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

Garsington Opera transfers Falstaff from Elizabeth pomp to Edwardian pompousness

Bruno Ravella’s new production of Verdi's Falstaff for Garsington Opera eschews Elizabethan pomp in favour of Edwardian pompousness, and in so doing places incipient, insurgent feminism and the eternal class consciousness of fin de siècle English polite society centre stage.

Grange Park Opera travels to America

The Italian censors forced Giuseppe Verdi and his librettist Antonio Somma to relocate their operatic drama of the murder of the Swedish King Gustav III to Boston, demote the monarch to state governor and rename him Riccardo, and for their production of Un ballo in maschera at Grange Park Opera, director Stephen Medcalf and designer Jamie Vartan have left the ‘ruler’ in his censorial exile.

Puccini’s La bohème at The Royal Opera House

When I reviewed Covent Garden’s Tosca back in January, I came very close to suggesting that we might be entering a period of crisis in casting the great Puccini operas. Fast forward six months, and what a world of difference!

Na’ama Zisser's Mamzer Bastard (world premiere)

Let me begin, like an undergraduate unsure quite what to say at the beginning of an essay: there were many reasons to admire the first performance of Na’ama Zisser’s opera, Mamzer Bastard, a co-commission from the Royal Opera and the Guildhall.

Les Arts Florissants : An English Garden, Barbican London

At the Barbican, London, Les Arts Florissants conducted by Paul Agnew, with soloists of Le Jardin de Voix in "An English Garden" a semi-staged programme of English baroque.

Die Walküre in San Francisco

The hero Siegfried in utero, Siegmund dead, Wotan humiliated, Brünnhilde asleep, San Francisco’s Ring ripped relentlessly into the shredded emotional lives of its gods and mortals. Conductor Donald Runnicles laid bare Richard Wagner’s score in its most heroic and in its most personal revelations, in their intimacy and in their exploding release.

Das Rheingold in San Francisco

Alberich’s ring forged, the gods moved into Valhalla, Loge’s Bic flicked, Wagner’s cumbersome nineteenth century mythology began unfolding last night here in Bayreuth-by-the-Bay.

ENO's Acis and Galatea at Lilian Baylis House

The shepherds and nymphs are at play! It’s end-of-the-year office-party time in Elysium. The bean-bags, balloons and banners - ‘Work Hard, Play Harder’ - invite the weary workers of Mountain Media to let their hair down, and enter the ‘Groves of Delights and Crystal Fountains’.

Lohengrin at the Royal Opera House

Since returning to London in January, I have been heartened by much of what I have seen - and indeed heard - from the Royal Opera.

Stéphane Degout and Simon Lepper

Another wonderful Wigmore song recital: this time from Stéphane Degout – recently shining in George Benjamin's new operatic masterpiece,

An excellent La finta semplice from Classical Opera

‘How beautiful it is to love! But even more beautiful is freedom!’ The opening lines of the libretto of Mozart’s La finta semplice are as contradictory as the unfolding tale is ridiculous. Either that master of comedy, Carlo Goldoni, was having an off-day when he penned the text - which was performed during the Carnival of 1764 in the Teatro Giustiniani di S. Moisè in Venice with music by Salvatore Perillo - or Marco Coltellini, the poeta cesareo who was entertaining the Viennese aristocracy in 1768, took unfortunate liberties with poetry and plot.

Whatever Love Is: The Prince Consort at Wigmore Hall

‘We love singing songs, telling stories …’ profess The Prince Consort on their website, and this carefully curated programme at Wigmore Hall perfectly embodied this passion, as Artistic Director and pianist Alisdair Hogarth was joined by tenor Andrew Staples (the Consort’s Creative Director), Verity Wingate (soprano) and poet Laura Mucha to reflect on ‘whatever love is’.

Bryn Terfel's magnetic Mephisto in Amsterdam

It had been a while since Bryn Terfel sang a complete opera role in Amsterdam. Back in 2002 his larger-than-life Doctor Dulcamara hijacked the stage of what was then De Nederlandse Opera, now Dutch National Opera.

A volcanic Elektra by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic

“There are no gods in heaven!” sings Elektra just before her brother Orest kills their mother. In the Greek plays about the cursed House of Atreus the Olympian gods command the banished Orestes to return home and avenge his father Agamemnon’s murder at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra. He dispatches both her and her lover Aegisthus.

A culinary coupling from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama

What a treat the London Music Conservatoires serve up for opera-goers each season. After the Royal Academy’s Bizet double-bill of Le docteur Miracle and La tragédie de Carmen, and in advance of the Royal College’s forthcoming pairing of Huw Watkins’ new opera, In the Locked Room, based on a short story by Thomas Hardy, and The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama have delivered a culinary coupling of Paul Hindemith’s The Long Christmas Dinner and Sir Lennox Berkeley’s The Dinner Engagement which the Conservatoire last presented for our delectation in November 2006.

Così fan tutte: Opera Holland Park

Absence makes the heart grow fonder; or does it? In Così fan tutte, who knows? Or rather, what could such a question even mean?

The poignancy of triviality: Garsington Opera's Capriccio

“Wort oder Ton?” asks Richard Strauss’s final opera, Capriccio. The Countess answers with a question of her own, at the close of this self-consciously self-reflective Konversationstück für Musik: “Gibt es einen, der nicht trivail ist?” (“Is there any ending that isn’t trivial?”)

Netia Jones' new Die Zauberflöte opens Garsington Opera's 2018 season

“These portals, these columns prove/that wisdom, industry and art reside here.” So says Tamino, as he gazes up at the three imposing doors in the centre of Netia Jones’ replica of the 18th-century Wormsley Park House - in the grounds of which Garsington Opera’s ‘floating’ Pavilion makes its home each summer.

Feverish love at Opera Holland Park: a fine La traviata opens the 2018 season

If there were any doubts that it was soon to be curtains for Verdi’s titular, tubercular heroine then the tortured gasps of laboured, languishing breath which preceded Rodula Gaitanou’s new production of La traviata for Opera Holland Park would have swiftly served to dispel them.

Iestyn Davies and Fretwork bring about a meeting of the baroque and the modern

‘Music for a while/Shall all your cares beguile’. Standing in shadow, encircled by the five players of the viol consort Fretwork, as the summer storm raged outside Milton Court Concert Hall countertenor Iestyn Davies offered mesmeric reassurance to the capacity audience during this intriguing meeting of the baroque and the modern.

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):