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

Philip Venables' Denis & Katya: teenage suicide and audience complicity

As an opera composer, Philip Venables writes works quite unlike those of many of his contemporaries. They may not even be operas at all, at least in the conventional sense - and Denis & Katya, the most recent of his two operas, moves even further away from this standard. But what Denis & Katya and his earlier work, 4.48 Psychosis, have in common is that they are both small, compact forces which spiral into extraordinarily powerful and explosive events.

A new, blank-canvas Figaro at English National Opera

Making his main stage debut at ENO with this new production of The Marriage of Figaro, theatre director Joe Hill-Gibbins professes to have found it difficult to ‘develop a conceptual framework for the production to inhabit’.

Massenet’s Chérubin charms at Royal Academy Opera

“Non so più cosa son, cosa faccio … Now I’m fire, now I’m ice, any woman makes me change colour, any woman makes me quiver.”

Bluebeard’s Castle, Munich

Last year the world’s opera companies presented only nine staged runs of Béla Bartòk’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

The Queen of Spades at Lyric Opera of Chicago

If obsession is key to understanding the dramatic and musical fabric of Tchaikovsky’s opera The Queen of Spades, the current production at Lyric Opera of Chicago succeeds admirably in portraying such aspects of the human psyche.

WNO revival of Carmen in Cardiff

Unveiled by Welsh National Opera last autumn, this Carmen is now in its first revival. Original director Jo Davies has abandoned picture postcard Spain and sun-drenched vistas for images of grey, urban squalor somewhere in modern-day Latin America.

Lise Davidsen 'rescues' Tobias Kratzer's Fidelio at the Royal Opera House

Making Fidelio - Beethoven’s paean to liberty, constancy and fidelity - an emblem of the republican spirit of the French Revolution is unproblematic, despite the opera's censor-driven ‘Spanish’ setting.

A sunny, insouciant Così from English Touring Opera

Beach balls and parasols. Strolls along the strand. Cocktails on the terrace. Laura Attridge’s new production of Così fan tutte which opened English Touring Opera’s 2020 spring tour at the Hackney Empire, is a sunny, insouciant and often downright silly affair.

A wonderful role debut for Natalya Romaniw in ENO's revival of Minghella's Madama Butterfly

The visual beauty of Anthony Minghella’s 2005 production of Madama Butterfly, now returning to the Coliseum stage for its seventh revival, still takes one’s breath away.

Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at Seattle

It appears that Charlie Parker’s Yardbird has reached the end of its road in Seattle. Since it opened in 2015 at Opera Philadelphia it has played Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and the English National Opera.

La Périchole in Marseille

The most notable of all Péricholes of Offenbach’s sentimental operetta is surely the legendary Hortense Schneider who created the role back in 1868 at Paris’ Théâtre des Varietés. Alas there is no digital record.

Three Centuries Collide: Widmann, Ravel and Beethoven

It’s very rare that you go to a concert and your expectation of it is completely turned on its head. This was one of those. Three works, each composed exactly a century apart, beginning and ending with performances of such clarity and brilliance.

Seventeenth-century rhetoric from The Sixteen at Wigmore Hall

‘Yes, in my opinion no rhetoric more persuadeth or hath greater power over the mind; hath not Musicke her figures, the same which Rhetorique? What is a but her Antistrophe? her reports, but sweet Anaphora's? her counterchange of points, Antimetabole's? her passionate Aires but Prosopopoea's? with infinite other of the same nature.’

Hrůša’s Mahler: A Resurrection from the Golden Age

Jakub Hrůša has an unusual gift for a conductor and that is to make the mightiest symphony sound uncommonly intimate. There were many moments during this performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony where he grappled with its monumental scale while reducing sections of it to chamber music; times when the power of his vision might crack the heavens apart and times when a velvet glove imposed the solitude of prayer.

Full-Throated Troubador Serenades San José

Verdi’s sublimely memorable melodies inform and redeem his setting of the dramatically muddled Il Trovatore, the most challenging piece to stage of his middle-period successes.

Opera North deliver a chilling Turn of the Screw

Storm Dennis posed no disruption to this revival of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, first unveiled at Leeds Grand Theatre in 2010, but there was plenty of emotional turbulence.

Luisa Miller at English National Opera

Verdi's Luisa Miller occupies an important position in the composer's operatic output. Written for Naples in 1849, the work's genesis was complex owing to problems with the theatre and the Neapolitan censors.

Eugène Onéguine in Marseille

A splendid 1997 provincial production of Tchaikovsky’s take on Pushkin’s Bryonic hero found its way onto a major Provençal stage just now. The historic Opéra Municipal de Marseille possesses a remarkable acoustic that allowed the Pushkin verses to flow magically through Tchaikovsky’s ebullient score.

Opera Undone: Tosca and La bohème

If opera can sometimes seem unyieldingly conservative, even reactionary, it made quite the change to spend an evening hearing and seeing something which was so radically done.

A refined Acis and Galatea at Cadogan Hall

The first performance of Handel's two-act Acis and Galatea - variously described as a masque, serenata, pastoral or ‘little opera’ - took place in the summer of 1718 at Cannons, the elegant residence of James Brydges, Earl of Carnavon and later Duke of Chandos.

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):