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

Eugene Onegin at Seattle

Passion! Pain! Poetry! (but hold the irony . . .)

Pow! Zap! Zowie! Wowie! -or- Arthur, King of Long Beach

If you might have thought a late 17thcentury semi-opera about a somewhat precious fairy tale monarch might not be your cup of twee, Long Beach Opera cogently challenges you to think again.

Philippe Jaroussky and Jérôme Ducros perform Schubert at Wigmore Hall

How do you like your Schubert? Let me count the ways …

Crebassa and Say: Impressionism and Power at Wigmore Hall

On paper this seemed a fascinating recital, but as I was traveling to the Wigmore Hall it occurred to me this might be a clash of two great artists. Both Marianne Crebassa and Fazil Say can be mercurial performers and both can bring such unique creativity to what they do one thought they might simply diverge. In the event, what happened was quite remarkable.

'Songs of Longing and Exile': Stile Antico at LSO St Luke's

Baroque at the Edge describes itself as the ‘no rules’ Baroque festival. It invites ‘leading musicians from all backgrounds to take the music of the Baroque and see where it leads them’.

Richard Jones' La bohème returns to Covent Garden

Richard Jones' production of Puccini's La bohème is back at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden after its debut in 2017/18. The opening night, 10th January 2020, featured the first of two casts though soprano Sonya Yoncheva, who was due to sing Mimì, had to drop out owing to illness, and was replaced at short notice by Simona Mihai who had sung the role in the original run and is due to sing Musetta later in this run.

Don Giovanni at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Mozart’s Don Giovanni returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in the Robert Falls updating of the opera to the 1930s. The universality of Mozart’s score proves its adaptability to manifold settings, and this production featured several outstanding, individual performances.

Britten and Dowland: lutes, losses and laments at Wigmore Hall

'Of chord and cassiawood is the lute compounded;/ Within it lie ancient melodies'.

Tara Erraught sings Loewe, Mahler and Hamilton Harty at Wigmore Hall

During those ‘in-between’ days following Christmas and before New Year, the capital’s cultural institutions continue to offer fare both festive and more formal.

Prayer of the Heart: Gesualdo Six and the Brodsky Quartet

Robust carol-singing, reindeer-related muzak tinkling through department stores, and light-hearted festive-fare offered by the nation’s choral societies may dominate the musical agenda during the month of December, but at Kings Place on Friday evening Gesualdo Six and the Brodsky Quartet eschewed babes-in-mangers and ding-donging carillons for an altogether more sedate and spiritual ninety minutes of reflection and ‘musical prayer’.

The New Season at the New National Theatre, Tokyo

Professional opera in Japan is roughly a century old. When the Italian director and choreographer Giovanni Vittorio Rosi (1867-1940) mounted a production of Cavalleria Rusticana in Italian in Tokyo in 1917, with Japanese singers, he brought a period of timid experimentation and occasional student performances to an end.

Handel's Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall

For those of us who live in a metropolitan bubble, where performances of Handel's Messiah by small professional ensembles are common, it is easy to forget that for many people, Handel's masterpiece remains a large-scale choral work. My own experiences of Messiah include singing the work in a choir of 150 at the Royal Albert Hall, and the venue's tradition of performing the work annually dates back to the 19th century.

What to Make of Tosca at La Scala

La Scala’s season opened last week with Tosca. This was perhaps the preeminent event in Italian cultural and social life: paparazzi swarmed politicians, industrialists, celebrities and personalities, while almost three million Italians watched a live broadcast on RAI 1. Milan was still buzzing nine days later, when I attended the third performance of the run.

La traviata at Covent Garden: Bassenz’s triumphant Violetta in Eyre’s timeless production

There is a very good reason why Covent Garden has stuck with Richard Eyre’s 25-year old production of La traviata. Like Zeffirelli’s Tosca, it comes across as timeless whilst being precisely of its time; a quarter of a century has hardly faded its allure, nor dented its narrative clarity. All it really needs is a Violetta to sweep us off our feet, and that we got with Hrachuhi Bassenz.

'Aspects of Love': Jakub Józef Orliński at Wigmore Hall

Boretti, Predieri, Conti, Matteis, Orlandini, Mattheson: masters of the Baroque? Yes, if this recital by Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński is anything by which to judge.

Otello at Covent Garden: superb singing defies Warner’s uneven production

I have seen productions of Verdi’s Otello which have been revolutionary, even subversive. I have now seen one which is the complete antithesis of that.

Solomon’s Knot: Charpentier - A Christmas Oratorio

When Marc-Antoine Charpentier returned from Rome to Paris in 1669 or 1670, he found a musical culture in his native city that was beginning to reject the Italian style, which he had spent several years studying with the Jesuit composer Giacomo Carissimi, in favour of a new national style of music.

A Baroque Odyssey: 40 Years of Les Arts Florissants

In 1979, the Franco-American harpsichordist and conductor, William Christie, founded an early music ensemble, naming it Les Arts Florissants, after a short opera by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

Miracle on Ninth Avenue

Gian Carlo Menotti’s holiday classic, Amahl and the Night Visitors, was the first recorded opera I ever heard. Each Christmas Eve, while decorating the tree, our family sang along with the (still unmatched) original cast version. We knew the recording by heart, right down to the nicks in the LP. Ever since, no matter what the setting or the quality of a performance, I cannot get through it without tearing up.

Detlev Glanert: Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch (UK premiere)

It is perhaps not surprising that the Hamburg-born composer Detlev Glanert should count Hans Werner Henze as one of the formative influences on his work - he did, after all, study with him between 1984 to 1988.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

26 Mar 2015

Ars Minerva presents Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra in San Francisco

It is thanks to Céline Ricci, mezzo-soprano and director of Ars Minerva, that we have been able to again hear Daniele Castrovillari’s exquisite melodies because she is the musician who has brought his 1662 opera La Cleopatra to life.

Ars Minerva presents Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra in San Francisco

A review by Maria Nockin

 

Ars Minerva is a new San Francisco based company that is presenting the Carnival Series Project: music that was played during the seventeenth century Venetian season of Carnevale, the name of which means goodbye to meat. This time of year culminated in Martedi Grasso (Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday) the day before Ash Wednesday, which begins the penitential season of Lent. Carnevale di Venezia was famous not only for its music but also for its elaborate masks, facsimiles of which were on view in the lobby of the Marines Memorial Theater at La Cleopatra.

On March 14 and 15, 2015, Céline Ricci directed the up-to-date, realistic action of Castrovillari’s timeless opera. I saw the matinee performance on the fifteenth. The stage design by Matthew Holmes consisted of necessary pieces of furniture and a screen on which scenic elements were projected as though reflected in an imaginary pool. Together with Brian Poedy’s lighting, each scene was effectively put in its correct setting. Ricci was a glorious Queen Cleopatra whose regal persona turned romantic when she was with Marc Antonio. Vocally, she endowed her music with a wide variety of colors while conveying every emotional expression from protestations of love to death threats.

In this piece, Marc Antonio, sung with a secure line by countertenor Randall Scotting, was a straying husband whose wife, Ottavia, was anything but a wilting flower. Nell Snaidas sang Ottavia with power and passion as she tried to persuade a servant to kill the queen. Igor Viera, dressed in rough clothing and a grass hat, sang Clisterno with a robust sound. Together with Michael Desnoyers as the smart-mouthed, cross dressing elderly servant, Filenia, he brought moments of comic relief to this otherwise dramatic story.

Jennifer Ellis Kampani sang Coriaspe with sumptuous tones and iridescent waves of musical color. Hers is a voice from which I hope to hear a great deal more. Molly Mahoney was a mellifluous Arsinoe and Spencer Dodd sang with burnished tones in the dual roles of Dolabella and Arante.

The Marines Memorial Theater is not overly big and Derek Tam’s Baroque players filled the space with gorgeous sound. Tam played the harpsichord and conducted. Adam Cockerham played theorbo and guitar. Gretchen Claassen played cello, while Natalie Carducci and Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo played first and second violins. It was a great treat to hear this beautiful, well-composed opera that has been unjustly forgotten for so long. Thank you, Céline Ricci, for bringing it to us.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Cleopatra, Céline Ricci; Marc Antonio, Randall Scotting; Ottavia, Nell Snaidas; Coriaspe, Jennifer Ellis Kampani; Arsinoe, Molly Mahoney; Filenia, Michael Desnoyers; Clisterno, Igor Viera; Dolabella/Ariante, Spencer Dodd; Augusto, Anders Froelich; Domitio, James Hogan; Director, Céline Ricci; Video Stage Design, Matthew Holmes, Lighting Design, Brian Poedy; Conductor, Derek Tam; Theorbo and Guitar, Adam Cockerham; Cello, Gretchen Claassen; Violin I, Natalie Carducci; Violin II, Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo.

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):