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

Cool beauty in Dutch National Opera’s Madama Butterfly

It is hard to imagine a more beautifully sung Cio-Cio-San than Elena Stikhina’s.

Kurt Weill’s Street Scene

Kurt Weill’s “American opera,” Street Scene debuted this past weekend in the Kay Theatre at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, with a diverse young cast comprised of students and alumni of the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS).

Handel's Brockes-Passion: The Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican Hall

Perhaps it is too fanciful to suggest that the German poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747) was the Metastasio of Hamburg?

POP Butterfly: Oooh, Cho-Cho San!

I was decidedly not the only one who thought I was witnessing the birth of a new star, as cover artist Janet Todd stepped in to make a triumphant appearance in the title role of Pacific Opera Project’s absorbing Madama Butterfly.

The Maryland Opera Studio Defies Genre with Fascinating Double-Bill

This past weekend, the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS) presented a double-billed performance of two of Kurt Weill’s less familiar staged works: Zaubernacht (1922) and Mahagonny-Songspiel (1927).

Nash Ensemble at Wigmore Hall: Focus on Sir Harrison Birtwistle

The Nash Ensemble’s annual contemporary music showcase focused on the work of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, a composer with whom the group has enjoyed a long and close association. Three of the six works by Birtwistle performed here were commissioned by the Nash Ensemble, as was Elliott Carter’s Mosaic which, alongside Oliver Knussen’s Study for ‘Metamorphosis’ for solo bassoon, completed a programme was intimate and intricate, somehow both elusive in spirit and richly communicative.

McVicar's Faust returns to the ROH

To lose one Marguerite may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. But, with the ROH Gounod’s Faust seemingly heading for ruin, salvation came in the form of an eleventh-hour arrival of a redeeming ‘angel’.

A superb Semele from the English Concert at the Barbican Hall

It’s good to aim high … but be careful what you wish for. Clichéd idioms perhaps, but also wise words which Semele would have been wise to heed.

A performance of Vivaldi's La Senna festeggiante by Arcangelo

In 1726 on 25 August, Jacques-Vincent Languet, Comte de Gergy, the new French ambassador to the Venetian Republic held a celebration for the name day of King Louis XV of France. There was a new piece of music performed in the loggia at the foot of Languet's garden with an audience of diplomats and, watching from gondolas, Venetian nobles.

Matthew Rose and Tom Poster at Wigmore Hall

An interesting and thoughtfully-composed programme this, presented at Wigmore Hall by bass Matthew Rose and pianist Tom Poster, and one in which music for solo piano ensured that the diverse programme cohered.

Ekaterina Semenchuk sings Glinka and Tchaikovsky

To the Wigmore Hall for an evening of magnificently old-school vocal performance from Ekaterina Semenchuk. It was very much her evening, rather than that of her pianist, Semyon Skigin, though he had his moments, especially earlier on.

Hubert Parry's Judith at the Royal Festival Hall

Caravaggio’s depiction (1598-99) of the climactic moment when the young, beautiful, physically weak Judith seizes the head of Holofernes by the enemy general’s hair and, flinching with distaste, cleaves the neck of the occupying Assyrian with his own sword, evokes Holofernes’ terror with visceral precision - eyes and screaming mouth are wide open - and is shockingly theatrical, the starkly lit figures embraced by blackness.

La Pietà in Rome

Say "La Pietà" and you think immediately of Michelangelo’s Rome Pietà. Just now Roman Oscar-winning film composer Nicola Piovani has asked us to contemplate two additional Pietà’s in Rome, a mother whose son is dead by overdose, and a mother whose son starved to death.

Matthias Goerne: Schumann – Liederkreis, op 24 & Kernerlieder

New from Harmonia Mundi, Matthias Goerne and Lief Ove Andsnes: Robert Schumann – Liederkreis, op 24 and Kernerlieder. Goerne and Andsnes have a partnership based on many years of working together, which makes this new release, originally recorded in late 2018, well worth hearing.

Orfeo ed Euridice in Rome

No wrecked motorcycle (director Harry Kupfer’s 1987 Berlin Orfeo), no wrecked Citroen and black hearse (David Alagna’s 2008 Montpellier Orfée [yes! tenorissimo Roberto Alagna was the Orfée]), no famed ballet company (the Joffrey Ballet) starring in L.A. Opera’s 2018 Orpheus and Eurydice).

Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel - a world premiere at English National Opera

Jack the Ripper is as luridly fascinating today as he was over a century ago, so it was no doubt sensationalist of the marketing department of English National Opera to put the Victorian serial killer’s name first and the true subject of Iain Bell’s new opera - his victims, the women of Whitechapel - as something of an after-thought. Font size matters, especially if it’s to sell tickets.

Tosca at the Met


The 1917 Met Tosca production hung around for 50 years, bested by the 1925 San Francisco Opera production that lived to the ripe old age of 92.  The current Met production is just 2 years old but has the feel of something that can live forever.

Drama Queens and Divas at the ROH: Handel's Berenice

A war ‘between love and politics’: so librettist Antonio Salvi summarised the conflict at the heart of Handel’s 1737 opera, Berenice. Well, we’ve had a surfeit of warring politics of late, but there’s been little love lost between opposing factions, and the laughs that director Adele Thomas and her team supply in this satirical and spicy production at the ROH’s stunningly re-designed Linbury Theatre have been in severely short supply.

Mozart’s Mass in C minor at the Royal Festival Hall

A strange concert, this, in that, although chorally conceived, it proved strongest in the performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto: not so much a comment on the choral singing as on the conducting of Dan Ludford-Thomas.

Samson et Dalila at the Met


It was the final performance of the premiere season of Darko Tresnjak’s production of Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila. Four tenors later. 

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

02 Sep 2014

Operalia, the World Opera Competition, Showcases 2014 Winners

On August 30, Los Angeles Opera presented the finals concert of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, the world opera competition. Founded in 1993, the contest endeavors to discover and help launch the careers of the most promising young opera singers of today. Thousands of applicants send in recordings from which forty singers are chosen to perform live in the city where the contest is being held. Last year it was Verona, Italy, this year Los Angeles, next year London.

Operalia 2014 in Los Angeles

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Left to right: Andrey Nemzer, Rachel Willis-Sorensen, Mario Chang, Mariangela Sicilia, Placido Domingo, Anais Constans, Joshua Guerrero, Amanda Woodbury, John Holiday. [Photo by Craig Mathew / LA Opera]

 

On August 30, Los Angeles Opera presented the finals concert of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, the world opera competition. Founded in 1993, the contest endeavors to discover and help launch the careers of the most promising young opera singers of today. Thousands of applicants send in recordings from which forty singers are chosen to perform live in the city where the contest is being held. Last year it was Verona, Italy, this year Los Angeles, next year London. From those forty, thirteen finalists were selected to perform at the final concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Thirty-year-old dramatic soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen opened the program with “Dich, teure Halle” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser. Her interpretation was well shaped with appropriate dynamics. Her well-focused voice has a good timbre for Wagner and it pierced the orchestral sound with its dulcet tones. After intermission we learned that she had won first prize and the Birgit Nilsson Prize. Her second offering, Federico Moreno Torroba’s “Tres horas antes del dia,” won her a Zarzuela Prize as well.

The second singer on the program was Russian countertenor, Andrey Nemzer, 31, who sang an aria from Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila with resonant, clear high notes. He shared the men’s third prize with American countertenor John Holiday, 29. Holiday sang “Crude furie” from Handel’s Serse with intense, accurate coloratura. Two sopranos also shared the women’s Third Prize: Anais Constans, 26, from France and Mariangela Sicilia, 28, from Italy. Constans sang “O quante volte ti chiedo” from Bellini’s I Capuletti e i Montecchi, and “De España vengo” from Luna’s El niño judio, while Sicilia sang the Poison Aria from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. I enjoyed Sicilia’s vocal overtones, and dramatic interpretation, but was disappointed by Constans’s lack of movement in the Luna aria.

Chinese tenor, Yi Li, 30, sang “Pourquoi me reveiller” from Massenet’s Werther with less than perfect security and Russian mezzo-soprano Alisa Kolosova, 27, sang “Cruda Sorte” from Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri with less than perfect coloratura.

Then it was time for a blockbuster tenor. Mario Chang, 28, from Guatemala. His well-thought out interpretation of “Ella mi fu rapita” from Rigoletto, combined with his intensity and charisma won him first prize and an Audience Prize. He also won a Zarzuela Prize for his rendition of Sorozábal’s “No puede ser.”

Greek Soprano Christina Poulitsi, 31, sang “Ah, non credea mirarti” from Bellini’s La Sonnambula with problematic coloratura and Spanish mezzo Carol Garcia, 30, sang Angelina’s final aria from Rossini’s La Cenerentola with better coloratura but a lack of resonance on her low notes. Moroccan tenor Abdellah Lasri, 32, sounded as if he had a cold when he sang “Ah fuyez douce image” from Manon.

Then came the second amazing tenor, Mexican-American Joshua Guerrero, 31, who was in the LA Opera Young Artist Program all last year. Singing with well-controlled dramatic tones and a solid technique, he won second prize, the Culturarte Prize, and an Audience Prize for arias from Puccini’s Le Villi and Moreno Torroba’s Luisa Fernanda. American soprano, Amanda Woodbury sang “A vos jeux, mes amis” from Thomas’ Hamlet with clearly separated notes in her coloratura phrases. Easy on the eyes and amazingly talented, she should make a good career. On this evening she won second prize and an Audience Prize.

Not only can the winners be expected to be heard in opera houses around the world, all the finalists will be performing in both big city and regional opera. I hope readers will greet them warmly when they appear with their local opera companies.

Maria Nockin


Operalia 2014 Jury:

James Conlon, Music Director Los Angeles Opera, Ravinia Festival, and the Cincinnati May Festival; Marta Domingo, Stage Director; F. Paul Driscoll, Editor-in-Chief: Opera News; Thierry Fouquet, General Director: Opéra National de Bordeaux; Anthony Freud, General Director: Lyric Opera of Chicago; Jonathan Friend, Artistic Administrator: Metropolitan Opera; Jean-Louis Grinda, General Director, Opéra de Monte Carlo; Ioan Holender, Artistic Advisor, Metropolitan Opera and Tokyo Spring Festival; Artistic Director, George Enescu Festival; Peter Katona, Director of Casting: Royal Opera House, London; Christopher Koelsch, President and CEO: Los Angeles Opera; Grégoire Legendre, General Director, Opéra de Québec; Joan Matabosch, Artistic Director, Teatro Real, Madrid; Pål Moe, Casting Consultant: Bavarian State Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Opéra de Lille, and Norwegian Opera House; Andrés Rodriguez, General Director, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Chile; Helga Schmidt, Intendente: Palau de les Arts, Valencia. Prize Winners: First prizes of $30,000: Rachel Willis-Sørensen and Mario Chang; Second Prizes of $20,000: Amanda Woodbury and Joshua Guerrero; Third Prizes of $10,000: Anaïs Constans, Mariangela Sicilia, John Holiday, Andrey Nemzer; The Birgit Nilsson Prize for Wagner/Strauss repertoire: Rachel Willis-Sørensen; The Pepita Embil Domingo Zarzuela Prize of $10,000: Rachel Willis-Sørensen; The Don Placido Domingo, Sr., Zarzuela Prize of $10,000: Mario Chang; Audience Prizes, watches offered by Rolex: Amanda Woodbury and Mario Chang; The CulturArte Prize of $10,000: Joshua Guerrero.

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):