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 Performances

Temple Winter Festival: the Gesualdo Six

‘Gaudete, gaudete!’ - Rejoice, rejoice! - was certainly the underlying spirit of this lunchtime concert at Temple Church, part of the 5th Temple Winter Festival. Whether it was vigorous joy or peaceful contemplation, the Gesualdo Six communicate a reassuring and affirmative celebration of Christ’s birth in a concert which fused medieval and modern concerns, illuminating surprising affinities.

Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida at the Wigmore Hall

The journey is always the same, and never the same. As Ian Bostridge remarks, at the end of his prize-winning book Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession, when the wanderer asks Der Leiermann, “Will you play your hurdy-gurdy to my songs?”, in the final song of Winterreise, the ‘crazy but logical procedure would be to go right back to the beginning of the whole cycle and start all over again’.

Turandot in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera wrapped up its 95th fall opera season just now with a bang up Turandot. It has been a season of hopeful hints that this venerable company may regain some of its former luster.

Daniel Michieletto's Cav and Pag returns to Covent Garden

It felt rather decadent to be sitting in an opera house at 12pm. Even more so given the passion-fuelled excesses of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, which might seem rather too sensual and savage for mid-day consumption.

Manitoba Opera: Madama Butterfly

Manitoba Opera opened its 45th season with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly proving that the aching heart as expressed through art knows no racial or cultural divide, with the Italian composer’s self-avowed favourite opera still able to spread its poetic wings across time and space since its Milan premiere in 1904.

Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake celebrate 25 years of music-making

In 1992, concert promoter Heinz Liebrecht introduced pianist Julius Drake to tenor Ian Bostridge and an acclaimed, inspiring musical partnership was born. On Wenlock Edge formed part of their first programme, at Holkham Hall in Norfolk; and, so, in this recital at Middle Temple Hall, celebrating their 25 years of music-making, the duo included Vaughan Williams’ Housman settings for tenor, piano and string quartet alongside works with a seventeenth-century origin or flavour.

Girls of the Golden West in San Francisco

Not many (maybe any) of the new operas presented by San Francisco Opera over the past 10 years would lure me to the War Memorial Opera House a second time around. But for Girls of the Golden West just now I would be there again tomorrow night and the next, and I am eagerly awaiting all future productions.

DiDonato is superb in Semiramide at Covent Garden

It’s taken a while for Rossini’s Semiramide to reach the Covent Garden stage. The last of the operas which Rossini composed for Italian theatres between 1810-1823, Semiramide has had only one outing at the Royal Opera House since 1887, and that was a concert version in 1986.

Philippe Jaroussky and Ensemble Artaserse at the Wigmore Hall

‘His master’s masterpiece, the work of heaven’: ‘a common fountain’ from which flow ‘pure silver drops’. At the risk of effulgent hyperbole, I’d suggest that Antonio’s image of the blessed governance and purifying power of the French court - in the opening scene of Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi - is also a perfect metaphor for the voice of French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, as it slips through Handel’s roulades like a silken ribbon.

La Rondine Takes Flight in San Jose

Kudos to San Jose Opera for offering up a wholly winning, consistently captivating new production of Puccini’s seldom performed La Rondine.

Clonter Opera Gala

Clonter’s Opera Gala in the breath-taking beautiful ball-room at the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair was a glamorously glittering smattering of opera – which made me want to run out to every opera in town.  

A New Die Walküre at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the start of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s splendid, new production of Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre conflict and resolution are portrayed throughout with moving intensity. The central character Brünnhilde is sung by Christine Goerke and her father Wotan by Eric Owens.

As One a Haunting Success in San Diego

San Diego Opera has mined solid gold with its mesmerizing and affecting production of As One, a part of their innovative ‘Detour Series.’

OLF: Songs by Tchaikovsky, Anton Rubinstein, Rachmaninov and Georgy Sviridov

Compared to the oft-explored world of German lieder and French chansons, the songs of Russia are unfairly neglected in recordings and in the concert hall. The raw emotion and expansive lyricism present in much of this repertoire was clearly in evidence at the Holywell Music Room for the penultimate day of the celebrated Oxford Lieder Festival.

Stockhausen’s STIMMUNG and COSMIC PULSES at the Barbican.

This concert was an event on several levels - marking a decade since the death of Stockhausen, the fortieth anniversary (almost to the day) since Singcircle first performed STIMMUNG (at the Round House), and their final public performance of the piece. It was also a rare opportunity to hear (and see) Stockhausen’s last completed purely electronic work, COSMIC PULSES - an overwhelming visual and aural experience that anyone who was at this concert will long remember.

Nico Muhly's Marnie at ENO

Winston Graham’s 1961 novel Marnie was bold for its time. Its themes of sexual repression, psychological suspense and criminality set within the dark social fabric of contemporary Britain are but outlier themes of the anti-heroine’s own narrative of deceit, guilt, multiple identities and blackmail.

TOSCA: A Dramatic Sing-Fest

On November 12, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s verismo opera, Tosca, in a dramatic production directed by Tara Faircloth. Her production utilized realistic scenery from Seattle Opera and detailed costumes from the New York City Opera. Gregory Allen Hirsch’s lighting made the set look like the church of St. Andrea as some of us may have remembered it from time gone by.

The Lighthouse: Shadwell Opera at Hackney Showroom

‘Only make the reader’s general vision of evil intense enough … and his own experience, his own imagination, his own sympathy … and horror … will supply him quite sufficiently with all the particulars. Make him think the evil, make him think it for himself, and you are released from weak specifications.’

Elisabeth Kulman sings Mahler's Rückert-Lieder with Sir Mark Elder and the Britten Sinfonia

Austrian singer Elisabeth Kulman has had an interesting career trajectory. She began her singing life as a soprano but later shifted to mezzo-soprano/contralto territory. Esteemed on the operatic stage, she relinquished the theatre for the concert platform in 2015, following an accident while rehearsing Tristan.

Tremendous revival of Katie Mitchell's Lucia at the ROH

The morning sickness, miscarriage and maundering wraiths are still present, but Katie Mitchell’s Lucia di Lammermoor, receiving its first revival at the ROH, seems less ‘hysterical’ this time round - and all the more harrowing for it.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

René Barbera [Photo by Kristin Hoebermann courtesy of Askonas Holt]
24 Sep 2015

Barbera Sings a Fascinating Recital in San Diego

On Saturday, September 19, San Diego Opera opened its 2015-2016 season with a recital by tenor René Barbera. This was the first Polly Puterbaugh Emerging Artist Award Recital and no artist could have been more deserving than the immensely talented Barbera.

Barbera Sings a Fascinating Recital in San Diego

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: René Barbera [Photo by Kristin Hoebermann courtesy of Askonas Holt]

 

The Balboa Theater, a refurbished 1924 cinema with a seating capacity of 1600, was filled with people representing a wide range of ages and ethnicities. It seemed that California opera fans already knew the tenor from his appearances in La Cenerentola in San Francisco, The Barber of Seville in Los Angeles and San Diego Opera’s Fiftieth Anniversary Concert. Cheryl Cellon Lindquist of Opera San Antonio was Barbera’s most able accompanist.

Casually dressed for the occasion, Barbera opened his program with the aria “Vieni fra queste braccia” (Come to these arms) from Gioachino Rossini’s La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie), an opera he had sung at the Rossini Festival in Pesaro, Italy, the previous month. The piece demonstrated his phenomenal ability to sing florid passages that included huge intervals and treacherous high notes. He followed it with four tenderly romantic songs by Vincenzo Bellini.

From Georges Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers) he sang “Je crois entendre encore” (“I think I hear her voice again”) with warm tones and total ease of delivery. Switching to Spanish, he sang of various kinds of love and its joys before returning to Donizetti’s French opera, La Fille du Régiment, for “Ah mes amis,” the famous aria with nine high Cs. Barbera showed impressive vocal control throughout his entire range and never seemed to tire singing to this grateful and responsive audience.

After a short intermission Barbera returned with a dramatic interpretation of Leandro’s aria No puedeserfrom Pablo Sorozábal’s 1936 zarzuela La tabernera del puerto. Alberto Ginastera’s Cinco Canzones Populares Argentinas (Five Popular Argentine Songs) combine the colors of Latin folk rhythms with twentieth century harmonies. While Lindquist played with the utmost virtuosity, Barbera conveyed a great deal of emotional density with his understated vocal line. The song Zamba says “If you have stolen my heart, you must give me yours.” Barbera stole all our hearts with these songs and the affecting works that followed.

A long time ago a tenor named Jan Peerce was known for his impressive technique. Peerce did not have the biggest voice at the Metropolitan Opera, but when he sang, one could hear him in the farthest reaches of the house’s back offices. I think Barbera’s voice is equally well focused. The Texas tenor is an intensely musical singer and a true stage creature with the ability to get the meat of a story across the footlights. He provided the San Diego audience with a most enjoyable evening of aria and song. Hopefully, it won’t be long before he again returns to regale Californians with more of his fine art.

Maria Nockin


Program:

Gioachino Rossini, La gazza ladra, “Vieni fra queste braccia”; La danza.

Vincenzo Bellini: Dolente immagine di Fille mia, Malinconia, Ninfa gentile, Ma rendi pur contento, Vaga luna, che inargenti.

Georges Bizet: Les pêcheurs de perles “Je crois entendre encore”.

Fernando Obradors: Con amores la mi madre, Del cabello más sutil, Al amor.

Gaetano Donizetti: La Fille du Régiment “Ah mes amis”; L’elisir d’amore, “Una furtiva lagrima”.

Pablo Sorozábal: No Puede Ser.

Alberto Ginastera: Cinco Canzones Populares Argentinas.

Paolo Tosti: Ideale, Malia, Non t’amo piu, L’alba sepàra dalla luce l’ombra.

Soutullo and Vert: Bella Enamorada.

Augustin Lara: Granada.

Encore: Giuseppe Verdi, Rigoletto: “La donna è mobile”.

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):