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

Saint Cecilia: The Sixteen at Kings Place

There were eighteen rather than sixteen singers. And, though the concert was entitled Saint Cecilia the repertoire paid homage more emphatically to Mary, Mother of Jesus, and to the spirit of Christmas.

Insights on Mahler Lieder, Wigmore Hall, Andrè Schuen

At the Wigmore Hall, Andrè Schuen and Daniel Heide in a recital of Schubert and Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Rückert-Lieder. Schuen has most definitely arrived, at least among the long-term cognoscenti at the Wigmore Hall who appreciate the intelligence and sensitivity that marks true Lieder interpretation.

Ermelinda by San Francisco's Ars Minerva

It’s an opera by Vicentino composer Domenico Freschi that premiered in 1681 at the country home of the son of the doge of Venice. Villa Contarini is a couple of hours on horseback from Vicenza, and a few hours by gondola from Venice).

Wozzeck in Munich

It would be an extraordinary, even an unimaginable Wozzeck that failed to move, to chill one to the bone. This was certainly no such Wozzeck; Marie’s reading from the Bible, Wozzeck’s demise, the final scene with their son and the other children: all brought that particular Wozzeck combination of tears and horror.

Korngold's Die tote Stadt in Munich

I approached this evening as something of a sceptic regarding work and director. My sole prior encounter with Simon Stone’s work had not been, to put it mildly, a happy one. Nor do I count myself a subscriber or even affiliate to the Korngold fan club, considerable in number and still more considerable in fervency.

Exceptional song recital from Hurn Court Opera at Salisbury Arts Centre

Thanks to the enterprise and vision of Lynton Atkinson - Artistic Director of Dorset-based Hurn Court Opera - two promising young singers on the threshold of glittering careers gave an outstanding recital at Salisbury’s prestigious Art Centre.

Lohengrin in Munich

An exceptional Lohengrin, this. I had better explain. Yes, it was exceptional in the quality of much of the singing, especially the two principal female roles, yet also in luxury casting such as Martin Gantner as the King’s Herald.

Hansel and Gretel in San Francisco

This Grimm’s fairytale in its operatic version found its way onto the War Memorial stage in the guise of a new “family friendly” production first seen last holiday season at London’s Royal Opera House.

An hypnotic Death in Venice at the Royal Opera House

Spot-lit in the prevailing darkness, Gustav von Aschenbach frowns restively as he picks up an hour-glass from a desk strewn with literary paraphernalia, objects d’art, time-pieces and a pair of tall candles in silver holders - by the light of which, so Thomas Mann tells us in his novella Death in Venice, the elderly writer ‘would offer up to art, for two or three ardently conscientious morning hours, the strength he had garnered during sleep’.

Philip Glass's Orphée at English National Opera

Jean Cocteau’s 1950 Orphée - and Philip Glass’s chamber opera based on the film - are so closely intertwined it should not be a surprise that this new production for English National Opera often seems unable to distinguish the two. There is never a shred of ambiguity that cinema and theatre are like mirrors, a recurring feature of this production; and nor is there much doubt that this is as opera noir it gets.

Rapt audience at Dutch National Opera’s riveting Walküre

“Don’t miss this final chance – ever! – to see Die Walküre”, urges the Dutch National Opera website.

Sarah Wegener sings Strauss and Jurowski’s shattering Mahler

A little under a month ago, I reflected on Vladimir Jurowski’s tempi in Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’. That willingness to range between extremes, often within the same work, was a very striking feature of this second concert, which also fielded a Mahler symphony - this time the Fifth. But we also had a Wagner prelude and Strauss songs to leave some of us scratching our heads.

Manon Lescaut in San Francisco

Of the San Francisco Opera Manon Lescauts (in past seasons Leontyne Price, Mirella Freni, Karita Mattila among others, all in their full maturity) the latest is Armenian born Parisian finished soprano Lianna Haroutounian in her role debut. And Mme. Haroutounian is surely the finest of them all.

A lukewarm performance of Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette from the LSO and Tilson Thomas

A double celebration was the occasion for a packed house at the Barbican: the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’s birth, alongside Michael Tilson Thomas’s fifty-year association with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Mahler’s Third Symphony launches Prague Symphony Orchestra's UK tour

The Anvil in Basingstoke was the first location for a strenuous seven-concert UK tour by the Prague Symphony Orchestra - a venue-hopping trip, criss-crossing the country from Hampshire to Wales, with four northern cities and a pit-stop in London spliced between Edinburgh and Nottingham.

Rigoletto past, present and future: a muddled production by Christiane Lutz for Glyndebourne Touring Opera

Charlie Chaplin was a master of slapstick whose rag-to-riches story - from workhouse-resident clog dancer to Hollywood legend with a salary to match his status - was as compelling as the physical comedy that he learned as a member of Fred Karno’s renowned troupe.

Rinaldo Through the Looking-Glass: Glyndebourne Touring Opera in Canterbury

Robert Carsen’s production of Rinaldo, first seen at Glyndebourne in 2011, gives a whole new meaning to the phrases ‘school-boy crush’ and ‘behind the bike-sheds’.

Predatory power and privilege in WNO's Rigoletto at the Birmingham Hippodrome

At a party hosted by a corrupt and dissolute political leader, wealthy patriarchal predators bask in excess, prowling the room on the hunt for female prey who seem all too eager to trade their sexual favours for the promise of power and patronage. ‘Questa o quella?’ the narcissistic host sings, (this one or that one?), indifferent to which woman he will bed that evening, assured of impunity.

Virginie Verrez captivates in WNO's Carmen at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Jo Davies’ new production of Carmen for Welsh National Opera presents not the exotic Orientalism of nineteenth-century France, nor a tale of the racial ‘Other’, feared and fantasised in equal measure by those whose native land she has infiltrated.

Die Zauberflöte brings mixed delights at the Royal Opera House

When did anyone leave a performance of Mozart’s Singspiel without some serious head scratching?

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Scene from Amazons in the Fortunate Isles [Photo by Emily  Anderson]
30 May 2016

Amazons Enchant San Francisco

On May 21, 2016, Ars Minerva presented The Amazons in the Fortunate Isles (Le Amazzoni nelle Isole Fortunate), an opera consisting of a prologue and three acts by seventeenth century Venetian composer Carlo Pallavicino.

Amazons Enchant San Francisco

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Scene from Amazons in the Fortunate Isles [Photo by Emily Anderson]

 

In 1679, the opera was staged at the Teatro delle Vergini outside of Venice and has not been given professionally since.

Amazon women were popular in seventeenth century Venetian opera and more than one hundred librettos of the time included them. According to some ancient writers, Amazon warriors originated in Turkey. Others preferred to cite different mythological backgrounds. The women were said to mate only once a year. After they gave birth, male children were discarded and only the females were raised to adulthood.

The plot of Pallavicino’s opera involves Numidio, a captain in the Sultan’s army sung by the tall, blonde, muscular tenor, Ryan Matos. The captain has been shipwrecked on the Amazon’s island, where Princess Pulcheria, sung with exquisite Baroque style by French soprano Aurélie Veruni, falls in love with him. He seems to prefer Florinda, portrayed by creamy-voiced mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich, who proved to be both a lyrical lover and a dramatic powerhouse. Unfortunately, Numidio cannot make up his mind. Florinda has to deal with reconciling her vow of chastity with love. The only other male singer in this opera, bronze-voiced baritone Spencer Dodd, was the fearsome sultan who eventually invades the Amazon’s island.

Soprano Tonia D’Amelio as Auralba, who is also in love with Florinda and jealous of Numidio shows her strong dramatic ability when she appears to have more leadership qualities than the indecisive male. Soprano Cara Gabrielson sang Jocasta with notable vocal skills and mezzo Molly Mahoney was a fiery Cillene. Dancers Coral Martin and Casey Lee Thorne added to the graceful lines of choreographer Muriel Maffre’s stage pictures with their smooth, undulating gestures.

Stage director Céline Ricci made sure that the universal tales and of love, both straight and gay, were brought from seventeenth century directly to the twenty-first. Behind the action Patricia Nardi's thoughtful projections combined well with simple modern costuming topped by opulent colorful hairpieces and wigs that provided eye candy for the audience.

Conductor Derek Tam led Ars Minerva’s eight-piece orchestra, which consisted of theorbo, two violins, cello, two trumpets, harpsichord and percussion. The string players, especially the theorbist and harpsichordist, showed fabulous musical skills. Only the trumpets were a bit edgy at times. The problems brought about by humans falling in love with each other are not only of interest to those immediately concerned, some of its vagaries and situations are hysterically funny. The Amazons is a most amusing opera and I hope that Ars Minerva will soon make it available to a larger audience.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production details:

Il Genio, Tonia d'Amelio; La Difficoltà, Molly Mahoney; Il Timore, Spencer Dodd; Pulcheria, Principessa delle Amazzoni, Aurélie Veruni; Florinda sua Favorita, Kindra Scharich; Numidio, suo capitano, Ryan Matos; Auralba, amica di Florinda, Tonia d'Amelio; Jocasta, figlia adottiva di Pulcheria, Cara Gabrielson; Cillene, delirante per Amore, Molly Mahoney; Sultan Rè degli Egizzi, Spencer Dodd; Dancers: Casey Lee Thorne and Coral Martin; Stage Direction, Céline Ricci; Choreography, Muriel Maffre; Projection Design, Patricia Nardi; Lighting Design, Brian Poedy; Hair & Make-up, Metamorphosis Salon; English Translation, Joe McClinton; Conductor, Derek Tam; Harpsichord, Derek Tam; Theorbo, Adam Cockerham; Cello, Gretchen Claassen, Violin, Addi Liu and Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo; Timpani, Henry Reed; Trumpets, Amanda Cienfuegos and Jose Sanchez.

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):