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

Little magic in Zauberland at the ROH's Linbury Theatre

To try to conceive of Schumann’s Dichterliebe as a unified formal entity is to deny the song cycle its essential meaning. For, its formal ambiguities, its disintegrations, its sudden breaks in both textual image and musical sound are the very embodiment of the early Romantic aesthetic of fragmentation.

Donizetti's Don Pasquale packs a psychological punch at the ROH

Is Donizetti’s Don Pasquale a charming comedy with a satirical punch, or a sharp psychological study of the irresolvable conflicts of human existence?

Chelsea Opera Group perform Verdi's first comic opera: Un giorno di regno

Until Verdi turned his attention to Shakespeare’s Fat Knight in 1893, Il giorno di regno (A King for a Day), first performed at La Scala in 1840, was the composer’s only comic opera.

A humourless hike to Hades: Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld at ENO

Q. “Is there an art form you don't relate to?” A. “Opera. It's a dreadful sound - it just doesn't sound like the human voice.”

Welsh National Opera revive glorious Cunning Little Vixen

First unveiled in 1980, this celebrated WNO production shows no sign of running out of steam. Thanks to director David Pountney and revival director Elaine Tyler-Hall, this Vixen has become a classic, its wide appeal owing much to the late Maria Bjørnson’s colourful costumes and picture book designs (superbly lit by Nick Chelton) which still gladden the eye after nearly forty years with their cinematic detail and pre-echoes of Teletubbies.

Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia at Lyric Opera of Chicago

With a charmingly detailed revival of Gioachino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia Lyric Opera of Chicago has opened its 2019-2020 season. The company has assembled a cast clearly well-schooled in the craft of stage movement, the action tumbling with lively motion throughout individual solo numbers and ensembles.

Romantic lieder at Wigmore Hall: Elizabeth Watts and Julius Drake

When she won the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize in the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, soprano Elizabeth Watts placed rarely performed songs by a female composer, Elizabeth Maconchy, alongside Austro-German lieder from the late nineteenth century.

ETO's The Silver Lake at the Hackney Empire

‘If the present is already lost, then I want to save the future.’

Roméo et Juliette in San Francisco (bis)

The final performance of San Francisco Opera’s deeply flawed production of the Gounod masterpiece became, in fact, a triumph — for the Romeo of Pene Pati, the Juliet of Amina Edris, and for Charles Gounod in the hands of conductor Yves Abel.

William Alwyn's Miss Julie at the Barbican Hall

“Opera is not a play”, or so William Alwyn wrote when faced with criticism that his adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie wasn’t purist enough. The plot is, in fact, largely intact; what Alwyn tends to strip out is some of Strindberg’s symbolism, especially that which links to what were (then) revolutionary nineteenth-century ideas based around social Darwinism. What the opera and play do share, however, is a view of class - of both its mobility and immobility - and this was something this BBC concert performance very much played on.

Cast salvages unfunny Così fan tutte at Dutch National Opera

Dutch National Opera’s October offering is Così fan tutte, a revival of a 2006 production directed by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito, originally part of a Mozart triptych that elicited strong audience reactions. This Così, set in a hotel, was the most positively received.

English Touring Opera's Autumn Tour 2019 opens with a stylish Seraglio

As the cheerfully optimistic opening bars of the overture to Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (here The Seraglio) sailed buoyantly from the Hackney Empire pit, it was clear that this would be a youthful, fresh-spirited Ottoman escapade - charming, elegant and stylishly exuberant, if not always plumbing the humanist depths of the opera.

Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice: Wayne McGregor's dance-opera opens ENO's 2019-20 season

ENO’s 2019-20 season opens by going back to opera’s roots, so to speak, presenting four explorations of the mythical status of that most powerful of musicians and singers, Orpheus.

Olli Mustonen's Taivaanvalot receives its UK premiere at Wigmore Hall

This recital at Wigmore Hall, by Ian Bostridge, Steven Isserlis and Olli Mustonen was thought-provoking and engaging, but at first glance appeared something of a Chinese menu. And, several re-orderings of the courses plus the late addition of a Hungarian aperitif suggested that the participants had had difficulty in deciding the best order to serve up the dishes.

Handel's Aci, Galatea e Polifemo: laBarocca at Wigmore Hall

Handel’s English pastoral masque Acis and Galatea was commissioned by James Brydges, Earl of Carnavon and later Duke of Chandos, and had it first performance sometime between 1718-20 at Cannons, the stately home on the grand Middlesex estate where Brydges maintained a group of musicians for his chapel and private entertainments.

Gerald Barry's The Intelligence Park at the ROH's Linbury Theatre

Walk for 10 minutes or so due north of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and you come to Brunswick Square, home to the Foundling Museum which was established in 1739 by the philanthropist Thomas Coram to care for children lost but lucky.

O19’s Phat Philly Phantasy

It is hard to imagine a more animated, engaging, and musically accomplished night at the Academy of Music than with Opera Philadelphia’s winning new staging of The Love for Three Oranges.

Agrippina: Barrie Kosky brings farce and frolics to the ROH

She makes a virtue of her deceit, her own accusers come to her defence, and her crime brings her reward. Agrippina - great-granddaughter of Augustus Caesar, sister of Caligula, wife of Emperor Claudius - might seem to offer those present-day politicians hungry for power an object lesson in how to satisfy their ambition.

Billy Budd in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera’s Billy Budd confirms once again that Britten’s reworking of Melville’s novella is among the great masterpieces of the repertory. It boasted an exemplary cast in an exemplary production, and enlightened conducting.

Dear Marie Stopes: a thought-provoking chamber opera

“To remove the misery of slave motherhood and the curse of unwanted children, and to secure that every baby is loved before it is born.”

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):