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

ETO Autumn 2020 Season Announcement: Lyric Solitude

English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a season of lyric monodramas to tour nationally from October to December. The season features music for solo singer and piano by Argento, Britten, Tippett and Shostakovich with a bold and inventive approach to making opera during social distancing.

Love, always: Chanticleer, Live from London … via San Francisco

This tenth of ten Live from London concerts was in fact a recorded live performance from California. It was no less enjoyable for that, and it was also uplifting to learn that this wasn’t in fact the ‘last’ LfL event that we will be able to enjoy, courtesy of VOCES8 and their fellow vocal ensembles (more below …).

Dreams and delusions from Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper at Wigmore Hall

Ever since Wigmore Hall announced their superb series of autumn concerts, all streamed live and available free of charge, I’d been looking forward to this song recital by Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper.

Treasures of the English Renaissance: Stile Antico, Live from London

Although Stile Antico’s programme article for their Live from London recital introduced their selection from the many treasures of the English Renaissance in the context of the theological debates and upheavals of the Tudor and Elizabethan years, their performance was more evocative of private chamber music than of public liturgy.

A wonderful Wigmore Hall debut by Elizabeth Llewellyn

Evidently, face masks don’t stifle appreciative “Bravo!”s. And, reducing audience numbers doesn’t lower the volume of such acclamations. For, the audience at Wigmore Hall gave soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and pianist Simon Lepper a greatly deserved warm reception and hearty response following this lunchtime recital of late-Romantic song.

The Sixteen: Music for Reflection, live from Kings Place

For this week’s Live from London vocal recital we moved from the home of VOCES8, St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, to Kings Place, where The Sixteen - who have been associate artists at the venue for some time - presented a programme of music and words bound together by the theme of ‘reflection’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny explore Dowland's directness and darkness at Hatfield House

'Such is your divine Disposation that both you excellently understand, and royally entertaine the Exercise of Musicke.’

Paradise Lost: Tête-à-Tête 2020

‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven … that old serpent … Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Joyce DiDonato: Met Stars Live in Concert

There was never any doubt that the fifth of the twelve Met Stars Live in Concert broadcasts was going to be a palpably intense and vivid event, as well as a musically stunning and theatrically enervating experience.

‘Where All Roses Go’: Apollo5, Live from London

‘Love’ was the theme for this Live from London performance by Apollo5. Given the complexity and diversity of that human emotion, and Apollo5’s reputation for versatility and diverse repertoire, ranging from Renaissance choral music to jazz, from contemporary classical works to popular song, it was no surprise that their programme spanned 500 years and several musical styles.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 're-connect'

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields have titled their autumn series of eight concerts - which are taking place at 5pm and 7.30pm on two Saturdays each month at their home venue in Trafalgar Square, and being filmed for streaming the following Thursday - ‘re:connect’.

Lucy Crowe and Allan Clayton join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at St Luke's

The London Symphony Orchestra opened their Autumn 2020 season with a homage to Oliver Knussen, who died at the age of 66 in July 2018. The programme traced a national musical lineage through the twentieth century, from Britten to Knussen, on to Mark-Anthony Turnage, and entwining the LSO and Rattle too.

Choral Dances: VOCES8, Live from London

With the Live from London digital vocal festival entering the second half of the series, the festival’s host, VOCES8, returned to their home at St Annes and St Agnes in the City of London to present a sequence of ‘Choral Dances’ - vocal music inspired by dance, embracing diverse genres from the Renaissance madrigal to swing jazz.

Royal Opera House Gala Concert

Just a few unison string wriggles from the opening of Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro are enough to make any opera-lover perch on the edge of their seat, in excited anticipation of the drama in music to come, so there could be no other curtain-raiser for this Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, the latest instalment from ‘their House’ to ‘our houses’.

Fading: The Gesualdo Six at Live from London

"Before the ending of the day, creator of all things, we pray that, with your accustomed mercy, you may watch over us."

Met Stars Live in Concert: Lise Davidsen at the Oscarshall Palace in Oslo

The doors at The Metropolitan Opera will not open to live audiences until 2021 at the earliest, and the likelihood of normal operatic life resuming in cities around the world looks but a distant dream at present. But, while we may not be invited from our homes into the opera house for some time yet, with its free daily screenings of past productions and its pay-per-view Met Stars Live in Concert series, the Met continues to bring opera into our homes.

Precipice: The Grange Festival

Music-making at this year’s Grange Festival Opera may have fallen silent in June and July, but the country house and extensive grounds of The Grange provided an ideal setting for a weekend of twelve specially conceived ‘promenade’ performances encompassing music and dance.

Monteverdi: The Ache of Love - Live from London

There’s a “slide of harmony” and “all the bones leave your body at that moment and you collapse to the floor, it’s so extraordinary.”

Music for a While: Rowan Pierce and Christopher Glynn at Ryedale Online

“Music for a while, shall all your cares beguile.”

A Musical Reunion at Garsington Opera

The hum of bees rising from myriad scented blooms; gentle strains of birdsong; the cheerful chatter of picnickers beside a still lake; decorous thwacks of leather on willow; song and music floating through the warm evening air.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

01 Nov 2015

A Bright and Accomplished Cenerentola at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in a production new to this venue and one notable for several significant debuts along with roles taken by accomplished, familiar performers.

The stylized costumes and stage props exemplify both character and action in this production which has been seen at the Houston Grand Opera, Welsh National Opera, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, and the Grand Théâtre de Genève. As Cenerentola, or Cinderella, and her stepfather Don Magnifico Isabel Leonard and Alessandro Corbelli perform roles with which they are frequently associated. New to the Chicago Lyric stage are Lawrence Brownlee as the Prince, Don Ramiro, and Vito Priante as his valet Dandini. Christian Van Horn takes the role of the beneficent Alidoro, and the step-sisters Clorinda and Tisbe are sung by Diana Newman and Annie Rosen, the latter two in their debut season here. Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Michael Black has prepared the Lyric Opera Chorus.

After an exciting performance of the overture growing appropriately in rapid intensity, the first scene depicts the three daughters of Don Magnifico’s household. Clorinda and Tisbe are positioned at first atop the stairs while Cenerentola remains on the ground level immersed in domestic duties. During her plaintive song of a king in search of emotional companionship, “Una volta” [“Once upon a time”], Ms. Leonard folds brightly colored garments in keeping with the typically exaggerated hues worn by the stepsisters. Cenerentola’s own drab garb matches the atmosphere of the hearth where she seems to spend much of her existence together with the silent yet very mobile and sympathetic rats, played adroitly by skilled actors in this production. Indeed the rats attract considerable attention during assorted moments of this staging, their movements often being syncopated to the orchestral or vocal melody. In this first scene Leonard’s concluding decoration of “L’innocenza e la bontà” [“Innocence and goodness”] delineates the positive associations of her character, just as the railing of the contentious stepsisters is delivered in brief, lyrical leaps. A sudden interruption to the domestic scene occurs when Alidoro, court philosopher of Prince Ramiro and here disguised as a beggar, raps at the door and desires food. In keeping with the heroine’s resulting “bontà,” Mr. Van Horn’s confident prediction of Cenerentola’s fate is sealed with a rich bass pitch in “Pria di notte vi darà” [“Will reward you before night falls”]. The courtiers of the Prince burst unexpectedly into Don Magnifico’s palace with the announcement of the royal intention to take a wife. From their first moments on stage the men of the Lyric Opera Chorus, each sporting a bluish-purple elevated coif, deliver their spirited news with commanding vocal discipline. During the ensemble with reactions from the collected sisters, Leonard’s character could be more assertively portrayed, since her vocal part is here dominated by other emphases taken forte. At the awakening of Don Magnifico from his dream of a donkey who grows feathers and flies to rest on a steeple Mr. Corbelli combines in lush decoration and expert comic posture the irritation of being awakened with the colorful description of his dream. In addressing “Miei rampolli femminini” [“my female offspring”] with, at first, declamatory emphasis, Magnifico chides his daughters for interrupting this utopian vision of the family’s prosperity. The prediction of each becoming “a fertile queen” is enhanced by Corbelli’s repeated embellishments on “fertilissima regina.” Ultimately, the reputation of the family will reflect on its progenitor, a hope expressed by Corbelli’s never-ending final pitch in “la gloria mia sarà” [“and the glory will be mine”].

In the subsequent scene introducing Don Ramiro - in the guise of his valet - together with Cenerentola as a pair, Mr. Brownlee and Ms. Leonard present a bel canto feast for the audience. Brownlee’s voice is secure and richly focused from his entrance at Ramiro’s “Tutto è deserto” [“all is deserted”]. High pitches are here a natural extension of Brownlee’s vocal line rather than a layered effect. At the same time, embellishments on “Legge” [“decree”] and “mi condanna” [“condemns me”] suggest the heightened emotional state of the male protagonist as he searches for a suitable mate. Leonard’s response in their duet beginning “Un soave non so che” [“A sweet something”] is equally effective in presenting an expressive filigree. Both singers use touching ornamentation in their duet, “Una grazia, un certo incanto” [“a grace, a certain enchantment”], such that the listener is assured that love has indeed been kindled. As the step-sisters summon Cenerentola, the newly declared pair bids farewell, yet Leonard’s dramatic delivery on “Questo cor più mio non è” [“This heart is mine no longer”] seals the emotional bond. A brief comic exchange between the supposed valet and the father leads to Ramiro’s words, “Ecco Dandini” [“Here comes Dandini”]. The latter character’s entrance, perched on a mock horse and costumed in the Prince’s court attire, sets the tone for his charade of roaming “fra le belle” [“among the fair maids”] in order to assure the royal succession. Mr. Priante’s comic poses and ease in the rapid patter of his vocal line make him an ideal Dandini: the fine line of overacting is touched but never exceeded in this self-satisfied assumption of the Prince in disguise.

Despite Cenerentola’s pleading to attend the Prince’s ball for “un’ ora sola” [“just one hour”] or even less, Magnifico and the step-sisters depart to seek their own future. After Leonard’s sincere appeal, expressed with effective runs in the vocal line, she is left here to find solace with her true companions, the rats. The creatures align themselves in a row in keeping with Alidoro’s return and his promise, “Si, tutto cangerò” [“Yes, everything will change”]. In his aria, “Là del ciel” [“There in heaven”], M. Van Horn’s resonant pitches on “fanciulla innocente” calm the fears of Cenerentola and bring order to her heart, just as the companions have lined in a row expectantly. Van Horn’s encouraging “No, non temer” [“No, do not fear”] is followed by repeated and varied decoration on the line “La tua pena cangiando già va” [“Your suffering will be eased”]. In the rapid second part of his aria, signaling Cenerentola’s final preparations to attend the royal evening, Van Horn’s voice swells with occasional forte notes, just as he calls attention to the “increasing sound” of his approaching carriage [“Un crescente mormorio”]. As he announces that the storm of suffering is past, Van Horn embellishes with declarative pitches “il destino” and “l’innocenza brillerà” [“fate,” “innocence will triumph”] as watchwords for the journey.

In the scenes before Cenerentola’s arrival at the palace Priante’s Dandini is especially adept at unmasking the shallowness of Magnifico and the self-interest of Clorinda and Tisbe. At the arrival of the “dama incognita,” announced by the omniscient Alidoro, the curiosity of all parties turns to her identity. In reaction to these attentions, Leonard’s solo “Sprezzo quei don” [“I scorn those gifts”] with a rising line spurs hope in Ramiro’s heart. Once dinner is announced, staged here as a colorful multi-level scene, Dandini declares that he will eat with the appetite of four. The watchful rats gather in front of the formal table as they are clearly satisfied with Cenerentola’s designated placement.

In Act II the identity of the woman remains at first unresolved, while Magnifico counsels his remaining daughters. Despite uncertainty over the unexpected resemblance of the “madama anonima” to Cenerentola, Magnifico muses on his own elevation if the Prince marries one of his daughters. In his aria, “Sia qualunque delle figlie” [“Whichever one of you my daughters”], Corbelli sings with buffo delight as he relishes the thought of supplicants petitioning his own potential generosity. When he dreams of sending a petition to the palace, he lingers with exaggerated decoration on “Da palazzo può passer.” The rats now act as mock intermediaries, while they hand petitions to the delusional father, just as Corbelli accelerates his vocal gusto.

The role of Dandini changes soon in the following scenes. He follows Cenerentola in his attempts to woo her for himself, a development already suspected by the Prince. Obeying the dictum of his philosopher, “Quel che consiglia il core” [“Whatever your heart counsels you”], Ramiro declares Dandini unmasked and resolves to find the unidentified maiden. In “Sì, ritrovarla io giuro” Brownlee performs the signature tenor aria with a polished technique and individual touches of color by which he puts his own stamp on the character. “giuro” is sung with decorated legato, just as rising pitches on “amor” show the fervor of Ramiro’s emotions. In the second part of the aria with chorus Brownlee’s athletic embellishments are exciting and well-placed, his final pitch on “m’hai da guidar” [“you must guide me”] extending past the orchestral finish.

Once the search has brought Ramiro, via a stalled carriage, close to the palace of Magnifico, identities are revealed and a happy ending is inevitable for the protagonists. Yet Cenerentola’s appeal for the forgiveness of her family enhances her own nobility of heart. Leonard’s heroine declares “sarà mia vendetta il lor perdono” [“my revenge will be their forgiveness”] with a simplicity of line suggesting her sincerity. In the final “Nacqui all’ affanno” [“I was born to sorrow”] she uses an opposing effect, applying multiple decorations on “core,” “la sorte mia,” and “rapido” to describe the swift change in her fortune. Leonard performs “Non più mesta” [“No longer sad”] with breathless runs and forte spirit, while she is here left to muse, accompanied only by her companions of the hearth, on “il mio lungo palpitar” [“my long years of heartache”]. Goodness has won out, at least in spirit.

Salvatore Calomino

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):