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

Fedora in Genoa

It is not an everyday opera. It is an opera that illuminates a larger verismo history.

The Marriage of Figaro, LA Opera

On March 26, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). The Ian Judge production featured jewel-colored box sets by Tim Goodchild that threw the voices out into the hall. Only for the finale did the set open up on to a garden that filled the whole stage and at the very end featured actual fireworks.

The Tempest Songbook, Gotham Chamber Opera

Gotham Chamber Opera’s latest project, The Tempest Songbook, continues to explore the possibilities of unconventional spaces and unconventional programs that the company has made its hallmark. The results were musically and theatrically thought-provoking, and left me wanting more.

San Diego Opera presents Adams’ Riveting Nixon in China

Nixon in China is a three-act opera with a libretto by Alice Goodman and music by John Adams that was first seen at the Houston Grand Opera on October 22, 1987. It was the first of a notable line of operas by the composer.

Ars Minerva presents Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra in San Francisco

It is thanks to Céline Ricci, mezzo-soprano and director of Ars Minerva, that we have been able to again hear Daniele Castrovillari’s exquisite melodies because she is the musician who has brought his 1662 opera La Cleopatra to life.

An Ideal Cast in Chicago’s Tannhäuser

Lyric Opera of Chicago, in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, has staged a production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser with an estimable cast.

Madame Butterfly, Royal Opera

Puccini and his fellow verismo-ists are commonly associated with explosions of unbridled human passion and raw, violent pain, but in this revival (by Justin Way) of Moshe Leiser’s and Patrice Caurier’s 2003 production of Madame Butterfly, directorial understatement together with ravishing scenic beauty are shown to be more potent ways of enabling the sung voice to reveal the emotional depths of human tragedy.

Tosca in Marseille

Rarely, very rarely does a Tosca come around that you can get excited about. Sure, sometimes there is good singing, less often good conducting but rarely is there a mise en scène that goes beyond stock opera vocabulary.

Poetry beyond words — Nash Ensemble, Wigmore Hall

The Nash Ensemble’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations at the Wigmore Hall were crowned by a recital that typifies the Nash’s visionary mission. Above, the dearly-loved founder, Amelia Freeman, a quietly revolutionary figure in her own way, who has immeasurably enriched the cultural life of this country.

Arizona Opera Presents Magritte Style Magic Flute

On March 7, 2015, Arizona Opera presented Dan Rigazzi’s production of Die Zauberflöte in Tucson. Inspired by the works of René Magritte, designer John Pollard filled the stage with various sizes of picture frames, windows, and portals from which he leads us into Mozart and Schikaneder’s dream world.

Henry Purcell: A Retrospective

There are some concert programmes which are not just wonderful in their execution but also delight and satisfy because of the ‘rightness’ of their composition. This Wigmore Hall recital by soprano Carolyn Sampson and three period-instrument experts of arias and instrumental pieces by Henry Purcell was one such occasion.

Die Meistersinger and The Indian Queen
at the ENO

It has been a cold and gray winter in the south of France (where I live) made splendid by some really good opera, followed just now by splendid sunshine at Trafalgar Square and two exquisite productions at English National Opera.

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Royal Opera

At long last, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny has come to the Royal Opera House. Kurt Weill’s teacher, Busoni, remains scandalously ignored, but a season which includes house firsts both of this opera and Szymanowsi’s King Roger, cannot be all bad.

Unsuk Chin: Alice in Wonderland, Barbican, London

Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland returned to the Barbican, London, shape-shifted like one of Alice’s adventures. The BBC Symphony Orchestra was assembled en masse, almost teetering off stage, creating a sense of tension. “Eat me, Drink me”. Was Lewis Carroll on hallucinogens or just good at channeling the crazy world of the subconscious?

Welsh National Opera: The Magic Flute and Hansel and Gretel

Dominic Cooke’s 2005 staging of The Magic Flute and Richard Jones’s 1998 production of Hansel and Gretel have been brought together for Welsh National Opera’s spring tour under the unifying moniker, Spellbound.

Double bill at Guildhall

Gaetano Donizetti and Malcolm Arnold might seem odd operatic bedfellows, but this double bill by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama offered a pair of works characterised by ‘madness, misunderstandings and mistaken identity’ which proved witty, sparkling and imaginatively realised.

LA Opera: Barber of Seville

Saturday, February 28, 2015, was the first night for Los Angeles Opera’s revival of its 2009 presentation of The Barber of Seville, a production by Emilio Sagi, which comes originally from Teatro Real in Madrid in cooperation with Lisbon’s Teatro San Carlos. Sagi and onsite director, Trevor Ross, made comedy the focus of their production and provided myriad sight gags which kept the audience laughing.

Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Wigmore Hall

Commenting on her recent, highly acclaimed CD release of late-nineteenth-century song, Chansons Perpétuelles (Naive: V5355), Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux remarked ‘it’s that intimate side that interests me … I wanted to emphasise the genuinely embodied, physical side of the sensuality [in Fauré]’.

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.

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):