Recently in Performances
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.
Fabio Luisi conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in Brahms A German Requiem op 45 and Schubert, Symphony no 8 in B minor D759 ("Unfinished").at the Barbican Hall, London.
The atmosphere was a bit electric on February 25 for the opening night of
Leoš Janàček’s 1921 domestic tragedy, and not entirely in a
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).
The latest instalment of Wigmore Hall’s ambitious two-year project, ‘Schubert: The Complete Songs’, was presented by German tenor Christoph Prégardien and pianist Julius Drake.
On March 10, 2017, San Diego Opera presented an unusual version of Georges Bizet’s Carmen called La Tragédie de Carmen (The Tragedy of Carmen).
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.
On February 25, 2017, in Tucson and on the following March 3 in Phoenix, Arizona Opera presented its first world premiere, Craig Bohmler and Steven Mark Kohn’s Riders of the Purple Sage.
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.
It is difficult to know where to begin to praise the stunning achievement of Opera San Jose’s West Coast premiere of Silent Night.
01 Dec 2015
The New York Festival of Song Creates Intimacy and Joy in a Series of Lesser-Known Rachmaninoff Songs
The New York Festival of Song, founded in 1988 by Michael Barrett and Steven Blier, offers unique evenings of songs rarely heard, or songs rarely heard in conjunction with one another.
Unlike many traditional song
concerts, Barrett and Blier program concerts with a story arc or theme,
engaging the audience in meaningful music-listening and story synthesis.
Their upcoming concert, simply called Schubert/Beatles, will
feature compositions from both Franz Schubert as well as the Beatles,
illustrating the different ways in which these two musical periods were
very much their very own “smash hits” during their own
respective time periods.
The New York Festival of Song opened their season this past November
10th with From Russia to Riverside Drive: Rachmaninoff
and Friends, a warm, intelligent evening of chamber music
featuring the works of Rachmaninoff but also some of his contemporaries
with jazz leanings, such as George Gershwin and Duke Ellington. Held in
Merkin Hall, artistic director Michael Barrett brought a friendly intimacy
to the evening that made it difficult not to leave the concert smiling.
Featuring soprano Dina Kuznetsova and baritone Shea Owens, the program
began by alternating various Rachmaninoff songs, many of which are rarely
performed and thus all the more pleasurable to hear. Kuznetsova has a
magnetic charisma and ease onstage that allowed her to express the full
range of emotions of each of her songs. Her vocal ability was equally
matched, her voice a lustrously dark timbre. She made great use of dynamic
contrast to illustrate the highs and lows of the music, her voice at its
most thrilling in moments of fuller volume. At times, she erred on the side
of too pianissimo for a voice of her size, causing uncharacteristic breaks
in her tone. However, these moments were fleeting and didn’t distract
from what was an excellent and impassioned performance.
Shea Owens [Photo courtesy of IMG Artists
Shea Owens’ interpretations feel slightly academic at times, but
he gains energy as the evening goes on, especially in his more comedic
moments. His vocal quality is stunning, with all the richness of a
well-rounded baritone voice but with a striking brightness that thrills,
particularly in his upper range. The Russian repertoire sits well in his
voice, and he has an easy quality to his vocalization, yet he possesses a
sound that’s not without gravitas and substance.
Barrett and Blier accompany on piano with joy and gusto, appearing to
deeply enjoy their music making with an enthusiasm so genuine it was
impossible not to become absorbed in their warm-toned playing. Blier paused
between songs to give an affectionate and humorous play-by-play of
Rachmaninoff’s personal and compositional history, which deeply
enriched the listening experience. Blier managed to make the evening akin
to a casual evening listening to music in one’s living room with
friends, while never allowing the excellence of the musical quality to
Dalit Warshaw joined in on several songs on the thereminist, an
instrument Blier explained never quite took off in popularity as expected
in Rachmaninoff’s time. Warshaw plays this fascinating instrument
with tenderness and sensitivity, her precision and focus mesmerizing.
The feeling that the entirety of a cast of artists is enjoying their
craft all at once in concert collaboration seems an increasingly rare
experience in recital attendance. The New York Festival of Song manages to
highlight the joy in this series of rare songs from Rachmaninoff and
beyond, providing an evening of delightful musical excellence and true