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

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.

Detlev Glanert: Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch (UK premiere)

It is perhaps not surprising that the Hamburg-born composer Detlev Glanert should count Hans Werner Henze as one of the formative influences on his work - he did, after all, study with him between 1984 to 1988.

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):