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 Reviews

Mahler’s Third Symphony launches Prague Symphony Orchestra's UK tour

The Anvil in Basingstoke was the first location for a strenuous seven-concert UK tour by the Prague Symphony Orchestra - a venue-hopping trip, criss-crossing the country from Hampshire to Wales, with four northern cities and a pit-stop in London spliced between Edinburgh and Nottingham.

From Darkness into Light: Antoine Brumel’s Complete Lamentations of Jeremiah for Good Friday

As a musicologist, particularly when working in the field of historical documents, one is always hoping to discover that unknown score, letter, household account book - even a shopping list or scribbled memo - which will reveal much about the composition, performance or context of a musical work which might otherwise remain embedded within or behind the inscrutable walls of the past.

Rigoletto past, present and future: a muddled production by Christiane Lutz for Glyndebourne Touring Opera

Charlie Chaplin was a master of slapstick whose rag-to-riches story - from workhouse-resident clog dancer to Hollywood legend with a salary to match his status - was as compelling as the physical comedy that he learned as a member of Fred Karno’s renowned troupe.

Rinaldo Through the Looking-Glass: Glyndebourne Touring Opera in Canterbury

Robert Carsen’s production of Rinaldo, first seen at Glyndebourne in 2011, gives a whole new meaning to the phrases ‘school-boy crush’ and ‘behind the bike-sheds’.

Predatory power and privilege in WNO's Rigoletto at the Birmingham Hippodrome

At a party hosted by a corrupt and dissolute political leader, wealthy patriarchal predators bask in excess, prowling the room on the hunt for female prey who seem all too eager to trade their sexual favours for the promise of power and patronage. ‘Questa o quella?’ the narcissistic host sings, (this one or that one?), indifferent to which woman he will bed that evening, assured of impunity.

Virginie Verrez captivates in WNO's Carmen at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Jo Davies’ new production of Carmen for Welsh National Opera presents not the exotic Orientalism of nineteenth-century France, nor a tale of the racial ‘Other’, feared and fantasised in equal measure by those whose native land she has infiltrated.

Die Zauberflöte brings mixed delights at the Royal Opera House

When did anyone leave a performance of Mozart’s Singspiel without some serious head scratching?

Haydn's La fedeltà premiata impresses at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

‘Exit, pursued by an octopus.’ The London Underground insignia in the centre of the curtain-drop at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Silk Street Theatre, advised patrons arriving for the performance of Joseph Haydn’s La fedeltà premiata (Fidelity Rewarded, 1780) that their Tube journey had terminated in ‘Arcadia’ - though this was not the pastoral idyll of Polixenes’ Bohemia but a parody of paradise more notable for its amatory anarchy than any utopian harmony.

Van Zweden conducts an unforgettable Walküre at the Concertgebouw

When native son Jaap van Zweden conducts in Amsterdam the house sells out in advance and expectations are high. Last Saturday, he returned to conduct another Wagner opera in the NTR ZaterdagMatinee series. The Concertgebouw audience was already cheering the maestro loudly before anyone had played a single note. By the end of this concert version of Die Walküre, the promise implicit in the enthusiastic greeting had been fulfilled. This second installment of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung was truly memorable, and not just because of Van Zweden’s imprint.

Purcell for our time: Gabrieli Consort & Players at St John's Smith Square

Passing the competing Union and EU flags on College Green beside the Palace of Westminster on my way to St John’s Smith Square, where Paul McCreesh’s Gabrieli Consort & Players were to perform Henry Purcell’s 1691 'dramatic opera' King Arthur, the parallels between England now and England then were all too evident.

The Dallas Opera Cockerel: It’s All Golden

I greatly enjoyed the premiere of The Dallas Opera’s co-production with Santa Fe Opera of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel when it debuted at the latter in the summer festival of 2018.

Luisa Miller at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its second production of the current season Lyric Opera of Chicago is featuring Giuseppe Verdi’s Luisa Miller.

Philip Glass: Music with Changing Parts - European premiere of revised version

Philip Glass has described Music with Changing Parts as a transitional work, its composition falling between earlier pieces like Music in Fifths and Music in Contrary Motion (both written in 1969), Music in Twelve Parts (1971-4) and the opera Einstein on the Beach (1975). Transition might really mean aberrant or from no-man’s land, because performances of it have become rare since the very early 1980s (though it was heard in London in 2005).

Time and Space: Songs by Holst and Vaughan Williams

New from Albion, Time and Space: Songs by Holst and Vaughan Williams, with Mary Bevan, Roderick Williams, William Vann and Jack Liebeck, highlighting the close personal relationship between the two composers.

Wexford Festival Opera 2019

The 68th Wexford Festival Opera, which runs until Sunday 3rd November, is bringing past, present and future together in ways which suggest that the Festival is in good health, and will both blossom creatively and stay true to its roots in the years ahead.

Cenerentola, jazzed to the max

Seattle Opera’s current staging of Cenerentola is mostly fun to watch. It is also a great example of how trying too hard to inflate a smallish work to fill a huge auditorium can make fun seem more like work.

Bottesini’s Alì Babà Keeps Them Laughing

On Friday evening October 25, 2019, Opera Southwest opened its 47th season with composer Giovanni Bottesini and librettist Emilio Taddei’s Alì Babà in a version reconstructed from the original manuscript score by Conductor Anthony Barrese.

Ovid and Klopstock clash in Jurowski’s Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’

There were two works on this London Philharmonic Orchestra programme given by Vladimir Jurowski – Colin Matthews’s Metamorphosis and Gustav Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’. The way Jurowski played it, however, one might have been forgiven for thinking we were listening to a new work by Mahler, something which may not have been lost on those of us who recalled that Matthews had collaborated with Deryck Cooke on the completion of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony.

Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus: English National Opera

‘All opera is Orpheus,’ Adorno once declared - although, typically, what he meant by that was rather more complicated than mere quotation would suggest. Perhaps, in some sense, all music in the Western tradition is too - again, so long as we take care, as Harrison Birtwistle always has, never to confuse starkness with over-simplification.

The Marriage of Figaro in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera rolled out the first installment of its new Mozart/DaPonte trilogy, a handsome Nozze, by Canadian director Michael Cavanagh to lively if mixed result.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Arturo Chácon-Cruz as Alfredo and as Plácido Domingo as Germont [Photo by Craig Matthew]
19 Sep 2014

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.

Los Angeles Opera Opens with La traviata

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Arturo Chácon-Cruz as Alfredo and as Plácido Domingo as Germont>br/>
Photos by Craig Matthew

 

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. During the overture a gentleman offered to accompany a rather reluctant lady standing under a streetlight. Then the curtain rose on Violetta’s opulent home. The contrast was enormous.

Machaidze looked gorgeous in her white 1920s “flapper” gown. Both she and tenor Chácon-Cruz started off slowly, but they came into top form in the Garden Scene of Act II. By that time they had relaxed and their voices blossomed. His “Deh miei bollenti spiriti” was smoothly spun out and he sang the cabaletta as if even its highest notes were easy for him. As the elder Germont, Domingo was stern with Violetta at first but showed his character’s softer side in a quiet moment. We missed his sun-drenched high notes, but he made a fine dramatic impression as a baritone.

Act III is the focal scene of this production and it was interesting to see the LA Opera Chorus dancing choreographer Kitty McNamee’s version of a Charleston to Verdi’s opening measures. Soloist Louis A. Williams, Jr. danced with spectacular height and spot-on landings. Here Machaidze, the “Twenties Violetta,” was in her element singing with silvered sounds, occasionally allied with the lustrous mezzo tones of Peabody Southwell, the Flora. As the enraged Alfredo, Chácon-Cruz showed his ire, but when castigated by his father, he collapsed into a heap on the floor. He and Domingo gave a fascinating portrayal of the relationship of a father to a grown son who still needs parental approval, whether he wants to admit it or not.

La_Traviata_LA_2014_02.pngLouis A. Williams, Jr. (dancer)

Machaidze was at her best in the final scene. Her reading of the letter and rendition of “Addio del passato” was heart wrenching. The audience felt the full meaning of her words, “è tardi” (it’s late). The letter came much too late for the fragile courtesan. When Alfredo finally comes to Violetta, she has only one moment of pure joy before lapsing into unconsciousness.

Vanessa Becerra, who sings a leading role on the recording of Daniel Crozier’s new opera, With Blood, With Ink was the caring attendant. Bass Solomon Howard, who will make his Metropolitan Opera debut as the King in Aida later this season, was an impressive Dr. Grenvil.

Music Director James Conlon conducted with great regard for the needs of the singers. Chácon-Cruz’s voice is not very large but it has a sweet, lyrical tone. Conlon made sure that the orchestra never covered his sound. The work of the Los Angeles Opera music director is one of the best reasons for attending the company’s performances. He makes each production of a popular opera say something new, no matter how many times it has been played.

After this evening’s performance, the opera presented Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky with an award for his service to the company. Since he had conducted the National Anthem, there were numerous jokes about his conducting ability, but he had earned the award by helping the opera get much needed funding from the city, which it has since paid back.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Conductor, James Conlon; Director, Marta Domingo; Lighting Director, Alan Burrett; Chorus Director, Grant Gershon; Choreographer, Kitty McNamee; Violetta, Nino Machaidze; Alfredo Germont, Arturn Chácon-Cruz; Giorgio Germont, Plácido Domingo; Flora, Peabody Southwell; Gastone, Brenton Ryan; Baron Douphol, Daniel Mobbs; Marquis d’Obigny, Daniel Armstrong; Dr. Grenvil, Solomon Howard; Annina, Vanessa Becerra; Solo Dancer, Louis A. Williams, Jr.

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):