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

ETO Autumn 2020 Season Announcement: Lyric Solitude

English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a season of lyric monodramas to tour nationally from October to December. The season features music for solo singer and piano by Argento, Britten, Tippett and Shostakovich with a bold and inventive approach to making opera during social distancing.

Love, always: Chanticleer, Live from London … via San Francisco

This tenth of ten Live from London concerts was in fact a recorded live performance from California. It was no less enjoyable for that, and it was also uplifting to learn that this wasn’t in fact the ‘last’ LfL event that we will be able to enjoy, courtesy of VOCES8 and their fellow vocal ensembles (more below …).

Dreams and delusions from Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper at Wigmore Hall

Ever since Wigmore Hall announced their superb series of autumn concerts, all streamed live and available free of charge, I’d been looking forward to this song recital by Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper.

Treasures of the English Renaissance: Stile Antico, Live from London

Although Stile Antico’s programme article for their Live from London recital introduced their selection from the many treasures of the English Renaissance in the context of the theological debates and upheavals of the Tudor and Elizabethan years, their performance was more evocative of private chamber music than of public liturgy.

A wonderful Wigmore Hall debut by Elizabeth Llewellyn

Evidently, face masks don’t stifle appreciative “Bravo!”s. And, reducing audience numbers doesn’t lower the volume of such acclamations. For, the audience at Wigmore Hall gave soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and pianist Simon Lepper a greatly deserved warm reception and hearty response following this lunchtime recital of late-Romantic song.

The Sixteen: Music for Reflection, live from Kings Place

For this week’s Live from London vocal recital we moved from the home of VOCES8, St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, to Kings Place, where The Sixteen - who have been associate artists at the venue for some time - presented a programme of music and words bound together by the theme of ‘reflection’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny explore Dowland's directness and darkness at Hatfield House

'Such is your divine Disposation that both you excellently understand, and royally entertaine the Exercise of Musicke.’

Paradise Lost: Tête-à-Tête 2020

‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven … that old serpent … Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Joyce DiDonato: Met Stars Live in Concert

There was never any doubt that the fifth of the twelve Met Stars Live in Concert broadcasts was going to be a palpably intense and vivid event, as well as a musically stunning and theatrically enervating experience.

‘Where All Roses Go’: Apollo5, Live from London

‘Love’ was the theme for this Live from London performance by Apollo5. Given the complexity and diversity of that human emotion, and Apollo5’s reputation for versatility and diverse repertoire, ranging from Renaissance choral music to jazz, from contemporary classical works to popular song, it was no surprise that their programme spanned 500 years and several musical styles.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 're-connect'

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields have titled their autumn series of eight concerts - which are taking place at 5pm and 7.30pm on two Saturdays each month at their home venue in Trafalgar Square, and being filmed for streaming the following Thursday - ‘re:connect’.

Lucy Crowe and Allan Clayton join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at St Luke's

The London Symphony Orchestra opened their Autumn 2020 season with a homage to Oliver Knussen, who died at the age of 66 in July 2018. The programme traced a national musical lineage through the twentieth century, from Britten to Knussen, on to Mark-Anthony Turnage, and entwining the LSO and Rattle too.

Choral Dances: VOCES8, Live from London

With the Live from London digital vocal festival entering the second half of the series, the festival’s host, VOCES8, returned to their home at St Annes and St Agnes in the City of London to present a sequence of ‘Choral Dances’ - vocal music inspired by dance, embracing diverse genres from the Renaissance madrigal to swing jazz.

Royal Opera House Gala Concert

Just a few unison string wriggles from the opening of Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro are enough to make any opera-lover perch on the edge of their seat, in excited anticipation of the drama in music to come, so there could be no other curtain-raiser for this Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, the latest instalment from ‘their House’ to ‘our houses’.

Fading: The Gesualdo Six at Live from London

"Before the ending of the day, creator of all things, we pray that, with your accustomed mercy, you may watch over us."

Met Stars Live in Concert: Lise Davidsen at the Oscarshall Palace in Oslo

The doors at The Metropolitan Opera will not open to live audiences until 2021 at the earliest, and the likelihood of normal operatic life resuming in cities around the world looks but a distant dream at present. But, while we may not be invited from our homes into the opera house for some time yet, with its free daily screenings of past productions and its pay-per-view Met Stars Live in Concert series, the Met continues to bring opera into our homes.

Precipice: The Grange Festival

Music-making at this year’s Grange Festival Opera may have fallen silent in June and July, but the country house and extensive grounds of The Grange provided an ideal setting for a weekend of twelve specially conceived ‘promenade’ performances encompassing music and dance.

Monteverdi: The Ache of Love - Live from London

There’s a “slide of harmony” and “all the bones leave your body at that moment and you collapse to the floor, it’s so extraordinary.”

Music for a While: Rowan Pierce and Christopher Glynn at Ryedale Online

“Music for a while, shall all your cares beguile.”

A Musical Reunion at Garsington Opera

The hum of bees rising from myriad scented blooms; gentle strains of birdsong; the cheerful chatter of picnickers beside a still lake; decorous thwacks of leather on willow; song and music floating through the warm evening air.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Jean-Philippe Rameau [Source: Wikipedia]
06 Oct 2014

Rameau’s Les Paladins, Wigmore Hall

After the triumphs of love, the surprises: Les Paladins, under their director Jérôme Correas, and soprano Sandrine Piau are following their tour of material from their 2011 CD, ‘Le Triomphe de L’amour’, with a new amatory arrangement.

Rameau’s Les Paladins, Wigmore Hall

A review by Claire Seymour

Above: Jean-Philippe Rameau [Source: Wikipedia]

 

To commemorate the 250th anniversary of the death of Jean-Philippe Rameau, they presented the Wigmore Hall audience with a vibrant sequence of instrumental numbers and arias entitled Les surprises de l’Amour. At the 1748 premiere of Rameau’s eponymous ballet héroïque, King Louis XV is reputed to have yawned, declaring that he would have preferred a comedy.

At the Wigmore Hall London, there were certainly no yawns; but there was much laughter to complement passionate love and lyrical dignity in a performance which combined wit and charm with nobility and grace.

Throughout, Correas successfully strove to embody a Baroque spirit of theatre and imagination. Contrasts of dynamic, register and timbre were exaggerated and celebrated, textures were by turns airy, then plangent, and such vivid shifts engendered a dramatic, playful - and at times, fantastical - mood. Equally at home with the jovial and the sensual, the instrumentalists of Les Paladins - the five female violinists standing to the left, while the male lower strings and woodwind players occupied the right of the stage - entered fully into the spirit of Correas’s endeavour, playing expressively and vivaciously, and giving each musical motif and melody a fresh character.

Tempi were lively. In the Ouverture from Les Indes galantes an airy buoyancy was enriched by accented chromatic dissonances and tight trills, and the strings’ crystalline runs were matched by the bright vitality of the flutes (Jacque-Antoine Bresch, Lorenzo Brondetta). The dashing semi-quavers of the Ouverture from Les fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour fizzed with energy, while the piercing gleam of the flutes alleviated the brooding solemnity of the slow opening.

The comic sensibilities of Louis XV’s court were deliciously captured in the Act III Chaconne from Platée. The opera tells the story of Jupiter, who flirts with the ugly swamp-dwelling nymph Platée in order, ironically, to convince his jealous wife Juno of his constancy; the exaggeration of registral extremes, melodic leaps and dynamic outbursts enlivened the endless ground bass repetitions, and conveyed the absurdity of the context. Rhythmic bite and dramatic contrasts were also the order of the day in four short dances from Les surprises de l’Amour, where the boisterous tambourin was followed by a graceful contredanse, the casual pianissimo close of the latter suggesting a nonchalant, flirtatious bow of aristocratic leave-taking. The final instrumental number, ‘Air pour des fous gais et des fous tristes’ (Songs of happy and mad fools) juxtaposed the elegant trio of leader Juliette Roumailhac, Benoît Bursztejn and Nicolas Crnjanski (cello) with the full-bodied exuberance of the ensemble’s racing scales.

Alternating with these instrumental numbers, Sandrine Piau performed a series of airs ranging from the delicately beautiful to the fierily virtuosic. Powerful but never strident, elegant but flexible, Piau’s soprano is unfailingly refined and alluring. The sound is clean, and what it might lack in range of colour is more than outweighed by her ability to spin a naturally evolving melody. Piau thoroughly enjoyed the drama of these airs, too, expertly conveying character. Regal poise characterised the opening bars ‘Règne Amour’ from Les surprises de l’Amour, as Piau communicated the passionate sentiments of the text with beauty of line and expressive, relaxed trills. With the call to Venus to ‘Fire your conquering darts’ (‘Lance tes traits vainqueurs’), she unleashed a light and agile line, supported by nimble violin runs. There was nobility too in the funeral lament from Castor et Pollux, ‘Tristes apprêts, pâles flambeaux’ (Sad adornments, pale torches), in which the painful but dignified grief of Castor’s beloved, Telaire, was communicated directly and intensely. The nuanced rising appoggiaturas at the phrase endings, and the additional chromaticisms in the da capo repeat, movingly enhanced the mood of mournful distress, while bassoonist Nicolas Pouyanne conversed with the voice with eloquent gravity. In contrast, ‘Brillez, Astres nouveaux’ (Shine, new stars!) from Act 5 of the same opera made for a sparkling end to the first half of the recital. During a Festival of the Universe, when Telaire is granted a place in the firmament, a Planet sings this ariette, and the celebratory mood was captured by the bright, Italianate, decorative instrumental parts and Piau’s gleaming sheen and rhythmic energy.

The musical highlight of the evening was ‘Je vole, amour’ (I fly, love) from Les Paladins in which the pure loveliness of Piau’s tone was hypnotising: the sustained floating line was an unbroken legato thread - a perfect embodiment of the undying, faithful devotion which breaks the chains of imprisonment. Piau’s perfectly placed intervallic leaps were pristinely negotiated - she slipped effortlessly from the stratospheric heights - and the ornaments judicious and finely controlled.

The soprano’s comic vivacity came to the fore in the final item, ‘Formon les plus brillants’ (Let us organise a dazzling concert’) from Platée, in which Folly, carrying Apollo’s lyre, bursts in during the performance of the ‘Songs of the happy and sad fools’, and announces the commencement of the very concert that she has so impetuously interrupted. Piau relished the ensuing mockeries and shenanigans; not once did the on-stage antics with the harp, exaggerated theatricalities or switches between declamation, spoken dialogue and song temper the musical sureness and beauty.

A programme of eighteenth-century French opera might have appeared at first glance somewhat rarefied and dry. This performance was anything but. Exalted, yes: in that it was a stylish, elegant presentation of an esoteric selection of works, delivered with wit, poise and sublimity. The marriage of effortless technical proficiency with natural musicianship made for an elevating evening.

Claire Seymour


Programme:

Ouverture from Les Indes galantes; Ouverture from Les fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour; ‘Tristes apprêts’ from Castor et Pollux; Chaconne from Platée; ‘Brillez, astres nouveaux’ from Castor et Pollux; Loure, menuet, tambourin, contredanse from Les surprises de l’Amour; ‘Je vole, amour’ from Les Paladins; ‘Air pour des fous gais et des fous tristes’ from Platée; ‘Formons les plus brillants ... Aux langueurs d’Apollon’ from Platée

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):