Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Modernity vanquished? Verdi Un ballo in maschera, Royal Opera House, London

Verdi Un ballo in maschera at the Royal Opera House - a masked ball in every sense, where nothing is quite what it seems. On the surface, this new production appears quaint and undemanding. It uses painted flats, for example, pulled back and forth across, as in toy theatre. The scenes painted on them are vaguely generic, depicting neither Boston nor Stockholm, where the tale supposedly takes place. Instead, we focus on Verdi, and on theatre practices of the past. In other words, opera as the art of illusion, not an attempt to replicate reality. Take this production too literally and you'll miss the wit and intelligence behind it.

La Traviata in Ljubljana Slovenia

Small country, small opera house — big ensemble spirit. Internationally acclaimed soprano Natalia Ushakova steps in for indisposed local Violetta with mixed results.

Otello in Bucharest — Moor’s the pity

Bulgarian director Vera Nemirova’s production of Otello for the Romanian National Opera in Bucharest was certainly full of new ideas — unfortunately all bad.

Il trovatore at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its current revival of the 2006-2007 production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore by Sir David McVicar Lyric Opera has assembled a talented quintet of principal singers whose strengths match this conception of the opera.

Mary, Queen of Heaven, Wigmore Hall

O Maria Deo grata — ‘O Mary, pleasing to God’: so begins Robert Fayrfax’s antiphon, one of several supplications to the Virgin Mary presented in this thought-provoking concert by The Cardinall’s Musick at the Wigmore Hall.

Analyzed not demonized — Tristan und Isolde, Royal Opera House

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House, first revival of the 2009 production, one of the first to attract widespread hostility even before the curtain rose on the first night.

Florencia in el Amazonas Makes Triumphant Return to LA

On November 22, 2014, Los Angeles Opera staged Francesca Zambello’s updated version of Florencia in el Amazonas.

John Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary

John Adams and his long-standing collaborator Peter Sellars have described The Gospel According to the Other Mary as a ‘Passion oratorio’.

A new Yevgeny Onegin in Zagreb — Prince Gremin’s Fabulous Pool Party

Superb conducting from veteran Croatian maestro Nikša Bareza makes up for an absurd waterlogged new production of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

Nabucco in Novi Sad

After the horrors of Jagoš Marković’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro in Belgrade, I was apprehensive lest Nabucco in Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad on 27th October would be transplanted from 6th century BC Babylon to post-Saddam Hussein Tikrit or some bombed-out kibbutz in Beersheba.

La Bohème in San Francisco

First Toronto, then Houston and now San Francisco, the third stop of a new production of Puccini's La bohème by Canadian born, British nurtured theater director John Caird.

Radvanovsky Sings Recital in Los Angeles

Every once in a while Los Angeles Opera presents an important recital in the three thousand seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

L’elisir d’amore, Royal Opera

This third revival of Laurent Pelly’s production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore needed a bit of a pep up to get moving but once it had been given a shot of ‘medicinal’ tincture things spiced up nicely.

Samling Showcase, Wigmore Hall

Founded in 1996, Samling describes itself as a charity which ‘inspires musical excellence in young people’.

La cenerentola in San Francisco

The good news is that you don’t have to go all the way to Pesaro for great Rossini.

Rameau: Maître à danser — William Christie, Barbican London

Maître à danser: William Christie and Les Arts Florissants at the Barbican, London, presented a defining moment in Rameau performance practice, choreographed with a team of dancers.

Le Nozze di Figaro — or Sex on the Beach?

The most memorable thing (and definitely not in a good way) about this performance of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Serbian National Theatre in Belgrade was the self-serving, infantile, offensive and just plain wrong production by celebrated Serbian theatre director Jagoš Marković.

The Met mounts a well sung but dramatically unconvincing ‘Carmen’

Should looks matter when casting the role of the iconic temptress for HD simulcast?

Maurice Greene’s Jephtha

Maurice Greene (1696-1755) had a highly successful musical career. Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a position to which he was elected when he was just 22 years-old, he later became organist of the Chapel Royal, Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge and, from 1735, Master of the King’s Music.

Tosca in San Francisco

Yet another Tosca is hardly exciting news, if news at all. The current five performances have come just two years after SFO alternated divas Angela Gheorghiu and Patricia Racette in the title role.

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):