Written at a time when both his theatrical business and physical health were in a bad way, Handel’s Faramondo was premiered at the King’s Theatre in January 1738, fared badly and sank rapidly into obscurity where it languished until the late-twentieth century.
Each March France's splendid Opéra de Lyon mounts a cycle of operas that speak to a chosen theme. Just now the theme is Mémoires -- mythic productions of famed, now dead, late 20th century stage directors. These directors are Klaus Michael Grüber (1941-2008), Ruth Berghaus (1927-1996), and Heiner Müller (1929-1995).
For his farewell production as director of opera at the Royal Opera House, Kasper Holten has chosen Wagner’s only ‘comedy’, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: an opera about the very medium in which it is written.
The dramatic strength that Stage Director Michael Scarola drew from his Pagliacci cast was absolutely amazing. He gave us a sizzling rendition of the libretto, pointing out every bit of foreshadowing built into the plot.
During the past few seasons, English Touring Opera has confirmed its triple-value: it takes opera to the parts of the UK that other companies frequently fail to reach; its inventive, often theme-based, programming and willingness to take risks shine a light on unfamiliar repertory which invariably offers unanticipated pleasures; the company provides a platform for young British singers who are easing their way into the ‘industry’, assuming a role that latterly ENO might have been expected to fulfil.
A song cycle within a song symphony - Matthias Goerne's intriuging approach to Mahler song, with Marcus Hinterhäuser, at the Wigmore Hall, London. Mahler's entire output can be described as one vast symphony, spanning an arc that stretches from his earliest songs to the sketches for what would have been his tenth symphony. Song was integral to Mahler's compositional process, germinating ideas that could be used even in symphonies which don't employ conventional singing.
On February 21, 2017, San Diego Opera presented Giuseppe Verdi’s last composition, Falstaff, at the Civic Theater. Although this was the second performance in the run and the 21st was a Tuesday, there were no empty seats to be seen. General Director David Bennett assembled a stellar international cast that included baritone Roberto de Candia in the title role and mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti singing her first Mistress Quickly.
In Neil Armfield’s new production of Die Zauberflöte at Lyric Opera of Chicago the work is performed as entertainment on a summer’s night staged by neighborhood children in a suburban setting. The action takes place in the backyard of a traditional house, talented performers collaborate with neighborhood denizens, and the concept of an onstage audience watching this play yields a fresh perspective on staging Mozart’s opera.
Patricia Racette’s Salome is an impetuous teenage princess who interrupts the royal routine on a cloudy night by demanding to see her stepfather’s famous prisoner. Racette’s interpretation makes her Salome younger than the characters portrayed by many of her famous colleagues of the past. This princess plays mental games with Jochanaan and with Herod. Later, she plays a physical game with the gruesome, natural-looking head of the prophet.
On February 17, 2017 Pacific Opera Project performed Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at the Ebell Club in Los Angeles. After that night, it can be said that neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night can stay this company from putting on a fine show. Earlier in the day the Los Angeles area was deluged with heavy rain that dropped up to an inch of water per hour. That evening, because of a blown transformer, there was no electricity in the Ebell Club area.
There has been much reconstruction of Marseille’s magnificent Opera Municipal since it opened in 1787. Most recently a huge fire in 1919 provoked a major, five-year renovation of the hall and stage that reopened in 1924.
With her irresistible cocktail of spontaneity and virtuosity, Cecilia
Bartoli is a beloved favourite of Amsterdam audiences. In triple celebratory
mode, the Italian mezzo-soprano chose Rossini’s La Cenerentola,
whose bicentenary is this year, to mark twenty years of performing at the
Concertgebouw, and her twenty-fifth performance at its Main Hall.
Matthew Rose and Gary Matthewman Winterreise: a Parallel Journey at the Wigmore Hall, a recital with extras. Schubert's winter journey reflects the poetry of Wilhelm Müller, where images act as signposts mapping the protagonist's psychological journey.
Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, composed in 1830, didn’t make it to Lisbon until 1843 when there were 14 performances at its magnificent Teatro São Carlos (opened 1793), and there were 17 more performances spread over the next two decades. The entire twentieth century saw but three (3) performances in this European capital.
Company XIV Combines Classic and Chic in an Exquisite Cinderella
Company XIV’s production of Cinderella is New York City theater
at its finest. With a nod to the court of Louis the XIV and the grandiosity of
Lully’s opera theater, Company XIV manages to preserve elements of the French
Baroque while remaining totally innovative, and never—in fact, not once for
the entire two and a half hour show—falls prey to the predictable. Not one
detail is left to chance in this finely manicured yet earthily raw production
Company XIV Combines Classic and Chic in an Exquisite Cinderella
Though the story remains faithful to the well-known and oft-interpreted
Cinderella story, Company XIV dazzles the audience with novelty from every
angle. The dancers move with the grace of trained ballet dancers while
seamlessly shifting to modern dance, propelling their sculpted bodies in
rhythmic thrusts. There’s the nod to the traditional movement of the court of
Louis the XIV, particularly in the courtly scenes of the Prince’s ball, but
only for a moment, after which the party devolves into a series of
hypersexualized dance duos.
What’s most satisfying about it all, especially for the opera aficionado,
is that it works. Of all the recent attempts to bring opera back into
relevance or to recapture the excitement, sensuality, and titillation opera and
ballet held for audiences in the Baroque Era, this production is the most
successful. It combines sex with beauty, novelty with tradition, and never
feels like an unconvincing effort to innovate innovation’s sake. It
is sexy, it is innovative, and yet it’s still just the same
fairy tale of Cinderella—except the audience is thrown between ecstasies of
laughter, fascination, and confusing sympathies with characters usually given
Allison Ulrich and Davon Rainey
The true queen of the stage is Davon Rainey, playing the part of
Cinderella’s Step-Mother. He manages to portray the fragility of a woman
fearing the passing of time and the loss of her own beauty, while instantly
snapping to a cruel, vindictive version of the classic evil step-mother. He
sashays around the stage with equal parts feminine sexiness and masculine
vitality, his body firm and robust with every sharply executed bit of
choreography. The oscillation between the longing between hope for the success
of her daughters combined with her own secret desires to retain her youth and
sex appeal causes the Step-Mother to become one of the most compelling
characters in the show. The final moment of Rainey strutting across the stage,
staring concernedly into a mirror, with Cinderella dutifully at her side, is
one of the most devastating and moving moments of the show. No longer a
confusingly abusive foster mother for Cinderella as in the classic tale, the
Step-Mother evokes simultaneous sympathy and disgust. Rainey inhabits this
complex interpretation perfectly, bursting with an aggressive sexuality
that’s both titillating and tragic.
Austin McCormick’s choreography is rife with symbolism and teeming with
creativity, with profound commentary on not only the story of
Cinderella but greater issues of heteronormative relationships and
gender as a social construct. Cinderella (Allison Ulrich) spends the first half
of Act I on her hands and knees into total servitude to her step-sisters (who
first appear in a comedic, German cabaret-style entrance, the first of many
brilliant syntheses of historical musical periods and art forms dreamt up by
McCormick.) Ulrich spends most of Act I scurrying around, mouselike, as
Cinderella endures abuse and ridicule by her step-mother and step-sisters, used
by them as a literal footstool as the trio cackles their way through excess and
frivolity. With Cinderella on her hands and knees, her step-sisters (Marcy
Richardson and Brett Umlauf, two opera singers with bright and lovely sounds)
sing joyfully of their enjoyment of the finer things in life, with a version of
Lorde’s pop hit “Royal” so seamlessly rendered into
classical-sounding duet that it took me a moment to register what was
Allison Ulrich and Katrina Cunningham
Katrina Cunningham (The Fairy Godmother) takes the stage by storm with a
husky-voiced rendition of Lana del Ray’s “Born to Die,” and proves in a
few fluid movements that she’s there not just to sing, but to dance. As a
younger, sexier interpretation of The Fairy Godmother, she embraces Cinderella
in an unforgettable dance duet that fluctuates between a struggle for sexual
power and a sensual display of lovemaking. The duet leaves the atmosphere
uncomfortably erotic right before the first of the “drink breaks” that
broke up the acts of the evening. McCormick, seeming to never forget a thread
in the story he’s weaving, allows The Fairy Godmother one last longing glance
at her protégé, Cinderella, as she winds her body with the Prince in a
display of consummation of their love at the end of Act III.
Ulrich takes the traditionally innocent-minded Cinderella and gives her a
trajectory into truly realized womanhood during Acts II and III, her hair loose
and her body open in acceptance of the Prince’s desires; the Prince, played
smarmily by Steven Trumon Gray, croons beautifully before pulling himself up
for a dance into the suspended ring, just in case the audience thought those
rippling muscles were just for show. Richardson, Umlauf, and Rainey appear and
reappear like mirages throughout the ball and the search for Cinderella, their
antics to ensnare the Prince’s affections culminating in The Jewel Song from
Gounod’s Faust. Sung beautifully by Marcy Richardson, this feat of physical
and musical skill has to be seen to be believed. The ensemble struts across
stage with large black narration cards, when they’re not busy dancing with
finely executed fervor across the stage.
Company XIV’s production of Cinderella is a true modern
Gesamtkunstwerk. No detail is left unforgotten, from the careful
bedazzling of the Louis XIV-style dance shoes to the final spotlight on
Cinderella, a fairytale maiden who learns that all dreams must end.