Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Performances

Haydn's Applausus: The Mozartists at Cadogan Hall

Continuing their MOZART 250 series, The Mozartists/ Classical Opera began dipping into the operatic offerings of 1768 at Wigmore Hall in January, when they presented numbers from Mozart’s La finta semplice, Jommelli’s Fetonte, Hasse’s Pirano e Tisbe and Haydn’s Lo speziale.

Schubert Schwanengesang revisited—Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

Schwanengesang isn't Schubert's Swan Song any more than it is a cycle like Die schöne Müllerin or Winterreise. The title was given it by his publishers Haslingers, after his death, combining settings of two very different poets, Ludwig Rellstab and Heinrich Heine. Wigmore Hall audiences have heard lots of good Schwanengesangs, including Boesch and Martineau performances in the past, but this was something special.

Rinaldo: The English Concert at the Barbican Hall

“After such cruel events, I don’t know if I am dreaming or awake.” So says Almirena, daughter of the Crusader Goffredo, when she is rescued by her beloved warrior-hero, Rinaldo, from the clutches of the evil sorceress, Armida.

Hamlet abridged and enriched in Amsterdam

French grand opera and small opera companies are an unlikely combination. Yet OPERA2DAY, a company of modest means, is currently touring the Netherlands with Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas.

The ROH's first production of From the House of the Dead

Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production for the ROH of From the House of the Dead is ‘new’ in several regards. It’s (astonishingly) the first time that Janáček’s last opera has been staged at Covent Garden; it’s Warlikowski’s debut at Covent Garden; and the production uses a new 2017 critical edition prepared by John Tyrrell.

Così fan tutte at Lyric Opera of Chicago

With artifice, disguise, and questions on fidelity as the basis of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, the composer’s mature opera has returned to the stage at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

WNO's Wheel of Destiny rolls into Birmingham

Welsh National Opera’s wheel of destiny has rolled into Birmingham this week, with Verdi’s sprawling tragedy, La forza del destino, opening the company’s ‘Rabble Rousing’ triptych at the Hippodrome.

A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal College of Music

The gossamer web of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is sufficiently insubstantial and ambiguous to embrace multiple interpretative readings: the play can be a charming comic caper, a jangling journey through human pettiness and cruelty, a moonlit fairy fantasy or a shadowy erotic nightmare, and much more besides.

Robert Carsen's A Midsummer Night's Dream returns to ENO

Having given us Christopher Alden's strangely dystopic production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2011, English National Opera (ENO) has opted for Robert Carsen's bed-inspired vision for the latest revival of the opera at the London Coliseum.

Turandot in San Diego—Prima la voce

The big musical set pieces in Turandot require voice, voice, and more voice, and San Diego Opera has gifted us with a world-class cast of singing actors.

Dialogues de Carmélites at the Guildhall School: spiritual transcendence and transfiguration

Four years have passed since my last Dialogues des Carmélites, and on that occasion - Robert Carsen’s production for the ROH - heightened dramatic intensity, revolutionary insurrection (enhanced by an oppressed populace formed by a 67-strong Community Ensemble) and, under the baton of Simon Rattle, luxuriant musical rapture, were the order of the day.

'B & B’ in a new key

Seattle Opera’s new production of Béatrice et Bénédict is best regarded as a noble experiment, performed expressly to see if Berlioz’ delectable 1862 opéra comique can successfully be brought into the living repertory outside its native France. As such, it is quite a success.

Of Animals and Insects: a musical menagerie at Wigmore Hall

Wigmore Hall was transformed into a musical menagerie earlier this week, when bass-baritone Ashley Riches, a Radio 3 New Generation Artist, and pianist Joseph Middleton took us on a pan-European lunchtime stroll through a gallery of birds and beasts, blooms and bugs.

Hugo Wolf, Italienisches Liederbuch

Nationality is a complicated thing at the best of times. (At the worst of times: well, none of us needs reminding about that.) What, if anything, might it mean for Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook? Almost whatever you want it to mean, or not to mean.

San Jose’s Dutchman Treat

At my advanced age, I have now experienced ten different productions of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in my opera-going lifetime, but Opera San Jose’s just might be the finest.

Mortal Voices: the Academy of Ancient Music at Milton Court

The relationship between music and money is long-standing, complex and inextricable. In the Baroque era it was symbiotically advantageous.

I Puritani at Lyric Opera of Chicago

What better evocation of bel canto than an opera which uses the power of song to dispel madness and to reunite the heroine with her banished fiancé? Such is the final premise of Vincenzo Bellini’s I puritani, currently in performance at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Iolanthe: English National Opera

The current government’s unfathomable handling of the Brexit negotiations might tempt one to conclude that the entire Conservative Party are living in the land of the fairies. In Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1882 operetta Iolanthe, the arcane and Arcadia really do conflate, and Cal McCrystal’s new production for English National Opera relishes this topsy-turvy world where peris consort with peri-wigs.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Marseille

Any Laurent Pelly production is news, any role undertaken by soprano Stephanie d’Oustrac is news. Here’s the news from Marseille.

Riveting Maria de San Diego

As part of its continuing, adventurous “Detour” series, San Diego Opera mounted a deliciously moody, proudly pulsating, wholly evocative presentation of Astor Piazzolla’s “nuevo tango” opera, Maria de Buenos Aires.



30 Nov 2015

Viva la Mamma!: A Fun Evening at POP

Gaetano Donizetti wrote a comedy or dramma giocoso called Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (The Conventions and Inconveniences of the Theater), which is also known by the shorter title, Viva La Mamma!.

Viva la Mamma!: A Fun Evening at POP

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Viva la mamma! [Photo courtesy of Pacific Opera Project]


His librettist, Domenico Gilardoni, adapted the libretto from two plays by Antonio Simone Sografi. In 1827, Donizetti and Gilardoni originally based a one-act farce on Le convenienze teatrali for the Teatro Nuovo in Naples. Revising it for performance at the Teatro alla Cannobiana in Milan in 1831, they expanded the work to two acts by adding recitatives and other material based on Le inconvenienze teatrali.

Not many opera composers have been able to write both comedy and tragedy successfully. Donizetti was one of the few. He embodied his musical jokes in his imitations of music by Rossini, Bellini, and Mozart. His Rossini-inspired passages got faster and louder while his faux Bellini melodies were stretched to almost impossible lengths. Donizetti wrote such convincing music in Mozart’s style that people often wonder which opera he took it from.

Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali, or Viva la Mamma, is supposed to take place in a provincial theater. For the Pacific Opera Project (POP) presentation on November 19, 2015, the intimate table settings of the Highland Park Ebell Club provided the correct sized hall but not the provincial atmosphere. Ebell was the perfect hall for a modern version Donizetti comedy updated by Josh Shaw, POP’s director, scenic designer, and supertitles translator.

As Mamma, baritone Ryan Thorn was the star of the show with far more forceful diva antics than any leading soprano would dare. Thorn had a stentorian baritone voice and a charismatic presence that gave him control of the stage and everyone on it. No mere artist was going to upstage this theatrical “mamma” and from the black and blue marks on her daughter, the audience knew she did not accept defeat often at home. Soprano Amy Lawrence who exhibited strong, well placed high notes was Mamma’s long suffering daughter, Luigia Castragatti, (cat castrator). Perhaps we will hear more of her in the future.

Sung by Katherine Giaquinto, Prima Donna Daria Garbinati sings beautifully, but this character has florid coloratura where her brain should be. When her husband, baritone Don Procolo, sung by Carl King, trys to plead her cause, he only causes more friction. Eventually the Don has to replace the foreign born tenor, Guglielmo Hollerachevogelfänger-Lopez (Revengeofhellbirdcatcher-Lopez) who was portrayed with great enthusiasm by Kyle Patterson.

While Maestro Stephen Karr was actually conducting the orchestra, bass-baritone Scott Levin was playing the part of Conductor Biscroma Strappaviscere (bowel ripper) on stage. Thus two conductors were working within sight of each other. Phil Mayer was a business like Impressario, Eleen Hsu-Wentlandt an amusing Pippetto and Matthew Welch gave a sparkling account of librettist Salsapariglia’s lines. With Viva La Mamma, Pacific Opera Project ended its 2015 season in a blaze of glory.

Maria Nockin

Cast and production information:

Mamma Agata, Ryan Thorn; The Prima donna, Katherine Giaquinto; Biscroma Strappaviscere, Scott Levin; Don Procolo, Carl King; Luigia Castragatti, Amy Lawrence; The Impresario, Phil Mayer; Cesare Salsapariglia, Matthew Welch; Guglielmo Hollerachevogelfänger-Lopez, Kyle Patterson; Pippetto, Eileen Hsu-Wendtland; Conductor, Stephen Karr; Director, Scenic Designer and Supertitles Translator, Josh Shaw; Costume Designer, Maggie Green.

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):