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

ETO Autumn 2020 Season Announcement: Lyric Solitude

English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a season of lyric monodramas to tour nationally from October to December. The season features music for solo singer and piano by Argento, Britten, Tippett and Shostakovich with a bold and inventive approach to making opera during social distancing.

Love, always: Chanticleer, Live from London … via San Francisco

This tenth of ten Live from London concerts was in fact a recorded live performance from California. It was no less enjoyable for that, and it was also uplifting to learn that this wasn’t in fact the ‘last’ LfL event that we will be able to enjoy, courtesy of VOCES8 and their fellow vocal ensembles (more below …).

Dreams and delusions from Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper at Wigmore Hall

Ever since Wigmore Hall announced their superb series of autumn concerts, all streamed live and available free of charge, I’d been looking forward to this song recital by Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper.

Treasures of the English Renaissance: Stile Antico, Live from London

Although Stile Antico’s programme article for their Live from London recital introduced their selection from the many treasures of the English Renaissance in the context of the theological debates and upheavals of the Tudor and Elizabethan years, their performance was more evocative of private chamber music than of public liturgy.

A wonderful Wigmore Hall debut by Elizabeth Llewellyn

Evidently, face masks don’t stifle appreciative “Bravo!”s. And, reducing audience numbers doesn’t lower the volume of such acclamations. For, the audience at Wigmore Hall gave soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and pianist Simon Lepper a greatly deserved warm reception and hearty response following this lunchtime recital of late-Romantic song.

The Sixteen: Music for Reflection, live from Kings Place

For this week’s Live from London vocal recital we moved from the home of VOCES8, St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, to Kings Place, where The Sixteen - who have been associate artists at the venue for some time - presented a programme of music and words bound together by the theme of ‘reflection’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny explore Dowland's directness and darkness at Hatfield House

'Such is your divine Disposation that both you excellently understand, and royally entertaine the Exercise of Musicke.’

Paradise Lost: Tête-à-Tête 2020

‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven … that old serpent … Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Joyce DiDonato: Met Stars Live in Concert

There was never any doubt that the fifth of the twelve Met Stars Live in Concert broadcasts was going to be a palpably intense and vivid event, as well as a musically stunning and theatrically enervating experience.

‘Where All Roses Go’: Apollo5, Live from London

‘Love’ was the theme for this Live from London performance by Apollo5. Given the complexity and diversity of that human emotion, and Apollo5’s reputation for versatility and diverse repertoire, ranging from Renaissance choral music to jazz, from contemporary classical works to popular song, it was no surprise that their programme spanned 500 years and several musical styles.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 're-connect'

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields have titled their autumn series of eight concerts - which are taking place at 5pm and 7.30pm on two Saturdays each month at their home venue in Trafalgar Square, and being filmed for streaming the following Thursday - ‘re:connect’.

Lucy Crowe and Allan Clayton join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at St Luke's

The London Symphony Orchestra opened their Autumn 2020 season with a homage to Oliver Knussen, who died at the age of 66 in July 2018. The programme traced a national musical lineage through the twentieth century, from Britten to Knussen, on to Mark-Anthony Turnage, and entwining the LSO and Rattle too.

Choral Dances: VOCES8, Live from London

With the Live from London digital vocal festival entering the second half of the series, the festival’s host, VOCES8, returned to their home at St Annes and St Agnes in the City of London to present a sequence of ‘Choral Dances’ - vocal music inspired by dance, embracing diverse genres from the Renaissance madrigal to swing jazz.

Royal Opera House Gala Concert

Just a few unison string wriggles from the opening of Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro are enough to make any opera-lover perch on the edge of their seat, in excited anticipation of the drama in music to come, so there could be no other curtain-raiser for this Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, the latest instalment from ‘their House’ to ‘our houses’.

Fading: The Gesualdo Six at Live from London

"Before the ending of the day, creator of all things, we pray that, with your accustomed mercy, you may watch over us."

Met Stars Live in Concert: Lise Davidsen at the Oscarshall Palace in Oslo

The doors at The Metropolitan Opera will not open to live audiences until 2021 at the earliest, and the likelihood of normal operatic life resuming in cities around the world looks but a distant dream at present. But, while we may not be invited from our homes into the opera house for some time yet, with its free daily screenings of past productions and its pay-per-view Met Stars Live in Concert series, the Met continues to bring opera into our homes.

Precipice: The Grange Festival

Music-making at this year’s Grange Festival Opera may have fallen silent in June and July, but the country house and extensive grounds of The Grange provided an ideal setting for a weekend of twelve specially conceived ‘promenade’ performances encompassing music and dance.

Monteverdi: The Ache of Love - Live from London

There’s a “slide of harmony” and “all the bones leave your body at that moment and you collapse to the floor, it’s so extraordinary.”

Music for a While: Rowan Pierce and Christopher Glynn at Ryedale Online

“Music for a while, shall all your cares beguile.”

A Musical Reunion at Garsington Opera

The hum of bees rising from myriad scented blooms; gentle strains of birdsong; the cheerful chatter of picnickers beside a still lake; decorous thwacks of leather on willow; song and music floating through the warm evening air.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Photo by Jiyang Chen
15 May 2015

The Singers Sparkle in New York Opera Exchange’s Carmen

New York Opera Exchange’s production of Carmen from May 8th to 10th highlighted that which opera devotees have been saying for years: Opera, far from being dead, is vibrant and evolving.

The Singers Sparkle in New York Opera Exchange’s Carmen

A review by Alexis Rodda

Photos by Jiyang Chen

 

Audience members packed into the church hall at the Church of the Covenant on East 42nd Street to witness the spectacle of a small, emerging company taking on one of the grandest operas in the common repertory.

While not a traditional performance space, the production team managed to make this small church hall feel much like a genuine theater. Creative lighting placement added to the authenticity of the theatricality, and while the set was simple and unchanging for the duration of the opera, it was beautifully designed and offered a basic backdrop for the action of the opera. The stadium-style set suggested a metaphor oft-utilized in many previous Carmen productions — that Carmen and Jose are but two sparring members of a bullfighting ring.

IMG_0192.png

Indeed, the entirety of the production existed in the realm of the traditional, taking very few liberties that might have contributed to a more creatively imagined Carmen. At the same time, the production found its strength in remaining traditional. The costuming was temporally nebulous and at times inconsistent, but in general costume designer Taylor Mills offered beautiful displays of craftsmanship, in particular with Micaela’s and Carmen’s attire. The score was well-preserved, with few cuts. This allowed for the audience to experience beautiful music often missing from productions by smaller companies, particularly the chorus numbers, which shimmered in this production, especially those sung by the female chorus.

The orchestra was on the same level as the audience, but partitioned to create a semblance of a pit. There are few things more pleasing than the opportunity to hear a full, unreduced orchestra; however, in this case, the orchestra provided proof that bigger is not always better. The orchestra, under the baton of music director Alden Gatt, grew increasingly ragged throughout the night, with some notable moments of unraveling that were obvious even to the untrained ear. Intonation and rhythmic problems were rampant throughout the night, while dynamics and musical variation were sorely underutilized. Gatt appeared at times oblivious to the breathing needs of his singers, forcing the singers into some awkward phrasing choices. There were moments of beauty, however, which hinted at the potential of this orchestra with some polishing, particularly during the overture and entr’acte.

IMG_0193.png

It is to the credit of the fine group of singers that they managed as well as they did. The ensemble of singers struggled against a languid orchestra to stay on the beat, but they pulled it off admirably, especially in the jaunty smuggler’s ensemble at the close of Act II. The vocal talent was remarkable and the strongest element of NYOE’s Carmen. Avery Amereau (Carmen) has an effortlessly rich mezzo-soprano voice worthy of any professional stage in the industry, with the charisma to match. Victor Starsky’s Don Jose is terrifying and compelling, with a voice that performs vocal acrobatics with strength and beauty that remains undiminished through his final line. The scenes between Amereau and Starsky were electric like nothing else in the opera, both vocally and dramatically. The ensemble scenes sagged beneath banal and stiff staging, but vocally, each singer shone with professionalism and artistry. Of the smaller roles, Kate Farrar (Mercedes) stunned with a remarkably rich mezzo-soprano sound, while Kaley Lynn Soderquist (Micaela) soared through her high range.

Despite the kinks in this production, New York Opera Exchange is onto something, which is bringing together a community of artists, entrepreneurs, and culture-seekers. Artistic Director Justin Werner manages to infect others with his enthusiasm through sheer force of charisma and passion. Only four years old, New York Opera Exchange has serious potential to grow in excellence and artistry, and this vibrant production of Carmen suggested the beginning of this budding future.

Alexis Rodda

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):