Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Purcell: A Retrospective

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra launched the Wigmore Hall’s two-year series, ‘Purcell: A Retrospective’, in splendid style. Flexibility, buoyancy and transparency were the watchwords.

Mahler: Symphony no.3 — Prom 73

It would be unfair, but one could summarise this concert with the words, ‘Senator, you’re no Leonard Bernstein.’

Los Angeles Opera Opens with La traviata

On September 13, Los Angeles Opera opened its 2014-2015 season with a revival of Marta Domingo’s updated, Art Deco staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata. It starred Nino Machaidze as Violetta, Arturo Chácon-Cruz as Alfredo, and Plácido Domingo as Giorgio Germont. The conductor was Music Director James Conlon.

Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, 2014

In its annual concert previewing the forthcoming season Lyric Opera of Chicago presented its “Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park” during the past weekend to a large audience of enthusiastic listeners.

Susannah in San Francisco

Come to think of it the 1950‘s were operatically rich years in America compared to other decades in the recent past. Just now the San Francisco Opera laid bare an example, Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah.

Xerxes, ENO

Nicholas Hytner’s production of Handel’s Xerxes (Serse) at English National Opera (ENO) is nearly 30 years old, and is the oldest production in ENO’s stable.

San Diego Opera Opens 2014-2015 Season

On Friday evening September 5, 2014, tenor Stephen Costello and soprano Ailyn Pérez gave a recital to open the San Diego Opera season. After all the threats to close the company down, it was a great joy to great San Diego Opera in its new vibrant, if slightly slimmed down form.

Otello at ENO

English National Opera’s 2014-15 season kicked off with an ear-piercing orchestral thunderbolt. Brilliant lightning spears sliced through the thick black night, fitfully illuminating the Mediterranean garret-town square where an expectant crowd gather to welcome home their conquering hero.

Anna Nicole, back with a bang!

It is now three and a half years since Anna Nicole was unleashed on the world at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Norma in San Francisco

It was a Druid orgy that overtook the War Memorial. Magnificent singing, revelatory conducting, off-the-wall staging (a compliment, sort of).

Joyce DiDonato starts Wigmore Hall new season

There was a quasi-party atmosphere at the Wigmore Hall on Monday evening, when Joyce DiDonato and Antonio Pappano reprised the recital that had kicked off the Hall’s 2014-15 season with reported panache and vim two nights previously. It was standing room only, and although this was a repeat performance there certainly was no lack of freshness and spontaneity: both the American mezzo-soprano and her accompanist know how to communicate and entertain.

Aida at Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival

In strict architectural terms, the stupendous 2nd century Roman theatre of Aspendos near Antalya in southern Turkey is not an arena or amphitheatre at all, so there are not nearly as many ghosts of gored gladiators or dismembered Christians to disturb the contemporary feng shui as in other ancient loci of Imperial amusement.

St Matthew Passion, Prom 66

Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra brought their staging of Bach's St Matthew Passion to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday, 6 September 2014.

Glimmerglass: Butterfly Leads the Pack

Every so often an opera fan is treated to a minor miracle, a revelatory performance of a familiar favorite that immediately sweeps all other versions before it.

Operalia, the World Opera Competition, Showcases 2014 Winners

On August 30, Los Angeles Opera presented the finals concert of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, the world opera competition. Founded in 1993, the contest endeavors to discover and help launch the careers of the most promising young opera singers of today. Thousands of applicants send in recordings from which forty singers are chosen to perform live in the city where the contest is being held. Last year it was Verona, Italy, this year Los Angeles, next year London.

Elektra at Prom 59

The second day of the Richard Strauss weekend at the BBC Proms saw Richard Strauss's Elektra performed at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 August 2014 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, with Christine Goerke in the title role.

Powerful Mahler Symphony no 2 Harding, BBC Proms London

Triumphant! An exceptionally stimulating Mahler Symphony No 2 from Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Prom 57 at the Royal Albert Hall. Harding's Mahler Tenth performances (especially with the Berliner Philharmoniker) are pretty much the benchmark by which all other performances are assessed. Harding's Mahler Second is informed by such an intuitive insight into the whole traverse of the composer's work that, should he get around to doing all ten together, he'll fulfil the long-held dream of "One Grand Symphony", all ten symphonies understood as a coherent progression of developing ideas.

Nina Stemme's stunning Strauss Salome, BBC Proms London

The BBC Proms continued its Richard Strauss celebrations with a performance of his first major operatic success Salome. Nina Stemme led forces from the Deutsche Oper, Berlin,at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 30 August 2014,the first of a remarkable pair of Proms which sees Salome and Elektra performed on successive evenings

Santa Fe Opera Presents Updated, at One Point Up-ended, Don Pasquale

On August 9, 2014, Santa Fe Opera presented a new updated production of Don Pasquale that set the action in the 1950s. Chantal Thomas’s Act I scenery showed the Don’s furnishing as somewhat worn and decidedly dowdy. Later, she literally turned the Don’s home upside down!

Dolora Zajick Premieres Composition

At a concert in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in San Jose, California, on August 22, 2014, a few selections preceded the piece the audience had been waiting for: the world premiere of Dolora Zajick’s brand new composition, an opera scene entitled Roads to Zion.

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):