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Matthias Goerne and Menahem Pressler at the Wigmore Hall, London, an intriguing recital on many levels. Goerne programmes are always imaginative, bringing out new perspectives, enhancing our appreciation of the depth and intelligence that makes Lieder such a rewarding experience. Menahem Pressler is extremely experienced as a soloist and chamber musician, but hasn't really ventured into song to the extent that other pianists, like Brendel, Eschenbach or Richter, for starters. He's not the first name that springs to mind as Lieder accompanist. Therein lay the pleasure !
It is twenty-three years since Rossini’s opera of cultural oppression, inspiring heroism and tender pathos was last seen on the Covent Garden stage, but this eagerly awaited new production of Guillaume Tell by Italian director Damiano Micheletto will be remembered more for the audience outrage and vociferous mid-performance booing that it provoked — the most persistent and strident that I have heard in this house — than for its dramatic, visual or musical impact.
With its outrageous staging demands, you sometimes wonder why opera companies want to produce Verdi’s Aida. But the piece is about far more than pharaohs, pyramids and camels.
Given the enduring resonance and impact of the magnificent visual aesthetic of Visconti’s 1971 film of Thomas Mann’s novella, opera directors might be forgiven for concluding that Britten’s Death in Venice does not warrant experimentation with period and design, and for playing safe with Edwardian elegance, sweeping Venetian vistas and stylised seascapes.
If La Rondine (The Swallow) is a less-admired work than rest of the mature Puccini canon, you wouldn’t have known it by the lavish production now lovingly staged by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Few companies have championed new or neglected works quite as fervently and consistently as the industrious Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
For Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, “everything old is new again.”
Why would an American opera company devote its resources to the premiere of an opera by an Italian composer? Furthermore a parochially Italian story?
Berlioz’ Les Troyens is in two massive parts — La prise de Troy and Troyens à Carthage.
On Saturday evening June 13, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Dog Days, a new opera with music by David T. Little and a text by Royce Vavrek. In the opera adopted from a story of the same name by Judy Budnitz, thirteen-year-old Lisa tells of her family’s mental and physical disintegration resulting from the ravages of a horrendous war.
Audiences at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan first saw Madama Butterfly on February 17, 1904. It was not the success it is these days, and Puccini revised it before its scheduled performances in Brescia.
Opera Philadelphia is a very well-managed opera company with a great vision. Every year it presents a number of well-known “warhorse” operas, usually in the venerable Academy of Music, and a few more adventurous productions, usually in a chamber opera format suited to the smaller Pearlman Theater.
Written in 1783, Giovanni Paisiello’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia reigned for three decades as one of Europe’s most popular operas, before being overshadowed forever by Rossini’s classic work.
The Princeton Festival has established a reputation for high-quality summer opera. In recent years works by Handel, Britten, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Wagner and Gershwin have been performed at Matthews Theater on Princeton University campus: a 1100-seat auditorium with good sight-lines though a somewhat dry and uneven acoustic.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail was Mozart’s ﬁrst great public success in Vienna, and it became the composer’s most oft performed opera during his lifetime.
The Ensemble for the Romantic Century offered a thoughtful and well-curated evening in their production of The Sorrows of Young Werther, which is part theatrical performance and part art song concert.
This was an adventurous double bill of two ‘quasi-operas’ by Hans Werner Henze, performed by young singers who are studying on the postgraduate Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
High brick walls, a cavernous space, entered via a narrow passage just off a London thoroughfare: Village Underground in Shoreditch is probably not that far removed from the venue in which Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was first performed — whether that was Josiah Priest’s girl’s school in Chelsea or the court of Charles II or James II.
Hats off to Garsington for championing once again some criminally neglected Strauss. I overheard someone there opine, ‘Of course, you can understand why it isn’t done very often.’
Mozart and Da Ponte’s Cosi fan tutte provides little in the way of background or back story for the plot, thus allowing directors to set the piece in a variety settings.
29 Aug 2014
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!
In the early eighteenth century, opera buffa began to emerge as a separate entity, different from opera seria. Opera seria depicted kings and was designed to entertain the nobility. Opera buffa depicted ordinary people with more common problems and it was sung in the language of the audience. Opera buffa often used stock characters with which the audience was already familiar, such as those of the commedia dell’arte. Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale follows that tradition in making reference to familiar characters. Pasquale is a blustering Pantalone, Ernesto a lovesick Pierrot, Malatesta a scheming Scapino, and Norina a wily Columbina.
The atmosphere at the rehearsals for the opera’s Paris world premiere had been cool and dispassionate until the final dress rehearsal. It was then that Donizetti added a new piece for the tenor. Ernesto would sing the lyrical melody, “Com'è gentil” in the third act. The opera was wildly successful at its premiere in the Théâtre-Italien on January 3, 1843. Today, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love), along with Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), are still the most popular operatic comedies.
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 and it seemed hard for the singers to play their scenes against it. Duane Schuler’s lighting added to the perception of incongruity.
Andrew Shore as the Don and Zachary Nelson as Dr. Malatesta created memorable characters, but had some difficulty in synchronizing their patter duet. The singer who actually held this performance together was Brenda Rae, the Norina. Having sung impressively as Vlada Vladimirescu in The Impresario and created the character of The Cook in Le Rossignol, she went on to show her versatility as a fascinating Norina. Her personality and musicality helped to keep this comedy on an even keel.
In the garden scene, Ernesto, Alek Shrader, sings while climbing a ladder to attach a wooden moon to a roof and it seemed like he was doing too many things at once. He is a fine young singer with a slender voice that should be heard to best advantage. Apprentice Calvin Griffin who has been a fine singing actor in the Young Artist Program at Arizona Opera this year, was most convincing as the Notary.
Conductor Corrado Rovaris played the score with crisp tempi that underlined its comic origins. Unfortunately, their playing tended to be quite loud and sometimes they drowned out the lower voiced singers. However, the performance was a comedic winner and the audience went home laughing and singing Donizetti’s memorable melodies.
Cast and production information:
Don Pasquale, Andrew Shore; Dr. Malatesta, Zachary Nelson; Ernesto, Alek Shrader; Norina, Brenda Rae; Notary, Calvin Griffin; Conductor, Corrado Rovaris; Director and Costume Designer, Laurent Pelly; Scenic Designer, Chantal Thomas; Lighting Designer, Duane Schuler; Chorus Master, Susanne Sheston