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

Little magic in Zauberland at the ROH's Linbury Theatre

To try to conceive of Schumann’s Dichterliebe as a unified formal entity is to deny the song cycle its essential meaning. For, its formal ambiguities, its disintegrations, its sudden breaks in both textual image and musical sound are the very embodiment of the early Romantic aesthetic of fragmentation.

Donizetti's Don Pasquale packs a psychological punch at the ROH

Is Donizetti’s Don Pasquale a charming comedy with a satirical punch, or a sharp psychological study of the irresolvable conflicts of human existence?

Chelsea Opera Group perform Verdi's first comic opera: Un giorno di regno

Until Verdi turned his attention to Shakespeare’s Fat Knight in 1893, Il giorno di regno (A King for a Day), first performed at La Scala in 1840, was the composer’s only comic opera.

A humourless hike to Hades: Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld at ENO

Q. “Is there an art form you don't relate to?” A. “Opera. It's a dreadful sound - it just doesn't sound like the human voice.”

Welsh National Opera revive glorious Cunning Little Vixen

First unveiled in 1980, this celebrated WNO production shows no sign of running out of steam. Thanks to director David Pountney and revival director Elaine Tyler-Hall, this Vixen has become a classic, its wide appeal owing much to the late Maria Bjørnson’s colourful costumes and picture book designs (superbly lit by Nick Chelton) which still gladden the eye after nearly forty years with their cinematic detail and pre-echoes of Teletubbies.

Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia at Lyric Opera of Chicago

With a charmingly detailed revival of Gioachino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia Lyric Opera of Chicago has opened its 2019-2020 season. The company has assembled a cast clearly well-schooled in the craft of stage movement, the action tumbling with lively motion throughout individual solo numbers and ensembles.

Romantic lieder at Wigmore Hall: Elizabeth Watts and Julius Drake

When she won the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize in the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, soprano Elizabeth Watts placed rarely performed songs by a female composer, Elizabeth Maconchy, alongside Austro-German lieder from the late nineteenth century.

ETO's The Silver Lake at the Hackney Empire

‘If the present is already lost, then I want to save the future.’

Roméo et Juliette in San Francisco (bis)

The final performance of San Francisco Opera’s deeply flawed production of the Gounod masterpiece became, in fact, a triumph — for the Romeo of Pene Pati, the Juliet of Amina Edris, and for Charles Gounod in the hands of conductor Yves Abel.

William Alwyn's Miss Julie at the Barbican Hall

“Opera is not a play”, or so William Alwyn wrote when faced with criticism that his adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie wasn’t purist enough. The plot is, in fact, largely intact; what Alwyn tends to strip out is some of Strindberg’s symbolism, especially that which links to what were (then) revolutionary nineteenth-century ideas based around social Darwinism. What the opera and play do share, however, is a view of class - of both its mobility and immobility - and this was something this BBC concert performance very much played on.

Cast salvages unfunny Così fan tutte at Dutch National Opera

Dutch National Opera’s October offering is Così fan tutte, a revival of a 2006 production directed by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito, originally part of a Mozart triptych that elicited strong audience reactions. This Così, set in a hotel, was the most positively received.

English Touring Opera's Autumn Tour 2019 opens with a stylish Seraglio

As the cheerfully optimistic opening bars of the overture to Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (here The Seraglio) sailed buoyantly from the Hackney Empire pit, it was clear that this would be a youthful, fresh-spirited Ottoman escapade - charming, elegant and stylishly exuberant, if not always plumbing the humanist depths of the opera.

Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice: Wayne McGregor's dance-opera opens ENO's 2019-20 season

ENO’s 2019-20 season opens by going back to opera’s roots, so to speak, presenting four explorations of the mythical status of that most powerful of musicians and singers, Orpheus.

Olli Mustonen's Taivaanvalot receives its UK premiere at Wigmore Hall

This recital at Wigmore Hall, by Ian Bostridge, Steven Isserlis and Olli Mustonen was thought-provoking and engaging, but at first glance appeared something of a Chinese menu. And, several re-orderings of the courses plus the late addition of a Hungarian aperitif suggested that the participants had had difficulty in deciding the best order to serve up the dishes.

Handel's Aci, Galatea e Polifemo: laBarocca at Wigmore Hall

Handel’s English pastoral masque Acis and Galatea was commissioned by James Brydges, Earl of Carnavon and later Duke of Chandos, and had it first performance sometime between 1718-20 at Cannons, the stately home on the grand Middlesex estate where Brydges maintained a group of musicians for his chapel and private entertainments.

Gerald Barry's The Intelligence Park at the ROH's Linbury Theatre

Walk for 10 minutes or so due north of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and you come to Brunswick Square, home to the Foundling Museum which was established in 1739 by the philanthropist Thomas Coram to care for children lost but lucky.

O19’s Phat Philly Phantasy

It is hard to imagine a more animated, engaging, and musically accomplished night at the Academy of Music than with Opera Philadelphia’s winning new staging of The Love for Three Oranges.

Agrippina: Barrie Kosky brings farce and frolics to the ROH

She makes a virtue of her deceit, her own accusers come to her defence, and her crime brings her reward. Agrippina - great-granddaughter of Augustus Caesar, sister of Caligula, wife of Emperor Claudius - might seem to offer those present-day politicians hungry for power an object lesson in how to satisfy their ambition.

Billy Budd in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera’s Billy Budd confirms once again that Britten’s reworking of Melville’s novella is among the great masterpieces of the repertory. It boasted an exemplary cast in an exemplary production, and enlightened conducting.

Dear Marie Stopes: a thought-provoking chamber opera

“To remove the misery of slave motherhood and the curse of unwanted children, and to secure that every baby is loved before it is born.”

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Annette Dasch [Photo © Manfred Baumann]
14 Sep 2016

Mahler’s Second, Concertgebouw

Daniele Gatti opened the first series of Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s season with a slightly uneven performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony. With four planned, this staple repertoire for the RCO meant to introduce Gatti to the RCO subscribers.

Mahler’s Second, Concertgebouw

A review by David Pinedo

Above: Annette Dasch [Photo © Manfred Baumann]

 

After a tepid beginning, the concert was still very much worthwhile for the deeply moving vocals of the superlative Groot Omroep Choir in a stunning finale, where Gatti’s opera skills made for an unforgettable, sublime experience. Annette Dasch dazzled in her soprano role, while Ms. Cargill equally impressed.

Mahler’s Second Symphony premiered in Berlin in 1895. In October 1904, the Austrian conducted his work twice at the Concertgebouw. So whenever the RCO performs this piece a mythological dimension layers the experience. Tonight especially so, as Daniele Gatti performed it for the first time here. Expectations were ambivalent. Though he has great synergy and communicates intensely conducting, his performances have the tendency to be hit or miss. I have heard him perform a dreadful Schumann symphony on the same evening with a mind blowing Berg’s Violin Concerto. His Mahler’s Third and Sixth left a lot to be desired, but his already legendary performances of Mahler’s Fifth and Ninth earned him the job.

Karen_Cargill.pngKaren Cargill [Photo by K K Dundas]

Tonight with Mahler’s epic work, he grew in his role throughout the performance. With each following movement more sturdy, the music excelled in quality. Gatti’s fortissimo explode delightfully from the percussion and brass. His pianissimo passages simmer tensely. However, in between those extremes Gatti’s Mahler felt flat, even a bit superficial. Mr. Gatti’s conducting style is too polished, too refined.

With Simon Rattle and the Berliners last year, the rawness of Mahler’s Second made your skin crawl: those strings burned fiercely giving the music a serrated edge. Gatti’s finesse is impressive to see, but the music lacks depth in its resonance. Though I have to admit, Dominic Seldis, headbanging and riffing with his bass section, offered a pulsating momentum with throbbing intensity.

The Allegro Maestoso opening in particular suffered from a lack of intensity. With each reintroduction of the opening, Gatti’s fortissimo surges provoked plenty of goosebumps, but brilliance lacked in the subtly shrill moments. As result of the missing ferocity, the Andante moderato and its delicate “Ländler” dance did not have the strikingly upbeat contrast and pastoral whimsicality. Mr. Gatti’s elegant though overly elaborate conducting style again polished away the Scherzo’s incisiveness.

The transition into the fourth movement missed its disarming effect. When he conducted this work during his reign of the RCO, Mariss Jansons elevated the Urlicht (Primeval Light) movement into a heightened state of serenity; though it seems highly unfair to compare Gatti already to Jansons. Ms Cargill’s thick, voluptuous vibrato sang the lied from “Des Knaben Wunderhorn” that always resonates powerfully in the Concertgebouw. Tonight, almost with religious mysticism.

Concertmaster Vesko Eschkenazy made his violin sing exquisitely moving during his solo passages, while Vincent Cortvrint’s piccolo solo richly illuminated. The offstage musicians also added an engaging stereophonic effect to experience as they relocated off stage and were heard from different locations.

Annette Dasch stole the show in the finale as she and Cargill offered intense contrasts to each other. Dasch’s powerful voice has no problem mastering the tricky vocal acoustics of the hall, and contributed to the overall sublime finale. Right before the calm of the glorious ending, a cellphone managed to disrupt ever so briefly. The timing was impeccable, but thankfully it only rang one time.

Together with the awesome Groot Omroepkoor, Dasch and Cargill enriched the collective spirit of the finale as they sang the words from Mahler’s adaptation of the poem Die Auferstehung. It left me with wet eyes and less skeptical toward the future with the still developing Gatti and the RCO.

David Pinedo

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):