

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in Lyon

This nasty little opera evening in Lyon lived up to the opera’s initial reputation as pure pornophony. This is the erotic Shostakovich of the D minor cello sonata, it is the sarcastic and complicated Shostakovich of The Nose . . .

Bel Canto: A World Premiere at Lyric Opera of Chicago

During December 2015 and presently in January Lyric Opera of Chicago has featured the world premiere of the opera Bel Canto, with music by Jimmy López and libretto by Nilo Cruz, based on the novel by Ann Patchett.

Tosca, Royal Opera

Christmas at the Royal Opera House is all about magic, mystery and miracles: as represented by the conjuror’s exploits in The Nutcracker — with its Kingdom of Sweets and Sugar Plum Fairy — or, as in the Linbury Theatre this year, the fantastical adventures of the Firework-Maker’s Daughter, Lila, and her companions — a lovesick elephant, swashbuckling pirates, tropical beasts and Fire-Fiends.

Lianna Haroutounian resplendent in Madama Butterfly at the Concertgebouw

The title role is a deciding factor in Madama Butterfly. Despite a last-minute conductor cancellation, last Saturday’s concert performance at the Concertgebouw was a resounding success, thanks to Lianna Haroutounian’s opulent, heart-stealing Cio-Cio-San.

Classical Opera: MOZART 250 — 1766: A Retrospective

With this performance of vocal and instrumental works composed by the 10-year-old Mozart and his contemporaries during 1766, Classical Opera entered the second year of their 27-year project, MOZART 250, which is designed to ‘contextualise the development and influences of [sic] the composer’s artistic personality’ and, more audaciously, to ‘follow the path that subsequently led to some of the greatest cornerstones of our civilisation’.

Benjamin Appl — Schubert, Wigmore Hall London

Luca Pisaroni and Wolfram Rieger were due to give the latest installment in the Wigmore Hall's complete Schubert songs series, but both had to cancel at short notice. Fortunately, the Wigmore Hall rises to such contingencies, and gave us Benjamin Appl and Jonathan Ware. Since there's a huge buzz about Appl, this was an opportunity to hear more of what he can do.

Ferrier Awards Winners’ Recital

The phrase ‘Sunday afternoon concert’ may suggest light, post-prandial entertainment, but soprano Gemma Lois Summerfield and her accompanist, Simon Lepper, swept away any such conceptions in this demanding programme at St. John’s Smith Square.

Pelléas et Mélisande at the Barbican

When, o when, will someone put Peter Sellars and his compendium of clichés out of our misery?

L'Arpeggiata: La dama d’Aragó, Wigmore Hall

Having recently followed some by-ways through the music of Purcell, Monteverdi and Cavalli, L’Arpeggiata turned the spotlight on traditional folk music in this characteristically vibrant and high-spirited performance at the Wigmore Hall.

Tippett : A Child of Our Time, London

Edward Gardner brought all his experience as a choral and opera conductor to bear in this stirring performance of Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time at the Barbican Hall, with a fine cast of soloists, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Symphony Chorus.

Taverner and Tavener, Fretwork, London

‘Apt for voices or viols’: eager to maximise sales among the domestic market in Elizabethan England, publishers emphasised that the music contained in collections such as Thomas Morley’s First Book of Madrigals to Four Voices of 1594 was suitable for performance by any combination of singers and players.

Fall of the House of Usher in San Francisco

It was a single title but a double bill and there was far more happening than Gordon Getty and Claude Debussy. Starting with Edgar Allen Poe.

The Merry Widow at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its latest production of the current season Lyric Opera of Chicago is presenting Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow (Die lustige Witwe) featuring Renée Fleming /Nicole Cabell as the widow Hanna Glawari and Thomas Hampson as Count Danilo Danilovich.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

La Boheme [Image courtesy of Manitoba Opera]
23 Apr 2014

La Bohème, Manitoba

Manitoba Opera’s first production in nine years of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème still stirs the heart and inspires tears with its tragic tale of bohemian artists living — and loving — in 1840s Paris.

La Bohème, Manitoba

A review by Holly Harris

Above image courtesy of Manitoba Opera

 

Three performances of the quintessentially romantic opera based on Henri Murger’s Scènes de la Vie de Bohème were held April 5 - 11 at Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall.

Canadian opera/theatre director Brian Deedrick, who also helmed MO’s April 2013 production of Aida, once again displayed his clear artistic vision and deft attention to detail, including adding effective bits of stage business to create further textural layering.

Realistic sets by Wolfram Skalicki (on loan from Edmonton Opera), lit by Bill Williams, included a cutaway garret worthy of any starving artist and jaw-dropping Latin Quarter street-café and city park scenes complete with gently falling snow. Maestro Daniel Lipton led the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra through Puccini’s lushly orchestrated score that teems with one soaring melody after another.

Marking her MO debut, American soprano Danielle Pastin imbued her lead role of Mimì with heart-wrenching pathos, her clear voice and artfully executed phrasing first displayed during tender aria “Mi chiamano Mimì.” As she became increasingly wrought with “consumption,” her voice only grew in luminosity until her final, poignant duet sung with Rodolfo: “Sono andati?”

Rodolfo performed by Eric Fennell (MO debut) often felt eclipsed by the orchestra and rest of the strong cast, his otherwise fine lyric tenor not always fully projecting and perilously close to becoming subsumed during aria “Che gelida manina.” He fared better during ensemble numbers, such as the sparks-flying quartet “Addio dolce svegliare alla mattina!” where the two lead couples contrapuntally play off eacher other.

American tenor Keith Phares (MO debut) delivered a standout performance as smock-wearing artiste Marcello, Rodolfo’s friend and lover of saucy playgirl Musetta. He painted his character with testosterone-fuelled swagger, brooding about love with Rodolfo during duet “O Mimi, tu più non torni.”

The perfectly cast Winnipeg soprano Lara Ciekiewicz first flounced onstage as Musetta with her hapless “mummy” and sugar daddy, Alcindoro (bass-baritone David Watson, doubling as landlord Benoit) before delivering an effervescent “Quando me’n vo’.” The gifted actress embarked on her own emotional trajectory that ends when she reveals a beating heart of gold during the final act.

And the Act’s finale where the choristers join Musetta in her lilting waltz is opera at its most lump-in-the-throat, glorious best.

Bass-baritone Giles Tomkins (MO debut) also crafted a convincing philosopher Colline, who particularly shone during aria “Vecchia zimarra,” as did baritone Peter McGillivray as musician Schaunard. The male ensemble’s camaraderie became palpable as the four flatmates jousted with baguettes and mused about life, love and how they were going to make next month’s rent.

Opera’s calling card is spectacle, and the MO Chorus (prepared by Tadeusz Biernacki), Children’s Chorus (Carolyn Boyes) augmented by a motley crew of ragtag supernumeraries created enthralling eye candy during Act 2’s street scene, including their lively “Aranci, datteri! Caldi i marroni!” Gendarmerie, street urchins, a marching band, Pierrot character and an all-too-fleeting appearance by toy vendor Parpignol (reprised by Winnipeg’s Peter Klymkiw) added to the full-bore sensory experience that elicited audible gasps from the audience.

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):