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

Verdi Otello, Bergen - Stuart Skelton, Latonia Moore, Lester Lynch

Verdi Otello livestream from Norway with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edward Garner with a superb cast, led by Stuart Skelton, Latonia Moore, and Lester Lynch and a good cast, with four choirs, the Bergen Philharmonic Chorus, the Edvard Grieg Kor, Collegiûm Mûsicûm Kor, the Bergen pikekor and Bergen guttekor (Children’s Choruses) with chorus master Håkon Matti Skrede. The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1765, just a few years after the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra : Scandinavian musical culture has very strong roots, and is thriving still. Tucked away in the far north, Bergen may be a hidden treasure, but, as this performance proved, it's world class.

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Isabella Ivy [Photo courtesy of Opera Las Vegas]
24 Sep 2015

Viva Verdi at Opera Las Vegas

On September 9, 2015, Opera Las Vegas presented James Sohre’s production of Viva Verdi at the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz. It was a delightful evening of arias, duets and ensembles by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). The program included many of the composer’s blockbuster arias and scenes from famous operas such as Aida, La traviata, and Macbeth.

Viva Verdi at Opera Las Vegas

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Isabella Ivy [Photo courtesy of Opera Las Vegas]

 

The hall was set with tables rather then theater seats so that the audience could enjoy dessert and beverages as they listened. The program featured sopranos Isabella Ivy, Marcie Ley, and Sheronda McKee; mezzo-soprano Erin Gonzalez; tenors John Tsotsoros, and Johar Hernandez-Carr; along with baritones Daniel Sutin and Eugene Richards. Daniel Sutin is a regular at the Metropolitan Opera. Isabella Ivy, formerly an Opera Las Vegas artist, sings at Opera San Jose, while John Tsotsoros sings with various regional U.S. opera companies. The other artists are active at Opera Las Vegas.

Francesco Maria Piave (1810-1876), who worked more closely with the composer than any of the others, wrote the texts for five of the operas from which we heard selections: Ernani, Macbeth, Rigoletto, La traviata, and La forza del destino. Termistocle Solera wrote the libretto for Nabucco; Salvatore Cammarano, Il Trovatore; Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier, I vespri Siciliani; Antonio Ghislanzoni, Aida; and fellow composer Arrigo Boito, Falstaff.

Soprano Sheronda McKee opened the program with an aria that showed her fluent high register. She sang Elvira’s plea to her lover Ernani involami (Ernani, fly away with me) with silvery brilliance that put the audience in the mood for the fireworks to come as Lady Macbeth tried to make sure that she and her husband would not be blamed for murdering the king. Marcie Ley was a conniving Lady and Eugene Richards an easily led Macbeth as they sang the dramatic music that described their deadly deed. John Tsotsoros ended the segment with a poignant rendition of Banquo’s lament on the death of his wife and sons.

For a complete change of pace, Erin Gonzalez sang Preziosilla’s thoroughly rousing but rarely heard military recruitment aria from La forza del destino: Al suon del tamburo (At the sound of the drum). Marcie Ley then exchanged her murderous character, Lady Macbeth, for a saintly hermit, and rendered a touching, dynamically alert version of Pace, pace, mio dio (Peace, peace, my God). Daniel Sutin sang the Count’s memorably melodic aria from Il trovatore, Il balen del suo sorriso (The radiance of her smile), with variations of vocal color, spinning tone and a most expressive interpretation. To end the first half of the program, Isabella Ivy and Johar Hernandez-Carr sang of La traviata’s thoughts on love and freedom. They ended with the charming Libiamo ne' lieti calici (Let’s drink from cups of joy), a toast to life and opera in which the whole audience joined in.

After a twenty-minute intermission during which food and drink were served, the entire group of singers entered from the back of the auditorium singing the composers’s beloved Va pensiero, sull’ali dorate, (Go, thought, fly on golden wings) from Nabucco. Then the evil machinations continued. Amneris, Erin Gonzalez, needed to know if her rival for Radames’s affection really was Aida, sung by Sheronda McKee. Amneris offered a bit of pretended friendship until she found it to be true. Then she turned on the slave with a vengeance. The two young artists gave us a short but fascinating drama. After the duet, Isabella Ivy regaled the audience with a lilting rendition of Merce, dilette amiche, (Thank you dear friends), from I vespri Siciliani.

Turning to the darker side, Ley, Gonzalez, Sutin and Richards combined their outstanding abilities in the difficult Giustizia quartet from Don Carlo. Sutin then sang the monumental aria from Rigoletto, Cortigianni, vil razza dannata (Courtiers, vile, cursed rabble), after which Ivy, Gonzalez, Tsotsoros and Richards returned with an impressive version of the quartet from Rigoletto. To end the evening on a happy note, the group presented the closing fugue from Verdi’s last opera and his second comedy, Falstaff. Tutto nel mondo è burla (Everything in the world is a joke).

Pianist Spencer Baker accompanied all of this fabulous music with great musicality while paying a great deal of attention to the needs of the singers. The young artists from Opera Las Vegas all showed abundant promise. Some of them are ready to start their careers now while others still need to do some growing, but all have tremendous talent. This delightful evening of Verdi’s music left the audience in a fine mood and, after a good bit of applause, I could still see the smiles on many faces as people left the building.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Sopranos:Isabella Ivy, Marcie Ley, and Sheronda McKee; Mezzo-soprano: Erin Gonzalez; Tenors: John Tsotsoros, Johar Hernandez-Carr; Baritones, Daniel Sutin, Eugene Richards; Pianist, Spencer Baker; Producer, James Sohre.

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):