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

A Donizetti world premiere: Opera Rara at the Royal Opera House

There may be sixty or so operas by Donizetti to choose from, but if you’ve put together the remnants of another one, why not give everyone a chance to hear it? And so, Opera Rara brought L’Ange de Nisida to the concert stage last night, 180 years after it was composed for the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris, conductor Sir Mark Elder leading a team of bel canto soloists and the Choir and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in a committed and at times stirring performance.

A stellar Ariadne auf Naxos at Investec Opera Holland Park

Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos is a strange operatic beast. Originally a Molière-Hofmannsthal-Strauss hybrid, the 1916 version presented in Vienna ditched Le bourgeois gentilhomme, which had preceded an operatic telling of the Greek myth of Ariadne and Theseus, and replaced it with a Prologue in which buffa met seria as competing factions prepared to present an entertainment for ‘the richest man in Vienna’. He’s a man who has ordered two entertainments, to follow an epicurean feast, and he wants these dramatic digestifs served simultaneously.

PROM 5: Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande

Stefan Herheim’s production of Debussy’s magnificent 1902 opera for Glyndebourne has not been universally acclaimed. The Royal Albert Hall brought with it, in this semi-staged production, a different set of problems - and even imitated some of the production’s original ones, notably the vast shadow of the organ which somewhat replicates Glyndebourne’s 1920’s Organ Room, and by a huge stretch of the imagination the forest in which so much of the opera’s action is set.

Thought-Provoking Concert in Honor of Bastille Day

Sopranos Elise Brancheau and Shannon Jones, along with pianists Martin Néron and Keith Chambers, presented a thrilling evening of French-themed music in an evening entitled: “Salut à la France,” at the South Oxford Space in Brooklyn this past Saturday, July 14th.

Dido in Deptford: Blackheath Halls Community Opera

Polly Graham’s vision of Dido and Aeneas is earthy, vigorous and gritty. The artistic director of Longborough Festival Opera has overseen a production which brings together professional soloists, students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and a cast of more than 80 south-east London adults and children for this, the 12th, annual Blackheath Halls Community Opera.

Summer madness and madcap high jinxs from the Jette Parker Young Artists

The operatic extracts which comprised this year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance seemed to be joined by a connecting thread - madness: whether that was the mischievousness of Zerbinetta’s comedy troupe, the insanity of Tom Rakewell, the metaphysical distress of Hamlet, or the mayhem prompted by Isabella’s arrival at Mustafà’s Ottoman palace, the ‘insanity’ was equally compelling.

Mefistofele at Orange’s Chorégies

This is the one where a very personable devil tells God that mankind is so far gone it isn’t worth his time to bother corrupting it further.

Mascagni's Isabeau rides again at Investec Opera Holland Park

There seemed to me to be something distinctly Chaucerian about Martin Lloyd-Evans’ new production of Mascagni’s Isabeau (the first UK production of the opera) for Investec Opera Holland Park.

The 2018 BBC Proms opens in flamboyant fashion

Anniversaries and commemorations will, as usual, feature significantly during the 2018 BBC Proms, with the works of Leonard Bernstein, Claude Debussy and Lili Boulanger all prominently programmed during the season’s myriad orchestral, vocal and chamber concerts.

Banff’s Hell of an Orphée+

Against the Grain Theatre brought its award winning adaptation of Gluck’s opera to the Banff Festival billed as “an electronic baroque burlesque descent into hell.”

A Choral Trilogy at the Aix Festival

What Seven Stones (the amazing accentus / axe 21), and Dido and Aeneas (the splendid Ensemble Pygmalion) and Orfeo & Majnun (the ensemble [too many to count] of eleven local amateur choruses) share, and virtually nothing else, is spectacular use of chorus.

Vintage Audi — Parsifal, Kaufmann, Pape

From the Bayerisches Staatsoper Munich, Wagner Parsifal with a dream cast - René Pape, Jonas Kaufmann and Nina Stemme, Christian Gerhaher and Wolfgang Koch, conducted by Kirill Petrenko, directed by Pierre Audi. The production is vintage Audi - stylized, austere, but solidly thought-through.

Flight Soars High in Des Moines

Jonathan Dove’s innovative opera Flight is being lavished with an absolutely riveting new production at Des Moines Metro Opera’s resoundingly successful 2018 Festival.

Fledermaus Pops the Cork in Iowa

Like a fizzy bottle of champagne, Des Moines Metro Opera uncorked a zesty tasting of Johan Strauss’s vintage Die Fledermaus (The Bat).

A spritely summer revival of Falstaff at the ROH

Robert Carson’s 2012 ROH Falstaff is a bit of a hotchpotch, but delightful nevertheless. The panelled oak, exuding Elizabethan ambience, of the first Act’s gravy-stained country club reeks of the Wodehouse-ian 1930s, but has also has to serve as the final Act’s grubby stable and the Forest of Windsor, while the central Act is firmly situated in the domestic perfection of Alice Ford’s 1950s kitchen.

Down on the Farm with Des Moines’ Copland

Ingenious Des Moines Metro Opera continued its string of site-specific hits with an endearing production of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land on the grounds of the Maytag Dairy farm.

Des Moines’ Ravishing Rusalka

Let me get right to the point: This is the Rusalka I have been waiting for all my life.

L'Ange de feu (The Fiery Angel)
in Aix

Prokofiev’s Fiery Angel is rarely performed. This new Aix Festival production to be shared with Warsaw’s Teatr Wielki exemplifies why.

Ariane à Naxos (Ariadne auf Naxos) in Aix

Yes, of course British stage director Katie Mitchell served up Richard Strauss’ uber tragic Ariadne on Naxos at a dinner table. Over the past few years Mme. Mitchell has staged quite a few household tragedies at the Aix Festival, mostly at dinner tables, though some on doorsteps.

The Skating Rink: Garsington Opera premiere

Having premiered Roxanna Panufnik’s opera Silver Birch in 2017 as part of its work with local community groups, Garsington Opera’s 2018 season included its first commission for the main opera season. David Sawer's The Skating Rink premiered at Garsington Opera this week; the opera is based on the novel by Chilean writer Roberto Bolano with a libretto by playwright Rory Mullarkey.

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):