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

Claude Debussy and Lili Boulanger commemorated at the Proms

Two French commemorations - ‘anniversaries’ always seems the wrong word - and surely is - here: the centenary of the deaths of Claude Debussy and Lili Boulanger.

Pique Dame in Salzburg

It was emeritus night at the Salzburg Festival with 75 year old maestro Mariss Jansons conducting 77 year old stage director Hans Neuenfels production about Pushkin’s 87 year old countess known as the Pique Dame.

Lohengrin at Bayreuth

Three electrifying moments and the world is forever changed.

Salome in Salzburg

A Romeo Castellucci production is always news, it is even bigger news just now in Salzburg where Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian has made her debut as the fifteen year-old Salome.

Vaughan Williams Dona nobis pacem - BBC Prom 41

Prom 41 at the Royal Albert Hall, London, with Edward Gardner conducting the BBCSO in Vaughan Williams's Dona nobis pacem, Elgar's Cello Concerto (Jean-Guihen Queyras) and Lili Boulanger . Extremely perceptive performances that revealed deep insight, far more profound than the ostensible "1918" theme

John Wilson brings Broadway to South Kensington: West Side Story at the BBC Proms

There were two, equal ‘stars’ of this performance of the authorised concert version of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story at the Royal Albert Hall: ‘Lenny’ himself, whose vibrant score - by turns glossy and edgy - truly shone, and conductor John Wilson, who made it gleam, and who made us listen afresh and intently to every coloristic detail and toe-tapping, twisting rhythm.

Prom 36: Webern, Mahler, and Wagner

One of the joys of writing regularly – sometimes, just sometimes, I think too regularly – about performance has been the transformation, both conscious and unconscious, of my scholarship.

Prom 33: Thea Musgrave, Phoenix Rising, and Johannes Brahms, Ein deutsches Requiem, op.45

I am not sure I could find much of a connection between the two works on offer here. They offered ‘contrast’ of a sort, I suppose, yet not in a meaningful way such as I could discern.

Gianni Schicchi by Oberlin in Italy

It’s an all too rare pleasure to see Puccini’s only comedy as a stand alone opera. And more so when it is a careful production that uncovers the all too often overlooked musical and dramatic subtleties that abound in Puccini’s last opera.

Sarah Connolly and Joseph Middleton journey through the night at Cadogan Hall

The mood in the city is certainly soporific at the moment, as the blistering summer heat takes its toll and the thermometer shows no signs of falling. Fittingly, mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly and pianist Joseph Middleton presented a recital of English song settings united by the poetic themes of night, sleep, dreams and nightmares, juxtaposing masterpieces of the early-twentieth-century alongside new works by Mark-Anthony Turnage and Australian composer Lisa Illean, and two ‘long-lost’ songs by Britten.

Vanessa: Keith Warner's Glyndebourne production exposes truths and tragedies

“His child! It must not be born!” Keith Warner’s new production of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa for Glyndebourne Festival Opera makes two births, one intimated, the other aborted, the driving force of the tragedy which consumes two women, Vanessa and her niece Erika, rivals for the same young man, Anatol, son of Vanessa’s former lover.

Rollicking Rossini in Santa Fe

Santa Fe Opera welcomed home a winningly animated production of L’Italiana in Algeri this season that utterly delighted a vociferously responsive audience.

Rock solid Strauss Salomé- Salzburg

Richard Strauss Salomé from the Salzburg Festival, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, a powerful interpretation of an opera which defies easy answers, performed and produced with such distinction thast it suceeds on every level. The words "Te saxa Loquuntur" (The stones are speaking to you) are projected onto the stage. Salzburg regulars will recognize this as a reference to the rock foundations on which part of the city is built, and the traditions of excellence the Festival represents. In this opera, the characters talk at cross-purposes, hearing without understanding. The phrase suggests that what might not be explicitly spoken might have much to reveal.

Prom 26: Dido and Cleopatra – Queens of Fascination

In this, her Proms debut, Anna Prohaska offered something akin to a cantata of two queens, complementary and contrasted: Dido and Cleopatra. Returning in a sense to her ‘early music’ roots – her career has always been far richer, more varied, but that world has always played an important part – she collaborated with the Italian ‘period’ ensemble, Il Giardino Armonico and Giovanni Antonini.

Parsifal: Munich Opera Festival

And so, this year’s Munich Opera Festival and this year’s Bavarian State Opera season came to a close with everyone’s favourite Bühnenweihfestspiel, Parsifal, in the final outing this time around for Pierre Audi’s new production.

Santa Fe: Atomic Doesn’t Quite Ignite

What more could we want than having Peter Sellars re-imagine his acclaimed staging of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic at the renowned Santa Fe Opera festival?

Santa Fe: Continuing a Proud Strauss Tradition

Santa Fe Opera has an enduring reputation for its Strauss, and this season’s enjoyable Ariadne auf Naxos surely made John Crosby smile proudly.

From the House of the Dead: Munich Opera Festival

Frank Castorf might have been born to direct From the House of the Dead. In this, his third opera project - or better, his third opera project in the opera house, for his Volksbühne Meistersinger must surely be reckoned with, even by those of us who did not see it - many of his hallmarks and those of his team are present, yet without the slightest hint of staleness, of anything other than being reborn for and in the work.

Haydn's Orlando Paladino in Munich

Should you not like eighteenth-century opera very much, if at all, and should you have no or little interest in Haydn either, this may have been the production for you. The fundamental premise of Axel Ranisch’s staging of Orlando Paladino seems to have been that this was a work of little fundamental merit, or at least a work in a genre of little such merit, and that it needed the help of a modern medium - perhaps, it might even be claimed, an equivalent medium - to speak to a contemporary audience.

Donizetti's 'Regiment' Ride the Highway: Opera della Luna at Wilton's Music Hall

'The score … is precisely one of those works that neither the composer nor the public takes seriously. The harmony, melody, rhythmic effects, instrumental and vocal combinations; it’s music, if you wish, but not new music. The orchestra consumes itself in useless noises…'

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Lindsay Russell as The Queen of the Night announces her presence to David Margulis as Tamino [Photo by Tim Trumble]
19 Mar 2015

Arizona Opera Presents Magritte Style Magic Flute

On March 7, 2015, Arizona Opera presented Dan Rigazzi’s production of Die Zauberflöte in Tucson. Inspired by the works of René Magritte, designer John Pollard filled the stage with various sizes of picture frames, windows, and portals from which he leads us into Mozart and Schikaneder’s dream world.

Arizona Opera Presents Magritte Style Magic Flute

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Lindsay Russell as The Queen of the Night announces her presence to David Margulis as Tamino

Photos by Tim Trumble

 

In 1790 and 1791, Emanuel Schikaneder produced a series of fairy-tale operas at the Theater auf der Wieden that culminated with the premiere of Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) for which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote the music. Although Schikaneder probably wrote the libretto, Karl Ludwig Giesecke, the playwright he most often worked with, also claimed authorship. The writer based his text on earlier plays such as Sophie Seyler’s Oberon. By combining elements of Masonic ritual with fairy tale opera, the librettist created a fine musical work in which a clever artist could make good use of his abilities as a comedian and a singer. Although Mozart died shortly after its premiere, The Flute was a monumental success that was seen over a hundred times in the short space of a few months. Schikaneder wrote, “Mozart’s work is beyond all praise. One feels only too keenly, on hearing this or any other of his music, what the art has lost in him.”

On March 7, 2015, Arizona Opera presented Dan Rigazzi’s production of Die Zauberflöte in Tucson. Inspired by the works of René Magritte, designer John Pollard filled the stage with various sizes of picture frames, windows, and portals from which he leads us into Mozart and Schikaneder’s dream world. Costume Designer Leslie Bernstein’s clothing was timeless and opulent but she might have been wiser if she had avoided thinly veiled midriffs for singers because of their constant use of muscles in that area of the body.

MagicFlute Tim Trumble 24.pngChad Sloan as Papageno with chorus ladies

The star of the show was Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artist Sarah Tucker who sang Pamina. She has already been a Marcello Giordani Young Artist and Metropolitan Opera National Council 2014 Auditions semifinalist. Her voice was sweet and her high notes had a radiant bloom. David Margulis was an energetic Tamino who was only momentarily laid low by Pollard’s iconic monster. He sang with sumptuous lyrical sounds conveyed on a well-honed legato. Chad Sloan was a sparkling Papageno with a robust voice who never stopped moving. He made you believe he could easily capture the most elusive birds with his bare hands. As Papagena, the lover who does not appear until the last act, Rhea Miller sang with dulcet tones and showed a great deal of affection for the many children who magically appeared when the couple sang of their love.

The Three Ladies, soprano Andrea Shokery, along with mezzo-sopranos Beth Lytwynec and Maria Dominique Lopez, sang with limpid harmonies while taking advantage of every comedic possibility. As the Queen of the night, Lindsay Russell negotiated the highest notes with unusual security, blazed through its difficult runs, and gave her character understandable human traits. I couldn’t help wondering about the age-old question as to whether she had once been Sarastro’s lover! He hated her with more emotion than anyone would waste on a casual enemy! A fine bass, Nicholas Masters sang his character’s views passionately with robust bronze tonal colors.

Second year Studio Artist Calvin Griffin sang the Speaker and the lower-voiced Armed Man with stentorian tones. Ian McEuen was a thoroughly amusing Monostatos while Studio Artists Andrew Penning and Chris Carr were committed priests. Dressed in resplendent costumes, Henri Venanzi’s choristers combined visual spectacle with vocal acumen as they sang Mozart’s immortal harmonies. Scott Terrell’s conducting was generally brisk and he followed the singers, giving them the space they needed to form believable characters. Only on a few occasions did he slow down enough to slacken the tension for a moment or two of respite. We had a pleasant trip to Tucson and hearing the performance in a different hall provided an interesting contrast.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Tamino, David Margulis; Papageno, Chad Sloan; Pamina, Sarah Tucker; Queen of the Night, Lindsay Russell; First Lady Andrea Shokery; Second Lady, Beth Lytwynec; Third Lady, Maria Dominique Lopez; Sarastro, Nicholas Masters; Monostatos, Ian McEuen; Papagena, Rhea Miller; First Priest/Armored Man, Andrew Penning; Speaker/Second Armored Man, Calvin Griffin; Second Priest, Chris Carr; Spirits: Liam Boyd, Noah Sharma, Owen Lamb; Conductor, Scott Terrell; Stage Director, Dan Rigazzi; Scenic Designer, John Pollard, Lighting and Projection Designer, Douglas Provost; Chorus Master, Henri Venanzi.

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):