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

First staged production of Offenbach's Fantasio at Garsington

Offenbach's Fantasio is one of the works where, replacing the mad-cap satire of his earlier operettas with a more romantic melancholy, he paved the way for Les contes d'Hoffmann. Unpopular during his lifetime, Fantasio disappeared and only work by the musicologist Jean-Christophe Keck brought the score together again.

Orlando in San Francisco

George Frederic Handel was both victim and survivor of the San Francisco Opera’s Orlando seen last night on the War Memorial stage.

Anthony Negus conducts Das Rheingold at Longborough

There are those in England who decorate their front lawns with ever-smiling garden gnomes, but in rural Gloucestershire the Graham family has gone one better; their converted barn is inhabited, not by diminutive porcelain figures, but fantasy creatures of Norse mythology - dwarves, giants and gods.

Carmen in San Francisco

A razzle-dazzle, bloodless Carmen at the War Memorial, further revival of Francesca Zambello’s 2006 Covent Garden production already franchised to Oslo, Sidney and Washington, D.C.

Weimar Berlin - Bittersweet Metropolis: Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra

Strictly speaking, The Weimar Republic began on 11th August 1919 when the Weimar Constitution was announced and ended with the Enabling Act of 23rd March 1933 when all power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag was disbanded.

A superb Un ballo in maschera at Investec Opera Holland Park

Investec Opera Holland Park’s brilliantly cast new production of Un ballo in maschera reunites several of the creative team from last year’s terrific La traviata, with director Rodula Gaitanou, conductor Matthew Kofi Waldren and lighting designer Simon Corder being joined by the designer, takis.

A Classy Figaro at The Grange Festival

Where better than The Grange’s magnificent grounds to present Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Hampshire’s neo-classical mansion, with its aristocratic connections and home to The Grange Festival, is the perfect setting to explore 18th century class structures as outlined in Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto.

A satisfying Don Carlo opens Grange Park Opera 2019

Grange Park Opera opened its 2019 season with a revival of Jo Davies fine production of Verdi's Don Carlo, one of the last (and finest) productions in the company's old home in Hampshire.

Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, 2019

The first woman composer to receive the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize could not have been a worthier candidate.

Josquin des Prez and His Legacy: Cinquecento at Wigmore Hall

The renown and repute of Josquin des Prez (c.1450-1521) both during his lifetime and in the years following his death was so extensive and profound that many works by his contemporaries, working in Northern France and the Low Countries, were mis-attributed to him. One such was the six-part Requiem by Jean Richafort (c.1480-c.1550) which formed the heart of this poised concert by the vocal ensemble Cinquecento at Wigmore Hall, in which they gave pride of place to Josquin’s peers and successors and, in the final item, an esteemed forbear.

Symphonie fantastique and Lélio United – F X Roth and Les Siècles, Paris

Symphonie fantastique and Lélio together, as they should be, with François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles livestreamed from the Philharmonie de Paris (link below). Though Symphonie fantastique is heard everywhere, all the time, it makes a difference when paired with Lélio because this restores Berlioz’s original context.

Ivo van Hove's The Diary of One Who Disappeared at the Linbury Theatre

In 1917 Leoš Janáček travelled to Luhačovice, a spa town in the Zlín Region of Moravia, and it was here that he met for the first time Kamila Stösslová, the young married woman, almost 40 years his junior, who was to be his muse for the remaining years of his life.

Manon Lescaut opens Investec Opera Holland Park's 2019 season

At this end of this performance of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at Investec Opera Holland Park, the first question I wanted to ask director Karolina Sofulak was, why the 1960s?

Karlheinz Stockhausen: Cosmic traveling through his Klavierstücke, Kontakte and Stimmung

Stockhausen. Cosmic Prophet. Two sequential concerts. Music written for piano, percussion, sound diffusion and the voice. We are in the mysterious labyrinth of one of the defining composers of the last century. That at least ninety-minutes of one of these concerts proved to be an event of such magnitude is as much down to the astonishing music Stockhausen composed as it is to the peerless brilliance of the pianist who took us on the journey through the Klavierstücke. Put another way, in more than thirty years of hearing some of the greatest artists for this instrument - Pollini, Sokolov, Zimerman, Richter - this was a feat that has almost no parallels.

Don Giovanni at Garsington Opera

A violent splash of black paint triggers the D minor chord which initiates the Overture. The subsequent A major dominant is a startling slash of red. There follows much artistic swishing and swirling by Don Giovanni-cum-Jackson Pollock. The down-at-heel artist’s assistant, Leporello, assists his Master, gleefully spraying carmine oil paint from a paint-gun. A ‘lady in red’ joins in, graffiti-ing ‘WOMAN’ across the canvas. The Master and the Woman slip through a crimson-black aperture; the frame wobbles.

A brilliant The Bartered Bride to open Garsington's 2019 30th anniversary season

Is it love or money that brings one happiness? The village mayor and marriage broker, Kecal, has passionate faith in the banknotes, while the young beloveds, Mařenka and Jeník, put their own money on true love.

A reverent Gluck double bill by Classical Opera

In staging this Gluck double bill for Classical Opera, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, director John Wilkie took a reverent approach to classical allegory.

Time Stands Still: L'Arpeggiata at Wigmore Hall

Christina Pluhar would presumably irritate the Brexit Party: she delights in crossing borders and boundaries. Mediterraneo, the programme that she recorded and performed with L’Arpeggiata in 2013, journeyed through the ‘olive frontier’ - Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Spain, southern Italy - mixing the sultry folk melodies of Greece, Spain and Italy with the formal repetitions of Baroque instrumental structures, and added a dash of the shady timbres and rhythmic litheness of jazz.

Puccini’s Tosca at The Royal Opera House

Sitting through Tosca - and how we see and hear it these days - does sometimes make one feel one hasn’t been to the opera but to a boxing match. Joseph Kerman’s lurid, inspired or plain wrong-headed description of this opera as ‘a shabby little shocker’ was at least half right in this tenth revival of Jonathan Kent’s production.

A life-affirming Vixen at the Royal Academy of Music

‘It will be a dream, a fairy tale that will warm your heart’: so promised a preview article in Moravské noviny designed to whet the appetite of the Brno public before the first performance of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen at the town’s Na hradbách Theatre on 6th November 1924.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Mercédès, Sarah Larsen; Carmen, Milena Kitic; Frasquita, Amanda Opuszynski;  Le Remendado, Jonathan Blalock; Le Dancaïre, Keith Harris.
27 Feb 2015

Carmen, Pacific Symphony

On February 19, 2015, Pacific Symphony presented its annual performance of a semi-staged opera. This year’s presentation at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, featured Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Director Dean Anthony used the front of the stage and a few solid set pieces by Scenic Designer Matt Scarpino to depict the opera’s various scenes.

Carmen, Pacific Symphony

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Mercédès, Sarah Larsen; Carmen, Milena Kitic; Frasquita, Amanda Opuszynski; Le Remendado, Jonathan Blalock; Le Dancaïre, Keith Harris.

 

Prosper Mérimée serialized his novella, Carmen, in the Revue des deux Mondes in 1845. It came out in book form the next year. The author said his inspiration was a tale the Countess of Montijo told him when he visited Spain in 1830. He said, “It was about that ruffian from Málaga who had killed his mistress.” Then he added: “As I have been studying the Gypsies for some time, I made my heroine a Gypsy." Mérimée may also have been influenced by Alexander Pushkin’s narrative poem The Gypsies, a work Mérimée translated into French.

The novella is very different from the opera. The book tells of José Lizarrabengoa, a Basque hidalgo from Navarre, whereas the opera is about the Gypsy, Carmen. Micaëla, Frasquita, and Mercédès do not appear in the novella. Le Dancaïre, is only a minor character in the story, while Le Remendado is killed by Carmen's husband one page after his introduction. Escamillo, whom Mérimée calls Lucas, is seen only in the bullring. Only one major facet of the story is true of both novella and opera: José is fatally attracted to Carmen.

1511607_CARMEN 10153119022688838__n.pngGypsy Dance: Amanda Opusynski, Milena Kitic and Sarah Larsen with dancers

On February 19, 2015, Pacific Symphony presented its annual performance of a semi-staged opera. This year’s presentation at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, featured Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Director Dean Anthony used the front of the stage and a few solid set pieces by Scenic Designer Matt Scarpino to depict the opera’s various scenes. Of course, Kathryn Wilson’s well-coordinated costumes and the ambience created by Kathy Pryzgoda’s lighting added a great deal to the cast’s ability to tell the story.

Milena Kitic, who has sung Carmen with opera companies around the world including the Metropolitan Opera and Opera Pacific, was an energetic Gypsy whose rich, lustrous golden tones soared over the orchestra and into the excellent acoustics of the 2000 seat hall. Tenor Andrew Richards was an outstanding Don José who mastered both the dramatic and the lyrical aspects of his role. The score of Carmen calls for substantial orchestral power and Richards’ voice sailed over it with ease. The surprise was that he was able to scale it down to the sweetest of pianissimos for the final notes of the “Flower Song”.

The Violetta in Pacific Symphony’s performance of La Traviata, Elizabeth Caballero, was a thoughtful Micaëla who made the audience realize what a good life José would have had if he married her. A versatile lyric soprano, she sang with strength when it was called for and with limpid, radiant tones in more lyrical moments. Konstantin Smoriginas swaggered into Lillas Pastia’s café as the reigning bullfighter and sang his “Toreador Song” with resonant, robust sounds. He seemed to be having fun with the role and the part fit him perfectly.

Soprano Amanda Opuszynski and mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen portrayed Carmen’s friends, Frasquita and Mercédès. Since Carmen and Mercédès had lower voices, it was up to Frasquita to sing the high notes and Opuszynski came through with flying colors. Larsen’s bronzed tones provided colorful harmony. As Moralès and Zuniga, Keith Harris and Andew Gangstad were credible soldiers who sang with dark tonal colors. Harris also portrayed Le Dancaïre, who together with Jonathan Blalock as Le Remendado, added to the dramatic coherence of the gang of smugglers.

Currently, Music Director Carl St. Clair is marking his twenty-fifth season with Pacific Symphony. He has guided its growth and it is now the largest Symphony Orchestra to have been formed in the United States during the past fifty years. Before he came to Costa Mesa, much of his background was in opera which he still conducts magnificently. His tempi were incisive and he brought an infectious verve to Carmen’s unforgettable melodies. It would be wonderful to hear him conduct more opera in the near future. We know that Pacific Symphony will do another opera next year. I for one very much look forward to it.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Carmen, Milena Kitic; Don José, Andrew Richards; Micaëla, Elizabeth Caballero; Escamillo, Konstantin Smoriginas; Mercédès, Sarah Larsen; Frasquita, Amanda Opuszynski; Zuniga, Andrew Gangstad; Moralès/Le Dancaïre, Keith Harris; Le Remendado, Jonathan Blalock; Conductor, Carl St. Clair; Director Dean Anthony; Scenic Designer, Matt Scarpino; Lighting Designer, Kathy Pryzgoda; Costume Coordinator, Kathryn Wilson.

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):