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 Performances

Proms at ... Cadogan Hall 5: Louise Alder and Gary Matthewman

“On the wings of song, I’ll bear you away …” So sings the poet-speaker in Mendelssohn’s 1835 setting of Heine’s ‘Auf Flügeln des Gesanges’. And, borne aloft we were during this lunchtime Prom by Louise Alder and Gary Matthewman which soared progressively higher as the performers took us on a journey through a spectrum of lieder from the first half of the nineteenth century.

Glowing Verdi at Glimmerglass

From the first haunting, glistening sound of the orchestral strings to the ponderous final strokes in the score that echoed the dying heartbeats of a doomed heroine, Glimmerglass Festival’s superior La Traviata was an indelible achievement.

Médée in Salzburg

Though Luigi Cherubini long outlived the carnage of the French Revolution his 1797 opéra comique [with spoken dialogue] Médée fell well within the “horror opera” genre that responded to the spirit of its time. These days however Médée is but an esoteric and extremely challenging late addition to the international repertory.

Queen: A Royal Jewel at Glimmerglass

Tchaikovsky’s grand opera The Queen of Spades might seem an unlikely fit for the multi-purpose room of the Pavilion on the Glimmerglass campus but that qualm would fail to reckon with the superior creative gifts of the production team at this prestigious festival.

Blue Diversifies Glimmerglass Fare

Glimmerglass Festival has commendably taken on a potent social theme in producing the World Premiere of composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson’s Blue.

Vibrant Versailles Dazzles In Upstate New York

From the shimmering first sounds and alluring opening visual effects of Glimmerglass Festival’s The Ghosts of Versailles, it was apparent that we were in for an evening of aural and theatrical splendors worthy of its namesake palace.

Gilda: “G for glorious”

For months we were threatened with a “feminist take” on Verdi’s boiling 1851 melodrama; the program essay was a classic mashup of contemporary psychobabble perfectly captured in its all-caps headline: DESTRUCTIVE PARENTS, TOXIC MASCULINITY, AND BAD DECISIONS.

Simon Boccanegra in Salzburg

It’s an inescapable reference. Among the myriad "Viva Genova!" tweets the Genovese populace shared celebrating its new doge, the pirate Simon Boccanegra, one stood out — “Make Genoa Great Again!” A hell of a mess ensued for years and years and the drinking water was poisonous as well.

Rigoletto at Macerata Opera Festival

In this era of operatic globalization, I don’t recall ever attending a summer opera festival where no one around me uttered a single word of spoken English all night. Yet I recently had this experience at the Macerata Opera Festival. This festival is not only a pure Italian experience, in the best sense, but one of the undiscovered gems of the European summer season.

BBC Prom 37: A transcendent L’enfance du Christ at the Albert Hall

Notwithstanding the cancellation of Dame Sarah Connolly and Sir Mark Elder, due to ill health, and an inconsiderate audience in moments of heightened emotion, this performance was an unequivocal joy, wonderfully paced and marked by first class accounts from four soloists and orchestral playing from the Hallé that was the last word in refinement.

Tannhäuser at Bayreuth

Stage director Tobias Kratzer sorely tempts destruction in his Bayreuth deconstruction of Wagner’s delicate Tannhäuser, though he was soundly thwarted at the third performance by conductor Christian Thielemann pinch hitting for Valery Gergiev.

Opera in the Quarry: Die Zauberflöte at St Margarethen near Eisenstadt, Austria

Oper im Steinbruch (Opera in the Quarry) presents opera in the 2000 quarry at St Margarethen near Eisenstadt in Austria. Opera has been performed there since the late 1990s, but there was no opera last year and this year is the first under the new artistic director Daniel Serafin, himself a former singer but with a degree in business administration and something of a minor Austrian celebrity as he has been on the country's equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing twice.

BBC Prom 39: Sea Pictures from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Sea Pictures: both the name of Elgar’s five-song cycle for contralto and orchestra, performed at this BBC Prom by Catriona Morison, winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World Main Prize in 2017, and a fitting title for this whole concert by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Elim Chan, which juxtaposed a first half of songs of the sea, fair and fraught, with, post-interval, compositions inspired by paintings.

BBC Prom 32: DiDonato spellbinds in Berlioz and the NYO of the USA magnificently scales Strauss

As much as the Proms strives to stand above the events of its time, that doesn’t mean the musicians, conductors or composers who perform there should necessarily do so.

Get Into Opera with this charming, rural L'elisir

Site-specific operas are commonplace these days, but at The Octagon Barn in Norwich, Genevieve Raghu, founder and Artistic Director of Into Opera, contrived to make a site persuasively opera-specific.

A disappointing Prom from Nathalie Stutzmann and BBCNOW

Nathalie Stutzmann really is an impressive conductor. The sheer elegance she brings to her formidable technique, the effortless drive towards making much of the music she conducts sound so passionate and the ability to shock us into hearing something quite new in music we think we know is really rather refreshing. Why then did this Prom sometimes feel weary, even disappointing at times?

Merola’s Striking If I Were You

Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer have become an indispensable presence in the contemporary opera world, and their latest premiere, If I Were You, found the duo at the very top of their game.

The Thirteenth Child: When She Was Good…

Santa Fe Opera continues its remarkable record for producing World (and American) Premieres with The Thirteenth Child, music by Poul Ruders, libretto by Becky and David Starobin.

The Sopranos at Tanglewood

Among classical music lovers, Wagner inspires equal measures of devotion and disdain. Some travel far and sit for hours to hear his operas live. Others eschew them completely.

Agrippina at the Bavarian State Opera

And still they come. The opera world’s obsession with Handel’s operas shows no sign of abating. The Bavarian State Opera has, since Peter Jonas’s Intendancy, stood at the forefront of Handel staging; this new production of Agrippina was dedicated to him. As ever, I was pleased to see one of these operas for the first time in the theatre – how could I not be pleased to see almost anything in Munich’s wonderful Prinzregententheater – but again, as ever, I was left unable ever quite to put to one side the dramaturgical difficulties/problems/flaws/inadequacies. (Call them what you will.)

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello [Photo courtesy of Warner Classics]
15 Sep 2014

San Diego Opera Opens 2014-2015 Season

On Friday evening September 5, 2014, tenor Stephen Costello and soprano Ailyn Pérez gave a recital to open the San Diego Opera season. After all the threats to close the company down, it was a great joy to great San Diego Opera in its new vibrant, if slightly slimmed down form.

San Diego Opera Opens 2014-2015 Season

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello [Photo courtesy of Warner Classics]

 

This performance was at the Balboa Theater, a reconditioned movie house with good acoustics. The auditorium was full and the applause greeting Carol Lazier, President of the Board of Directors, and Nicolas M. Reveles, Director of Education and Community Engagement, was almost as loud as the sounds that were heard last spring when the company almost disbanded.

On Friday evening September 5, 2014, tenor Stephen Costello and soprano Ailyn Pérez gave a recital to open the San Diego Opera season. After all the threats to close the company down as was the wish of former General Director Ian Campbell, it was a great joy to great San Diego Opera in its new vibrant, if slightly slimmed down form. This performance was at the Balboa Theater, a reconditioned movie house with good acoustics. The auditorium was full and the applause greeting Carol Lazier, President of the Board of Directors, and Nicolas M. Reveles, Director of Education and Community Engagement, was almost as loud as the sounds that were heard last spring when the company almost disbanded. San Diego was willing to let everyone in the world know it needed its opera company. That’s why it got contributions from all over the globe.

Stephen Costello and Ailyn Pérez had just released a new compact disc Love Duets and San Diego was the first stop on their tour of the United States. With collaborative pianist Danielle Orlando, Pérez entered in an exquisite scarlet-lined pink dress to sing lines from Act I of Verdi’s La traviata. Costello soon joined her as he might have had the scene been staged. His stage deportment has improved markedly since the last time I heard him and his “Un di felice” was as beautifully phrased as I have ever heard it.

She continued with songs by Reynaldo Hahn and he returned with Jake Heggie’s Friendly Persuasions, a group of songs that pay homage to Francis Poulenc. In one song Wanda Landowska worries about his giving her a concerto to learn the last minute. In another Pierre Bernac describes Christmas in 1936. Poulenc remembers Raymonde Linossier saying that his notes “like iron filings are pushed and pulled by the magnetic force” of Paul Eluard’s words. Costello’s French diction was laudable and the colors of his tones conveyed at least as much meaning as the words. These are wonderful songs and I hope more singers will soon perform them.

Pérez then sang a charming excerpt from Massenet’s Manon and her voice blossomed with silvered tones. Costello reminded this audience of the performances of Faust they performed together with “Salut demeure chaste et pure” which he ended with an exquisite, well controlled pianissimo. They brought the recital to intermission with an amusing duet from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore.

After the interval the couple and their accompanist returned to perform the well-known duet from Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz, for which Pérez’s Suzel wore some very form fitting polka dots. She followed the duet with seven de Falla songs: El Paño Moruno speaks of stained cloth as a metaphor for a young girl of loose morals. In the Seguidilla Murciana Perez speaks of male inconstancy while in her other songs the colors of her voice and the textures of her music told of universal human conditions that are as true today as they were in the composer’s time.

Costello’s solo contributions were a combination of well known and lesser-known songs by Paolo Tosti. Most of the audience knew his Ideale, but his Non t’amo piu and Goodbye were new to many. The latter was actually written in English. Perez and Costello brought the recital to a close with Bernstein’s One Hand, One Heart, and its close was greeted with thunderous applause for them and for Orlando, their most capable accompanist, Their possessive audience would not let them go without three encores: Youmans’ Without a Song, Obradors’ Del cabello más sutil, and Rogers’ If I Loved You.

Maria Nockin

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):