Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Porgy and Bess at Dutch National Opera – Exhilarating and Moving

Thanks to the phenomenon of international co-productions, Dutch National Opera’s first-ever Porgy and Bess is an energizing, heart-stirring show with a wow-factor cast. Last year in London, co-producer English National Opera hosted it to glowing reviews. Its third parent, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, will present it at a later date. In the meantime, in Amsterdam the singers are the crowing glory in George Gershwin’s 1935 masterpiece.

Il trovatore at Seattle Opera

After a series of productions somehow skewed, perverse, and/or pallid, the first Seattle Opera production of the new year comes like a powerful gust of invigorating fresh air: a show squarely, single-mindedly focused on presenting the work of art at hand as vividly and idiomatically as possible.

Opera as Life: Stefan Herheim's The Queen of Spades at Covent Garden

‘I pitied Hermann so much that I suddenly began weeping copiously … [it] turned into a mild fit of hysteria of the most pleasant kind.’

Venus Unwrapped launches at Kings Place, with ‘Barbara Strozzi: Star of Venice’

‘Playing music is for a woman a vain and frivolous thing. And I would wish you to be the most serious and chaste woman alive. Beyond this, if you do not play well your playing will give you little pleasure and not a little embarrassment. … Therefore, set aside thoughts of this frivolity and work to be humble and good and wise and obedient. Don’t let yourself be carried away by these desires, indeed resist them with a strong will.’

Burying the Dead: Ceruleo offer 'Baroque at the Edge'

“Who are you? And what are you doing in my bedroom?”

'Sound the trumpet': countertenor duets at Wigmore Hall

This programme of seventeenth-century duets, odes and instrumental works was meticulously and finely delivered by countertenors Iestyn Davies and James Hall, with The King’s Consort, but despite the beauty of the singing and the sensitivity of the playing, somehow it didn’t quite prove as affecting as I had anticipated.

Brenda Rae's superb debut at Wigmore Hall

My last visit of the year to Wigmore Hall also proved to be one of the best of 2018. American soprano Brenda Rae has been lauded for her superb performances in the lyric coloratura repertory, in the US and in Europe, and her interpretation of the title role in ENO’s 2016 production of Berg’s Lulu had the UK critics reaching for their superlatives.

POP Bohème: Melodic, Manic, Misbehaving Hipsters

Pacific Opera Project is in its fourth annual, sold out run of Puccini’s La bohème: AKA 'The Hipsters', and it may seem at first blush that nothing succeeds like success.

Edward Gardner conducts Berlioz's L’Enfance du Christ

L’Enfance du Christ is not an Advent work, but since most of this country’s musical institutions shut down over Christmas, Advent is probably the only chance we shall have to hear it - and even then, only on occasion. But then Messiah is a Lenten work, and yet …

Fantasia on Christmas Carols: Sonoro at Kings Place

The initial appeal of this festive programme by the chamber choir, Sonoro, was the array of unfamiliar names nestled alongside titles of familiar favourites from the carol repertoire.

Dickens in Deptford: Thea Musgrave's A Christmas Carol

Both Venus and the hearth-fire were blazing at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance during this staging of Thea Musgrave’s 1979 opera, A Christmas Carol, an adaptation by the composer of Charles Dickens’ novel of greed, love and redemption.

There is no rose: Gesualdo Six at St John's Smith Square

This concert of Christmas music at St John’s Smith Square confirmed that not only are the Gesualdo Six and their director Owain Park fine and thoughtful musicians, but that they can skilfully shape a musical narrative.

Temple Winter Festival: The Tallis Scholars

Hodie Christus natus est. Today, Christ is born! A miracle: and one which has inspired many a composer to produce their own musical ‘miracle’: choral exultation which seems, like Christ himself, to be a gift to mankind, straight from the divine.

A new Hänsel und Gretel at the Royal Opera House

Fairy-tales work on multiple levels, they tell delightful yet moral stories, but they also enable us to examine deeper issues. With its approachably singable melodies, Engelbert Humperdinck's Märchenoper Hänsel und Gretel functions in a similar way; you can take away the simple delight of the score, but Humperdinck's discreetly Wagnerian treatment of his musical material allows for a variety of more complex interpretations.

Rouvali and the Philharmonia in Richard Strauss

It so rarely happens that the final concert you are due to review of any year ends up being one of the finest of all. Santtu-Matias Rouvali’s all Richard Strauss programme with the Philharmonia Orchestra, however, was often quite remarkable - one might quibble that parts of it were somewhat controversial, and that he even lived a little dangerously, but the impact was never less than imaginative and vivid. This was a distinctly young man’s view of Strauss - and all the better for that.

‘The Swingling Sixties’: Stravinsky and Berio

Were there any justice in this fallen world, serial Stravinsky – not to mention Webern – would be played on every street corner, or at least in every concert hall. Come the revolution, perhaps.

The Pity of War: Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano at the Barbican Hall

During the past four years, there have been many musical and artistic centenary commemorations of the terrible human tragedies, inhumanities and utter madness of the First World War, but there can have been few that have evoked the turbulence and trauma of war - both past and present, in the abstract and in the particular - with such terrifying emotional intensity as this recital by Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano at the Barbican Hall.

First revival of Barrie Kosky's Carmen at the ROH

Charles Gounod famously said that if you took the Spanish airs out of Carmen “there remains nothing to Bizet’s credit but the sauce that masks the fish”.

Stanford's The Travelling Companion: a compelling production by New Sussex Opera

The first performance of Charles Villiers Stanford’s ninth and final opera The Travelling Companion was given by an enthusiastic troupe of Liverpudlian amateurs at the David Lewis Theatre - Liverpool’s ‘Old Vic’ - in April 1925, nine years after it was completed, eight after it won a Carnegie Award, and one year after the composer’s death.

Russian romances at Wigmore Hall

The songs of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov lie at the heart of the Romantic Russian art song repertoire, but in this duo recital at Wigmore Hall it was the songs of Nikolay Medtner - three of which were framed by sequences by the great Russian masters - which proved most compelling and intriguing.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Renée Tatum as Rosina [Photo by Richard Brusky]
11 Jun 2014

Opera Las Vegas Presents Stellar Barber of Seville

On June 6, 2014, Opera Las Vegas presented Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville with a cast drawn from the Metropolitan Opera and other major companies.

Opera Las Vegas Presents Stellar Barber of Seville

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Renée Tatum as Rosina

Photos by Richard Brusky

 

Daniel Sutin, who sang the title role, held the audience in thrall as he described his activities with strong burnished bronzed tones in his “Largo al factotum.” As the beautiful and not-quite-so-meek Rosina, Renée Tatum sang with true bel canto tone, excellent taste, and fine musicianship.

Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais wrote his play, The Barber of Seville, in 1773, but could not get it publicly performed until two years later, because its politics offended French nobility. In the meantime it was often read privately read at artistic salons. Thus, when its content was becoming known without public performance, the authorities decided that they might as well allow it to be staged.

Beaumarchais invented the name Figaro for the character he modeled on Brighella in the traditional Italian Commedia dell’arte. The illegitimate son of Dr. Bartholo and his maid Marceline, Figaro is a clever flatterer and liar. He is usually is good humored and helpful. Only on rare occasions is he bitter and cynical, but in the play Figaro notes: "I must force myself to laugh at everything, lest I be obliged to weep.” It was the occasionally brazen actions of Figaro that upset the nobility. The opera audience does not see his bold tactics in Rossini’s work, but his actions in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro are quite revolutionary.

The first opera produced on Beaumarchais 1782 play was Giovanni Paisiello’s The Barber of Seville, which had a respectable run, but could not stand comparison with Gioachino Rossini's 1816 opera Il barbiere di Siviglia ossia L'inutile precauzione (The Barber of Seville or the Useless Precaution). The latter has remained in the repertoire ever since despite other operas having been based on Beaumarchais’ play.

10325511_10152048554047260_.gifRobert McPherson as Almaviva with chorus

On June 6, 2014, Opera Las Vegas presented Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville with a cast drawn from the Metropolitan Opera and other major companies. Daniel Sutin, who portrayed the Barber, Figaro, recently sang the title role in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck at the Met. Although this was his first portrayal of the Rossini character, he commanded the stage with his presence. He held the audience in thrall as he described his activities with strong burnished bronzed tones in his “Largo al factotum.”

As the beautiful and not-quite-so-meek Rosina, Renée Tatum appreciated Figaro’s assistance in helping her resist marriage to her elderly, controlling guardian, Don Bartolo. Tatum, who has been in several major productions at the Met, sang with true bel canto tone, excellent taste, and fine musicianship. Veteran bass-baritone Peter Strummer was a hysterically funny Bartolo who actually thought he could get his young ward to marry him. He sang his patter aria at lightening speed but the words were always intelligible. Bartolo’s partner in crime was the conniving Don Basilio who sang an amusing, resonant, and totally villainous “La calunnia.”

Coloratura tenor Robert McPherson was as perfect an Almaviva as you could find anywhere. He not only sang all the notes with gorgeous tone, he decorated just enough of his lines to create maximum interest in his interpretation. I understand he will be at the Met next season and the New York audience will love his artistry. Baritone Mark Covey, the Fiorello, who is also a guitar virtuoso, accompanied the opening serenade from the stage. As the maid, Berta, soprano Stephanie Weiss seemed to be the most sensible person in the house. She sang with bright silver tones that contrasted well with Tatum’s golden legato.

Henry Price’s stage direction was perfect for this audience, many of whom had seen few operas. He told the libretto’s story in a realistic manner. For the finale, he showed the marriage of Rosina and Almaviva. Berta catches Rosina’s bouquet, but from the look on Bartolo’s face she will have to find another man to marry. The charming scenery by Dennis Hassan and Jim Lydon was placed on the Bayley Theater’s turntable so that the audience saw one set showing the inside of Bartolo’s home and another showing its outside.

Maestro Gregory Buchalter gave his artists enough room to create meaningful characterizations. Together with the singers, orchestra, and recitative harpsichordist Karen McCann, he gave us a wonderful rendition of Rossini’s beloved comic opera. This excellent performance bodes well for Opera Las Vegas, from which that city's citizens and guests can hope to enjoy more great opera in the near future.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Rosina, Renée Tatum; Count Almaviva, Robert McPherson; Don Basilio, Philip Cokorinos; Don Bartolo, Peter Strummer; Figaro, Daniel Sutin; Fiorello (playing own guitar) Mark Covey; Berta, Stephanie Weiss; Notary, Erickson Franco; Ambrogio, David McKee; Sergeant, Eugene Richards;* Conductor, Gregory Buchalter; Harpsichord, Karen McCann; Stage Director, Henry Price; Costumes Malabar Ltd.; Scenery, Dennis Hassan and Jim Lydon; Production Coordinator, James Sohre.

* Member of Opera Las Vegas Young Artist Program.

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):