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 Reviews

POP Butterfly: Oooh, Cho-Cho San!

I was decidedly not the only one who thought I was witnessing the birth of a new star, as cover artist Janet Todd stepped in to make a triumphant appearance in the title role of Pacific Opera Project’s absorbing Madama Butterfly.

The Maryland Opera Studio Defies Genre with Fascinating Double-Bill

This past weekend, the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS) presented a double-billed performance of two of Kurt Weill’s less familiar staged works: Zaubernacht (1922) and Mahagonny-Songspiel (1927).

Nash Ensemble at Wigmore Hall: Focus on Sir Harrison Birtwistle

The Nash Ensemble’s annual contemporary music showcase focused on the work of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, a composer with whom the group has enjoyed a long and close association. Three of the six works by Birtwistle performed here were commissioned by the Nash Ensemble, as was Elliott Carter’s Mosaic which, alongside Oliver Knussen’s Study for ‘Metamorphosis’ for solo bassoon, completed a programme was intimate and intricate, somehow both elusive in spirit and richly communicative.

McVicar's Faust returns to the ROH

To lose one Marguerite may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. But, with the ROH Gounod’s Faust seemingly heading for ruin, salvation came in the form of an eleventh-hour arrival of a redeeming ‘angel’.

A superb Semele from the English Concert at the Barbican Hall

It’s good to aim high … but be careful what you wish for. Clichéd idioms perhaps, but also wise words which Semele would have been wise to heed.

A performance of Vivaldi's La Senna festeggiante by Arcangelo

In 1726 on 25 August, Jacques-Vincent Languet, Comte de Gergy, the new French ambassador to the Venetian Republic held a celebration for the name day of King Louis XV of France. There was a new piece of music performed in the loggia at the foot of Languet's garden with an audience of diplomats and, watching from gondolas, Venetian nobles.

Matthew Rose and Tom Poster at Wigmore Hall

An interesting and thoughtfully-composed programme this, presented at Wigmore Hall by bass Matthew Rose and pianist Tom Poster, and one in which music for solo piano ensured that the diverse programme cohered.

Ekaterina Semenchuk sings Glinka and Tchaikovsky

To the Wigmore Hall for an evening of magnificently old-school vocal performance from Ekaterina Semenchuk. It was very much her evening, rather than that of her pianist, Semyon Skigin, though he had his moments, especially earlier on.

Hubert Parry's Judith at the Royal Festival Hall

Caravaggio’s depiction (1598-99) of the climactic moment when the young, beautiful, physically weak Judith seizes the head of Holofernes by the enemy general’s hair and, flinching with distaste, cleaves the neck of the occupying Assyrian with his own sword, evokes Holofernes’ terror with visceral precision - eyes and screaming mouth are wide open - and is shockingly theatrical, the starkly lit figures embraced by blackness.

La Pietà in Rome

Say "La Pietà" and you think immediately of Michelangelo’s Rome Pietà. Just now Roman Oscar-winning film composer Nicola Piovani has asked us to contemplate two additional Pietà’s in Rome, a mother whose son is dead by overdose, and a mother whose son starved to death.

Matthias Goerne: Schumann – Liederkreis, op 24 & Kernerlieder

New from Harmonia Mundi, Matthias Goerne and Lief Ove Andsnes: Robert Schumann – Liederkreis, op 24 and Kernerlieder. Goerne and Andsnes have a partnership based on many years of working together, which makes this new release, originally recorded in late 2018, well worth hearing.

Orfeo ed Euridice in Rome

No wrecked motorcycle (director Harry Kupfer’s 1987 Berlin Orfeo), no wrecked Citroen and black hearse (David Alagna’s 2008 Montpellier Orfée [yes! tenorissimo Roberto Alagna was the Orfée]), no famed ballet company (the Joffrey Ballet) starring in L.A. Opera’s 2018 Orpheus and Eurydice).

Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel - a world premiere at English National Opera

Jack the Ripper is as luridly fascinating today as he was over a century ago, so it was no doubt sensationalist of the marketing department of English National Opera to put the Victorian serial killer’s name first and the true subject of Iain Bell’s new opera - his victims, the women of Whitechapel - as something of an after-thought. Font size matters, especially if it’s to sell tickets.

Tosca at the Met


The 1917 Met Tosca production hung around for 50 years, bested by the 1925 San Francisco Opera production that lived to the ripe old age of 92.  The current Met production is just 2 years old but has the feel of something that can live forever.

Drama Queens and Divas at the ROH: Handel's Berenice

A war ‘between love and politics’: so librettist Antonio Salvi summarised the conflict at the heart of Handel’s 1737 opera, Berenice. Well, we’ve had a surfeit of warring politics of late, but there’s been little love lost between opposing factions, and the laughs that director Adele Thomas and her team supply in this satirical and spicy production at the ROH’s stunningly re-designed Linbury Theatre have been in severely short supply.

Mozart’s Mass in C minor at the Royal Festival Hall

A strange concert, this, in that, although chorally conceived, it proved strongest in the performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto: not so much a comment on the choral singing as on the conducting of Dan Ludford-Thomas.

Samson et Dalila at the Met


It was the final performance of the premiere season of Darko Tresnjak’s production of Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila. Four tenors later. 

The Enchantresse and Dido and Aeneas
in Lyon

Dido and Aeneas, Il ritorno d’Ulisse and Tchaikowsky’s L’Enchantresse, the three operas of the Opéra de Lyon’s annual late March festival all tease destiny. But far more striking than the thematic relationship that motivates this 2019 festival is the derivation of these three productions from the world of hyper-refined theater, far flung hyper-refined theater.

The devil shares the good tunes: Chelsea Opera Group's Mefistofele

Every man ‘who burns with a thirst for knowledge and life and with curiosity about the nature of good and evil is Faust ... [everyone] who aspires to the Unknown, to the Ideal, is Faust’.

La forza del destino at Covent Garden

Prima la music, poi la parole? It’s the perennial operatic conundrum which has exercised composers from Monteverdi, to Salieri, to Strauss. But, on this occasion we were reminded that sometimes the answer is a simple one: Non, prima le voci!

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

<em>Götterdämmerung</em>, Opera North
04 Jul 2016

Götterdämmerung, Opera North

The culmination of Opera North’s “Ring for Everyone”, this Götterdämmerung showed the power of the condensed movement so necessary in a staged performance - each gesture of each character was perfectly judged - as well as the visceral power of having Wagner’s huge orchestra on stage as opposed to the pit.

Götterdämmerung, Opera North

A review by Colin Clarke

Above: Andrew Foster-Williams as Gunther and Giselle Allen as Gutrune

Photo credit: Clive Barda

 

Peter Mumford, who tackles staging, design, concept, lighting and production, emerges triumphant. The three huge screens behind the orchestra are multi-function, translating the text, giving stage directions to help along the theatre of the imagination, and conjuring up a multitude of natural images, often of a primordial slant as befits atemporal myth, from forest scenes to well-timed ravens. Opera North’s Ring is also an immersive experience, with a plethora of satellite events. Particularly enjoyable amongst these for this final instalment was a talk on The top five things you need to know about tonight’s instalment in the Clore Ballroom which at one point had the audience, sitting in a pretend forest, hollering out the braying horns of the vassals.

Held in the current atmosphere of political uncertainty, aspects of Wagner’s Ring become naturally highlighted (particularly the back-stabbing, literal in Siegfried’s case). Yet Wagner’s genius towers over and cuts through such local concerns, his over-reaching vision sucking us into this dark World inexorably. Richard Farnes guides us through Wagner’s huge score expertly. His conducting style is precise, never over-emotive; the smallest gesture seems to register on his players, and there is a true sense of flow to his conducting. While I enjoyed Das Rheingold (the only other of the four I was able to catch), it was eclipsed by some way here. Farnes is not one to dawdle, yet the result is forward movement rather than rushed; the bright orchestral sound for Siegfried’s Rhine Journey seemed exactly right, and while the final act Funeral March was fluent, it held great dramatic weight. Farnes encouraged the best from his brass players, too, the great, trill-encrusted crescendo preceding Siegfried’s second act entrance a case in point.

The Ring - Götterdämmerung 1.pngMati Turi as Siegfried. Photo Credit: Clive Barda.

Interesting to see that First Norn was Yvonne Howard, who had so successfully taken the role of Fricka in the Rheingold. Actually, all three Norns were cast from strength, their voices very different, three distinct characters weaving the rope of destiny, entering clad in black veils, re-veiling themselves once the singing was over. The orchestra’s radiant Dawn led naturally to Siegfried and Brünnhilde’s massive duet. The Siegfried here was Mati Turi (Lars Cleveman had taken the role for Siegfried itself), a singer with a strong low register, and a top that can stand its own against a Wagnerian orchestra. His retelling of the story in the final act was his high-point. Yet his delivery did seem to be all at around the same dynamic level, with occasional forays from the prevailing forte to a fortissimo. His Brünnhilde, Kelly Cae Hogan, was more than his equal, her “O heilige Götter!” splendidly done, sailing easily over the orchestra, her final high C of the Prologue truly spine-tingling. She was perfectly chosen: it is Brünnhilde who closes the entire cycle (bar a couple of words from Hagen, of course) and Hogan was fully in her element and in her voice. Right from the off, her voice was fully open and free. This was a major assumption of the role, culminating in a beautifully variegated “Immolation”. Her voice piercing through the orchestra like a crystal point, she found real beauty in those final stages, the lower part of her voice as she seems to imitate Erda (“Alles Weiss ich”) wonderful; and just as wonderful that she still had that openness of voice for “Fliegt Heim, ihr Raben”. Throughout this final twenty minutes or so, Hagen’s reactions as he hovered at the side of the stage were cherishable. The music-drama ended, as is appropriate, with the orchestra bathed in golden light.

The Ring - Götterdämmerung 2.pngMats Almgren as Hagen. Photo Credit: Clive Barda.

Interesting that the singer who was Gunther had taken the role of Donner on opening night, the latter a far smaller part. Here, Andrew Foster-Williams was finally able to showcase his large voice; perhaps his Gutrune, Giselle Allen, was a little weak vocally initially. Another familiar face from Rheingold was Jo Pohlheim’s Alberich, well characterised but perhaps not as black of timbre as one might hope for this role. Mats Almgren (Fafner on opening night) was a terrific Hagen: his Watch (“Hier sitzt ich zur Wacht”) was dramatic, although again one has heard darker voices here. Almgren’s power was never in doubt, though, and the Alberich/Hagen interactions in the second act carried great weight.

One of the finest assumptions of the afternoon/night was Heather Shipp’s Waltraute, her Narration (“Höre mit Sinn”) finding the bull’s eye of Wagnerian concentration; later in the act, she actually sounded believably furious. One must not forget (how could anyone?) the Chorus of Opera North, powerful beyond belief at times; and yet capable of infinite tenderness (“Heil dir Gunther”, in the second act). The Rhinemaidens, counterbalancing perhaps the Norns, made a beautiful appearance in the final act.

And so the great cycle came to a conclusion, the enthusiastic standing ovation completely justified. A magnificent achievement.

Colin Clarke

Wagner: Götterdämmerung (Concert Performance)

Brünnhilde - Kelly Cae Hogan; Siegfried - Mati Turi; Hagen - Mats Almgren; Giselle Allen Gutrune; Gunther - Andrew Foster-Williams; Waltraute - Heather Shipp; Alberich - Jo Pohlheim; 1st Norn - Fiona Kimm; 2nd Norn - Yvonne Howard; 3rd Norn - Lee Bisset; Woglinde - Jeni Bern; Wellgunde - Madeleine Shaw; Flosshilde; conductor - Richard Farnes, Orchestra of Opera North.

Royal Festival Hall, London, 3rd July 2016.

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):