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

A French Affair: La Nuova Musica at Wigmore Hall

A French Affair, as this programme was called, was a promising concept on paper, but despite handsomely sung contributions from the featured soloists and much energetic direction from David Bates, it never quite translated into a wholly satisfying evening’s performance.

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Susannah Biller as Marie and Stefano De Peppo as Sergeant Sulpice [Photo by Tim Trumble for Arizona Opera]
13 Apr 2015

Arizona Opera Ends Season in Fine Style with Fille du Régiment

On April 10, 2015, Arizona Opera ended its season with La Fille du Régiment at Phoenix Symphony Hall. A passionate Marie, Susannah Biller was a veritable energizer bunny onstage. Her voice is bright and flexible with a good bloom on top and a tiny bit of steel in it. Having created an exciting character, she sang with agility as well as passion.

Arizona Opera Ends Season in Fine Style with Fille du Régiment

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Susannah Biller as Marie and Stefano De Peppo as Sergeant Sulpice

Photos by Tim Trumble for Arizona Opera

 

While in Paris working on the French versions of his other operas, Gaetano Donizetti took some time to write an opéra-comique, La Fille du Régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment). Its French text is by Jean-François Bayard, a nephew of the famous librettist Eugène Scribe, and the prolific but rather old fashioned Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges.

After its premiere at the Opéra-Comique on February 11, 1840, Marie-Julie Halligner, who sang the Marquise of Berkenfeld, said that the performance was "a barely averted disaster" because the tenor was frequently off pitch. French critic and composer Hector Berlioz claimed that the new work could not be taken seriously, but in all probability his opinion was colored by jealousy. During a single year, Donizetti had two works performed at the Opéra, two at the Théâtre de la Renaissance, two at the Opéra-Comique, and one at the Théâtre-Italien.

La Fille du Régiment soon became popular at the Opéra-Comique and it achieved its thousandth performance within seventy years. One of the reasons for its success was the aria that defeated the premiere’s tenor, Mécène Marié de l'Isle. "Ah! Mes amis, quel jour de fête!” ("Ah, my friends, what an exciting day"), is best known for containing nine high Cs.

DofR PORTILLO reg  BILLER N REG snd 11.pngDavid Portillo as Tonio, Susannah Biller as Marie with Regiment including Stefano De Peppo as Sergeant Sulpice

On March 7, 1843, the first American performance of Fille took place at the Théâtre d'Orléans in New Orleans. It was so successful there that the company brought the opera to New York City where it was highly praised by local newspapers. As time went on, artists such as Jenny Lind, Henriette Sontag, Adelina Patti, Lily Pons, and Joan Sutherland enjoyed singing the role of Marie.

On April 10, 2015, Arizona Opera finished its season with La Fille du Régiment at Phoenix Symphony Hall. A passionate Marie, Susannah Biller was a veritable energizer bunny onstage. Her voice is bright and flexible with a good bloom on top and a tiny bit of steel in it. Having created an exciting character, she sang with agility as well as passion.

Tenor David Portillo, who has a beautiful lyric sound, had no difficulty reaching the nine high Cs in the famous aria. As lively and buoyant as Biller, bass Stefano de Peppo was a nimble, hilariously funny Sergeant Sulpice who sang with a colorful, robust voice. Donizetti did not often write major roles for lower women’s voices but the comedic Marquise of Berkenfeld is an exception. Mezzo Margaret Gawrysiak played her part broadly and showed her true vocal ability in her aria, “Pour une Femme de mon Nom” (“For a Woman with my Name”).

Arizona Opera Young Artist Program member Calvin Griffin has become a valuable member of the company. A lithe and limber comedian, he made an attentive Hortensius. Chris Carr was an amusing corporal while actress Didi Conn was an entertaining Duchess of Krakenthorpe. Like many other operas of this era, Fille has a great deal of choral music. Henri Venanzi’s singers conveyed in idiomatic French style and grace.

Right from the opening notes of the overture, the audience knew that conductor Keitaro Harada was putting his individual stamp on this piece. He combined Donizetti’s delightful melodies with dramatic musical coherence. His dynamic range was huge and he kept the playing transparent so that listeners heard all the melodic strands in the fabric of the score. This was one of the best shows of the year at Arizona Opera and it leaves us waiting with bated breath for next season. Personally, I can’t wait for Emmerich Kálmán’s operetta, Arizona Lady, a piece that has never before been seen in Arizona.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Marie, Susannah Biller; Tonio, David Portillo; Sergeant Sulpice, Stefano De Peppo; The Marquise, Margaret Gawrysiak; Hortensius, Calvin Griffin; Corporal, Chris Carr; Duchess of Krakenthorpe, Didi Conn; Notary, Ian Christiansen; Peasant, Justin Carpenter; Conductor, Keitaro Harada; Stage Director, John de los Santos; Scenic Design, Boyd Ostroff; Lighting Designer, Douglas Provost; Chorus Master, Henri Venanzi; Dancers, Phoenix Ballet; Supertitles, Keith Wolfe.

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):