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

Two song cycles by Sir Arthur Somervell: Roderick Williams and Susie Allan

Robert Browning, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Charles Kingsley, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, A.E. Housman … the list of those whose work Sir Arthur Somervell (1863-1937) set to music, in his five song-cycles, reads like a roll call of Victorian poetry - excepting the Edwardian Housman.

Roger Quilter: The Complete Quilter Songbook, Vol. 3

Mark Stone and Stephen Barlow present Volume 3 in their series The Complete Roger Quilter Songbook, on Stone Records.

Richard Danielpour – The Passion of Yeshua

A contemporary telling of the Passion story which uses texts from both the Christian and the Jewish traditions to create a very different viewpoint.

Les Talens Lyriques: 18th-century Neapolitan sacred works

In 1770, during an extended tour of France and Italy to observe the ‘present state of music’ in those two countries, the English historian, critic and composer Charles Burney spent a month in Naples - a city which he noted (in The Present State of Music in France and Italy (1771)) ‘has so long been regarded as the centre of harmony, and the fountain from whence genius, taste, and learning, have flowed to every other part of Europe.’

Herbert Howells: Missa Sabrinensis revealed in its true glory

At last, Herbert Howells’s Missa Sabrinensis (1954) with David Hill conducting the Bach Choir, with whom David Willcocks performed the piece at the Royal Festival Hall in 1982. Willcocks commissioned this Mass for the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester in 1954, when Howells himself conducted the premiere.

Natalya Romaniw - Arion: Voyage of a Slavic Soul

Sailing home to Corinth, bearing treasures won in a music competition, the mythic Greek bard, Arion, found his golden prize coveted by pirates and his life in danger.

Le Banquet Céleste: Stradella's San Giovanni Battista

The life of Alessandro Stradella was characterised by turbulence, adventure and amorous escapades worthy of an opera libretto. Indeed, at least seven composers have turned episodes from the 17th-century Italian composer’s colourful life into operatic form, the best known being Flotow whose three-act comic opera based on the Lothario’s misadventures was first staged in Hamburg in 1844.

Purcell’s The Indian Queen from Lille

Among the few compensations opera lovers have had from the COVID crisis is the abundance – alas, plethora – of streamed opera productions we might never have seen or even known of without it.

Ethel Smyth: Songs and Ballads - a new recording from SOMM

In 1877, Ethel Smyth, aged just nineteen, travelled to Leipzig to begin her studies at the German town’s Music Conservatory, having finally worn down the resistance of her father, General J.H. Smyth.

Wagner: Excerpts from Der Ring des Niebelungen, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi, RCA-Sony

This new recording of excerpts from Wagner’s Der Ring des Niebelungen is quite exceptional - and very unusual for this kind of disc. The words might be missing, but the fact they are proves to have rather the opposite effect. It is one of the most operatic of orchestral Wagner discs I have come across.

Wagner: Die Walküre, Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Simon Rattle, BR Klassik

Simon Rattle has never particularly struck me as a complex conductor. He is not, for example, like Furtwängler, Maderna, Boulez or Sinopoli - all of whom brought a breadth of learning and a knowledge of composition to bear on what they conducted.

Dvořák Requiem, Jakub Hrůša in memoriam Jiří Bělohlávek

Antonín Dvořák Requiem op.89 (1890) with Jakub Hrůša conducting the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The Requiem was one of the last concerts Jiří Bělohlávek conducted before his death and he had been planning to record it as part of his outstanding series for Decca.

Philip Venables' Denis & Katya: teenage suicide and audience complicity

As an opera composer, Philip Venables writes works quite unlike those of many of his contemporaries. They may not even be operas at all, at least in the conventional sense - and Denis & Katya, the most recent of his two operas, moves even further away from this standard. But what Denis & Katya and his earlier work, 4.48 Psychosis, have in common is that they are both small, compact forces which spiral into extraordinarily powerful and explosive events.

A new, blank-canvas Figaro at English National Opera

Making his main stage debut at ENO with this new production of The Marriage of Figaro, theatre director Joe Hill-Gibbins professes to have found it difficult to ‘develop a conceptual framework for the production to inhabit’.

Massenet’s Chérubin charms at Royal Academy Opera

“Non so più cosa son, cosa faccio … Now I’m fire, now I’m ice, any woman makes me change colour, any woman makes me quiver.”

Bluebeard’s Castle, Munich

Last year the world’s opera companies presented only nine staged runs of Béla Bartòk’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

The Queen of Spades at Lyric Opera of Chicago

If obsession is key to understanding the dramatic and musical fabric of Tchaikovsky’s opera The Queen of Spades, the current production at Lyric Opera of Chicago succeeds admirably in portraying such aspects of the human psyche.

WNO revival of Carmen in Cardiff

Unveiled by Welsh National Opera last autumn, this Carmen is now in its first revival. Original director Jo Davies has abandoned picture postcard Spain and sun-drenched vistas for images of grey, urban squalor somewhere in modern-day Latin America.

Lise Davidsen 'rescues' Tobias Kratzer's Fidelio at the Royal Opera House

Making Fidelio - Beethoven’s paean to liberty, constancy and fidelity - an emblem of the republican spirit of the French Revolution is unproblematic, despite the opera's censor-driven ‘Spanish’ setting.

A sunny, insouciant Così from English Touring Opera

Beach balls and parasols. Strolls along the strand. Cocktails on the terrace. Laura Attridge’s new production of Così fan tutte which opened English Touring Opera’s 2020 spring tour at the Hackney Empire, is a sunny, insouciant and often downright silly affair.

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):