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 Reviews

Hugo Wolf, Italienisches Liederbuch

Nationality is a complicated thing at the best of times. (At the worst of times: well, none of us needs reminding about that.) What, if anything, might it mean for Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook? Almost whatever you want it to mean, or not to mean.

Mortal Voices: the Academy of Ancient Music at Milton Court

The relationship between music and money is long-standing, complex and inextricable. In the Baroque era it was symbiotically advantageous.

Glyndebourne Opera Cup 2018: semi-finalists announced

The semi-finalists for the first Glyndebourne Opera Cup have been announced. Following a worldwide search that attracted nearly 200 entries, and preliminary rounds in Berlin, London and Philadelphia, 23 singers aged 21-28 have been chosen to compete in the semi-final at Glyndebourne on 22 March.

ENO announces Studio Live casts and three new Harewood Artists

English National Opera (ENO) has announced the casts for Acis and Galatea and Paul Bunyan, 2018’s two ENO Studio Live productions. ENO Studio Live forms part of ENO Outside which takes ENO’s work to arts-engaged audiences that may not have considered opera before, presenting the immense power of opera in more intimate studio and theatre environments.

Handel in London: 2018 London Handel Festival

The 2018 London Handel Festival explores Handel’s relationship with the city. Running from 17 March to 16 April 2018, the Festival offers four weeks of concerts, talks, walks & film screenings explore masterpieces by Handel, from semi-staged operas to grand oratorio and lunchtime recitals.

Dartington International Summer School & Festival: 70th anniversary programme

Internationally-renowned Dartington Summer School & Festival has released the course programme for its 70th Anniversary Summer School and Festival, curated by the pianist Joanna MacGregor, that will run from 28th July to 25th of August 2018.

I Puritani at Lyric Opera of Chicago

What better evocation of bel canto than an opera which uses the power of song to dispel madness and to reunite the heroine with her banished fiancé? Such is the final premise of Vincenzo Bellini’s I puritani, currently in performance at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Iolanthe: English National Opera

The current government’s unfathomable handling of the Brexit negotiations might tempt one to conclude that the entire Conservative Party are living in the land of the fairies. In Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1882 operetta Iolanthe, the arcane and Arcadia really do conflate, and Cal McCrystal’s new production for English National Opera relishes this topsy-turvy world where peris consort with peri-wigs.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Marseille

Any Laurent Pelly production is news, any role undertaken by soprano Stephanie d’Oustrac is news. Here’s the news from Marseille.

Riveting Maria de San Diego

As part of its continuing, adventurous “Detour” series, San Diego Opera mounted a deliciously moody, proudly pulsating, wholly evocative presentation of Astor Piazzolla’s “nuevo tango” opera, Maria de Buenos Aires.

La Walkyrie in Toulouse

The Nicolas Joel 1999 production of Die Walküre seen just now in Toulouse well upholds the Airbus city’s fame as Bayreuth-su-Garonne (the river that passes through this quite beautiful, rich city).

Barrie Kosky's Carmen at Covent Garden

Carmen is dead. Long live Carmen. In a sense, both Bizet’s opera and his gypsy diva have been ‘done to death’, but in this new production at the ROH (first seen at Frankfurt in 2016) Barrie Kosky attempts to find ways to breathe new life into the show and resurrect, quite literally, the eponymous temptress.

Candide at Arizona Opera

On Friday February 2, 2018, Arizona Opera presented Leonard Bernstein’s Candide to honor the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Although all the music was Bernstein’s, the text was written and re-written by numerous authors including Lillian Hellman, Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, and Dorothy Parker, as well as the composer.

Satyagraha at English National Opera

The second of Philip Glass’s so-called 'profile' operas, Satyagraha is magnificent in ENO’s acclaimed staging, with a largely new cast and conductor bringing something very special to this seminal work.

Mahler Symphony no 8—Harding, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

From the Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, a very interesting Mahler Symphony no 8 with Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The title "Symphony of a Thousand" was dreamed up by promoters trying to sell tickets, creating the myth that quantity matters more than quality. For many listeners, Mahler 8 is still a hard nut to crack, for many reasons, and the myth is part of the problem. Mahler 8 is so original that it defies easy categories.

Wigmore Hall Schubert Birthday—Angelika Kirchschlager

At the Wigmore Hall, Schubert's birthday is always celebrated in style. This year, Angelika Kirchschlager and Julius Drake, much loved Wigmore Hall audience favourites, did the honours, with a recital marking the climax of the two-year-long Complete Schubert Songs Series. The programme began with a birthday song, Namenstaglied, and ended with a farewell, Abschied von der Erde. Along the way, a traverse through some of Schubert's finest moments, highlighting different aspects of his song output : Schubert's life, in miniature.

A Splendid Italian Spoken-Dialogue Opera: De Giosa’s Don Checco

Never heard of Nicola De Giosa (1819-85), a composer who was born in Bari (a town on the Adriatic, near the heel of Italy), but who spent most of his career in Naples? Me, neither!

Winterreise by Mark Padmore

Schubert's Winterreise is almost certainly the most performed Lieder cycle in the repertoire. Thousands of performances and hundreds of recordings ! But Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout's recording for Harmonia Mundi is proof of concept that the better the music the more it lends itself to re-discovery and endless revelation.

Ilker Arcayürek at Wigmore Hall

The first thing that struck me in this Wigmore Hall recital was the palpable sincerity of Ilker Arcayürek’s artistry. Sincerity is not everything, of course; what we think of as such may even be carefully constructed artifice, although not, I think, here.

Lisette Oropesa sings at Tucson Desert Song Festival

On January 30, 2018, Arizona Opera and the Tucson Desert Song Festival presented a recital by lyric soprano Lisette Oropesa in the University of Arizona’s Holsclaw Hall. Looking like a high fashion model in her silver trimmed midnight-blue gown, the singer and pianist Michael Borowitz began their program with Pablo Luna’s Zarzuela aria, “De España Vengo.” (“I come from Spain”).

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Tracy Cox as Ariadne [Photo by Martha Benedict]
19 May 2015

Pacific Opera Project Presents Ariadne auf Naxos

Pacific Opera Project, a small Los Angeles company, presented a production of Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos at the Ebell Club with an excellent group of young singers at the beginning of what should be good careers.

Pacific Opera Project Presents Ariadne auf Naxos

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Tracy Cox as Ariadne

Photos by Martha Benedict

 

Richard Strauss’s opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, is always a bit complicated. On May 14, 2015, Pacific Opera Project portrayed the opera’s setting as the actual opening of the Ebell Club in Highland Park, CA, in 1913. There were two contenders for the opening night’s entertainment: a newly commissioned opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, by an important new composer, and a very popular vaudeville show starring the well known entertainer, Zerbinetta. H.H. Meyer, husband of one of the club members, suggested having both shows run simultaneously. Members passed his motion so that all the indoor entertainment could conclude by 10:30 PM when technicians would set off a display of fireworks.

Pacific Opera Project, a small Los Angeles company, presented the production of the Strauss opera with an excellent group of young singers at the beginning of what should be good careers. Although the setting was 1913, the Ebell Club audience heard the 1916 edition of the opera rather than the far more difficult original version. The auditorium was set up so that the audience of two hundred sat at tables with refreshments while they watched the opera.

ariadne-duch-n-men-GOODIE-9453.pngSara Duchovnay as Zerbinetta with her troupe

The main character in the first act was The Composer. Played by Claire Shackleton, she moved extremely well and had exemplary diction but her voice tended to be unsteady on longer notes. Dialoguing with her, Music Teacher Ryan Thorn sang with burnished bronze tones. After the intermission he and Timothy Campbell sang an amusing version of Cole Porter’s Brush Up Your Shakespeare to advertise the company’s next production: Falstaff.

Tracy Cox, the Ariadne, had a huge dramatic voice that seemed ready for a much larger space. Her sound was opulent and her top notes radiant. She did not have a great deal to sing in the first act but her glorious Act II aria, Es gibt ein Reich, was definitely worth waiting for. Her accompanying trio consisted of Maria Elena Altany, Kelci Hahn, and Sarah Beaty. Altany, the Susanna in Los Angeles Opera’s Figaro 90210, sang Naiad with honeyed tones. Hahn was an attractive Echo, and Beaty handled the low notes gracefully as Dryad. Dramatic tenor Brendan Sliger sang Bacchus, the god of wine and lover of Princess Ariadne. With powerful resonant tones and firm stagecraft, he took her from dark lamentation over the loss of Theseus into the light of new love and an eternal place in the heavens.

ariadne-8135.pngBrendan Sliger as Bacchus and Tracy Cox as Ariadne

Sara Duchovnay sang Zerbinetta, the leading lady of the vaudeville company who finds herself onstage at the same time as the operatic tragedy. Duchovnay is a charismatic stage creature. Although she does not have a trill and she tossed some of the coloratura runs off rather lightly, she was a fascinating Zerbinetta. When she was onstage all eyes were upon her. Her troupe included Nicholas LaGesse as Harlequin, Jon Lee Keenan as Scaramuccio, Robert Norman as Brighella and Keith Colclough as Truffaldino. All were capable vaudevillians with the most interesting voices coming from Norman and LaGesse.

This production did not need a full sized orchestra because of the size of the hall. Christopher Fechteau’s reduction of each group to a single instrument was adequate accompaniment. Conductor Stephen Karr led his players in smart, brisk tempi while giving the singers enough leeway to create believable characters and bring out emotional expression. This production of Ariadne auf Naxos introduced an interesting young company and allowed the Los Angeles audience to hear some fine new singers.

Maria Nockin

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):