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

Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus: English National Opera

‘All opera is Orpheus,’ Adorno once declared - although, typically, what he meant by that was rather more complicated than mere quotation would suggest. Perhaps, in some sense, all music in the Western tradition is too - again, so long as we take care, as Harrison Birtwistle always has, never to confuse starkness with over-simplification.

The Marriage of Figaro in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera rolled out the first installment of its new Mozart/DaPonte trilogy, a handsome Nozze, by Canadian director Michael Cavanagh to lively if mixed result.

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Sondra Radvanovsky
21 Nov 2014

Radvanovsky Sings Recital in Los Angeles

Every once in a while Los Angeles Opera presents an important recital in the three thousand seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Radvanovsky Sings Recital in Los Angeles

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Sondra Radvanovsky

 

On November 8, 2014, the recitalist was soprano Sondra Radvanovsky who was familiar to the Los Angeles audience because of her acclaimed performances of Tosca and Suor Angelica.

Accompanied by her long time collaborator, virtuoso pianist Anthony Manoli, she sang a challenging but not overly imaginative program of arias and songs in Italian, Russian, French, and English. Opening with a carefully crafted version of Ludwig van Beethoven’s early Ah Perfido, she showed her ability to handle both the declamatory and decorative aspects of this concert aria.

She followed it with three short songs by the composer for whose music she is best known, Giuseppe Verdi. He wrote the first two, In solitaria stanza (In a Lonely Room), and Perduta ho la pace (I Have Lost My Peace), before the premiere of his first opera, Oberto. The final song, Stornello (Italian Street Song), dates from the same year as his opera, La forza del destino. Although the songs are not major musical works, they are precursors of Verdi’s later operas and with each short piece Radvanovsky showed her ability to put a story across.

The most interesting pieces on this program were four enchanting but rarely sung romances by Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninov: A Dream, Oh, Never Sing to Me Again, How Fair this Spot, and Spring Waters. I hope someday she will sing a whole evening of Russian songs. Rachmaninov and other major Russian composers wrote many wonderful pieces that are seldom performed.

To complete the first part of her recital Radvanovsky, whose forte is opera rather than song, regaled her adoring crowd with “Pace, pace mio Dio” from La forza del destino. She had a magnificent command of dynamics and during this and several of her other arias she showed that she could take her sound down to a pianissimo and then gradually increase it until it became a full fledged fortissimo. (The technical term for it is messa di voce).

Radvanovsky, who had worn a form fitting dark gold taffeta for the first half, returned in bright green silk after the intermission to sing a trio of songs by Henri Duparc: Chanson Triste (Sad Song), Extase (Ecstasy), and Au pays où se fait le guerre (To the Country Where War is Waged). Here and in her rendition of the aria that followed them, "Pleurez, Pleurez mes jeux" (Cry, Cry my Eyes) from Jules Massenet’s Le Cid, she showed her mastery of the French idiom as well as her ability to convey the beauty of sadness and tragic memories.

The soprano sometimes spoke to the audience and at this point she brought her fans back from the contemplation of tragedy with three lighter but thoroughly charming American songs by Aaron Copland: Simple Gifts, Long Time Ago, and At the River. For the finale, Radvanovsky sang a rousing, virtuosic performance of the Bolero from Verdi’s I vespri Siciliani (The Sicilian Vespers). She sang that her senses were intoxicated. She was right, her audience was drunk on fine art as they listened to her encores: "Io son l'umile ancella" (I am the Humble Handmaiden) from Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, "I Could Have Danced All Night" from Loewe's My Fair Lady, "Vissi d'arte" ( I Live for Art) from Puccini's Tosca and "O mio babbino caro" (Oh, My Dearest Daddy) from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.

Both Radvanovsky and Manoli gave bravura performances and their audience would have listened to them all night if they had continued to perform. Although the house was not much more than half full, this was a happy audience that can be counted upon to come out for more fine recitals at the Dorothy Chandler.

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):