Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Performances

Macbeth in Lyon

A revival of the Opéra de Lyon’s 2012 Occupy Wall St. production of Verdi’s 1865 Macbeth, transforming naive commentary into strange irony, some high art included.

Barber of Seville Is Fun in Tucson

On March 4, 2018, Arizona Opera presented Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in Tucson. Allen Moyer designed the bright and happy scenery for performances at Minnesota Opera,

Moody, Mysterious Morel

Long Beach Opera often takes willing audiences on an unexpected journey and such is undeniably the case with its fascinating traversal of The Invention of Morel.

Acis and Galatea: 2018 London Handel Festival

Katie Hawks makes quite a claim for Handel’s Acis and Galatea when, in her programme article, she describes it as the composer’s ‘most perfect work’. Surely, one might feel, this is a somewhat hyperbolic evaluation of a 90-minute pastoral masque, or serenade, based on an episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which has its origins in a private entertainment?

Oriana, Fairest Queen: Stile Antico celebrate the life and times of Elizabeth I

Stile Antico’s lunchtime play-list, celebrating the Virgin Queen’s long reign, shuffled between sacred and secular works, from penitential to patriotic, from sensual to celebratory.

Daniel Kramer's new La traviata at English National Opera

Verdi's La traviata is one of those opera which every opera company needs to have in its repertoire, and productions need to balance intelligent exploration of the issues raised by the work with the need to reach as wide an audience as possible with an opera which is likely to attract audience members who are not regular opera-goers.

Haydn's Applausus: The Mozartists at Cadogan Hall

Continuing their MOZART 250 series, The Mozartists/ Classical Opera began dipping into the operatic offerings of 1768 at Wigmore Hall in January, when they presented numbers from Mozart’s La finta semplice, Jommelli’s Fetonte, Hasse’s Pirano e Tisbe and Haydn’s Lo speziale.

Schubert Schwanengesang revisited—Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

Schwanengesang isn't Schubert's Swan Song any more than it is a cycle like Die schöne Müllerin or Winterreise. The title was given it by his publishers Haslingers, after his death, combining settings of two very different poets, Ludwig Rellstab and Heinrich Heine. Wigmore Hall audiences have heard lots of good Schwanengesangs, including Boesch and Martineau performances in the past, but this was something special.

Rinaldo: The English Concert at the Barbican Hall

“After such cruel events, I don’t know if I am dreaming or awake.” So says Almirena, daughter of the Crusader Goffredo, when she is rescued by her beloved warrior-hero, Rinaldo, from the clutches of the evil sorceress, Armida.

Hamlet abridged and enriched in Amsterdam

French grand opera and small opera companies are an unlikely combination. Yet OPERA2DAY, a company of modest means, is currently touring the Netherlands with Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas.

The ROH's first production of From the House of the Dead

Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production for the ROH of From the House of the Dead is ‘new’ in several regards. It’s (astonishingly) the first time that Janáček’s last opera has been staged at Covent Garden; it’s Warlikowski’s debut at Covent Garden; and the production uses a new 2017 critical edition prepared by John Tyrrell.

Così fan tutte at Lyric Opera of Chicago

With artifice, disguise, and questions on fidelity as the basis of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, the composer’s mature opera has returned to the stage at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

WNO's Wheel of Destiny rolls into Birmingham

Welsh National Opera’s wheel of destiny has rolled into Birmingham this week, with Verdi’s sprawling tragedy, La forza del destino, opening the company’s ‘Rabble Rousing’ triptych at the Hippodrome.

A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal College of Music

The gossamer web of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is sufficiently insubstantial and ambiguous to embrace multiple interpretative readings: the play can be a charming comic caper, a jangling journey through human pettiness and cruelty, a moonlit fairy fantasy or a shadowy erotic nightmare, and much more besides.

Robert Carsen's A Midsummer Night's Dream returns to ENO

Having given us Christopher Alden's strangely dystopic production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2011, English National Opera (ENO) has opted for Robert Carsen's bed-inspired vision for the latest revival of the opera at the London Coliseum.

Turandot in San Diego—Prima la voce

The big musical set pieces in Turandot require voice, voice, and more voice, and San Diego Opera has gifted us with a world-class cast of singing actors.

Dialogues de Carmélites at the Guildhall School: spiritual transcendence and transfiguration

Four years have passed since my last Dialogues des Carmélites, and on that occasion - Robert Carsen’s production for the ROH - heightened dramatic intensity, revolutionary insurrection (enhanced by an oppressed populace formed by a 67-strong Community Ensemble) and, under the baton of Simon Rattle, luxuriant musical rapture, were the order of the day.

'B & B’ in a new key

Seattle Opera’s new production of Béatrice et Bénédict is best regarded as a noble experiment, performed expressly to see if Berlioz’ delectable 1862 opéra comique can successfully be brought into the living repertory outside its native France. As such, it is quite a success.

Of Animals and Insects: a musical menagerie at Wigmore Hall

Wigmore Hall was transformed into a musical menagerie earlier this week, when bass-baritone Ashley Riches, a Radio 3 New Generation Artist, and pianist Joseph Middleton took us on a pan-European lunchtime stroll through a gallery of birds and beasts, blooms and bugs.

Hugo Wolf, Italienisches Liederbuch

Nationality is a complicated thing at the best of times. (At the worst of times: well, none of us needs reminding about that.) What, if anything, might it mean for Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook? Almost whatever you want it to mean, or not to mean.



21 Sep 2016

San Diego Opera Opens with Recital by Piotr Beczala

Renowned Polish tenor Piotr Beczala and well-known collaborative pianist Martin Katz opened the San Diego Opera 2016–2017 season with a recital at the Balboa Theater on Saturday, September 17th.

San Diego Opera Opens with Recital by Piotr Beczala

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Piotr Beczala [Photo by Anja Frers/DG]


Their sold-out presentation was the first performance of this new Shiley Detour Series, which will continue in November with the David T. Little’s new opera Soldier Songs and will return in March with Peter Brook’s The Tragedy of Carmen.

Beczala sang a few songs along with numerous lyric and dramatic arias, pouring forth a feast in Italian, French, German, and Czech for the city’s vocal music connoisseurs. He began with Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s simple serenade, Mattinata, which opened the door to his smooth, lyrical rendition of “Dei miei bollenti spiriti,” from Verdi’s La traviata, and a more dramatic and exciting presentation of “Di’ tu sei fedele” from the same composer’s Un ballo in maschera.

Beczala and Katz followed the Italian selections with Antonin Dvořák’s bittersweet Gypsy Songs and the Prince’s Aria from the same composer’s Rusalka. Although the Czech song texts may not be easily deciphered, the tunes are as familiar as cookies from grandma. Both singing and accompaniment were insightful, sometimes joyous and at other times plaintive. In the Rusalka aria, the Prince has fallen in love with a spirit and even thought he knows his enchanting vision is not real, he begs it not to end. Beczala and Katz continued with a rousing version of Franz Lehar’s “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” from Das Land des Lachelns and a more introverted interpretation of Richard Strauss’s Cäcilie. I wondered why he did not end the first half of the program with the better-known operetta aria.

The Balboa Theater is not large and San Diego music lovers filled every conceivable seat. Perhaps next time the opera presents an equally important concert, it can be held in a larger hall. This recital was one of the best to be heard in many years. For the second half of the program, Beczala and Katz offered magnificent performances of three French arias: “Pourquoi me reveiller” from Jules Massenet’s Werther,“Ah leve-toi Soleil” from Charles Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, and The Flower Song from Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Again, Beczala mixed lighter and heavier arias, showing that he could handle both with unusual ease. Few tenors can sing the Flower Song’s high note pianissimo but Beczala sang it the way Bizet wrote it. From this audience of long time operagoers, the applause was almost deafening.

The last group was again Italian, and included the artist’s enchanting delivery “Quando le sere al placido” from Verdi’s Luisa Miller and their captivating depiction of tenor Cavaradossi’s arias from Puccini’s Tosca. They exuded charm in the character’s joyous ode to feminine beauty, “Recondita Armonia” and underscored the tragedy of his realization that he will never again see the stars in the sky in “E lucevan le stelle.” Although some handkerchiefs were evident at the end of this concert, they were soon back in their pockets as the appreciative audience called the artist back and stood to show its admiration for the smiling artists.

Over the last few years, we have not heard Martin Katz in recital very often. He teaches, he conducts, and he edits, but he still has the agility and the artistry to make his mark as a top-level recital collaborator. Beczala and Katz continued with three encores: Italian-born American Salvatore Cardillo’s Core ‘ngrato (Ungrateful Heart), Polish composer Miczyslaw Karlowicz’s Pamietam ciche, jasne, zlote dine (I Remember Quiet, Clear Golden Days), and operetta composer Robert Stolz’s unforgettable “Ob blond ob braun, ich liebe alle Frau'n” from the movie of the same name. That last song with its powerful final high note sent every lady in the theater out with the thought that the tenor appreciated individual beauty. It was a wonderful way to end this exquisite recital. Hopefully Beczala will again appear in Southern California the next time he tours the United States.

Maria Nockin

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):