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

Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida at the Wigmore Hall

The journey is always the same, and never the same. As Ian Bostridge remarks, at the end of his prize-winning book Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession, when the wanderer asks Der Leiermann, “Will you play your hurdy-gurdy to my songs?”, in the final song of Winterreise, the ‘crazy but logical procedure would be to go right back to the beginning of the whole cycle and start all over again’.

Turandot in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera wrapped up its 95th fall opera season just now with a bang up Turandot. It has been a season of hopeful hints that this venerable company may regain some of its former luster.

Daniel Michieletto's Cav and Pag returns to Covent Garden

It felt rather decadent to be sitting in an opera house at 12pm. Even more so given the passion-fuelled excesses of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, which might seem rather too sensual and savage for mid-day consumption.

Manitoba Opera: Madama Butterfly

Manitoba Opera opened its 45th season with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly proving that the aching heart as expressed through art knows no racial or cultural divide, with the Italian composer’s self-avowed favourite opera still able to spread its poetic wings across time and space since its Milan premiere in 1904.

Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake celebrate 25 years of music-making

In 1992, concert promoter Heinz Liebrecht introduced pianist Julius Drake to tenor Ian Bostridge and an acclaimed, inspiring musical partnership was born. On Wenlock Edge formed part of their first programme, at Holkham Hall in Norfolk; and, so, in this recital at Middle Temple Hall, celebrating their 25 years of music-making, the duo included Vaughan Williams’ Housman settings for tenor, piano and string quartet alongside works with a seventeenth-century origin or flavour.

Girls of the Golden West in San Francisco

Not many (maybe any) of the new operas presented by San Francisco Opera over the past 10 years would lure me to the War Memorial Opera House a second time around. But for Girls of the Golden West just now I would be there again tomorrow night and the next, and I am eagerly awaiting all future productions.

DiDonato is superb in Semiramide at Covent Garden

It’s taken a while for Rossini’s Semiramide to reach the Covent Garden stage. The last of the operas which Rossini composed for Italian theatres between 1810-1823, Semiramide has had only one outing at the Royal Opera House since 1887, and that was a concert version in 1986.

Philippe Jaroussky and Ensemble Artaserse at the Wigmore Hall

‘His master’s masterpiece, the work of heaven’: ‘a common fountain’ from which flow ‘pure silver drops’. At the risk of effulgent hyperbole, I’d suggest that Antonio’s image of the blessed governance and purifying power of the French court - in the opening scene of Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi - is also a perfect metaphor for the voice of French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, as it slips through Handel’s roulades like a silken ribbon.

La Rondine Takes Flight in San Jose

Kudos to San Jose Opera for offering up a wholly winning, consistently captivating new production of Puccini’s seldom performed La Rondine.

Clonter Opera Gala

Clonter’s Opera Gala in the breath-taking beautiful ball-room at the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair was a glamorously glittering smattering of opera – which made me want to run out to every opera in town.  

A New Die Walküre at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the start of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s splendid, new production of Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre conflict and resolution are portrayed throughout with moving intensity. The central character Brünnhilde is sung by Christine Goerke and her father Wotan by Eric Owens.

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.

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):