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

Tosca in San Francisco

The story was bigger than its actors, the Tosca ritual was ignored. It wasn’t a Tosca for the ages though maybe it was (San Francisco’s previous Tosca production hung around for 95 years). P.S. It was an evening of powerful theater, and incidentally it was really good opera.

Fine performances in uneven War Requiem at the Concertgebouw

At the very least, that vehement, pacifist indictment against militarism, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, should leave the audience shaking a little. This performance by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra only partially succeeded in doing so. The cast credits raised the highest expectations, but Gianandrea Noseda, stepping in for an ailing Mariss Jansons and conducting the RCO for the first time, did not bring out the full potential at his disposal.

The Tallis Scholars at Cadogan Hall

In their typical non-emphatic way, the Tallis Scholars under Peter Phillips presented here a selection of English sacred music from the Eton Choirbook to Tallis. There was little to ruffle anyone’s feathers here, little in the way of overt ‘interpretation’ – certainly in a modern sense – but ample opportunity to appreciate the mastery on offer in this music, its remoteness from many of our present concerns, and some fine singing.

Dido and Aeneas: Academy of Ancient Music

“Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.” Well, the spectral Queen of Carthage atop the poppy-strewn sarcophagus wasn’t quite yet “laid in earth”, but the act of remembering, and remembrance, duly began during the first part of this final instalment of the Academy of Ancient Music’s Purcell trilogy at the Barbican Hall.

Poignantly human – Die Zauberflöte, La Monnaie

Mozart Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) at La Monnaie /De Munt, Brussels, conducted by Antonello Manacorda, directed by Romeo Castellucci. Part allegory, part Singspeile, and very much a morality play, Die Zauberflöte is not conventional opera in the late 19th century style. Naturalist realism is not what it's meant to be. Cryptic is closer to what it might mean.

Covent Garden: Wagner’s Siegfried, magnificent but elusive

How do you begin to assess Covent Garden’s Siegfried? From a purely vocal point of view, this was a magnificent evening; it’s hard not to reach the conclusion that this was as fine a cast as you are likely to hear anywhere today.

Powerful Monodramas: Zender, Manoury and Schoenberg

The concept of the monologue in opera has existed since the birth of opera itself, but when we come to monodramas - with the exception of Rousseau’s Pygmalion (1762) - we are looking at something that originated at the beginning of the twentieth century.

ENO's Salome both intrigues and bewilders

Femme fatale, femme nouvelle, she-devil: the personification of patriarchal castration-anxiety and misogynistic terror of female desire.

In the Company of Heaven: The Cardinall's Musick at Wigmore Hall

Palestrina led from the front, literally and figuratively, in this performance at Wigmore Hall which placed devotion to the saints at its heart, with Saints Peter, Paul, Catherine of Alexandria, Bartholomew and the Virgin Mary all musically honoured by The Cardinall’s Musick and their director Andrew Carwood.

Roberto Devereux in San Francisco

Opera’s triple crown, Donizetti’s tragic queens — Anna Bolena who was beheaded by her husband Henry VIII, their daughter Elizabeth I who beheaded her rival Mary, Queen of Scots and who executed her lover Roberto Devereux.

O18: Queens Tries Royally Hard

Opera Philadelphia is lightening up the fare at its annual festival with a three evening cabaret series in the Theatre of Living Arts, Queens of the Night.

O18 Magical Mystery Tour: Glass Handel

How to begin to quantify the wonderment stirred in my soul by Opera Philadelphia’s sensational achievement that is Glass Handel?

A lunchtime feast of English song: Lucy Crowe and Joseph Middleton at Wigmore Hall

The September sunshine that warmed Wigmore Street during Monday’s lunch-hour created the perfect ambience for this thoughtfully compiled programme of seventeenth- and twentieth-century English song presented by soprano Lucy Crowe and pianist Joseph Middleton at Wigmore Hall.

O18: Mad About Lucia

Opera Philadelphia has mounted as gripping and musically ravishing an account of Lucia di Lammermoor as is imaginable.

O18 Poulenc Evening: Moins C’est Plus

In Opera Philadelphia’s re-imagined La voix humaine, diva Patricia Racette had a tough “act” to follow ...

O18: Unsettling, Riveting Sky on Swings

Opera Philadelphia’s annual festival set the bar very high even by its own gold standard, with a troubling but mesmerizing world premiere, Sky on Wings.

Simon Rattle — Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage, and Britten

Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra marked the opening of the 2018-2019 season with a blast. Literally, for Sir Harrison Birtwistle's new piece Donum Simoni MMXVIII was an explosion of brass — four trumpets, trombones, horns and tuba, bursting into the Barbican Hall. When Sir Harry makes a statement, he makes it big and bold !

OSJ: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Harem

Opera San Jose kicked off its 35th anniversary season with a delectably effervescent production of their first-ever mounting of Mozart’s youthful opus, The Abduction from the Seraglio.

Isouard's Cinderella: Bampton Classical Opera at St John's Smith Square

A good fairy-tale sweeps us away on a magic carpet while never letting us forget that for all the enchanting transformations, beneath the sorcery lie essential truths.

A Winterreise both familiar and revelatory: Ian Bostridge and Thomas Adès at Wigmore Hall

‘“Will you play your hurdy-gurdy to my songs?” the wanderer asks. If the answer were to be a “yes”, then the crazy but logical procedure would be to go right back to the beginning of the whole cycle and start all over again. This could explore a notion of eternal recurrence: we are trapped in the endless repetition of this existential lament.’

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Missy Mazzoli [Photo by Stephen Taylor]
16 Oct 2015

Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar at REDCAT

On October 8, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt at REDCAT, the Roy and Edna Disney Cal Arts Theater in Walt Disney Concert Hall. The opera was part of L A O’s “Off Grand Program” which features chamber works in spaces smaller than the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Missy Mazzoli's Song from the Uproar at REDCAT

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Missy Mazzoli [Photo by Stephen Taylor]

 

On October 8, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt at REDCAT, the Roy and Edna Disney Cal Arts Theater in Walt Disney Concert Hall. The opera was part of L A O’s “Off Grand Program” which features chamber works in spaces smaller than the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Originally performed in 2012 at a Manhattan venue called The Kitchen, Song from the Uproar is Mazzoli’s first opera and a most promising work.

She based the scenario on the journals of Swiss-born Isabelle Eberhardt, which she stumbled upon in a Boston bookstore. Isabelle was an irrepressible free spirit who lived from 1877 to 1904. While other women of the Victorian Age were held captive by marriage and large families, Isabelle traveled North Africa, sometimes in male garb, free of the conventional behavior required of either European or North African women.

A unique person who forged her own path, Isabelle stayed true to her ideals through her short but fascinating life. During her seven years in Africa, she fell in love, was the victim of an assassination attempt, suffered betrayal by her lover, and lost her life in a desert flash flood. Luckily, some of the pages from her journals survived to let later readers know of her courageous life.

Song-from-the-Uproar-15248-127.pngAbigail Fischer as Isabelle [Photo by Craig T Matthew]

Mazzoli and co-librettist Royce Vavrek told Isabelle’s story by combining live and pre-recorded music with original video by filmmaker Stephen Taylor whose images of the desert, desert dwellers, and flashes of light transported the audience to Isabelle’s world. Zane Pihlstrom’s sparse scenery and Alixandra Gage Englund’s simple but inventive costumes combined with S. Katy Tucker’s projections and Scott Bolman’s lighting to add to the ambience of turn-of-the-twentieth-century North Africa.

Mazzoli’s music is often subtle and luminous, and with less amplification we might have heard more of the score’s natural radiance. The piece itself is spellbinding and easily kept the audience’s attention for a little over an hour. Singing the role of Isabelle in the fifteen songs that comprise this work was mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer. She has a luscious, creamy, somewhat vulnerable sound and the expressive ability to touch the hearts of the audience.

Sopranos Celine Mogielnicki and Amelia Watkins, mezzo Kate Maroney, tenor Tomás Cruz, and baritone Wayne Arthur Paul assisted her with vocal harmony and added considerably to the piece’s visual interest with their renditions of Gia Forakis’s stylized dance. Accompanying the singers, the NOW Ensemble, led by Steven Osgood, consisted of Logan Coale, double bass; Mark Dancigers, electric guitar; Campbell MacDonald, clarinet and bass clarinet; Andrew Rehrig, flute and piccolo; and Michael Mizrahi, piano.

Produced by Beth Morrison Projects, the opera was part of L A O’s “Off Grand Program” which features chamber works in spaces smaller than the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

This work is quite different from the average opera performance and its unique qualities were a joy to experience. The last line of Song from the Uproar reads: “These hours are no more than moments of light in this blanket of blazing stars.” Perhaps they were no more, but most assuredly they were no less. I hope we will hear a great deal more from both Royce Vavrek and Missy Mazzoli.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Isabelle, Abigail Fischer. Chorus: Tomás Cruz, Kate Maroney, Celine Mogielnicki, Wayne Arthur Paul, Amelia Watkins. NOW Ensemble: Logan Coale, Mark Dancigers, Campbell MacDonald, Michael Mizrahi, Andrew Rehrig. Stage Director, Gia Forakis. Conductor, Steven Osgood. Projection Design, S. Katy Tucker. Film, Stephen Taylor. Lighting, Scott Bolman. Scenery, Zane Pihlström. Costumes, Alixandra Englund. Sound Engineering, Jay Eigenmann.

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):