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

Pascal Dusapin’s Passion at the Queen Elizabeth Hall

Ten years ago, I saw one of the first performances of Pascal Dusapin’s Passion at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. Now, Music Theatre Wales and National Dance Company Wales give the opera its first United Kingdom production - in an English translation by Amanda Holden from the original Italian: the first time, I believe, that a Dusapin opera has been performed in translation. (I shall admit to a slight disappointment that it was not in Welsh: maybe next time.)

Tosca in San Francisco

The story was bigger than its actors, the Tosca ritual was ignored. It wasn’t a Tosca for the ages though maybe it was (San Francisco’s previous Tosca production hung around for 95 years). P.S. It was an evening of powerful theater, and incidentally it was really good opera.

Fine performances in uneven War Requiem at the Concertgebouw

At the very least, that vehement, pacifist indictment against militarism, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, should leave the audience shaking a little. This performance by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra only partially succeeded in doing so. The cast credits raised the highest expectations, but Gianandrea Noseda, stepping in for an ailing Mariss Jansons and conducting the RCO for the first time, did not bring out the full potential at his disposal.

The Tallis Scholars at Cadogan Hall

In their typical non-emphatic way, the Tallis Scholars under Peter Phillips presented here a selection of English sacred music from the Eton Choirbook to Tallis. There was little to ruffle anyone’s feathers here, little in the way of overt ‘interpretation’ – certainly in a modern sense – but ample opportunity to appreciate the mastery on offer in this music, its remoteness from many of our present concerns, and some fine singing.

Dido and Aeneas: Academy of Ancient Music

“Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.” Well, the spectral Queen of Carthage atop the poppy-strewn sarcophagus wasn’t quite yet “laid in earth”, but the act of remembering, and remembrance, duly began during the first part of this final instalment of the Academy of Ancient Music’s Purcell trilogy at the Barbican Hall.

Poignantly human – Die Zauberflöte, La Monnaie

Mozart Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) at La Monnaie /De Munt, Brussels, conducted by Antonello Manacorda, directed by Romeo Castellucci. Part allegory, part Singspeile, and very much a morality play, Die Zauberflöte is not conventional opera in the late 19th century style. Naturalist realism is not what it's meant to be. Cryptic is closer to what it might mean.

Covent Garden: Wagner’s Siegfried, magnificent but elusive

How do you begin to assess Covent Garden’s Siegfried? From a purely vocal point of view, this was a magnificent evening; it’s hard not to reach the conclusion that this was as fine a cast as you are likely to hear anywhere today.

Powerful Monodramas: Zender, Manoury and Schoenberg

The concept of the monologue in opera has existed since the birth of opera itself, but when we come to monodramas - with the exception of Rousseau’s Pygmalion (1762) - we are looking at something that originated at the beginning of the twentieth century.

ENO's Salome both intrigues and bewilders

Femme fatale, femme nouvelle, she-devil: the personification of patriarchal castration-anxiety and misogynistic terror of female desire.

In the Company of Heaven: The Cardinall's Musick at Wigmore Hall

Palestrina led from the front, literally and figuratively, in this performance at Wigmore Hall which placed devotion to the saints at its heart, with Saints Peter, Paul, Catherine of Alexandria, Bartholomew and the Virgin Mary all musically honoured by The Cardinall’s Musick and their director Andrew Carwood.

Roberto Devereux in San Francisco

Opera’s triple crown, Donizetti’s tragic queens — Anna Bolena who was beheaded by her husband Henry VIII, their daughter Elizabeth I who beheaded her rival Mary, Queen of Scots and who executed her lover Roberto Devereux.

O18: Queens Tries Royally Hard

Opera Philadelphia is lightening up the fare at its annual festival with a three evening cabaret series in the Theatre of Living Arts, Queens of the Night.

O18 Magical Mystery Tour: Glass Handel

How to begin to quantify the wonderment stirred in my soul by Opera Philadelphia’s sensational achievement that is Glass Handel?

A lunchtime feast of English song: Lucy Crowe and Joseph Middleton at Wigmore Hall

The September sunshine that warmed Wigmore Street during Monday’s lunch-hour created the perfect ambience for this thoughtfully compiled programme of seventeenth- and twentieth-century English song presented by soprano Lucy Crowe and pianist Joseph Middleton at Wigmore Hall.

O18: Mad About Lucia

Opera Philadelphia has mounted as gripping and musically ravishing an account of Lucia di Lammermoor as is imaginable.

O18 Poulenc Evening: Moins C’est Plus

In Opera Philadelphia’s re-imagined La voix humaine, diva Patricia Racette had a tough “act” to follow ...

O18: Unsettling, Riveting Sky on Swings

Opera Philadelphia’s annual festival set the bar very high even by its own gold standard, with a troubling but mesmerizing world premiere, Sky on Wings.

Simon Rattle — Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage, and Britten

Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra marked the opening of the 2018-2019 season with a blast. Literally, for Sir Harrison Birtwistle's new piece Donum Simoni MMXVIII was an explosion of brass — four trumpets, trombones, horns and tuba, bursting into the Barbican Hall. When Sir Harry makes a statement, he makes it big and bold !

OSJ: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Harem

Opera San Jose kicked off its 35th anniversary season with a delectably effervescent production of their first-ever mounting of Mozart’s youthful opus, The Abduction from the Seraglio.

Isouard's Cinderella: Bampton Classical Opera at St John's Smith Square

A good fairy-tale sweeps us away on a magic carpet while never letting us forget that for all the enchanting transformations, beneath the sorcery lie essential truths.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

A scene from Turandot [Photo by R. Tinker]
08 May 2015

Manitoba Opera: Turandot

There’s little doubt that Puccini’s Turandot is a flawed, illogical fairytale. Yet it continues to resonate today with its undying “love shall conquer all” ethos, where even the most heinous crimes may be forgiven by that which makes the world go ‘round.

Manitoba Opera: Turandot

A review by Holly Harris

Above: A scene from Turandot

Photos by R. Tinker

 

Manitoba Opera closed its 2014/15 season with its first staging of the Asian-inspired drama since 1996, with three performances held April 18, 21, and 24. The 165-minute production (including two intermissions) stage directed by Winnipeg-born Tom Diamond also featured Tyrone Paterson ably leading the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra through Puccini’s lushly orchestrated score infused with exotic, Eastern flavoured themes.

Moscow-born soprano Mlada Khudoley who also appeared in the title role during MO’s 2011 production of Salome re-affirmed her status as an operatic force of nature. Her dramatic intensity seemed only to grow with each passing scene, from her first veiled, “teaser” entry where she silently perches atop sky-high scaffolding, to final duet “Del primo pianto,” in which she confesses her love to Calàf. Her mesmerizing emotional trajectory where she melts before our eyes from a stony cold princess to deeply wounded woman hiding behind pride and power proved masterful. Khudoley’s powerhouse vocals, and especially during Act II’s pivotal scene in which she poses the three cryptic riddles to Calàf enthralled with her every penetrating note.

_RWT9633.png

Winnipeg-based soprano Lara Ciekiewicz also shone in her role debut as slave girl — and moral presence — Liù. She crafted her guileless character with utter simplicity, faithfully tending to American bass Valerian Ruminski’s deposed Tartar King Timur, while begging Calàf to abandon his obsessive pursuit of Turandot during Act I’s “Signore, ascolta!” Her crystal clear voice radiated sincerity during Act III’s “Tu che di gel sei cinta,” performed just before taking her own life in order to spare Calàf’s.

Cuban-born lyric tenor Raùl Melo marking his MO debut did not fare as well. His voice struggled to project at times, albeit did grow increasingly stronger throughout the show. His iconic Act II aria “Nessun Dorma,” should be a showstopper. Melo showed some strain in his upper range, with clunky amplification of the backstage chorus also becoming a distraction. And while yes, the show did go on, his strong conviction and commitment to this character nevertheless earned loud cheers from the clearly rapt audience.

Ping (Benjamin Covey), Pang (Keith Klassen) and Pong (Christopher Mayell) made a magical entrance during their opening trio, “Fermo, che fai?,” pushed about in wheeled, skirted pedestals. Their dreamy Act II “Ho una casa nell’Honan,” where they pine for their former homes with peaceful, bamboo-flanked lakes became another highlight.

_TNK7761.png

The lavish production including vibrantly colourful sets/costumes from Opera Carolina created stunning eye candy, including effective video/stills projections that added further dimensionality and contemporary appeal. The image of skulls bobbing in blood does not easily leave the imagination — but neither does the luminous, breathtaking moon or starry night sky that served as visual canvas for the top of Act II.

Characters positioned on towering scaffolds clearly showed the pecking order of power. The Emperor Altoum wonderfully sung by Manitoban bass Terence Mierau — and notably real-life farmer — seated among shards of light at the very height of the hall added gravitas to the entire production.

The Manitoba Opera Chorus prepared by Tadeusz Biernacki was augmented by Children’s Chorus led by Carolyn Boyes, with the latter ensemble’s pure voices singing of the rising moon in “Perche tarda la luna?” stirring.

Opera at its grandest should ideally move the heart or inspire the soul — as witnessed during MO’s brilliant season-opener of Fidelio last November. However, Puccini’s opera remains a conundrum; a fantastical tale that ends happily ever only after its most innocent characters, Liù and her countless suitors including the Prince of Persia (George Nytepchuk) have become brutally slaughtered.

Still, MO is to be commended for breathing new life into this ice princess after an absence of 19 years. The opening night audience certainly seemed to agree, especially melted by Khudoley’s gripping performance, and springing to its feet at the end with cries of bravo.

Holly Harris

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):