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

ETO Autumn 2020 Season Announcement: Lyric Solitude

English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a season of lyric monodramas to tour nationally from October to December. The season features music for solo singer and piano by Argento, Britten, Tippett and Shostakovich with a bold and inventive approach to making opera during social distancing.

Love, always: Chanticleer, Live from London … via San Francisco

This tenth of ten Live from London concerts was in fact a recorded live performance from California. It was no less enjoyable for that, and it was also uplifting to learn that this wasn’t in fact the ‘last’ LfL event that we will be able to enjoy, courtesy of VOCES8 and their fellow vocal ensembles (more below …).

Dreams and delusions from Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper at Wigmore Hall

Ever since Wigmore Hall announced their superb series of autumn concerts, all streamed live and available free of charge, I’d been looking forward to this song recital by Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper.

Henry Purcell, Royal Welcome Songs for King Charles II Vol. III: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers

The Sixteen continues its exploration of Henry Purcell’s Welcome Songs for Charles II. As with Robert King’s pioneering Purcell series begun over thirty years ago for Hyperion, Harry Christophers is recording two Welcome Songs per disc.

Treasures of the English Renaissance: Stile Antico, Live from London

Although Stile Antico’s programme article for their Live from London recital introduced their selection from the many treasures of the English Renaissance in the context of the theological debates and upheavals of the Tudor and Elizabethan years, their performance was more evocative of private chamber music than of public liturgy.

Anima Rara: Ermonela Jaho

In February this year, Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho made a highly lauded debut recital at Wigmore Hall - a concert which both celebrated Opera Rara’s 50th anniversary and honoured the career of the Italian soprano Rosina Storchio (1872-1945), the star of verismo who created the title roles in Leoncavallo’s La bohème and Zazà, Mascagni’s Lodoletta and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

A wonderful Wigmore Hall debut by Elizabeth Llewellyn

Evidently, face masks don’t stifle appreciative “Bravo!”s. And, reducing audience numbers doesn’t lower the volume of such acclamations. For, the audience at Wigmore Hall gave soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and pianist Simon Lepper a greatly deserved warm reception and hearty response following this lunchtime recital of late-Romantic song.

Requiem pour les temps futurs: An AI requiem for a post-modern society

Collapsology. Or, perhaps we should use the French word ‘Collapsologie’ because this is a transdisciplinary idea pretty much advocated by a series of French theorists - and apparently, mostly French theorists. It in essence focuses on the imminent collapse of modern society and all its layers - a series of escalating crises on a global scale: environmental, economic, geopolitical, governmental; the list is extensive.

The Sixteen: Music for Reflection, live from Kings Place

For this week’s Live from London vocal recital we moved from the home of VOCES8, St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, to Kings Place, where The Sixteen - who have been associate artists at the venue for some time - presented a programme of music and words bound together by the theme of ‘reflection’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny explore Dowland's directness and darkness at Hatfield House

'Such is your divine Disposation that both you excellently understand, and royally entertaine the Exercise of Musicke.’

Ádám Fischer’s 1991 MahlerFest Kassel ‘Resurrection’ issued for the first time

Amongst an avalanche of new Mahler recordings appearing at the moment (Das Lied von der Erde seems to be the most favoured, with three) this 1991 Mahler Second from the 2nd Kassel MahlerFest is one of the more interesting releases.

Paradise Lost: Tête-à-Tête 2020

‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven … that old serpent … Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Max Lorenz: Tristan und Isolde, Hamburg 1949

If there is one myth, it seems believed by some people today, that probably needs shattering it is that post-war recordings or performances of Wagner operas were always of exceptional quality. This 1949 Hamburg Tristan und Isolde is one of those recordings - though quite who is to blame for its many problems takes quite some unearthing.

Joyce DiDonato: Met Stars Live in Concert

There was never any doubt that the fifth of the twelve Met Stars Live in Concert broadcasts was going to be a palpably intense and vivid event, as well as a musically stunning and theatrically enervating experience.

‘Where All Roses Go’: Apollo5, Live from London

‘Love’ was the theme for this Live from London performance by Apollo5. Given the complexity and diversity of that human emotion, and Apollo5’s reputation for versatility and diverse repertoire, ranging from Renaissance choral music to jazz, from contemporary classical works to popular song, it was no surprise that their programme spanned 500 years and several musical styles.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 're-connect'

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields have titled their autumn series of eight concerts - which are taking place at 5pm and 7.30pm on two Saturdays each month at their home venue in Trafalgar Square, and being filmed for streaming the following Thursday - ‘re:connect’.

Lucy Crowe and Allan Clayton join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at St Luke's

The London Symphony Orchestra opened their Autumn 2020 season with a homage to Oliver Knussen, who died at the age of 66 in July 2018. The programme traced a national musical lineage through the twentieth century, from Britten to Knussen, on to Mark-Anthony Turnage, and entwining the LSO and Rattle too.

Choral Dances: VOCES8, Live from London

With the Live from London digital vocal festival entering the second half of the series, the festival’s host, VOCES8, returned to their home at St Annes and St Agnes in the City of London to present a sequence of ‘Choral Dances’ - vocal music inspired by dance, embracing diverse genres from the Renaissance madrigal to swing jazz.

Royal Opera House Gala Concert

Just a few unison string wriggles from the opening of Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro are enough to make any opera-lover perch on the edge of their seat, in excited anticipation of the drama in music to come, so there could be no other curtain-raiser for this Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, the latest instalment from ‘their House’ to ‘our houses’.

Fading: The Gesualdo Six at Live from London

"Before the ending of the day, creator of all things, we pray that, with your accustomed mercy, you may watch over us."

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

15 Aug 2016

La donna del lago in Pesaro

Each August the bleak and leaky, 12,000 seat Arena Adriatica (home of the famed Pesaro basketball team) magically transforms itself into an improvised opera house that boasts the ultimate in opera chic — exemplary Rossini production standards for its now twelve hundred seats.

The Lady of the Lake at the Rossini Opera Festival

A review by Michael Milenski

Above: Salome Jicia as the lady of the lake, Marko Mimica as Duglas [All photos courtesy of and copyright by the Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro]

 

La donna del lago is from Naples’ Teatro San Carlo in 1819. Rossini masterpieces abound in these years, though they were not always appreciated by the fickle Neapolitan audience who in 1818 had wildly applauded Spontini’s La Vestale and decried Rossini’s Ermione. Consequently in 1819 Spontini had a contract for two new operas at San Carlo and Rossini had none! Circumstances forced Spontini to back out, but Rossini, always ready, took over the contract.

The novels of Sir Walter Scott were in the air in French translation. It is fairly likely that La donna del lago was originally intended for Spontini. But Rossini gets the credit of creating the first Italian opera based on Scott’s wildly popular, colorful novels that gave first definition to European theatrical Romanticism!

The now infamous Venetian stage director Damiano Michieletto staged La donna del lago just now in Pesaro. Last year at Covent Garden Michieletto had Jemmy, William Tell’s son compare his father Guillaume Tell with a comic book William Tell brought alive, played by an actor who remained on stage for the duration of that opera. In recent years in Pesaro Michieletto has turned La scala di seta into pure run-of-the-mill TV sit-com and Sigismondo into a classic made-for-TV horror movie (low budget, low taste).

LakeLady_Pesaro2.pngElena double, Juan Diego Flórez as Uberto, Salome Jicia as Elena

It was a surprise to see Michieletto back on the Pesaro directorial roster but it was of no surprise to learn that La donna del lago had become two old folks in a probably-mid-twentieth century British Isles-someplace parlor having a spat about the wife’s infatuation with a black and white photo of the king. The couple became a duplicate, aged Elena (the lady of the lake) and Malcom, a duplicate of the opera's pants role rebel but who (the double) was a real male. The doubles shadowed their Scottian counterparts the entire evening. Not to give it all away but towards the end the old woman falls into the lake (real water for this dramatic backflop) and Elena finds herself back in the drawing room of the opening scene. She transforms herself into the old woman while singing her final spectacular and breathtakingly beautiful “Tanti affetti in tal momento” that ends the show in the old folk’s reconciliation.

Elena was sung by Pesaro-finished (the festival's Accademia Rossiniana) ingenue Rossini diva, Georgian soprano Salome Jicia who more than held her own amid stiff competition — Jean Diego Flórez as King James V who liked to wander the Scottish countryside incognito and — according to Sir Walter Scott — fall in love with beautiful young women, and American tenorino cum coglioni Michael Spyres as Rodrigo, Malcom’s brash competition (lots of leaps to forte C’s and D’s).

Malcom was sung by Armenian mezzo soprano/contralto Varduhi Abrahamyan, an accomplished Carmen as well as bel canto singer who is well able to cross dress when called upon (last spring’s Ascanio in Benvenuto Cellini in Rome as example). Her first act aria “Elena! oh tu, che chiamo” earned the huge Pesaro ovation — uniique to Pesaro these ovations extend multiple minutes and are homage to a singer, to Rossini and to simply being a Rossini afecionado in Pesaro. This fine artist is of ample voice and excellent technique, a very welcome newcomer to the limited ranks of Rossini pants role interpreters.

LakeLady_Pesaro5.pngSalome Jicia as Elena, Michael Spyres as Rodrigo, Juan Diego Flórez as James V / Uberto

Among the great moments of the evening was the second act scena in which the incognito James V reveals himself to Rodrigo and then kills him in a duel but not before the two tenorinos deliver the splendid duet “Vendetta! accendi mi di rabbia il seno” before which the lady of the lake suggests they kill her instead of themselves even though she loves neither one of them. In these moments it is clear that Juan Diego Flores has no equal in finding the joy of singing (this the genius of Rossini) and Michael Spyres is among the few who truly deliver the excitement of a Rossini voice.

The biggest of all the ovations was however reserved for Pesaro conductor Michele Mariotti, now an international star, who has naturally absorbed the Rossinian esprit, and like no other is able to communicate it to his orchestra in the pit, here the Orchestra of Bologna’s Teatro Comunale and to the singers on the stage with whom you feel and can actually see the joining of voice to the sentient Rossini orchestra. On this occasion Mo. Mariotti’s tempos seemed more deliberate than sweeping, possibly in sympathy to Mr. Michieletto’s very precise storytelling, and possibly in response to Rossini’s newly found Romantic colors — the specific horn calls and the momentary crowning of intense moments with sharp flute tones, and the always important clarinet in introduction and duet with the stage. Strangely this evening did not come across as the great Rossini.

Set design by Paolo Fantin was indeed splendid, superimposing the drawing room on the swampy lake shore, spectacularly lighted by Alessandro Carletti. Said and done the self-consciously chic Michieletto staging did indeed enhance the evening, the doubling of Elena and Malcolm adding a dramatic depth and possibly too comprehensible human emotion to this exotic tale of long ago and far away. Would that it not have been so prosaic.

Michael Milenski


Cast and production information:

James V / Uberto: Juan Diego Flórez; Duglas: Marko Mimica; Rodrigo: Michael Spyres; Elena: Salome Jicia; Malcom: Varduhi Abrahamyan; Albina: Ruth Iniesta; Serano / Bertram: Francisco Brito. Elena (silent); Giusi Merli, Malcom )silent) Alessandro Baldinotti. Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Conductor: Michele Mariotti; Metteur en scène: Damiano Michieletto; Set design: Paolo Fantin; Costumes: Klaus Bruns; Lighting: Alessandro Carletti. Arena Adriatica, Pesaro, Italy, August 11, 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):