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

Prom 9: Fidelio lives by its Florestan

The last time Beethoven’s sole opera, Fidelio, was performed at the Proms, in 2009, Daniel Barenboim was making a somewhat belated London opera debut with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

The Merchant of Venice: WNO at Covent Garden

In Out of Africa, her account of her Kenyan life, Karen Blixen relates an anecdote, ‘Farah and The Merchant of Venice’. When Blixen told Farah Aden, her Somali butler, the story of Shakespeare’s play, he was disappointed and surprised by the denouement: surely, he argued, the Jew Shylock could have succeeded in his bond if he had used a red-hot knife? As an African, Farah expected a different narrative, demonstrating that our reception of art depends so much on our assumptions and preconceptions.

Leoncavallo's Zazà at Investec Opera Holland Park

The make-up is slapped on thickly in this new production of Leoncavallo’s Zazà by director Marie Lambert and designer Alyson Cummings at Investec Opera Holland Park.

McVicar’s Enchanting but Caliginous Rigoletto in Castle Olavinlinna at Savonlinna Opera Festival

David McVicar’s thrilling take on Verdi’s Rigoletto premiered as the first international production of this Summer’s Savonlinna Opera Festival. The scouts for the festival made the smart decision to let McVicar adapt his 2001 Covent Garden staging to the unique locale of Castle Olavinlinna.

Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance at Covent Garden

The end of the ROH’s summer season was marked as usual by the Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance but this year’s showcase was a little lacklustre at times.

Sallinen’s Kullervo is Brutal and Spectacular Finnish Opera at Savonlinna Opera Festival

For the centenary of Finland’s Independence, the Savonlinna Opera Festival brought back Kari Heiskanen’s spectacular 1992 production of Aulis Salinen’s Kullervo. The excellent Finnish soloists and glorious choir unflinchingly offered this opera of vocal blood and guts. Conductor Hannu Lintu fired up the Savonlinna Opera Festival Orchestra in Sallinen’s thrilling music.

Kát’a Kabanová at Investec Opera Holland Park

If there was any doubt of the insignificance of mankind in the face of the forces of Nature, then Yannis Thavoris’ design for Olivia Fuchs production of Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová - first seen at Investec Opera Holland Park in 2009 - would puncture it in a flash, figuratively and literally.

A bel canto feast at Cadogan Hall

The bel canto repertoire requires stylish singing, with beautiful tone and elegant phrasing. Strength must be allied with grace in order to coast the vocal peaks with unflawed legato; flexibility blended with accuracy ensures the most bravura passages are negotiated with apparent ease.

Don Pasquale: a cold-hearted comedy at Glyndebourne

Director Mariame Clément’s Don Pasquale, first seen during the 2011 tour and staged in the house in 2013, treads a fine line between realism and artifice.

Billy Budd Indomitable in Des Moines

It is hard to know where to begin to praise the peerless accomplishment that is Des Moines Metro Opera’s staggeringly powerful Billy Budd.

Tannhäuser at Munich

Romeo Castellucci’s aesthetic — if one may speak in the singular — is very different from almost anything else on show in the opera house at the moment. That, I have no doubt, is unquestionably a good thing. Castellucci is a serious artist and it is all too easy for any of us to become stuck in an artistic rut, congratulating ourselves not only on our understanding but also,  may God help us, our ‘taste’ — as if so trivial a notion had something to do with anything other than ourselves.

Des Moines Answers Turandot’s Riddles

With Turandot, Des Moines Metro Opera operated from the premise of prima la voce, and if the no-holds-barred singing and rhapsodic playing didn’t send shivers down your spine, well, you were at the wrong address.

Maria Visits Des Moines

With an atmospheric, crackling performance of Astor Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires, Des Moines Metro Opera once again set off creative sparks with its Second Stage concept.

Die schöne Müllerin: Davies and Drake provoke fresh thoughts at Middle Temple Hall

Schubert wrote Die schöne Müllerin (1824) for a tenor (or soprano) range - that of his own voice. Wilhelm Müller’s poems depict the youthful unsophistication of a country lad who, wandering with carefree unworldliness besides a burbling stream, comes upon a watermill, espies the miller’s fetching daughter and promptly falls in love - only to be disillusioned when she spurns him for a virile hunter. So, perhaps the tenor voice possesses the requisite combination of lightness and yearning to convey this trajectory from guileless innocence to disenchantment and dejection.

World Premiere of Aulis Sallinen’s Castle in the Water Savonlinna Opera Festival

For my first trip to Finland, I flew from Helsinki to the east, close to the border of Russia near St. Petersburg over many of Suomi’s thousand lakes, where the summer getaway Savonlinna lays. Right after the solstice during July and early August, the town’s opera festival offers high quality productions. In this enchanting locale in the midst of peaceful nature, the sky at dusk after the mesmerising sunset fades away is worth the trip alone!

Mozart and Stravinsky in Aix

Bathed in Mediterranean light, basking in enlightenment Aix found two famous classical works, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress in its famous festival’s open air Théâtre de l’Archevêche. But were we enlightened?

Des Moines: Nothing ‘Little’ About Night Music

Des Moines Metro Opera’s richly detailed production of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music left an appreciative audience to waltz home on air, and has prompted this viewer to search for adequate superlatives.

Longborough Festival Opera: A World Class Tristan und Isolde in a Barn Shed

Of all the places, I did not expect a sublime Tristan und Isolde in a repurposed barn in the Cotswolds. Don’t be fooled by Longborough’s stage without lavish red curtains to open and close each act. Any opera house would envy the riveting chemistry between Peter Wedd and Lee Bisset in this intimate, 500 seat setting. Conductor Anthony Negus proved himself a master at Wagner’s emotional depth. Epic drama in minimalistic elegance: who needs a big budget when you have talent and drama this passionate?

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra throws a glossy Bernstein party

For almost thirty years, summer at the Concertgebouw has been synonymous with Robeco SummerNights. This popular series expands the classical concert formula with pop, film music, jazz and more, served straight up or mixed together. Composer Leonard Bernstein’s versatility makes his oeuvre, ranging from Broadway to opera, prime SummerNight fare.

Die Frau ohne Schatten at Munich

It was fascinating to see — and of course, to hear — Krzysztof Warlikowsi’s productions of Die Gezeichneten and Die Frau ohne Schatten on consecutive nights of this year’s Munich Opera Festival.

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):