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

Eine florentinische Tragödie and I pagliacci in Monte-Carlo

An evening of strange-bedfellow one-acts in high-concept stagings, mindbogglingly delightful.

Carmen, Pacific Symphony

On February 19, 2015, Pacific Symphony presented its annual performance of a semi-staged opera. This year’s presentation at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, featured Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Director Dean Anthony used the front of the stage and a few solid set pieces by Scenic Designer Matt Scarpino to depict the opera’s various scenes.

The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, ENO

Although the English National Opera has been decidedly sparing with its Wagner for quite some time now, its recent track record, leaving aside a disastrous Ring, has perhaps been better than that at Covent Garden.

San Diego Opera presents an excellent Don Giovanni

On Friday February 20, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a production by Nicholas Muni originally seen at Cincinnati Opera.

Tosca at Chicago Lyric

In a production first seen in Houston several years ago, and now revised by its director John Caird, Puccini’s Tosca has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago with two casts, partially different, scheduled into March of the present season.

Henri Dutilleux: Correspondances

Henri Dutilleux’s music has its devotees. I am yet to join their ranks, but had no reason to think this was not an admirable performance of his song-cycle Correspondances.

LA Opera Revives The Ghosts of Versailles

In 1980, the Metropolitan Opera commissioned composer John Corigliano to write an opera celebrating the company’s one-hundredth anniversary. It was to be ready in 1983.

La Traviata, ENO

English National Opera’s revival of Peter Konwitschny’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata had many elements in common with the production’s original outing in 2013 (The production was a co-production with Opera Graz, where it had debuted in 2011).

Idomeneo in Lyon

You might believe you could go to an opera and take in what you see at face value. But if you did that just now in Lyon you would have had no idea what was going on.

Der fliegende Holländer, Royal Opera

I wonder whether we need a new way of thinking — and talking — about operatic ‘revivals’. Perhaps the term is more meaningful when it comes to works that have been dead and buried for years, before being rediscovered by subsequent generations.

Iphigénie en Tauride in Geneva

Hopefully this brilliant new production of Iphigénie en Tauride from the Grand Théâtre de Genève will find its way to the new world now that Gluck’s masterpiece has been introduced to American audiences.

Tristan et Isolde in Toulouse

Tristan first appeared on the stage of the Théâtre du Capitole in 1928, sung in French, the same language that served its 1942 production even with Wehrmacht tanks parked in front of the opera house.

Arizona Opera presents Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin

Arizona Opera presented Eugene Onegin during and 1999-2000 season and again on February 1 of this year as part of the 2014-2015 season. In this country Onegin is not a crowd pleaser like La Bohème or Carmen, but its story is believable and its music melodic and memorable. Just hum the beginning of the “Polonaise” and your friends will know the music, if not where it comes from.

Ernst Krenek: Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen, Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

Florian Boesch and Roger Vignoles at the Wigmore Hall in Ernst Krenek’s Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen. Matthias Goerne has called Hanns Eisler’s Hollywooder Liederbuch the Winterreise of the 20th century. Boesch and Vignoles showed how Krenek’s Reisebuch is a journey of discovery into identity at an era of extreme social change. It is a parable, indeed, of modern times.

Anna Bolena at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new Anna Bolena, a production shared with Minnesota Opera, features a distinguished cast including several notable premieres.

San Diego Celebrates 50th Year with La Bohème

On Tuesday January 27, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme. It is the opera with which the company opened in 1965 and a work that the company has faithfully performed every five years since then.

English Pocket Opera Company: Verdi’s Macbeth

Last year we tracked Orfeo on his desperate search for his lost Euridice, through the labyrinths and studio spaces of Central St Martin’s; this year we were plunged into Macbeth’s tragic pursuit of power in the bare blackness of the CSM’s Platform Theatre.

Béla Bartók: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle

Béla Bartók’s only opera, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, composed in 1911 and based upon a libretto by the Hungarian writer Béla Balázs, was not initially a success.

Katia Kabanova in Toulon

Káťa Kabanová is, they say, Janáček's first mature opera — it comes a mere 20 years after his masterpiece, Jenůfa.

Peter Grimes in Nice

Nice’s golden winter light is not that of England’s North Sea coast. Nonetheless the Opéra de Nice’s new production of Peter Grimes did much to take us there.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

06 May 2014

Stéphane Degout, Wigmore Hall, London

Excellent Wigmore Hall recital with Stéphane Degout and Simon Lepper. Degout is one of the great names in French repertoire and in French baroque in particular.

Stéphane Degout, Simon Lepper recital, Wigmore Hall, London 2nd May, 2014

A review by Anne Ozorio

 

He sang Thésée in the Glyndebourne Hippolyte et Aricie and works with conductors like William Christie, Marc Minkowski, Emmanuelle Haïm and René Jacobs. He's also an outstanding Pelléas. Friends of mine admired his singing - and much more - as the "naked" Hamlet at La Monnaie. We were thrilled to hear him sing this wide-ranging programme.

Provocatively, Degout and Lepper began with Schubert Der Zwerg (D771, c 1822), usually the preserve of dark hued German baritones. Nearly sixty years ago, Gérard Souzay and Dalton Baldwin shook the Lieder world with their unidiomatic but brilliant Schubert. Now, Degout and Lepper show how French style can bring out great insight.. Degout's higher, sharper timbre captured the eeriness in Carl Loewe's Edward (Op 1/1 1818) sinisterly underlining the brutality in the poem.

The Wigmore Hall has been wise this year to feature the same group of songs in several different recitals, so we can hear how different artists approach them. In September Bryn Terfel sang Schumann Belsazar (Op 57, 1840), his huge voice emphasizing its vast panorama. Degout's Belsazar emphasized the personal horror that befalls the King at the very moment of his triumph. Luca Pisaroni and Angelika Kirchschlager Franz Liszt's Die drei Zigeuner (S320, 1860), each with their own style. Degout's interpretation highlighted the sardonic wit at the heart of Lenau's poem, somewhat obscured by Liszt's preference for pianistic display. Lepper created Liszt's sounds of the fiddle and cimbalom, but Degout reminded us that the gypsies don't care what the world thinks. "Wenn das Leben uns nachtet, wie man's verschläft, verraucht, vergeigt, und es dreimal verachtet"

Degout connected this Liszt song with Kurt Weill Die Ballade vom entrunkenen Mädchen (1928), employing logic lost on those who don't really know the songs. The drowned girl putrefies. Even God forgets her. The gypsies are poor but they make the most of what they have, while they can. For his encores, Degout chose Hugo Wolf Verborhgenheit and Francis Poulenc's Hôtel. When life is tough, some gloomily philosophize. "We French", said Degout with a sardonic grin, "We light a cigarette" "Le soleil passe son bras par la fenêtre. Mais moi qui veux fumer pour faire des mirages", wrote Apollinaire, distilling vast cultural concepts in a few ironic words.

Thus we were gently positioned to better appreciate the values of French song as an aesthetic subtly different from German Lieder. Degout sang Gabriel Fauré Automne (Op 18/5, 1870) , creating the melancholic mood so beautifully that the sudden crescendo on the last words "avaient oubliées!" intensified the sense of painful regret. When Degout sang Fauré's L'horizon chimérique (Op 118, 1921) , I could hardly breathe lest I miss a moment. This was exquisite singing,his each word elegantly shaped and coloured with intelligence, his precision underlining the emotional freedom the ocean represents. Lepper's playing evoked he rhythm of turbulent waves. so Degout's voice seemed to soar. Agile, athletic phrasing bristling with energy, so the serenity of the moon in Diane, Séléné felt all the more tantalizing. "Et mon coeur, toujours las et toujours agité, Aspire vers la paix de ta nocturne flamme". Degout made each nuance count. When he sang "j'ai de grands départs inassouvis en moi", the delicate balance between emotion and restraint felt almost too much to bear.

Degout followed Fauré with Liszt's Three Petrach Sonnets (S270/1 1842-6). Perhaps his grounding in baroque helps him sing Italian with a clarity one doesn't often here in these songs, but is in accord with the early music aesthetic of Petrarch's era. These songs can be done well in an Italianate fashion, but this showed how universal they can be. Lepper's playing was elegant, Degout's singing divine.

Anne Ozorio

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):