Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

As One a Haunting Success in San Diego

San Diego Opera has mined solid gold with its mesmerizing and affecting production of As One, a part of their innovative ‘Detour Series.’

OLF: Songs by Tchaikovsky, Anton Rubinstein, Rachmaninov and Georgy Sviridov

Compared to the oft-explored world of German lieder and French chansons, the songs of Russia are unfairly neglected in recordings and in the concert hall. The raw emotion and expansive lyricism present in much of this repertoire was clearly in evidence at the Holywell Music Room for the penultimate day of the celebrated Oxford Lieder Festival.

Stockhausen’s STIMMUNG and COSMIC PULSES at the Barbican.

This concert was an event on several levels - marking a decade since the death of Stockhausen, the fortieth anniversary (almost to the day) since Singcircle first performed STIMMUNG (at the Round House), and their final public performance of the piece. It was also a rare opportunity to hear (and see) Stockhausen’s last completed purely electronic work, COSMIC PULSES - an overwhelming visual and aural experience that anyone who was at this concert will long remember.

Nico Muhly's Marnie at ENO

Winston Graham’s 1961 novel Marnie was bold for its time. Its themes of sexual repression, psychological suspense and criminality set within the dark social fabric of contemporary Britain are but outlier themes of the anti-heroine’s own narrative of deceit, guilt, multiple identities and blackmail.

TOSCA: A Dramatic Sing-Fest

On November 12, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s verismo opera, Tosca, in a dramatic production directed by Tara Faircloth. Her production utilized realistic scenery from Seattle Opera and detailed costumes from the New York City Opera. Gregory Allen Hirsch’s lighting made the set look like the church of St. Andrea as some of us may have remembered it from time gone by.

The Lighthouse: Shadwell Opera at Hackney Showroom

‘Only make the reader’s general vision of evil intense enough … and his own experience, his own imagination, his own sympathy … and horror … will supply him quite sufficiently with all the particulars. Make him think the evil, make him think it for himself, and you are released from weak specifications.’

Elisabeth Kulman sings Mahler's Rückert-Lieder with Sir Mark Elder and the Britten Sinfonia

Austrian singer Elisabeth Kulman has had an interesting career trajectory. She began her singing life as a soprano but later shifted to mezzo-soprano/contralto territory. Esteemed on the operatic stage, she relinquished the theatre for the concert platform in 2015, following an accident while rehearsing Tristan.

Tremendous revival of Katie Mitchell's Lucia at the ROH

The morning sickness, miscarriage and maundering wraiths are still present, but Katie Mitchell’s Lucia di Lammermoor, receiving its first revival at the ROH, seems less ‘hysterical’ this time round - and all the more harrowing for it.

Manon in San Francisco

Nothing but a wall and a floor (and an enormous battery of unseen lighting instruments) and two perfectly matched artists, the Manon of soprano Ellie Dehn and the des Grieux of tenor Michael Fabiano, the centerpiece of Paris’ operatic Belle Époque found vibrant presence on the War Memorial stage.

A beguiling Il barbiere di Siviglia from GTO

I had mixed feelings about Annabel Arden’s production of Il barbiere di Siviglia when it was first seen at Glyndebourne in 2016. Now reprised (revival director, Sinéad O’Neill) for the autumn 2017 tour, the designs remain a vibrant mosaic of rich hues and Moorish motifs, the supernumeraries - commedia stereotypes cum comic interlopers - infiltrate and interact even more piquantly, and the harpsichords are still flying in, unfathomably, from all angles. But, the drama is a little less hyperactive, the characterisation less larger-than-life. And, this Saturday evening performance went down a treat with the Canterbury crowd on the final night of GTO’s brief residency at the Marlowe Theatre.

Brett Dean's Hamlet: GTO in Canterbury

‘There is no such thing as Hamlet,’ says Matthew Jocelyn in an interview printed in the 2017 Glyndebourne programme book. The librettist of Australian composer Brett Dean’s opera based on the Bard’s most oft-performed tragedy, which was premiered to acclaim in June this year, was noting the variants between the extant sources for the play - the First, or ‘Bad’, Quarto of 1603, which contains just over half of the text of the Second Quarto which published the following year, and the First Folio of 1623 - no one of which can reliably be guaranteed superiority over the other.

WNO's Russian Revolution series: the grim repetitions of the house of the dead

‘We lived in a heap together in one barrack. The flooring was rotten and an inch deep in filth, so that we slipped and fell. When wood was put into the stove no heat came out, only a terrible smell that lasted through the winter.’ So wrote Dostoevsky, in a letter to his brother, about his experiences in the Siberian prison camp at Omsk where he was incarcerated between 1850-54, because of his association with a group of political dissidents who had tried to assassinate the Tsar. Dostoevsky’s ‘house of the dead’ is harrowingly reproduced by Maria Björsen’s set - a dark, Dantesque pit from which there is no possibility of escape - for David Pountney’s 1982 production of Janáček’s final opera, here revived as part of Welsh National Opera’s Russian Revolution series.

The 2017 Glyndebourne Tour arrives in Canterbury with a satisfying Così fan tutte

A Così fan tutte set in the 18th century, in Naples, beside the sea: what, no meddling with Mozart? Whatever next! First seen in 2006, and now on its final run before ‘retirement’, Nicholas Hytner’s straightforward account (revived by Bruno Ravella) of Mozart’s part-playful, part-piquant tale of amorous entanglements was a refreshing opener at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury where Glyndebourne Festival Opera arrived this week for the first sojourn of the 2017 tour.

Richard Jones's Rodelinda returns to ENO

Shameless grabs for power; vicious, self-destructive dynastic in-fighting; a self-righteous and unwavering sense of entitlement; bruised egos and integrity jettisoned. One might be forgiven for thinking that it was the current Tory government that was being described. However, we are not in twenty-first-century Westminster, but rather in seventh-century Lombardy, the setting for Handel’s 1725 opera, Rodelinda, Richard Jones’s 2014 production of which is currently being revived at English National Opera.

Amusing Old Movie Becomes Engrossing New Opera

Director Mario Bava’s motion picture, Hercules in the Haunted World, was released in Italy in November 1961, and in the United States in April 1964. In 2010 composer Patrick Morganelli wrote a chamber opera entitled Hercules vs. Vampires for Opera Theater Oregon.

Rigoletto at Lyric Opera of Chicago

If a credible portrayal of the title character in Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto is vital to any performance, the success of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s current, exciting production hinges very much on the memorable court jester and father sung by baritone Quinn Kelsey.

Wexford Festival Opera 2017

‘What’s the delay? A little wind and rain are nothing to worry about!’ The villagers’ indifference to the inclement weather which occurs mid-way through Jacopo Foroni’s opera Margherita - as the townsfolk set off in pursuit of two mystery assailants seen attacking a man in the forest - acquired an unintentionally ironic slant in Wexford Opera House on the opening night of Michael Sturm’s production, raising a wry chuckle from the audience.

The Genius of Purcell: Carolyn Sampson and The King's Consort at the Wigmore Hall

This celebration of The Genius of Purcell by Carolyn Sampson and The King’s Consort at the Wigmore Hall was music-making of the most absorbing and invigorating kind: unmannered, direct and refreshing.

Classical Opera/The Mozartists celebrate 20 years of music-making

Classical Opera celebrated 20 years of music-making and story-telling with a characteristically ambitious and eclectic sequence of musical works at the Barbican Hall. Themes of creation and renewal were to the fore, and after a first half comprising a variety of vocal works and short poems, ‘Classical Opera’ were succeeded by their complementary alter ego, ‘The Mozartists’, in the second part of the concert for a rousing performance of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony - a work described by Page as ‘in many ways the most iconic work in the repertoire’.

Back to Baroque and to the battle lines with English Touring Opera

Romeo and Juliet, Rinaldo and Armida, Ramadès and Aida: love thwarted by warring countries and families is a perennial trope of literature, myth and history. Indeed, ‘Love and war are all one,’ declared Miguel de Cervantes in Don Quixote, a sentiment which seems to be particularly exemplified by the world of baroque opera with its penchant for plundering Classical Greek and Roman myths for their extreme passions and conflicts. English Touring Opera’s 2017 autumn tour takes us back to the Baroque and back to the battle-lines.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Craig Colclough as Mr Conti with Maria Elena Altany as Susana [Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Opera]
26 Jan 2015

LA Opera Presents Figaro 90210

Figaro 90210 is Vid Guerrerio’s modern version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo DaPonte’s 1786 opera, The Marriage of Figaro.

LA Opera Presents Figaro 90210

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Craig Colclough as Mr Conti with Maria Elena Altany as Susana

Photos courtesy of Los Angeles Opera

 

The updating was only evident in the text. None of the music was changed, although Los Angeles Opera cut a good bit of it for the performances at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre. On opening night, January 16, 2015, stage director Melissa Crespo told the story of undocumented workers in today’s California caught in the same situations that librettist DaPonte and author Caron de Beaumarchais wrote about over 200 years before. Just as in the original, the servant who had to be clever in order to keep his job also learned how to outwit his master.

In the Guerrerio version, Count and Countess Almaviva became the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Conti. As a child, Figaro was found in a Rosarito bar wearing a Dodgers cap inscribed with the words Baby America. Thus, he insisted that American parents left him there. Susana was an undocumented worker from Mexico whom Mr. Conti threatened with deportation if she did not sleep with him. The most interesting character was the youngster that Guerrerio created to replace Cherubino: Bernard Curson, known as hip-hop artist Lil' B-Man. This scruffy teenager was in love with every woman on the property while singing Mozart, but with Bradon McDonald’s imaginative costuming, tenor Orson Van Gay II appeared to be a wild eyed rapper.

Figaro90210_BG_610_1988pub.pngJosé Adán Pérez and Maria Elena Altany as Figaro and Susana

José Adán Pérez was an endearing Figaro whose antics seemed entire logical, but vocally he was no match for Craig Colclough who sang a memorable rendition of Mr. Conti's music. Maria Elena Altany was a charming Susana who sang with a small but untiring voice. As Roxanne Conti, Greta Baldwin was a cool beauty with a soaring, creamy sound. Many characters were changed visually, but they all had to sing their usual lines in the ensembles.

Don Curzio became Bernard’s mother, Donna Curson, who tried hard to chaperone her son and young Barbara Conti. Amber Mercomes was an efficient Donna and Hayden Eberhart a delightfully gothic Barbara. Basilio, the dancing master, became Basel, an amusing English teacher who wore pink shoes. Tenor Haqumai Waring Sharpe played him to the hilt while singing with exemplary diction.

Miki Yamashita as businesswoman Soon-Yi Nam was the modern Marcellina who had brought Susana across the border. As Babayan, her enforcer, F. Scott Levin sang Bartolo’s quick and demanding patter with aplomb. Eventually, they admit to being the parents who left baby Figaro in Rosarito. As with the original opera, everything worked out perfectly in the end. Roxanne Conti forgave her philandering husband and Figaro, now a citizen, was able to marry Susana and keep her from being deported.

Performed in a three hundred-seat hall, Figaro 90210 was accompanied by piano, two violins, cello, bass and guitar. Conductor Douglas Kinney Frost brought out all the memorable melodies in the original score and after the first few minutes the listener was no longer conscious of the size of the orchestra. This was a very different version of the Mozart-DaPonte masterpiece, but it worked well in Southern California. The audience loved it and at least one extra performance has had to be scheduled.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Figaro, José Adán Pérez; Susana, Maria Elena Altany; Paul Conti, Craig Colclough; Roxanne Conti, Greta Baldwin; Barbara Conti, Hayden Eberhart; Donna Curson, Amber Mercomes; Bernard Curson, aka Lil' B-Man, Orson Van Gay II; Soon-Yi Nam, Miki Yamashita; Babayan, E. Scott Levin; Basel, Haqumai Waring Sharpe; Atzuko, David Castillo; Conductor, David Kinney Frost; Director Melissa Crespo; Scenery Designer, Sibyl Wickersheimer; Costume Designer, Bradon McDonald; Projection and Lighting Designer, Tom Ontiveros.

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):