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

Desert Island Delights at the RCM: Offenbach's Robinson Crusoe

Britannia waives the rules: The EU Brexit in quotes’. Such was the headline of a BBC News feature on 28th June 2016. And, nearly three years later, those who watch the runaway Brexit-train hurtle ever nearer to the edge of Dover’s white cliffs might be tempted by the thought of leaving this sceptred (sceptic?) isle, for a life overseas.

Akira Nishimura’s Asters: A Major New Japanese Opera

Opened as recently as 1997, the Opera House of the New National Theatre Tokyo (NNTT) is one of the newest such venues among the world’s great capitals, but, with ten productions of opera a year, ranging from baroque to contemporary, this publicly-owned and run theatre seems determined to make an international impact.

The Outcast in Hamburg

It is a “a musicstallation-theater with video” that had its world premiere at the Mannheim Opera in 2012, revived just now in a new version by Vienna’s ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wein for one performance at the Vienna Konzerthaus and one performance in Hamburg’s magnificent Elbphilharmonie (above). Olga Neuwirth’s The Outcast and this rich city are imperfect bedfellows!

Monarchs corrupted and tormented: ETO’s Idomeneo and Macbeth at the Hackney Empire

Promises made to placate a foe in the face of imminent crisis are not always the most well-considered and have a way of coming back to bite one - as our current Prime Minister is finding to her cost.

Der Fliegende Holländer and
Tannhäuser in Dresden

To remind you that Wagner’s Dutchman had its premiere in Dresden’s Altes Hoftheater in 1843 and his Tannhauser premiered in this same theater in 1845 (not to forget that Rienzi premiered in this Saxon court theater in 1842).

WNO's The Magic Flute at the Birmingham Hippodrome

A perfect blue sky dotted with perfect white clouds. Identikit men in bowler hats clutching orange umbrellas. Floating cyclists. Ferocious crustaceans.

Puccini’s Messa di Gloria: Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra

This was an oddly fascinating concert - though, I’m afraid, for quite the wrong reasons (though this depends on your point of view). As a vehicle for the sound, and playing, of the London Symphony Orchestra it was a notable triumph - they were not so much luxurious - rather a hedonistic and decadent delight; but as a study into three composers, who wrote so convincingly for opera, and taken somewhat out of their comfort zone, it was not a resounding success.

WNO's Un ballo in maschera at Birmingham's Hippodrome

David Pountney and his design team - Raimund Bauer (sets), Marie-Jeanne Lecca (costumes), Fabrice Kebour (lighting) - have clearly ‘had a ball’ in mounting this Un ballo in maschera, the second part of WNO’s Verdi trilogy and which forms part of a spring season focusing on what Pountney describes as the “profound and mysterious issue of Monarchy”.

Super #Superflute in North Hollywood

Pacific Opera Project’s rollicking new take on The Magic Flute is as much endearing fun as a box full of puppies.

Leading Ladies: Barbara Strozzi and Amiche

I couldn’t help wondering; would a chamber concert of vocal music by female composers of the 17th century be able sustain our concentration for 90 minutes? Wouldn’t most of us be feeling more dutiful than exhilarated by the end?

George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill at Wigmore Hall

This week, the Wigmore Hall presents two concerts from George Benjamin and Frankfurt’s Ensemble Modern, the first ‘at home’ on Wigmore Street, the second moving north to Camden’s Roundhouse. For the first, we heard Benjamin’s now classic first opera, Into the Little Hill, prefaced by three ensemble works by Cathy Milliken, Christian Mason, and, for the evening’s spot of ‘early music’, Luigi Dallapiccola.

Marianne Crebassa sings Berio and Ravel: Philharmonia Orchestra with Salonen

It was once said of Cathy Berberian, the muse for whom Luciano Berio wrote his Folk Songs, that her voice had such range she could sing the roles of both Tristan and Isolde. Much less flatteringly, was my music teacher’s description of her sound as akin to a “chisel being scraped over sandpaper”.

Rossini's Elizabeth I: English Touring Opera start their 2019 spring tour

What was it with Italian bel canto and the Elizabethan age? The era’s beautiful, doomed queens and swash-buckling courtiers seem to have held a strange fascination for nineteenth-century Italians.

Chameleonic new opera featuring Caruso in Amsterdam

Micha Hamel’s new opera, Caruso a Cuba, is constantly on the move. The chameleonic score takes on a myriad flavours, all with a strong sense of mood or place.

Ernst Krenek: Karl V, Bayerisches Staatsoper

Ernst Krenek’s Karl V op 73 at the Bayerisches Staatsoper, with Bo Skovhus, conducted by Erik Nielsen, in a performance that reveals the genius of Krenek’s masterpiece. Contemporary with Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, Berg’s Lulu, and Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, Krenek’s Karl V is a metaphysical drama, exploring psychological territory with the possibilities opened by new musical form.

A Sparkling Merry Widow at ENO

A small, formerly great, kingdom, is on the verge of bankruptcy and desperate to prevent its ‘assets’ from slipping into foreign hands. Sexual and political intrigues are bluntly exposed. The princes and patriarchs are under threat from both the ‘paupers’ and the ‘princesses’, and the two dangers merge in the glamorous figure of the irresistibly wealthy Pontevedrin beauty, Hanna Glawari, a working-class girl who’s married up and made good.

Mozart: Così fan tutte - Royal Opera House

Così fan tutte is, primarily, an ensemble opera and it sinks or swims on the strength of its sextet of singers - and this performance very much swam. In a sense, this is just as well because Jan Phillip Gloger’s staging (revived here by Julia Burbach) is in turns messy, chaotic and often confusing. The tragedy of this Così is that it’s high art clashing with Broadway; a theatre within an opera and a deceit wrapped in a conundrum.

Gavin Higgins' The Monstrous Child: an ROH world premiere

The Royal Opera House’s choice of work for the first new production in the splendidly redesigned Linbury Theatre - not unreasonably, it seems to have lost ‘Studio’ from its name - is, perhaps, a declaration of intent; it may certainly be received as such. Not only is it a new work; it is billed specifically as ‘our first opera for teenage audiences’.

Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the first moments of the recent revival of Sir David McVicar’s production of Elektra by Richard Strauss at Lyric Opera of Chicago the audience is caught in the grip of a rich music-drama, the intensity of which is not resolved, appropriately, until the final, symmetrical chords.

Expressive Monteverdi from Les Talens Lyriques at Wigmore Hall

This was an engaging concert of madrigals and dramatic pieces from (largely) Claudio Monteverdi’s Venetian years, a time during which his quest to find the ‘natural way of imitation’ - musical embodiment of textual form, meaning and affect - took the form not primarily of solo declamation but of varied vocal ensembles of two or more voices with rich instrumental accompaniments.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Luca Pisaroni [Photo by Marco Borggreve]
02 Nov 2014

Luca Pisaroni in San Diego

Bass baritone, Luca Pisaroni, known to opera lovers throughout the world for his excellence in Mozart roles, offered San Diego vocal aficionados a double treat on October 28th: his mellifluous voice, and a recital of German songs.

Luca Pisaroni in San Diego

A review by Estelle Gilson

Above: Luca Pisaroni [Photo by Marco Borggreve]

 

The singer, who has been gradually expanding his operatic repertoire, has performed the Baroque roles of Maometto in Rossini’s Maometto II, Argante in Handel's Rinaldo and Pollux in Rameau's Castor et Pollux. American Mozart lovers, however, need not fear losing him. His first two American performances next year will be as Almaviva in San Francisco and Leporello at the Metropolitan Opera.

Most recently, Pisaroni, who now lives in Austria, has expressed a passion for German lieder. His San Diego recital at the La Jolla Atheneum was the fourth and last stop in an international German song tour in collaboration with pianist Wolfram Rieger. Their journey began on October 10 at Amsterdam's Muziekgebouw, and included performances in Carnegie Hall's Zankel Auditorium and the Vancouver Recital Society.

This was a generous program of songs by Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schubert, which warmed up both vocally and emotionally as the evening progressed. The first Mozart songs found the singer a bit tentative and with slightly raspy low tones. With his voice warmed through the Mozart pieces, Mr. Pisaroni chose a lyrical, Italianate approach to them, producing flowing legato phrases, rather than coloring his voice to interpret words and emotion. The group of more dramatic Beethoven songs which followed, concluded with an ardent performance of 'Adelaide', and led into Mendelssohn songs and more exciting vocal territory. Mr. Pisaroni's full voiced and moving interpretation of Mendelssohn's 'Reiselied' (Traveler's Song), brought the first half of the program to a rousing conclusion..

The entire second half, which was devoted to Schubert - to songs inspired by Heine and Goethe's mostly despairing, melodramatic poetry - allowed Pisaroni to do what he does so effectively in opera - use his voice's range and color to portray strong emotions. From the first painful sledge hammer rhythms of 'Der Atlas' (Atlas), with which the song opens, Mr. Pisaroni interpretation conveyed the weightiness of the Titan's bitter lament on bearing the burden of the world and its sorrows. The singer brought control of voice and line, to 'Der Doppelgänger' (The Wraith), in which a lover has wretched visions of past torments. His 'Erlkönig' (The Erl King), that tempestuous and most theatrical of Schubert's songs, in which the singer must represent three different voices, rang with authority and conviction .

Vehement expressions of pain and sorrow come more easily into Pisaroni's voice than the quiet, inner variety. Songs with fewer apparent contrasts, be they rhythmic, melodic or other, though on equally painful, sorrowful subjects, have yet to engage him with the same intensity. Works such as the slowly paced, 'Am Meer' (By the Sea), with its long and often downward turning phrases, (a lover is lamenting that his lost beloved has poisoned him with her tears) would have benefited from deeper exploration of every word and every curve in its melodic line.

Mr. Pisaroni was not an animated recitalist. Lithe and amusing as he appears as Figaro, his body was still, and his hands quietly at his side. He wore a tight fitting garment with the lapels turned up toward his face, perhaps a bit too “buttoned up” for a warm San Diego evening.

Pianist Wolfram Rieger, always an accomplished and sensitive partner, provided a particularly memorable introduction to Beethoven's 'Lied aus der Ferne' (Song from Afar). I've enjoyed Mr. Rieger's performances with various singers in various venues in the past, but it seemed to me there was something unique about the sound of the great open Steinway piano in that small room, which allowed its 150 listeners to fully appreciate the virtuosity of the pianist's role in the recital.

How exotic in this day and age to have world two world renowned artists performing songs in a living room. This lover of the vocal arts was indeed grateful to Mr. Pisaroni, Mr. Rieger and the Atheneum for bringing San Diego this rare gift.

I would be remiss as a writer and translator if I did not comment appreciatively on the notes that Mr. Pisaroni and the Atheneum provided for the program notes. Not only were they informative, but most unusually (though I'm likely one of the very few people who noticed) the English translation of every poem cited the name of the translator.

Estelle Gilson


Program and performers:

Mozart: ‘Das Veilchen’, ‘Komm, liebe Zither’, ‘An Chloë, ‘Abendempfindung’; Beethoven: Lied aus der Ferne, Der Kuss, Zärtlicher Liebe , Adelaide, Mendelssohn: 'Neue Liebe', 'Gruss', 'Morgengruss' 'Allnächtlich in Traume', “Auf Flügeln des Gesanges' ,'Reiselied'; Schubert: 'Der Atlas', 'Ihr Bild', 'Der Fischermädchen' ,'Die Stadt','Am Meer', 'Der Doppelgänger', 'Auf dem See', 'Grenzen der Menschheit', 'Ganymed', 'Erlkönig','Wanderer's Nachtlied II'. Luca Pisaroni, bass-baritone; Wolfram Rieger, piano;. Atheneum, La Jolla, San Diego, California, October 28. 2014

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):